<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=290086984736480&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Search
word-map-thumb

The Alternative Board Blog

Secrets of Silicon Valley

Aug. 1, 2013 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide

When Secrets of Silicon Valley, from Deborah Perry Piscione, first came out, I put in on my Amazon wish list. However, as I started tracking the reviews, I saw some on the average side.  I decided to get it at the library instead and I'm glad that I did. It's an interesting book but I don't see myself going back to it. That being said, I wanted to share a few nuggets that stood out.

Takeaways

Ms. Piscione relocated to Silicon Valley from the DC area in 2006. Therefore, her insight reflects both an objective outsider's view but also the view of someone who has started several companies in Silicon Valley on her own. She identified the following areas as the key ingredients for why there is so much innovation:

  • The importance of Stanford University - both on its founding philosophy and on its continued focus on innovation, incubation & business partnerships.
  •   The people and the culture. This includes the natives as well as the many innovators - especially south Asians - attracted to the area. Over 50% of Silicon Valley start-ups are led by immigrants. 
  • The cycle of innovation. There is a constant flow of new companies doing groundbreaking technology work. However, what really seems to be part of the juice in the Valley are the big successes - you hear so many references to Google, Apple, HP and Intel. There are also smaller but equally innovative companies such as Tesla and IDEO. But the thought of creating the next Apple drives a lot of energy.
  • The acceptance of failure as a badge of honor. Failure in business is frowned upon in many cultures. In Silicon Valley it is almost expected that you're going to fail, probably multiple times, before you have success.
  • The business model philosophy. The author argues that when start-ups are seeking funding in other markets, the question is "how will you generate revenue?" In Silicon Valley, the question instead is asked "how will you create value?" Of course, the venture capitalists want a great return on their investment - that is, value leads to revenue. But you can see in companies such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, that value came well before revenue and these companies were well-rewarded for their established value.
  • The sophistication of the venture capitalists - especially those on Sand Hill Road.
  • The services infrastructure: having a network of law firms, banks, accounting firms, investment banks, consultants, incubators and headhunters that have structured themselves to support a fast-faced, very dynamic business ecosystem.
  • The informality. In reading Steve Jobs biography, I was fascinated to learn how frequently he would be seen taking walks around his neighborhood, often with other well-known entrepreneurs & technologies. "Secrets" explains that this is just part of the fabric of Silicon Valley. It is an informal culture where even the most successful people are friendly and willing to share. The Valley's well-known meeting places, where many successful ventures have been launched, and lifestyle all contribute to the fabric of innovation.

Review

Ms. Piscione references various interesting insights on innovation and creativity throughout the book. She contrasts innovation with invention and improvement in that "innovation refers to the notion of doing something differently rather than doing the same thing better". She cites Clay Christiansen's work in the Innovator's DNA who identified that innovator's have 5 key discovery skills: they are associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting. They are also curious, observant and ask a lot of questions. Ms. Piscione also includes her own observations that the top entrepreneurs are passionate, authentic, driven by ideas, fearless in risk-taking, trustworthy and resilient.

Want additional insight? Download Hiring a Business Coach for Your Small Business now 

DOWNLOAD

The last chapter explains what it is like to grow up in Silicon Valley. She cites the great educational institutions for youth, with even innovation schools for pre-schoolers, the exposure to so many business leaders and the peer culture of so many youth with interesting pursuits. The author also observes the high rate of involvement by fathers in the caretaking and education of their children.

View from TAB 

Rather than just provide the book perspective, I asked Bob French, TAB Facilitator in the area, what his observations were. He agreed with the insights with the book. He also comments that "the acceptance of failure goes pretty deep. I was part of a group interviewing a candidate on behalf of a customer for a key management position and discovered during the process that the individual had gone bankrupt. The reaction from our group was, 'good, now he knows what it takes.'"

He also clarified that, locally, the definition of Silicon Valley is now pretty well considered the whole Bay Area. Per Bob, "Innovation and tech start-ups are part of the whole ecosystem and culture here. Anybody with a good idea is welcome and the attitude is let's hear first before we reject."

photo credit: mninha via photopin cc

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

DOWNLOAD

Written by The Alternative Board Worldwide

Related posts

How to Plan for Your Company’s Expansion
Mar. 5, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Successful business growth doesn’t happen accidentally. While there are times when rapid expansion occurs due to unforeseen factors such as large-scale market changes or shifts in demographics, for...
What Habits Can Cripple a Leader’s Productivity
Feb. 19, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
With all the attention given to boosting employee productivity, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the same urgency for business owners or CEOs and their executive teams. Ask yourself: are you’re...
Keep Your Team Productive and Motivated in Our Uncertain Times
Feb. 14, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
There’s a great deal of uncertainty in the world today, some of which directly (or indirectly) affects the businesses you lead. Political, financial, cultural and religious upheavals generate what...
Leadership Part II: Why be a Boss when you can be a Leader?
Feb. 6, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
In my past 30 years of business I have met thousands of business owners and while all of them have been the ‘boss’, not all of them have been leaders. How to be a better leader is a topic that comes...
Management Skills Part 1: Transitioning from Employee to Manager
Jan. 22, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
In my work with business owners, many of them have expressed a desire to transition a certain employee to a more senior role at their company. However, this promotion sometimes doesn’t happen because...
Why More Female Business Owners Are Joining Boards
Jan. 10, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
It’s encouraging to see more women business owners joining boards. I’ve found that most women in management, specifically on boards, offer a different style of leadership and a fresh perspective,...
How to Boost Working Capital for Small Businesses
Dec. 5, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
How well do you understand the concept and significance of working capital? A surprising number of small business leaders aren’t necessarily conversant with the term, though they follow its...
How To Build A World-class Sales Team
Dec. 5, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
You may have the best product or service out there, but if you lack a high-performing sales team, chances are your business will suffer. As anyone who’s ever been in (or dealt with) sales knows, it...
How to Leverage LinkedIn to Market Your Business
Dec. 5, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Use LinkedIn to market your business Virtually all business professionals use LinkedIn to connect with other business leaders, promote their endeavors, make new contacts, and otherwise share news...
How to Manage Your Mobile Workforce
Jul. 16, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
The American workforce is changing the nature of “work” as we once knew it. The days when employees absolutely had to work at a desk, in an office, are long gone. While many businesses still insist...