Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Start-Up 101: The Beat of a Different Drum

This may be stepping away from the norm but one of the challenges in the hi-tech world, but it seems necessary to take a different perspective. Social media-ists are really into their social media world and just waiting for creative tools to take off.

We really forget that Silicon Valley isn't made up of just social media-ists or web 2.0 or those who support all these new ventures made possible by the Internet.
True--Silicon Valley is a place for start-ups and it is only here that people are willing to try, financial pros are willing to fund and overall, everyone is prepared for failure, if it happens.

I spoke with a professional drummer with a 20+ year career, Dave Gary, Jr. and asked him what he thought about Silicon Valley. Dave has talent--at age 14, he picked up a drum set for the first time and impressed a teacher.

I couldn't tease much information out of him with the typical interview questions. When asked about his professional goals, he asked in return, "What is the goal in life?"

When asked about his passions other than drumming, he wouldn't answer. "I do what most people do as a hobby, and that's just what I do."

But really, Dave isn't any different from your VC, entrepreneur or the next CEO. His biggest frustration is "bad musicians that think they're good, and they just don't have any idea what it takes to be good." Not even people with talent cannot take their gifts for granted.

He says that whoever you are, whether a doctor or a businessman, you will always face challenges. "A lot of college kids come out of college thinking they can just get a job. But what about the guy next to you who also has that piece of paper?"

He also sees Silicon Valley as a working beehive and he isn't sure if most people know how to think for themselves. "Most people in Silicon Valley attend (music) shows, but they don't really listen. They hang out because they have money to pour into The Place (whatever is trendy) but they don't really listen. They don't know what to do--they're a bit robotic."

He talks about passion and doing what you love. At age 18, he majored in accounting at university for "almost a semester--I quit right before finals." But when he went to college, he realized fast that an accounting major may please his parents but it wasn't making him money. When he played music, he was making money--at 16, "I made more money than most of my friends playing music than they made working at McDonald's."

But Dave is making money because he is doing what is important to him. He says people in Silicon Valley face a lot of competition and work hard, but it's not enough to just work hard. "Make money or invent something--those without vision perish."

As I spoke to Dave, it was simply clear that it's not enough to just work a 9 to 5 job, not enough to do what everybody else does. And, career paths aren't linear. Without redacting the message, it seemed to me that this was just a man who has done what he is passionate about all his life. It has made his personal life simple and his professional life challenging.

No comments: