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Silicon Valley Is Suffering From A Lack of Humanity


The genius of Steve Jobs lies in his hippie period and with his time at Reed College, the pre-eminent Liberal Arts college in North America. To his understanding of technology, Jobs brought an immersion in popular culture. In his 20s, he dated Joan Baez; Ella Fitzgerald sang at his 30th birthday party. His worldview was shaped by the ’60s counterculture in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he had grown up, the adopted son of a Silicon Valley machinist. When he graduated from high school in Cupertino in 1972, he said, “the very strong scent of the 1960s was still there. After dropping out of Reed College, a stronghold of liberal thought in Portland, Ore., in 1972, Mr. Jobs led a countercultural lifestyle himself. He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.

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Pope Francis TED talk echoes Harvard Professor John Kotter on Leadership


Humility and Leadership Go Hand in Hand

There is a fundamental truth here. Pope Francis and the Harvard Business School are aligned.

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Jerks And The Start-ups They Ruin


Perhaps the premiere of Season 4 of “Silicon Valley” twigged me to share this post. but despite the title, the HBO series only connection may be the now viral “mean jerk time algorithm.” The real “Silicon Valley jerk” has been around for decades, buried with all the other dirty laundry. Uber’s Travis Kalanick has only brought it front and center at this moment. It is something of a conundrum as some of the jerks are also the most successful. We all now know about the “bad” Steve Jobs. Oracle for years had a very bad reputation that came directly from Larry Ellison himself. Microsoft was long known as a “sweatshop” with a highly negative culture led by Steve Ballmer. Even venture capitalists themselves have caught the disease as evidenced by Reid Hoffman and the late Tom Perkins of KPCB. The best assessment I have heard is that these aggressive unrestrained corporate cultures destroy their own goals. Or better yet, the saying that “culture trumps strategy.”

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University degree no longer comes with promise of stable job


The unwritten promise of a post-secondary education has been to earn a degree in an applied field such as engineering and you’ll end up with a good, stable job, but the millennial generation is finding that can no longer be counted on. I have been thinking about this issue for some time. Last year, I posted an article on this blog by Robert Reich, Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. I was stimulated to share that article by what I was seeing with my own students from the University of British Columbia, and contrasting that with my own experience years ago, walking into my Silicon Valley dream career by sheer chance. That simply no longer happens. Grads must begin plotting out a plan early, no later than the beginning of their third year, and begin to execute on it in order to find an entry-level position commensurate with their education. Networking and cold calling is imperative, but as this article points out, even that may not guarantee solid employment.

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Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Culture Destroys It’s Own Goals


UPDATE: KALANICK VIDEO SURFACES. Suffice to say, people are angry with Uber, and things aren’t getting better. This is actually deja vu all over again. We have seen this before in Silicon Valley. The hubris of a company founders or founders creates an ugly overly aggressive and unrestrained culture in its employees and before long things begin to unravel. This has been quietly observed at Uber for some time, and can be gleaned by its own actions as reported in the press. Now, new self-inflicted cracks are appearing. More than 200,000 people have deleted the UBER app off their smart phones in the past month. After former employee Susan Fowler Rigetti published a detailed blog post about the sexual harassment and discrimination she allegedly experienced at the company, people began deleting the ride sharing-app again. As more and more employees have spoken out about the alleged poor working conditions, Uber’s customer base is dwindling … and the company is getting desperate.

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The Okanagan Never Has Been, And Never Will Be, Silicon Valley: A Lesson From New Zealand


UPDATE: This post from February 21, 2016, is being republished in the light of the announcement that Club Penguin is closing its doors in March. No amount of PR spin, arm waving, or equivocation can make the bitter truth of this post go away.  I note that Lane Merrifeld and Accelerate Okanagan have been conspicuously silent. […]

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The Importance of “Convergence” In Market and Industry Analysis


If You Get Technology “Convergence” Wrong, Nothing Else Matters I came across this book during my most recent visit to the UBC Vancouver campus.  As good as I think this book is at focusing attention, in workbook style, on the importance of market and industry analysis in new venture due diligence, there is an issue […]

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Engineer Into The Workforce


Engineer into the Workforce presentation to The University of British Columbia, School of Engineering, 4th year Capstone Project course. November 2, 2016

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Are LinkedIn and HR technology suppressing hiring?


Yes, LinkedIn and Human Resources screening technology are suppressing hiring. The fact is, the task of submitting a resume’ that will make it past the filtering technology used by almost all recruiters these days, requires cunning and a shrewd understanding of how to manipulate these screening apps, something akin to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, HR SEO techniques requires a knowledge of the app itself, which is a closely guarded secret. WRT to LinkedIn, I have growing concerns that LinkedIn no longer meets the “WIIFM” test, or “what’s in it for me?” LinkedIn seems to have aligned its business and destiny more with the needs of the recruiting industry than with my own needs, while still trying to sell me on the benefits of paid “Premium Membership.” Increasingly blog discussions on the value of LinkedIn to business users are concluding that it’s value has diminished sharply. Perhaps the recruiting industry represents a bigger potential revenue stream and LinkedIn does not wish to reveal that to its individual users. Then there is the matter of the LinkedIn merger with Microsoft, which has left many observers underwhelmed, despite pronouncements of the exceptional strategic value to both companies.

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Choosing A College Major And A Career Path


My own odyssey in choosing a major and a career is probably not a great guide for today’s students. I had only a vague idea that I wanted a quality “liberal arts education,” to equip me with the thinking skills necessary to guide my career. I chose an undergraduate major in Speech-Communication with double minors in Philosophy and Photography. In retrospect, despite the disadvantages of my choice, it turned out well at that time, primarily because being able to communicate and present yourself is perhaps the most important skill in any career. Warren Buffett agrees with that. But in today’s much more competitive environment, I am sadly less confident that it would work. This is the dilemma for today’s students.

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