silicon valley

Silicon Valley, the home of innovation

After spending a week in Silicon Valley, meeting interesting people and companies, I am quite stunned by the dynamics in this area.

When you go out for dinner in most other parts of the world, and happens to hear the topic of the conversation on the neighbouring table, it is usually about, holidays, family, friends or sports. Here we pick up on conversations about Data Mining, big data analytics, trends within the internet of things and so on.

And even though there is a strongly competitive environment, most people are more than happy to share their experiences, and give good advice for others to succeed.

There is a concept in this area called “Pay it forward". The definition on Wikipedia reads: Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.

The consequence of this being that most people help other people, not expecting anything in return. This is because the person you are helping will not be the one returning the favor.

One of the many people I met the last week gave an example of this. She came up to a road toll, and was going to pay. The clerk in the toll booth said that the person in front had paid, so she could pass for free. The immediate reaction was “but then I pay for the next in line".

When going around in the Silicon Valley area you can feel the power of this concept. When people tend to help each other, without expecting anything in return or keeping track on the people “owing" you a favor, it perspires an aura of friendliness and openness. In my opinion this openness is one of the things that fuel the innovation in Silicon Valley.

And then the key to success is not only innovation itself, but the speed and ability one has to bring new ideas to the market. When people are sharing and helping each other, the level of secrecy is reduced. Of course people keeps secrets, but not at the same extent as you might be used to elsewhere.

In my opinion Silicon Valley is about three things:

    • Openness
    • Innovation
    • Speed of commercialization

And this all boils down to people. In order to succeed the right people is crucial. You need the right attitude yourself, but you also depend on the attitude of the people you work with. You need the willingness to go the extra mile, both in yourself and in your colleagues.

When it comes down to the concept of “Pay it forward", this is something I want to bring with me back home. People might wonder what on earth I am thinking when I start practicing that concept, but maybe some day they will get it. And then the world has become just that little bit better.

Written by

Petter Quinsgaard,