I live in the sticks of Arizona, but come to Silicon Valley once a month. I come for a few days at a time. The original reason was to run my Montage Meetup. Then I started thinking, “Well, why I don’t come up a little earlier. This way I can meet up with people in the Valley.” It’s been a few months now and I have to say, I LOVE it.
I’m a Silicon Valley fanboy. I admit it. I’m a geek, so it’s really hard not to be. It’s a magical place to me, but not for all the reasons that most people think. Silicon Valley is home to a lot of great companies. Companies that have generated massive amounts of wealth for their founders and those that fund them. This is one of the few places where you can come in with an idea and get the funding to build it. That’s what most people think about when they hear “Silicon Valley”. However, that’s not why I like this place. If anything, those are the reasons why I left.
The thing I like about the Valley is the rare moments of originality and ingenuity. It’s the proverbial guys in the garage. It’s the guys hacking all night til they drop. It’s all the “Ah ha!” moments that happen in this tiny patch of land.
I visit places of nerd interest here, like eBay, Google, Computer History Museum, etc. This last time, I hit up Mozilla and Xerox PARC. If there’s one thing that the Valley understands is a great setting. Check out these picts.
I’ve always had a thing for views and great settings. The only apartment that was strictly mine had an amazing view of the Space Needle, Lake Union and Downtown Seattle from the 15th floor of a residential highrise. Should the day come that I have a lot of money, I’ll likely buy a bunch of homes that have great views that my friends, family and I can just hop around to when we travel.
Great settings don’t necessarily spur great ideas. I get that and I think companies get it too. Else we’d have companies in the middle of the jungles of Hawaii, at the base of each national park, etc. What I do love about amazing views is how quickly they can clear your mind. I can look out on a beautiful view and my mind goes blank. It doesn’t take the breath away from my lungs, but it certainly takes all the crud away from my mind. Much like meditation, it gives my mind a moment of silence where it can speak to me before the clutter comes falling back in. The only other time that sorta happens to me is right when I’m drifting off to sleep, but I fall asleep so fast that I don’t catch those moments very often.
The other thing about the valley is how optimistic everyone is. In the more established companies, there is a bit of politics and belief of not being able to get things done. However, for the most part, people feel like they can change the world. This view/mindset of “I can do great things” is what drives the innovation that takes place here. People try to figure out how to copy Silicon Valley, but it’s hard because while you can copy physical views and fun workplace settings, you can’t copy the “We can change the world” mindset that exists there.
Do great things happen outside the valley? Of course. Do you have to be there to do great things? Of course not. Do you have to change your view of self-doubt into a “I’ll change the world” mentality? Of course. Is that easy to do alone? Of course not. Therein lies the crux. I’m trying, but it’s a daily struggle to keep the view great and not muddled by self doubt.