Notes from Silicon Valley
We live in a deeply interconnected world. Thanks to the likes of Google, Facebook & Twitter, we now have easy access to information for all. These companies, and more broadly speaking, the Valley as we call it, is a place that is deeply admired (and at times envied). People everywhere wonder what it is like to live and work in the hotbed of technological revolution. To understand how or why the Valley is so innovative, I think it’s important to take a closer look at the kind of culture that is fostered here.
Take firstly companies such as Google or Facebook. When I first walked into the Google office at Mountain View, California, what amazed me was how casually everyone—right from a high-level executive to entry level engineers—were dressed. The nerd look, comprised of backpacks, hoodies & sneakers, was à la mode! While certain clothes or brands can be used to differentiate between people, here I found that it was intended to do just the opposite: it created the impression of equality and inclusiveness.
Fail fast, fail often. Now this is a mantra peppered in tech conference speeches, coffee conversations and is deeply embedded into the Valley culture. Whereas most people recoil from the idea of failure, here it is embraced, and regarded as a rite of passage for startup founders. Moonshot ideas, like Tesla’s SpaceX, Google’s Project Loon & self-driving cars are lauded, not laughed at. Disruption is the mot du jour.
Who can mention technology companies without the free food? At many technology companies here, it is common to have so many cafes that employees are spoiled for choice! You can eat as healthily (Acai Berry Bowl, Kale smoothies or Hemp Seed Salad) or as unhealthily (Fried bacon, Hash browns, Burgers) as you want. More often than not, I have found that people in California are health conscious. “Wellness Shots” promising everything from flushing your liver, restoring your digestive tract to fighting inflammation are immensely popular with young folk. The other aspect of healthy living is the obsession with “working-out”. In both the places I have lived in San Jose, we have had access to a nature trail and free exercise classes from Monday to Friday. And because everyone you know is “working-out”, before you know it, you’re transformed from a couch potato to an avid hiker, waking up at the crack of dawn to explore a new trail in the Bay area (of which there are too many to count).
The mild weather year-round, and ample job opportunities do come at a cost. Housing costs are impossibly high and many times, you can end up spending 50% or more of your income on rent. In fact, one startup made news for offering an incentive to its employees to move out of the Bay Area!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the unique culture of Silicon Valley, and how it has helped shape this one region of the US into the face of the technological revolution. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.