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Putting Family First

with Pat Gelsinger | February 20, 2007

On the broadcast today, Intel's Chief Technology Officer, Pat Gelsinger, talks about the challenges of balancing the demands of a corporate executive with the roles and responsibilities of a husband and father.

On the broadcast today, Intel's Chief Technology Officer, Pat Gelsinger, talks about the challenges of balancing the demands of a corporate executive with the roles and responsibilities of a husband and father.

Putting Family First

With Pat Gelsinger
|
February 20, 2007
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Pat Gelsinger is the chief technology officer at Intel.  One year he had made plans for the family vacation when something came up.

Pat: There was an important project launch going to occur, it came out of my group.  I was supposed to be the executive announcing the product, and I told Andy Grove that I was going to keep my commitment to the family vacation, and I was going to have one of my team members do the product announcement, and I did.  And he was upset.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 20th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We will hear how things went in the showdown between the boss and the vacation.  Stay tuned.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You're a type A, aren't you?  I mean, I'm not exactly sure where they came up with these types or …

Dennis: What are you?

Bob: I'm B positive.  I had my blood tested last week, and that's what I am, I'm B positive.

Dennis: I think Barbara would say I'm type A.

Bob: But we're not talking about your blood type?

Dennis: No, we're not, and, in fact, what we're going to talk about today are chips and wafers. 

Bob: All right.

Dennis: Chips and wafers.

Bob: I'm always up for a good food discussion.

Dennis: And I'm going to ask our guest on FamilyLife Today, Pat Gelsinger, to explain what a chip is and what a wafer is.

Pat: Well, there are lots of kinds of chips, but the ones I work with are called silicon chips.  And what happens is you have a silicon ingot sliced into wafers, horizontal little flat surfaces that individual chips are patterned into that have been sliced up and then put into computers, and that's what runs our computers, our networks, our TV, all of those kinds of things.

Dennis: And so this chip that I'm holding that is approximately an inch and a half square, exactly what does this chip contain that I'm holding here in my hand?  I understand it's worth about $2,500.  What does it do?

Pat: Well, it will do particular processing functions, so it could be at the middle of a big computer, and it would operate, potentially, several hundred million transistors as part of it.  There are also hundreds of millions of transistors, little gadgets inside of it …

Bob: In that one-inch square flat thing?

Pat: Yes, yes.  We can build them that they have as many as a billion transistors stored in one of those chips.

Dennis: And you explained this earlier before we came in the studio – those transistors, how many of them can be laid end-to-end on the width of a human hair?

Pat: Maybe 100.

Bob: Okay, this is kind of hurting my brain here.  So we're talking microscopic transistors …

Pat: Yes, yes …

Bob: That are built in your laboratories out in California?

Pat: Well, in our fabs around the world we have them, but most of the research is done on the West Coast and our facilities in Oregon and Santa Clara and so on.

Dennis: Well, if you're wondering who Pat works for, fortunately, it's not a subversive organization, because anybody could build something that that's small …

Bob: Here's who it is – it's [Intel theme].  How's that?  That's close.

Dennis: It is close.

Pat: You did well.

Dennis: Pat is senior VP of business products for Intel, and has worked for them now how many years?

Pat: Twenty-seven years.  So I started when I was 12 years old.

Dennis: Well, already this week we found out that he actually went to work not at 12 but at 18.  He graduated from high school and the equivalent of junior college at the age of 18, went to work for Intel, married his wife Linda three years later, four children, and a self-professed workaholic.

 Now, as you write about designing one of these chips, okay, you talk about a team of people that you described would work 26 hours a day.

Pat: Well, as we'd conduct these projects, these projects are three, four years in length, and as you come to the finish of it, they just get more and more intense and, literally, you're working around the clock to get the chip done.  You're sort of racing to get it into fabrication, and you work 20 hours maybe consecutively, go home, rest, shower, come back, work the next 20 hours.  You're just so intense because you want to get this project done.  That's been your absolute passion and focus for the last four years.

Dennis: Does somebody who works that many hours hit a wall?

Pat: Some do, you know, where they just – I remember, one guy came into my office, he couldn't form an intelligent sentence anymore.  I said, "Okay, it's time for you to go home.  Don't come back for a few days.  We'll take care of it."

Bob: But you're a four-hours-sleep-per-night guy, is that right?

Pat: Four or five hours during the week, and I catch up a little bit on weekends.

Bob: And you're not taking Red Bolt three times a day to keep going, right?

Pat: I probably drink too much caffeine – coffee.

Bob: What is it inside you that drives you like that do you think?

Pat: Well, I think part of it's a godly passion; I think part of it is a focus on wanting to accomplish certain things in technology and, certainly, I'd say, at the ultimate and I think, for me, as an individual, as I became a Christian, you know, realizing I was designed by God to do certain things and do them to the absolute best and most complete manner possible.

Dennis: Now, Pat, there would be those who just heard you make a statement saying, "Now, wait a second.  A godly passion?  You're going to pawn this off on God that you work 20 hours in a row on a project?"

Pat: Well, I think God gives us certain giftedness and ultimately we're fulfilling what He put into us as we go work, and when we're passionate about things, whether it's passion about a project, passionate about our spouse, passionate about a church activity, we're supposed to do it all out to the greatest extent to the skills that God has built into us from our very foundation.

Dennis: And how did you negotiate with your life, Linda, as you're working 20 hours a day?  I mean, there had to be some give and take because, like a farmer, there is a season where you have to go out in the fields, and it's sunup to sundown or maybe even beyond.  And undoubtedly you had those conversations with Linda where there was some agreement on how you're going to be spending your time.

Pat: Yeah, and that's a great picture.  You know, it is the seasons, and just like a farmer, when the sun's out, time to make hay, go for it, and do it as long as you can.  And then there has to be those seasons where you back off and say, "Okay, the chip's done now.  We have to take a break.  We have to have time together.  We have to balance those periods of time."

Bob: So you really do work it out with an understanding that this isn't how life is going to be, and I'm sure there are folks in your corporate environment who, if you wanted it to be that way all the time, they'd make that happen for you, wouldn't they?

Pat: Absolutely, absolutely, and they're just so intent on their career that that becomes their singular driving passion.  But, you know, worklife effectiveness – it's all about keeping these things in balance, because we do need those times to rest, to restore family, to spend time on those other priorities of life.

Bob: Have you always had a perspective of work that these things needed to be in balance, or did you come to a point where you said, "If they're not in balance, I'm in trouble?"

Pat: No, they needed to be chiseled into me, over time, and I think a lot of the values and lessons that you learn and, certainly, Linda has been a huge piece of challenging me at different times – "No, you're not coming home consistently, you're not in balance right now.  We do need vacations," and learning those different tools that have become foundations for my life today.

Dennis: Okay, Pat, you had a promotion every year for 15 years, the first 15 years you worked at Intel.  At 32 you were the youngest vice president ever named in the history of the organization.  What advice would you have for a wife who is married to the man on the fast track?  He's a driven businessman, he likes what he does, he's good at what he does.  What would you say to her?  In other words, what has Linda done best in your life to get your attention over the years?

Pat: One is obviously be a partner with them, don't just let it be their career.  Participate with them.  Ask how is it going?  What's going well?  And dig to that next level of feeling and motion as well.  Make it your career as well.

 Also be there for the times where it doesn't go well, because even in 15 years of straight promotions there were times when I hit potholes along the way, and it's at those times where the greatest learning and depth of relationship can occur.

 And also be ready to challenge.  You know, they will, I did, everyone does – will fall out of balance.  We lose priorities along the way and be ready to say no.  We need vacation.  No.  You've done this constantly for the last year.  It's time for us to take a break together.

Dennis: So you're saying speak the truth in love, and you may have to speak the truth with tears to get his attention.

Pat: And sometimes you may have to speak in a higher volume as well.  This isn't an easy – it's a very challenging period of life – kids, work, school – all these things are just clamoring for his attention, and you have to say "No, these are the priorities – God, family, work."  That is the godly structure.

Dennis: And I would add to that list you just gave, and appeal to wives not to resent their husband's job.  Just reflecting back on the job my own wife has done in terms of loving me in the midst of a career, certainly not like yours, Pat, but …

Pat: You've done okay for yourself.

Dennis: In building a ministry – well, I haven't built any chips, but hopefully we have built some families here at FamilyLife, but the ministry extracts a price, and people don't see it.  They don't see it when you go home, the phone calls need to be made, the people that need to be visited, but a wife does.  And the thing that I never, ever felt was that Barbara every resented that work.

 And a wife might say, "Well, how could she resent a ministry to building marriages and family?"  Well, I'm going to tell you something – very easily.  If it's having a negative impact from time to time on your family, it's at those points where I go back to your – one of your pieces of advice to women – be a partner with him.  Don't be a nagging wife who is angry and embittered about a job that's extracting a price from your husband.

Pat: I always go back to the Genesis, "Leave, cleave, and weave your lives together."  It's not his career.  It's your family's career and sometimes when he's been knocked off the truck, comes home bruised and battered, there's no time that he's more ready to hear, be supported, and be partnered than at those very toughest moments.  And if you're bitter about it, you've lost every opportunity to meet him at his greatest and deepest need.

Bob: So what should a wife do if the plan for the family vacation that's been all settled and everybody's agreed to just happens to come at the same time as the PC Expo in New York City with the new rollout, huh?

Pat: Well, I talk about that story a little bit where I made a decision to keep a family vacation commitment, and it was a tough decision.

Bob: Tell us the circumstances around which that happened.

Pat: There was an important project launch going to occur, it came out of my group.  I was supposed to be the executive announcing the product.  It ended up that the time that the product was ready, the national announcement window occurred on top of a vacation plan, and I told Andy Grove that I was going to keep my commitment to the family vacation, and I was going to have one of my team members do the product announcement, and he said "No, you will do the product announcement."  And I said, "No, I made a commitment to my family, and I'm going to keep it."

Dennis: Now, you're really talking to the CEO here.

Pat: The president, the CEO, "Time" magazine "Man of the Year," yeah, this is …

Dennis: You're standing toe-to-toe with him.

Pat: Yeah, and he said, "No, you're going to do this," and I said, "No, I'm going to keep my family commitment."  And I did, and he was upset.  The product launch didn't go particularly well, which added fuel to the fire, and I was on the blackest of blacklists.  But those are the times where your real character is formed, tested, and really demonstrated. 

 And ultimately I weathered that storm.  It was not a fun storm, by any means at all, but I kept my commitment, and that spoke volumes to my family as well as to my co-workers.

Bob: I'm guessing you didn't have a real great vacation, though.  You had to stay halfway connected to find out what was going on, and hearing it wasn't going well, and …

Pat: I was challenged to be disconnected in that particular vacation, indeed.

Bob: It's not a big day at the water park if Dad's learning on his cell phone that the …

Pat: I was almost afraid to connect and understand or read the papers.  I tried to stay a little bit away from it.

Dennis: I have one more question about that – what would you have done if Andy would have said, "Either go or you're out of here."

Pat: I would have kept the same commitment.  I mean, that decision was made before I said the first no.  That was the priority.  And ultimately, I think, we, as employees, have to build this bank account where our workplaces look at this huge valuable, they understand our character, our ethics, we're absolutely the best in everything that we do so that when we do make those tough calls, and, you know, hey, if it wasn't a big vacation, I would have said, "Oh, sure, change it."  You know, if I could have flexibly done it.  It's not just a matter of, "Oh, I made this commitment, I've got to go do it.  I think we have to be willing in this whole view of balance to make trade-offs like this, but this was an important one.  It had a lot plans, a lot of commitments around it, and I said, "No, that's the priority of our family right now, and they take higher priority than work."

 And, at the end of it, we came through okay, but it was a pretty difficult six months.

Bob: There are a lot of dads who talk about wanting to be there for their kids games or for the school plays or for this or for that – your job enables you to do that sometime but not all the time.  That's just part of what goes with the territory.  Have you ever thought, "I need a job that will let me be there for all the games, and if this isn't it, I should get a different one."

Pat: Well, I've certainly gone through those periods of time of struggle, make decisions with regard to independent assignments and so on as I go and make those decisions.  I certainly do everything possible to be there for the games.  Sometimes I'll fly home just to attend a game and fly out that night yet just so I could be there.  So I got to great lengths to make it happen.

 But, yeah, all of us go through those struggles, and that's part of the challenge.  You know, this isn't an end point, this is a journey, and in the journey you make those decisions every day.

Dennis: You know, Pat, what I have appreciated about not only what you've said here but what you wrote about in your book, "Balancing Your Family Faith and Work," is all of these principles that you espouse ultimately have become convictions.

 And, you know, there are a lot of people who write mission statements, who write plans, who write goals, but they don't live by them.  They don't make their choices and decisions by them.

 But as you illustrated in going toe-to-toe with the CEO and president of Intel around the family vacation, you know what your convictions are, and you know where you're headed, and even though you occasionally, undoubtedly, make a mistake or two and bend some of those perhaps too much, you continually make decisions around your life, around these goals, these vision statements, these plans and dreams of yours, and that's how you ultimately build a successful life.

Pat: Yeah, I think it's, you know, as you see in Scripture, you see the great men of Scripture, Daniel is one of my favorites.  He was the advisor.  Think of him as the prime minister to three generations of leadership and just, over his life, you see this conviction of his personality, of his priorities, and what he did.  I think all of us should look at those as – those are the role models that, over each generation in my life, I've gotten my giving under control, and now that is just part of my life.  I've gotten my time under control that's part of my life.  I know how I'm ministering through my workplace or my family.  And each one of those just building up this legacy of a lifetime of commitment to living your goals, your priorities, and becoming more and more like Christ would want you to be as you approach the finish line.

Bob: Have you had situations where guys at Intel who know about your faith have come and shut the door and say, "I need to talk about something that's not work-related."

Pat: Oh, absolutely.

Bob: And are you comfortable in that environment with the door shut not talking about Intel, sharing your faith and even praying with somebody to come to faith?

Pat: My simple guideline I have for that is when somebody wants to be at the personal level, I got to the personal level with them, whatever they want to talk to – faith, or any other subject.  If they choose to stay at the professional level, I stay at the professional level and, particularly, given the role I have in the workplace.  I don't think it's appropriate for me to be challenging them in that regard, but if they ask about my faith, the door is wide open, go for it.

Dennis: In fact, you have, as one of your goals – and I like this – assist in bringing to Christ or to a much greater degree of Christian maturity over 100 people.  And later on in the book, you actually amend that statement, or you talk about how mentally you were thinking about amending that statement not to make it 100 people but to make it 10.  Now, why did you move from a broader number of wanting 100 to come to faith in Christ and growth to maturity to a smaller number of just 10?

Pat: Well, I guess, just as I've been growing and maturing myself, you touch a lot of people and how many people have you touched, Dennis?  Who knows how many millions have been touched in some way, and you might have had some little seed that you've touched in their life and along the journey as you go, many of those occur.  But how many have you really touched, like Christ could say about His disciples – that you've invested in, you know deeply, personally, that those are the people that you'd go to the cross for, and they know you would do likewise, and that's much more the thought of the 10.  You know, those who I would have invested in so heavily, so significantly, that you'd almost say they're disciples at that level of intimacy and maturity.

Dennis: How many of those 10 are in place right now?

Pat: I could point to three today.

Dennis: And you're how old?

Pat: Forty-five.

Dennis: There's time.  I really applaud the objective, though, seriously, because as I read that goal, and I thought about it, I thought what if every Christian, every follower of Christ, had that as a goal?  It is the heart of the Great Commission. 

 Jesus said to go and to teach, and the command of that passage in Matthew 28:19-20, is that we make disciples.  We're teaching the things that Christ taught in making disciples.  The command to go was actually a statement "As you are going, teach those," and it's as a way of life we should be making disciples along the way, and I think you model that in a great way.

Pat: Okay, what's God doing here?  How can I join Him in that?  Where's the opportunity that He's given me in this circumstance and this day?

Dennis: Well, in case our listeners ever wonder if there's a business man or woman in a high place in corporate America [Intel theme] here's a good illustration right here, and you need to know that in his list of goals, is president of Intel.

Bob: Well, his boss knows that, right?

Dennis: Well, I tell you what, if you become president, will you come back on FamilyLife Today and let us talk about that?

Pat: Well, I'll see if I can fit it into my priorities.

[laughter]

Dennis: Well said.

Bob: We've got copies of the book that Pat has written in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  The book is called "Balancing Your Family, Faith, and Work," and that's a tricky balance, as you've heard us say today, but it can be done, and it helps to have a little counsel from somebody who has been doing it for years.

 Go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and if you'd like more information on this book, you'll see a red button in the middle of the page that says "Go" on it, and if you click that button, it will take you to the area of the site where you can find out more about Pat's book.  You could also order it online, if you'd like, and you'll find out about other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife. 

 In fact, you and your wife, Barbara, wrote a book a few years ago called "Pressure Proof Your Marriage," that helps folks deal with the pace of life and with establishing priorities and making marriage the priority that it ought to be and keeping the work assignment in the proper perspective with all of that.

 Some of our listeners may want to get a copy of your book as well.  In fact, any of our listeners who would like both books, we'll send along at no additional cost the CD that features our interaction this week with Pat Gelsinger.  You can listen to that again or you can pass it along to someone who would benefit from listening to that CD.

 Get all the details on our website at FamilyLife.com.  Again, click the red button in the middle of the screen that says "Go," and that will get you the information you need on how you can request these resources.  Or call us at 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team will let you know how you can get these resources sent to you.

 You know, you think of February as the month of romance, and yet once Valentine's Day is gone, we kind of forget romance.  We let it slip and slide again.  During the month of February, we're making available a thank you gift to any of our listeners who are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. 

 Our ministry is listener-supported, which means that folks like you make donations so that we can be on the air in this city and in other cities all across the country, and, in fact, without those donations, we would not be able to continue the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

 More than 60 percent of the revenue we need to continue this ministry comes from folks like you making donations to our ministry.  And this month when you make a donation of any amount, we'd love to send you a special thank you gift.  It's a CD that has two messages on it.  One from C.J. Mahaney and the other from his wife, Carolyn.  Together, they've written a book called "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God," and these two messages provide romance basics for husbands and for wives.  And the CD is our thank you gift to you this month when you make a donation of any amount to FamilyLife Today, and you request a copy of the CD.

 You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and there's a form on the website you can fill out to make a donation.  There's a keycode box at the end of that form, and if you type the word "Love" in there, we'll make sure to send this CD out to you.  Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, make a donation over the phone, and be sure to mention that you'd like this month's CD on love and romance, and we'll be happy to send it out to you.

 Again, it's our way of saying thanks for your partnership with us and your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

 Well, tomorrow Pat Gelsinger is going to be back with us, and we're going to hear a little bit about his personal mission statement and about some of his life goals.  I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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