Jan Škapa
Czech Republic

Jan Škapa:

The Story of Freedom & Tech


Name: Jan Škapa

Country: Czech Republic

Occupation: IT Director

Company: Students For Liberty, MainTask

Quote: If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

What’s your perfect holiday:

I enjoy swimming in the warm ocean as well as snowboarding on an icy glacier. There is no single perfect holiday for me.

What’s your dream country to visit:

I think countries are not only about the places but mostly about the people. I like the nature of the Irish, and the beautiful natural landscapes of their countryside as well.

Favorite book:

The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski

What was your journey before your first encounter with SFL?

Before I joined ESFL, I was an everyday university student in Brno, CZ. I had just finished high school, moved into a different city and had started working on more website projects. I was fascinated by the ideas of liberty though, but I was pretty lonely before I got to know more people who would share my passion.

How were you introduced to SFL and to libertarian ideas?

Already at high school, I read a Matt Ridley’s book. Then at some point, I followed a link on Twitter that some web professional shared, linking to a Mises.cz article. I read the article, started reading more books, following more international resources and started learning economics and philosophy.

What were your favorite moments in SFL?

It was in Prague during the 2016 European Students For Liberty Conference (ESFLC), one of the largest events that we ever pulled off in Europe. I was extremely honored to be the one leading this project to see it to fruition. Thanks to the ESFL team, it ended up being an extremely successful conference with wonderful feedback from attendees, and I was incredibly excited to see the organization come to life at that moment.

What is your favorite SFL program?

As you could have guessed, it is the conferences. Especially the continent-wide ones, as the ESFLC, or now LibertyCon. I think they really bring the best speakers together with a fascinating mix of students and young professionals. They are a great moment to stop and discuss ideas that matter.

How has the political situation in your country influenced your views?

Not much. I do not follow politics, as I do not see it as a way to change society. I think politics is only good for showing us how precious and fragile liberty is – it can be taken away in a blink of an eye, and sadly it is happening every day in every country.

Tell us one Gummersbach story you’ll remember for life?

When I was leaving ESFL to refocus on IT, the team has prepared a goodbye for me that I was not expecting at all. It was great to see that my work was appreciated and that it had made a difference in the organization; that I had been able to steer the ship in the right direction.

What was the profession you dreamt about in your childhood and how did it impact your career choice?

I always wanted to work with computers, and indeed it came true. It was my favorite childhood pastime that has transformed into an instrument for making a living. I do not think I had any other aspirations, I just always enjoyed computers and electronics.

If any, who is your role model?

If I had to choose, then probably Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Woz for his ingenious computer skills and Jobs for his incredible forward, out-of-the-box thinking. Depending on a day, I would like to be more like the one or the other.

What is your perfect work and life balance?

I do not want to see work as something painful that needs to be done. I try to find joy in the things that I do, and I try to be good at them. Even though it is clear to me that I have limitations in my knowledge, I try to focus on the road instead of the goal to make sure I enjoy every minute of it.

Any binge-watching tv-shows you’d recommend?

Battlestar Galactica is the best sci-fi series of all times. That is clear.

What is that 1 book that you would recommend to our readers?

I started reading up about nutrition a lot recently, and I can recommend The Case Against Sugar. Whatever you read though, keep in mind the saying: “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” Read a lot. Feed your brain. But do not forget that you are not separate from your body, and knowing something about what you put into it is going to pay off in the long term.

What is a freer future in your vision?

A future where we will no longer need Students For Liberty, the same way we do not need Students For Abolition of Slavery anymore.

Top 3 advice to our leaders?

First, be humble and keep an open mind. Second, try to learn to switch to a growth mindset instead of a fixed one. Third, do not give up, because the results take time to show up.

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