My good friend John Durham and his team at Catalyst SF gave me the chance to reflect on my working career. As little as I like to admit it, I started in the business world in the mid-1970s in high tech advertising in Palo Alto.
When I first dipped my toe into the water of high technology, Silicon Valley had only been christened by on Don Hoefler two years before. Before that the geographic designation was just “the Santa Clara Valley” and the Chamber of Commerce nickname was “The Prune Capital of America”. I wrote about the improbable rise of Silicon Valley in this post from several years ago.
Choosing high technology was an eccentric career choice fifty years ago. Experienced and respected advisors suggested that I devote my energies to “real business”. An economist speaking to the Churchill Club in the late 70’s told us not to be too full of ourselves. That the technology business was only about the size of the dog food business but that if we had a couple of good years we’d catch up to pantyhose.
Since those days I have had a good run. Some highs. Some lows. Made more money than some and a LOT less than others. But it’s been a lot of fun. And I. have made a lot of great friends.
Catalyst asked me to reflect on what I had learned over time as part of their “Tried Meets True” series. It was an interesting exercise and I took it seriously.You can see the whole presentation here. But in the end, the core question as Curley in City Slickers asks is “What’s the One Thing?” For me it was to always bet on the new thing and to believe that the world offers us new opportunities every day.
It is tempting to hang onto the current job, the current solution, what you know. But that is almost always the wrong decision. For me, the answer has always been to bet on the future. And it still is.