Like society, a company's success depends on a culture that is created and cared for by its people. We know this and yet sometimes this fact gets lost. At the companies I'm involved in, we feed people, but we're actually about building culture. There is no better way to bring people together than breaking bread. Culture is not a something, or a someplace, it's not even a someone -- it's the shared space between.
By now the dust has settled from Apple's launch event on Wednesday, and you've probably had a chance to read the recaps from the two hours worth of announcements. Based on the live Twitter stream and the post-event recaps, there are a few things everyone can agree on: first, the media had it pretty spot-on in their predictions for the event.
Airbnb might inadvertently fix you up in a unit that's owned or rented by a violent person with a key to the place. Horror stories are starting to appear. Last spring, one hapless New Yorker rented out his place and was evicted immediately when the landlord found out what he'd done. Another woman rented out her place and returned to find condoms and diaper wipes; her "guest" was a prostitute. Still another came back to a trashed apartment where an orgy had been staged.
Egg freezing has sparked widespread media interest after Apple and Facebook recently announced they would cover the cost of the fertility procedure up to $20,000. This caused some serious debate. Some interpreted this as the tech giants' way of giving women more of a choice around career and starting a family; others saw this as a chauvinistic attempt to recruit and retain female employees. To further understand why this is such a contentious issue, here is some background information on the procedure and how it applies to Canadians.
As much as engaging with traditional players is antithetical to Silicon Valley culture, it is increasingly a necessity to solve global solutions. Silicon Valley's recent successes have come under criticism due to the fact that they seem to be creating an "alternative" system that skirts existing established norms.
Every nation, including Canada, dreams of building the next Silicon Valley. However, this means more than just copying what makes Silicon Valley great. It also means leveraging existing advantages that are prevalent nationally and building the right processes and ecosystem, while taking into account the differences that make nations unique.
The vibe at this week's Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles was certainly more upbeat than a few months ago at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The difference is that Davos is a global event and world prospects are not necessarily a great story, while the Milken confab is distinctly American and the facts are that the U.S. is back on top.
"Not Business As Usual" contemplates a new era in business -- one that realizes business as usual has pushed the limits of our planet's capacity, while concentrating financial wealth in the hands of a too-small minority. The film celebrates ventures and entrepreneurs that refuse to sacrifice social good on the altar of shareholder returns. For them, healthy enterprises embody a significant shift in the underpinnings of business that is "bringing humanity back."
Kitchener-Waterloo is already well established as a bastion of innovation. It's already actively adding places where people will want to live, work and play -- the three elements that define a cluster in a place of innovation. Toronto, on the other hand, has yet to truly establish a centralized, cohesive community where technological innovation can flourish.
Big glass high-rises mean modern, high-tech, success, money, and, to some, beauty. Certain real estate markets -- like downtown Toronto's -- have an addiction to this particular shining look that's hard to break and tenants have come to expect all the glass. But the glass boxes pose particular problems for energy efficiency, glare and comfort that some green developers want to expose.
Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer feels that without physical interaction in the workplace, employees are missing out on important collaborative experiences and more importantly, the company is missing out on new ideas that spring from the collaborative process. What Mayer is missing with her edict is the fact that bringing people physically together does not solve the communication or ultimately collaboration problem. Collaboration leads to innovation. Without innovation, every company, small and large, from tech to manufacturing, will not survive the next century.
In short, everything that you thought the Internet wasn't about in a world of 140 character tweets, Facebook status updates and YouTube viral video sensations. These deep and rich treasure troves of content are also gaining mainstream attention, and it all seems to be drawing more and more energy towards podcasting: a medium that many have already written off.
Recently, a very senior marketing professional who works at one of the world's largest corporations was recounting a story of how they saw a postal truck outside of their corporate head offices in Silicon Valley, and every single parcel that was being offloaded from this truck was from Amazon. He thought to himself: "This is the what retail looks like in 2012."