We are going to get our asses whooped by China, and we deserve it.

Here in Silicon Valley there is a huge gap between those who want work and companies seeking candidates. I am not sure what this disconnect is about or how many components are involved with this situation. If it’s any indication from the people that I see, it is absolutely not about capability and talent. There is a plethora of talented folks who are invisible in the job market. I share this knowledge with you because the situation is so terribly, the talent so frustrated, that I believe there is much more at play than the hidden job market. Something is terribly wrong.

I see CEO’s that get offered board roles or non paying chairman roles if LUCKY. Other CEO’s with big names, that are to ashamed to say, I can’t find work. Marketing executives, packaged goods stars with deep skill sets, licensing experts who have built billion dollar franchises all share the same stories. They cannot find work. The experience the Junior recruiters who bring in like minded folks that look and act like them, who ask candidates basic questions they can’t even answer themselves. Or the dark black hole of linkedIn. There are headhunters too who want to get paid, so they select what the C staff is looking for and never challenge the status quo. Some are baffled about where we are, others are part of the problem. This is partly about ageism, sexism and racism AND it’s about losing our most valued asset-generative knowledge. We are discarding many people whose experience, leadership and skill sets we need in a highly competitive world. We are discarding one of our biggest assets.

In an interview at Stanford awhile back, Reed Hastings, (Netflix CEO) when asked “ Why are their not more women on boards?”, he said “ Years ago when this issue first came up, I said let is happen organically.” He paused. “I was wrong. Men hire their buddies, people they want to hang with.” Whatever the many reasons or situations that have caused this chasm, it doesn’t bode well for companies, for our communities and for our country. We know there is a problem and we need to fix it.

Every Sunday morning I see this guy-a well known plastic surgeon in Silicon Valley. He sits parked on the side of a local grocery store in Portola Valley. A sleepy little rural town that sports as many horses as it does Tesla’s. Portola Valley has changed dramatically in the past 15 years. This is a disappointment to multi-generations of families who have shared the same houses who are being forced to move out of the area. As money has come in, culture and attitudes have shifted. It’s a mixed bag. The surgeon, big, brawny and with a quick response to the flurry of panicked text’s soothes the men and women who are frantic about getting plastic surgery. The persistent theme from these texts is, it is crucial to forego any signs of aging to continue to work. I have walked my dog, got my morning soy cocoa and still he remains in the parking spot. He calmly responds, sets surgery schedules and even he shakes his head at what is happening. Aging is a natural process, as is experience.

It’s hard not to analyze how we got to this crisis, make no mistakes, whether it is invisible or not, this is a crisis. It’s impossible not to think of the huge gaffes that helped perpetrate the current situation. It’s the quest for the young, the eager, and those with the most stamina for long hours with low or no pay. It’s also a compulsion-perhaps even the largest gambling eco system — the desire to strike it rich. Even those who build unicorns will tell you, there is much LUCK involved. There are a great many brilliant people here, but it’s probably a combination of luck and smarts. Some recruiters refuse to hire out of Stanford because recruits don’t want a job, they want to be CEO. Many will take a Berkeley grad, any day. Could understanding talent and training help create a better and more successful ecosystem?

There’s a deep intensity to the valley, that has begin to remind me of a merry-go-round gone awry. Even Dr. Phil talks about “suicide clusters” the sheer number of children with anxiety and the amalgamation of type “A” people that feed the growing sink hole. The infamous comments of than, 22 year old Mark Zuckerberg “ I don’t hire anyone over 30, because they are stupid. http://anewdomain.net/dont-hire-anyone-30-ageism-silicon-valley/ Or the continued high tolerance for CEO’s bad behavior like poster child, Travis Kalanick. UBER recently fired a number of employees for sexual harassment. Many of us know that these start-ups are fraternity training centers for discrimination and harassment. 90 out of 100 starts up fail-could there be a connection between lack of knowledge/leadership and failure rates?

With many American’s living longer lives, some having lost their wealth in the 2008 crash — many need to continue to work. Lacking a universal health care system, a secure social security program, it’s a frightening time for many in the United States. So where are all the jobs going to come from? According to the NYTimes today, we don’t have enough people! We have hiring challenges all over the U.S because their is a shortage of workers. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/21/us/politics/utah-economy-jobs. In Michigan we have a shortage of workers for the summer travel season, in Denver in Landscaping, in Texas in the shrimping business. No we don’t have a shortage of workers, we have a system that doe not connect job seekers with jobs available. Duh, it’s not lack of talent, its a pipeline issue.

Here’s the worst part. In China, high speed rail and a push for “one belt one road”, is going to propel that continent to world leadership. The singular difference is that China’s culture actively respects and seeks knowledge. The more experience you have, the more you are sought out in the ecosystem. That deep respect for life experiences is revered not ignored. In the U.S. are system is so broken and self-absorbed that we don’t acknowledge a broken recruiting system, a frazzled and failing health care system — OUR leaders who are suppose to solve these issues are so self absorbed that some families in FLINT still cannot take showers. With no clear path to fixing our ailing infrastructure there will be many more FLINTS.

Let’s face it, as a country we are paralyzed. While we remain paralyzed, China has begun to address issues of pollution and housing and food safety. Leaders are moving swiftly to address those issues and unravel red tape. Innovation ecosystems are sprouting up in many cities while our rail system barely remains on its rusted tracks. You might remember the great marketing play that former CEO, Michael Eisner did on the field of the Super Bowls. In 1987, New York Giants, Phil Simms when asked what he was going to do next said, “ I am going to Disneyland.” Now the line should be, “I’m going to China.”

We are going to get our ass whooped and we deserve it.

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