Jean on the Job
We are sometimes so isolated here in this community. Silicon Valley woes seem to slip in and out of our consciousness. Our neighbors are not all waiting for their pink slips. They are not all saying, "I escaped this week."
In speaking to some young couples recently, I've heard these sentiments:
"We love it here in California, but if either one of us loses our jobs next week, we will be packing up and moving east to live with our families. With our rent, we can't afford to live here with one salary for too many months. We never dreamed this would be happening so fast."
Or, "I have to lay off several hundred people this week. Many are my friends. I convinced several of these folks to move out here in the first place. I feel so badly about telling them they have to leave."
These are educated, MBA or engineering folks. They are bright, enthusiastic and loved Silicon Valley. I know. We are too crowded, too densely populated, too traffic congested, but it still hurts to see that some enthusiastic and dedicated young people will be the first to leave.
To those who must leave, "adios, and good luck." This era may ultimately feel like California in the '50s. It will be like the war years when servicemen had a dose of California and never forgot it. "I was stationed at the Presidio and knew I would move back here someday."
Our Silicon Valley heroes and victims will some day say something like, "I was stationed on Lawrence Expressway or Orchard Parkway or Gateway Parkway, and now I am coming back to give California another chance."
Intel, Cisco, Sun - these companies opened the doors to many new Californians, who may now have to go home to Indiana. These gold rush soldiers will leave, but not without the sunshine days and soothingly cool nights etched in their minds and hearts. The brain trysts, the technical conversations at Starbucks, the business news that makes the international news-this is our community. The highs and lows of organizations that shape the world. We are the business and technology of the universe.
The departing dot-com executives will not forget us. They tasted our sunshine and our gold. The taste may be quite bitter in the moment, but our commerce, our academic institutions and our morale in general will be sweetening in the days ahead. As our friends come and go - and some will return - the stable-ites, those who can stay and feel secure, are the lucky ones. That's probably you and me.
Jean A. Hollands, CEO, Growth & Leadership Center, author, "Silicon Syndrome: How to Survive a High-Tech Relationship," "Optimistic Organizations" and "Red Ink Behavior: Measure the High Cost of Problem Employees," was voted Business Woman of the Year in 1986 and 1996. Write to GLC, 1451 Grant Road, Mountain View, 94040.