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Tech community, are we MTV or TED? – The Washington Post

Tech community, are we MTV or TED? @ The Washington Post via Robert.

Consider our heroes. Even a cursory glance at most conference lineups reveals a host of speakers whose actual accomplishments are flimsy at best and whose primary skill seems to be self-promotion. (Should a first-time entrepreneur really be dispensing “knowledge?”) And yet we rarely stop to ask ourselves why we look up to those we’ve chosen. Instead of recognizing the entrepreneurs who have quietly risked it all to build something lasting, we get caught up in social media popularity contests and Twitter “influencers.” We too often ignore the men and women who have built companies that provide livelihoods for their employees while we fawn over self-help gurus offering four-hour short cuts. And although we act the part of intellectuals and world changers, most of us are so reliant on social proof that the first question we ask when considering a conference or event is, “Who else is going?”

Another disturbing trend is the drift toward motivational platitudes in the start-up world. Starting a company is hard, risky, painful and usually seems unfair. Starting a company that will leave a lasting mark on the world is reserved for the borderline insane or very lucky — not for those who need to be propped up with pep talks. In short, entrepreneurship is not a short cut. If you need someone to convince you that starting your own business is right for you, then it’s probably not. Going to conferences, hanging out with entrepreneurs or telling people that you’re a “start-up guy” does not put you in the category of those who put all their chips on the table to turn an idea into a reality.

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2 Comments

  1. Great article, amen sister!

  2. Looks to me like we have a business geek who happens to focus on the tech industry (check his bio at the bottom of the article) who’s mistaken himself for a tech geek per se.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a business geek — it’s an eminently geekworthy subject — but ‘supply chain management’ and ‘power management for embedded microcontrollers’ live in different categories.

    I reject his suggestion that ‘knowledge worth listening to’ equals ‘knowledge which has been successfully monetized’, at least in the tech community. It makes perfect sense in the business geek community, but from a strictly tech perspective there are plenty of interesting ideas that will never scale commercially.

    He strikes me as the kind of guy who’d dismiss Jeri Ellsworth’s home fab, but respect her for running a small chain of stores.. not wrong exactly, just a different emphasis.

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