Innovators of the Valley
The world is bogged down by the economic crisis, but you would hardly know it from the optimistic grins on some locals’ faces in Silicon Valley. Now in its second week, the 2009 Innovation Journalism program at Stanford University has pulled together journalists from Finland, Sweden, Slovenia and Mexico to teach us the best ways to tell stories of innovation.
During these training sessions, experts in the fields of business, technology, design, and media have eagerly shared their views on the hows and whys of innovation. Despite these specialists’ varied backgrounds, they share one common thrust. Now is the time to innovate. And they say there’s no better place to devise new concepts, products and processes than Silicon Valley.
What makes the Valley stand out? In part, our mentors attribute the creative atmosphere to the swarms of brilliant minds banding together from around the world. But the Valley isn’t the only bastion for immigrants, particularly in the United States.
However the Valley also happens to be a center for collaboration and cooperation. It’s a place where you root for your neighbor to succeed – albeit not always for altruistic reasons. In the Valley saying you knew the next Steve Jobs when he was just the eccentric guy tinkering in his garage holds quite a bit of clout. Investing in the next Steve Jobs? That’s every venture capatilist’s dream.
Then there’s the workload (referred to as “work ethic” by some) that would make most holiday-satiated Europeans cringe. Here innovators are passionate about their work and are willing to put in 18-hour days, seven days a week, to carry out their vision. In the Valley, entrepreneurs and innovators understand that it isn’t always the best idea that wins, but rather the hardest worker who is willing to make sacrifices.
Of course, not everyone makes it in the Valley. Not even close. But here failure is seen as a virtue, as long as the potential for success is around the corner. In Silicon Valley, someone who has failed has learned from their mistakes. Because of that, they are considered wiser and more valuable.
For these reasons, many inhabitants of Silicon Valley maintain a spirit of optimism about their ability to innovate their way out of the economic storm. Unfortunately, it’s a feeling not shared by most others – particularly in the news industry. As a journalist, I would like to see the great minds of the Valley using their innovative advantages to tackle the financial conundrums plaguing our newsrooms.