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Prasad Kaipa, a former Apple executive and Silicon Valley CEO coach who just published a book "From Smart to Wise," speaks at Saybrook University in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, May 16, 2013. The book is on what makes a good CEO versus a bad one, in which he highlights Meg Whitman, Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

After three years working for Apple (AAPL), Prasad Kaipa spent a snowy weekend alone in Yosemite, contemplating his career. He decided to quit his job.

At Apple, under CEO Steve Job's leadership, Kaipa had learned that business should have a higher purpose than just selling products and making profit, and that business executives could have a more positive impact on their employees than just hiring or firing them and giving pay raises.

He left Apple to mentor young entrepreneurs and high-powered Silicon Valley CEOs. After more than two decades as an executive business coach, the 57-year-old Kaipa recently wrote "From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom." The book, co-authored by Navi Radjou, a Silicon Valley strategy adviser, is a how-to guide for business leaders looking to change their ways. Kaipa sat down with this newspaper for an interview before heading to his native India last month on a book tour. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Q: How much of your book is a call for transformation in the highest ranks of Fortune 500 companies?

A: It is a pretty significant call for transformation because I think we have reached the end of where we can go with the business approaches we have taken, where someone at the top comes up with a vision and everybody executes it. It is no longer about what I can do to help myself, but what I can do to help you that will later help me. That's what I call in my book the "enlightened self-interest." These things are foreign to many modern business leaders.

Q: How do you distinguish between smart and wise?

A: Smartness is about intelligence. Normally people define smartness as logical or mathematical, an IQ. But there two ways in which people use intelligence. One is they use their intelligence to keep going deeper. They know a lot about one subject, and they are the experts, the Nobel laureates, the gurus. On the other hand, some other intelligent people use their IQ in a different way. They look for making connections, starting entrepreneurial ventures and seeing where the opportunity is. Many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley do not necessarily know all the solutions, but they see a great idea and connect the great idea with a great person, provide a platform to create a product and bring in a venture capitalist or angel investor.

Prasad Kaipa, a former Apple executive and Silicon Valley CEO coach who just published a book "From Smart to Wise," speaks at Saybrook University
Prasad Kaipa, a former Apple executive and Silicon Valley CEO coach who just published a book "From Smart to Wise," speaks at Saybrook University in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, May 16, 2013. The book is on what makes a good CEO versus a bad one, in which he highlights Meg Whitman, Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) ( RAY CHAVEZ )

Wisdom is when you apply intelligence toward the common good, trying to do something for other people, so they will come back and do a favor for you.

Q: What would wisdom look like in the most basic day-to-day tasks in an office?

A: You can begin your day and look at it by saying, "What do I want to accomplish today? What do I want to get done? I have several activities that have to get done." But if you can then take five minutes and say, "Why do I do this? What is the underlying purpose?" If you can, come from a place of recognizing that there is a larger purpose, a larger meaning that makes you feel excited about the job. Come at it with a little bit of enthusiasm about the job, come at it with some clarity. Don't come at it like you are a victim, "Oh my god, I've got to do this."

Q: I see a sense of spirituality in how you talk about wisdom in your book. What parts of your background as a student of religion, yoga and Sanskrit influence the way you coach CEOs today?

A: Definitely what I am saying is informed by my spirituality. I am engaging both my spiritual side and my intensely pragmatic and practical side. I am giving practical advice informed by spiritual context. I am focused on how you can do something better tomorrow. I'm not talking about the afterlife, because spirituality is founded in the here and now. What I am doing is using the eternal values and principles that are common to all religions and applying them to the day-to-day.

Q: You spent three years at Apple. What did you learn there?

A: Having a larger purpose -- that was what I learned the most from Apple, that's what I learned the most from Steve Jobs. My life was transformed there. I realized we can come up with great technology, but if the mind-set does not change, if there is no transformation in the way in which we look at the world, if we don't shift our perspective, it doesn't work.

Q: You have advised and coached more than 150 CEOs. What are those relationships like?

A: It's like a doctor-patient relationship. As a coach, I can tell them things that no one else can. I can give them a second opinion, an informed opinion, without expecting anything in return. Because of that, they come to me. But that doesn't mean their successes have anything to do with me. That I need to be very clear about. I tell people all the time you have to take 100 percent responsibility for your own growth and success, I can only give you pointers. It's like teaching someone how to ride a bike and how to swim. They had better get the job done.

Contact Heather Somerville at 925-977-8418. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.

Prasad Kaipa

Age: 57
Hometown: Anantapur, India
Positions: Executive coach and mentor; visiting faculty at University of Southern California, part-time faculty at Saybrook University in San Francisco and Indian School of Business in India; co-author “From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom”
Previous jobs: Apple, international marketing; manager and fellow, Apple University
Education: Bachelor's and master's degree, Sri Venkateswara University, in Anantapur, India; doctorate, Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India
Family: Married; one son, one daughter
Residence: Campbell

5 things about Prasad Kaipa

1. He's a lifelong yogi who serves on the board at Yoga Bharati, a Bay Area yoga institute.
2. Grew up studying Sanskrit.
3. Did his postdoc research in Utah testing for radiation exposure caused by the atomic bomb.
4. Still practices his childhood religion, Hinduism
5. Silicon Valley CEOs he's watching: Marissa Mayer, Yahoo; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook; Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn; and Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard