The Difference Between Silicon Valley and Elsewhere

Perspective is super important. It shapes the way we think, learn, and understand. It prevents wars and fights. It aides us when we are building the world’s most important projects.

That’s why I think it is pretty much always valuable to hear different perspectives. Of course it is up to you what you do with their ideas/feedback, but at least giving everyone a chance and listening is pretty much always worth it. What is the worst that could happen? Each instance is an opportunity to learn.

In the tech community, we have become quite homogenous in not only look but also thought. Diversity is super important, and cannot just be an idea — it has to be a metric, a priority.

Diversity of thought is one thing (among the many) that we can start doing today. Listening to people that are unlike ourselves. Gaining that outsiders perspective is very valuable.

Obama gave an interesting talk here on Silicon Valley vs. the Government. I’ll start by saying that I’m not one to intertwine politics with anything I do in life, I actually dislike it, but I do admire different perspectives, and needless to say, I thought that this one was interesting:

The final thing I’ll say is that government will never run the way Silicon Valley runs because, by definition, democracy is messy. This is a big, diverse country with a lot of interests and a lot of disparate points of view. And part of government’s job, by the way, is dealing with problems that nobody else wants to deal with.

So sometimes I talk to CEOs, they come in and they start telling me about leadership, and here’s how we do things. And I say, well, if all I was doing was making a widget or producing an app, and I didn’t have to worry about whether poor people could afford the widget, or I didn’t have to worry about whether the app had some unintended consequences — setting aside my Syria and Yemen portfolio — then I think those suggestions are terrific. (Laughter and applause.) That’s not, by the way, to say that there aren’t huge efficiencies and improvements that have to be made.

But the reason I say this is sometimes we get, I think, in the scientific community, the tech community, the entrepreneurial community, the sense of we just have to blow up the system, or create this parallel society and culture because government is inherently wrecked. No, it’s not inherently wrecked; it’s just government has to care for, for example, veterans who come home. That’s not on your balance sheet, that’s on our collective balance sheet, because we have a sacred duty to take care of those veterans. And that’s hard and it’s messy, and we’re building up legacy systems that we can’t just blow up.

I think we should go out of our way to talk to people that are unlike us so we can learn and hear their opinions as often as possible.

Originally published at on October 19, 2016.



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