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Erica O'Grady
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Erica O'Grady

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Erica O'Grady

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It's good we're having this talk:
Robert Scoble originally shared:
+Francisco Dao makes a good point that Silicon Valley is focusing on superficiality and is arrogant while doing so. His post is linked below.

When I was on vacation Francisco and I had a long talk and I've been tweaking who I interview, aiming at people who are trying to build companies aimed at the long-term. It's one of the reasons why I interviewed Victoria Ransom, who is CEO of Wildfire Interactive: Victoria Ransom gives us a tour of Wildfire Interactive

I agree with him on a lot of his points. But there are a few things I wanted to expand on:

+Dmitry Shapiro asked him “Why are so many great developers spending their time trying to create products specifically designed to addict and help us waste our time?”

The reason for that is, well, because much of the new tech world is build around advertising as a business model. That model is pretty simple. First you have to gather a crowd. Then you run advertisements to that crowd.

So, if advertising is your business model you've gotta find ways to addict people. Heck, Google+ is a great example of that. They are doing all sorts of things to make this place more addictive. Just yesterday +Andy Hertzfeld (one of Silicon Valley's best developers) announced a new bar in Google+ that will always stay on screen. Why? To addict us further to Google's services.

It is fairly common for people in the technology community to fancy ourselves intellectuals.

Yup. That does happen here. I've done it myself from time to time. But it generally is just frustration that other people don't buy into our dreams. Heck, go and talk to Doug Engelbart. He developed the mouse. He got kicked out of his own research lab in the 1970s. Why? Because his fellow researchers couldn't "get" his visions of tomorrow. He was right, they were wrong, and he explained why to me: the existing beliefs of the day were aimed at satisfying the existing business of the day. Back then computers were only used by two people: data entry clerks and PhDs (really smart people). He saw a day when everyone would use a computer. Back in 1970s most people just thought that idea was weird. Heck, +Steve Wozniak offered his Apple I to HP and they turned him down, thinking that there wasn't much of a market in personal computers.

So, when we get around and complain about other people, generally that's what we're talking about. Making the future is hard and not everyone gets it right away. Silicon Valley is arrogant because we would like it if you all were like us, damn it!

Consider our heroes. Even a cursory glance at most conference lineups reveals a host of speakers whose actual accomplishments are flimsy at best and whose primary skill seems to be self-promotion.

Um, that's because of the conference model. Recently I was involved in an email thread with a really great entrepreneur and a conference planner. The conversation went something like this "We'd be honored to have you speak at our conference." "Sorry, I'm too busy building my next company."

See, the "heroes" we all should be holding up are too busy to speak at conferences. How many conferences has Steve Jobs been to? Not many.

So, instead, you get someone like me who hasn't done anything close to Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or Victoria Ransom. Sorry, but that dynamic won't change for most conferences. Yes, I know those folks show up for Francisco's exclusive events, but that's because, well, those exclusive events are filtered and are opportunities for business and friendship with people like them. It's like the Bugatti car club I happened upon yesterday. I bet that club is lots of fun to be part of to, but you gotta have $2 million to join and, well, last I checked my bank account doesn't have that.

Instead of recognizing the entrepreneurs who have quietly risked it all to build something lasting, we get caught up in social media popularity contests and Twitter “influencers.”



But at least I use that kind of posturing to point the light of my camera on entrepreneurs. Look at -- tons of people just trying to make a better world.

The social media games are just noise. The truth is I'll be judged at the end of the day not by my Klout score but whether I added any value here today.

Another disturbing trend is the drift toward motivational platitudes in the start-up world. Starting a company is hard, risky, painful and usually seems unfair. Starting a company that will leave a lasting mark on the world is reserved for the borderline insane or very lucky — not for those who need to be propped up with pep talks. In short, entrepreneurship is not a short cut. If you need someone to convince you that starting your own business is right for you, then it’s probably not.

This I totally grok. I'm considering starting my own business. +Bill Gross started my year off by asking me a question "why don't you start your own business?" I answered "I don't want to do the hard work." (IE, stuff like raising funding, chasing sponsors, hiring and firing people, and doing the grunge work of accounting and all that). I'm still struggling with that question nine months later.

Don’t consider this an indictment of the tech community but a challenge to think more independently, to question our aspirations and to reexamine our heroes.

Yup, Francisco told me the same thing over dinner on vacation. I answered with +Victoria Ransom

Who are your entrepreneurial heroes?
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Erica O'Grady

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The World - Digital Nomad
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Nestled along the Boulder Creek - this amazing building - built in 1914 has finally found a winning combination. Chef Corey Buck, formerly of John's on Pearl Street, is in my opinion the best chef in all of Boulder. I recommend the Steak & Eggs or the Lobster Benedict. There is an outdoor patio which will be great come summer...and they've even snagged an amazing former Trident Barista. My only complaint is that they still don't have a dessert menu!
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