Over the past quarter-century, locales all over the world have tried to ape the success of Silicon Valley. There’s been Silicon _________ of all kinds, like Prairie, Gulch, Swamp, etc. But the secret sauce of Santa Clara Valley, which I suppose is a combination of Stanford, venture capital, and about half a century of momentum/inertia, seems to keep 94301 in the pink.
I’m in Georgia at the moment, and this morning I went into a well-reviewed coffee shop to get some drinks for the family. The guy mentioned it was a shared workspace, and he just rented out the corner. While he made the drinks, I wandered around the place, curious to see what it was like.
There were about a dozen offices in there, most suited for one to three individuals, and since it was early in the morning, no one was there. Behind the glass doors of each office were scrawls on the whiteboards and walls. Lots of the kind of scribbling you’d see in any meeting room with arrows, boxes, and words like “strategic partners”, “what do we do?” and “adding value.”
My first reaction was, “Oh, that’s cute, they’re trying to be Palo Alto.” But the more I walked around, the more I realized……..they ARE Palo Alto. In fact, there IS no Palo Alto. These are just individuals, irrespective of location, who are trying to use their ideas and creativity to create a product or service that others would pay for. Just like………….me.
It isn’t a shock to me that I don’t have to BE in the Silicon Valley at all. I’m a one-man shop. I don’t need venture capital. I don’t need Stanford graduates. I’m just there because I’m already there. In fact, the bright young folks who are working in those offices enjoy all the necessities that I do (clean air, clean water, Internet, electricity, computers) without THIS hindrance:
But besides the un-special-ness of my own town (and its curiously lofty prices, which won’t necessarily remain lofty in the years to come), I started to think about what’s going to happen to people and their jobs in the years to come. As you’ve probably divined, I have a terribly dark view of the future. Our last chance to pay for our fiscal sins was 2008, but instead we as a people doubled-down in debt since Americans are too weak to endure the pain. And, thus, far worse pain is to come.
That pain will express itself in an exploding jobless rate. In my opinion, the people best-positioned to protect themselves will be the kinds of souls inhabiting the aforementioned shared space. Intelligent and specially-skilled individuals who are taking responsibility for their own lives and marketing their own services or products. Nimble. Efficient. Innovative. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like to swim against the tide. These are the people in lifeboats, each rowing on their own, steadfastly responsible for their own fate.
The poor bastards who are hired by the hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands in places like General Electric, General Motors, or General Mayhem will be a different story. These people have entrusted their fates and their lives to The Man. They are counting on a power much greater than themselves to coddle them like a loving nanny from cradle to grave. That worked in 1952. It’s not going to work seventy years later.
Those with the intellect and drive to plow ahead on their own are in the lifeboats. Those who are wage slaves for companies, including those with six-figure salaries, are going to be the third-class passengers locked below in the steerage of the Titanic, blissfully unaware of what’s ahead.
I’m singing to the choir right now, I realize. You that are reading this are, by and large, individuals who have taken responsibility for their own fates, because Slopers are a self-selecting group. You choose to guide your lifeboat where you decide best and steer clear of the wreckage to come.
My only response: stay that way.