Here's to the misfits
Vu's Misfit Wearables was named after a famous television advertisement written and narrated by Apple founder Steve Jobs. "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes." Interestingly, the word misfit came up in our conversation with Adler. "As human beings we have a thirst for belonging. But Silicon Valley is renowned as a valley of misfits," he said. "People here never quite felt like they fit in their communities and their institutions."
As a Christian with a knack for making money, Vu was a misfit in his own way. He spent years looking for models of Christians in business before he encountered the work of Seattle Pacific University's Jeff Van Duzer at an Urbana student missions conference. Vu has now attended four of the triennial conferences.
"Is there a creational, redemptive view of business?" Vu asked me the first time we talked. "How about if we make the purpose of business to make communities to flourish, and to create opportunities for people to express their God-given capacities in meaningful and purposeful ways? We actually incorporated that language into the legal fabric of our company. It was surprisingly difficult to get that into the corporate charter. But eventually we got it in."
Can wearable technology be part of human flourishing? Vu sees it as answering fundamental human longings. "People want superpowers. We aspire to extend our capacities, to be better—wearable technology can help us achieve that. We also want to account for our weaknesses, to correct bad habits. Wearable technology can help do that, too."
That's who we humans are, indeed—yearning for superpowers but dragged down by our own weakness. In fact, you could say we are all misfits. Technology has both given us powers we could never have imagined, and exposed weaknesses we never knew we had. Could it also be part of the redemption of both sides of our image-bearing, image-breaking nature? If entrepreneurs like Vu succeed, maybe Silicon Valley will be known not just for silicon or gold, but for a better way of being human—a place where even misfits, or especially misfits, can flourish.
Andy Crouch is executive editor of Christianity Today.