The Ingredients for Creating A Silicon Valley

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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Lots of cities all over the world are chiming in and making claims. The claim is that the next Silicon Valley is right there — in Jacksonville, Vancouver, Berlin or Indianapolis. Could be and I hope so. Building on my last post about the 2015 prediction that Silicon Valleys will spring up around the world, here is the list of recipe ingredients to make it happen:

  • Bars, clubs and coffee shops: Without attracting young hip developers, it will never happen. Make the hangouts hip and social where people can talk and where a laptop is always welcome. Remember you are attracting people under 30 years old. Ride share availability critical.
  • Understanding of the concept of equity: A general knowledge that the way to personal wealth is through stock options will encourage innovation and relentless commitment.
  • A college that grants degrees in computer science/engineering: MIT equivalent not necessary. Just smart technical people who are passionate about building companies.
  • Attitude teetering on the edge of adventurous and obnoxious: Entrepreneurs who believe they will be the next “big thing” will keep the flywheel spinning.
  • Curious old(er) people (over 35 years old) who will act as mentors: Some call this adult supervision but someone has to be rationale in the face of over exuberance about new ideas.
  • Buildings made of bricks and timber: Long worktables and latte machines a plus. Millions of outlets a requirement. Innovators don’t want to work in a fifty-story building.
  • Creation of one successful company (more than one is better): Any success will attract others. The others will believe there could be magic in the local water.
  • True believers in the power of innovation (with money): Also called a source of capital. A robust venture capital community will help but a bunch of wealthy people who don’t want to miss the technology boat will suffice.
  • Diversity, as in willing to accept everyone: The more diverse the people, the more diverse the ideas. Bring everyone in to the new innovation coalition.

Mix the ingredients together, wait for a success and it begins, but it’s never done. Some of the ingredients change but attracting the best innovators on a continuous basis will make new areas successful. Other Silicon Valleys will develop each year but it takes time and focus. A bunch of cities have all of the above figured out. Consider Austin, Toronto, Dublin, New York, and Santa Monica to name a few.

The secret sauce is now revealed. if you want to create the next Silicon Valley in your locale, you now have the ingredients – good luck.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/theromb

Big Idea 2015: Silicon Valleys Will Spring Up Around the World

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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The world has been trying to replicate the Silicon Valley for years. 2015 is the year when it will happen and the world will be a better place.

Silicon Valley is a magnet for copycats. That is, people come to the Valley from all over the world in the hopes of copying what occurs here and taking the secret sauce back home. I have entertained scores of groups here who hope they can capture the magic. There have been Russians, Ohioans, New Yorkers, Australians, Academicians and Big Bankers to name a few. My favorite was a French contingent that found great irony in the fact that “entrepreneur” is a French word but there is very little in the way of an entrepreneurial culture in France.

A tour of Silicon Valley can be disappointing because there is not that much to see. Sure, there are a few tech museums and the garage where Hewlett and Packard started but by in large, the Valley is composed of modern buildings shaped by dark glass with company logos on the signs out front. So the modus operandi of any tour guide is to proclaim that “Silicon Valley is a way of life. It is a new way of thinking that is impossible to replicate but go ahead, give it a try.”

Generic comments about the requirements to build a center for innovation include: access to capital, access to talent and a strong ecosystem of support services.

All of that may be true, but things are changing more than a little. Here’s why:

  • Entrepreneurs are younger and more flexible. The typical innovation worker now is not a 35-year-old who wants security and benefits. The innovation worker now is a 25-year-old who runs when he or she hears the phrase, “It’s a great place to raise a family.”
  • The same 25-year-olds want lots of things to do like going to bars and meeting people of a similar ilk. Activities and social life is why the Northern California Silicon Valley morphed into San Francisco. This is good news for cities like Dublin, Minneapolis, Vancouver, Toronto and Seattle, to name a few.
  • Technology makes it easier than ever to start a company in any location – even if there is no innovation infrastructure there. Good news for much of the world.
  • Equity is a concept that is now better understood and embraced in locations other than Northern California. Equity — and the promise of owning a piece of what one creates — is the engine that drives innovation.

None of this means that California’s Silicon Valley will lose its edge or go away. It means that other places can be proud of what they have and stop trying to copy what exists in Northern California.

So 2015 will be the year when places around the world will recognize that the path to creating an innovation center is not as complicated as has long been understood. In fact, many cities are now a center for innovation, they just don’t recognize it and build on it. And, there is no need to create names like Silicon Deserts or Silicon Mountain Tops; we know a center for innovation and entrepreneurship when we see one.

More centers of innovation will impact communities and economies in a positive way – and who can argue with that?

Holiday Party Career Crushers

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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Wow, the year goes by and everything has changed… except the potential for bad behavior at the company holiday party. So it’s that time of year to remind everyone about holiday party protocol.

The rules are simple:

  • Remember that anything crazy you do will end up on YouTube. Your feats of daring will become part of your permanent record at the company, so to speak.
  • Dress as if you are going to a very festive wedding, not like you are going to a nightclub.
  • Take a taxi or a ride sharing service if you had too much to drink. Arrest records are even less funny come Monday morning.
  • Thank everyone you meet and let them know you are happy to be a part of the team, even if it’s not true.
  • Don’t do any thing that will cost you your job.

There is a long list of boorish behaviors that can happen at the company holiday party. A few drinks and a sense of freedom can embolden even the shyest member of the team. My favorite is when one of my tipsy colleagues did an embarrassing rendition of “Love Shack” with the band. It was an image that was burnt into everyone’s memory.

Emotional outbursts, saying things that one will regret, inappropriate flirtations and all the other activities that reflect poor judgment are always on the list of What Not to Do at the Holiday Party.

But there are two other more subtle actions that can get you into trouble or hurt you.

The first is not too much drinking; it’s too much tweeting. The holiday party is considered a “safe” zone. That is, like Las Vegas, what happens there is supposed to stay there. (Even though it is true neither of the holiday party or Las Vegas.) A “safe” zone might be the last remnant of perceived privacy. A private company event should not be publicly tweeted about to followers. While at times well-intended, other tweets can be snarky – about what someone was wearing, who shows up with who, if the party is boring, and who was drinking too much. All of that may be true but tweeting about it will come back to haunt you. Especially if your Twitter feed is public (companies do monitor those). Leave the tweet engine at home.

Another different, but equally dangerous holiday party trap, is dancing with your boss’s spouse. Do so at your own peril because there is a lot to lose and not much to gain. If you are a great dancer, you will not endear yourself to your boss when the spouse says, “Why can’t you dance like that?” If you are like Elaine from Seinfeld in the dance talent world, you will raise a few eyebrows too. Probably best to just leave the boss’s spouse alone or it could show up in the white space of your performance review.

Oh yeah, one more rule on company holiday parties. Go and have a good time.

Photo Credit: Author