“Surrender” is a word not often heard in Silicon Valley. But surrender is what God requires of those who are his followers, even those in Silicon Valley. Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” The Message paraphrase of that biblical passage reads, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat — I am.”
Can a hard driving Silicon Valley based business executive both surrender his life to Christ and succeed in business? Michael Griego, founder and president of MXL Partners, a successful sales management consulting and training firm, would answer that question with a resounding “Yes.” But it took Griego time and personal challenges to understand that.
Born and raised in Southern California in an un-churched family, Griego began his Christian journey while in high school through encouragement from friends and leaders in a local church youth group. He graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles, got married, and moved to Bay Area to attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he earned an MBA degree. Prior to founding MXL Partners, Griego had a distinguished Silicon Valley career in sales and sales management with such companies as IBM, XL/Datacomp (StorageTek), the Gartner Group, and Intelliquest. He and his wife, Debbie, have been married 35 years and have three married children and five grandchildren.
Stunned by a Question
A pivotal incident happened to Griego at a meeting of Christian businessmen in the mid-1980s. A pastor who was leading the meeting asked Griego a question. “Mike, you sell IBM computer systems for the glory of God, right?” Although Griego had been a follower of Christ for many years, he was stunned by the question. He comments, “I was dumbfounded. I stared back blankly, not really knowing what he was talking about. In fact, I never thought of God when I was selling computers and was quite certain that God didn’t care about my computer selling.”
That question led Griego on a journey to understand what it really meant to follow Christ and what it implied for one’s work. As Griego studied the Bible and engaged other Christian business leaders in the discussion of faith and work, he came to understand that business is a calling; just as work in vocational Christian ministry is a calling. Even Jesus worked as a carpenter for most of his life, and the Apostle Paul was a tentmaker. Griego remarks,
As with us today, it isn’t what one does as a profession that is important; it’s who one is in their work and daily life…We may be factory workers, doctors or business people of all classes. What matters is our devotion to the calling of God to love Him and our fellow man, andto surrender our life, gifts and talents for His purposes.
His Faith Challenged
Following the business downturn in 2001 following 9/11, Griego says, he felt “a holy nudge” to start his own business which he called MXL Partners. In spite of risky circumstances, including the need to provide support for his wife and three children entering college years, Griego felt God compelling him to make the move. But getting business was tough. He reached the point where he was not sure he could continue and began to wonder if God had really compelled him to start the business. At a very low moment, he prayed for God to show him a sign that starting the business was what God really wanted him to do. Within an hour, he received two telephone calls for projects he could do immediately. Griego remarks, “I wept at my desk. I do believe I got my sign.”
Work as Ministry
Griego sees his work as his ministry. He has the opportunity to influence many people globally not only with managing sales through his training, consulting and writing – he’s authored 42 Rules to Increase Sales Effectiveness — but also by being an example of how a godly man works.
Griego also applies his gifts and talents as a volunteer. He serves on the leadership team for the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast where he emcees quarterly business and faith networking events; he mentors other men of all ages; he and his wife coach young couples who they met through their church; and he supports a bi-annual Christian men’s retreat called “Wild at Heart Boot Camp” in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Mount Hermon. In addition, Griego also authors a weekly blog called Biblical Viewpoint which presents his commentary and perspective on various topics.
Griego has surrendered his work to God. He says that he’s come full circle and runs his business today “for the glory of God — reflecting simply good work and services in the marketplace done with gifts and talents offered up for His purposes and direction.”