The State of Silicon Valley

Charles Dickens could have been talking about us.

The Best of Times. The Worst of Times

I spent some time this week attending the 2021 State of Silicon Valley event produced by Joint Venture Silicon Valley. (You can download their annual report here, lots of data for #datanerds like me.) Like the entire country, but to the nth degree, Silicon Valley has experienced both extreme loss and extreme gain during the pandemic…and that’s just an amplified version of a near 50-year trendline. We have the worst income inequality in the country. We have the most investment and funding in the country. We have a terrible gap in housing being built and housing needed. We have significant generosity and philanthropy, and I would say we have extreme selfishness.

We’ve created the hardware, software, biotech, services that have kept this country going during the pandemic. And we’ve given nine-figure valuations to the equivalent of party-line and dog-walking companies.

We are the most diverse, globalized area in the country….yet some would say we don’t yet have the culture to match it, AND the companies who have done the absolute best, even during these and other hard times, have somehow managed to hire like they operate in Vermont or something.

And we do not have a culture of accountability here. Instead of might=right we seem to operate by a $$=right mentality.

And yet. I wouldn’t live (full-time) anywhere else. Sure, it’s partly that I grew up here, and my family is here, and the weather anywhere else can go suck it compared to here.

But it’s also the culture and cuisine that’s there if you’re willing to look for it. The dynamism of the people here…where everyone has a side hustle or a big idea and is excited to talk with you about it and see if there’s synergy (yes, a much-hated work, but still). You are short drives from anything you could want in the world here.

And there are countless ways people are trying to make a difference. To both level playing fields and make new ones (which was BlogHer’s strategy, boiled down.)

One of my goals upon recovering big chunks of my mental and political and activism bandwidth post-2020 elections to make sure I am involved at the local level. That was a big message of Road Map for Revolutionaries, and I’m trying to follow my own advice. I’ve already applied to my city’s arts commission, although I don’t know if I’ll get selected. I attend neighborhood association meetings and attend virtual office hours with my city councilperson and my county supervisor. I participated in my city’s Office of Women’s Policy year-long initiative to celebrate women’s suffrage last year. I recently was able to route donations from a client to two local initiatives trying to assist the unhoused (or those at risk of becoming so). And there’s so much more to do.

We could be so much greater here in the great Bay Area. But if I’m not looking for a way to be part of achieving that greatness, how great am I?

I would love to hear what local initiatives you’re involved in where you are. How do you feel about your home?

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Last Week-ish

Thanks to a webinar featuring Dr Christine Koh I finally decided to start using Instagram stories more intentionally. (I wish her webinar had a public link, but apparently, it’s only in a private group, sorry!) We’ll see how I do. In the meantime might as well put in a plug for you to follow me there :)

As promised I went on a Clubhouse rant in last week’s episode of The Op-Ed Page. When I posted it on Facebook I also got a bunch of great input from my community. As Clubhouse grows massively during the pandemic (growing from a few thousand when I joined six months ago to now more than 8MM downloads) now IS the time to think about whether to use it, how to use it, how to potentially advocate for it to do things better or differently.

Listen now.

Coming This Week-ish

The one #notresolutionsjusthabits habit I’m really kicking ass at this year is recovering my ability to focus enough to read books. I often say that 2020 felt like it broke my focus. I thought I’d do nothing but read, but I did everything but read. So far I have finished eight books in 2021!! I think I finished two or three all last year! This past week I finished the galley of Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones (pre-order here) and Living Bread by Daniel Leader. The former you’ll hear all about next week (see below). The latter was a book that was meant to inspire my nascent bread baking habit. It’s part cookbook, part history, and part science of baking, and if you’ve gotten into this pandemic trend, it could give you new things to bake for another year in lockdown, God forbid. This week I’ve started The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova, which I need to finish quickly for a DENT book club discussion on Friday. So, I’ll be looking for my next read pretty quickly. I’ve got President Obama’s audiobook lined up, but it’s a big commitment. Any of you got any other recommendations?

Also in the way of recommendation-seeking: I’ve signed up to write a listicle of the five shows to binge to “restore your faith in humanity.” I’ve got three locked and loaded (and points if you can guess them!), what would you add to a list like this?

Leave a comment and let me know your book and binge suggestions. And as always I appreciate a share of this newsletter or my podcast.

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And if you think I can help you break through the things that are keeping you stuck, you can always set up your first introductory 30-minute consult for free by booking it in my Calendly.

Have a great week-ish!

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