note: this piece was originally written for the Orange Business Live blog
On May 10, 2011, the Orange Biznis Forum meeting took place in Bratislava, Slovakia. The guest speaker at that meeting was the much revered Canadian Ice Hockey legend Mark Messier, who is now retired. Mark had come to share with us some of his best tips with regard to team management and leadership inspired by the strong moments in his rich and long career. This business meeting had taken place the morning after we had witnessed the splendid victory of the Ice Hockey team of the Czech Republic, at the Orange arena in Bratislava [footage of the match available from our Posterous account]
a living legend
It’s not everyday you come across a living legend, and even though I’m rather new to Hockey, I could well sense that we were experiencing a very special moment when Mark Messier came to talk to us about leadership and management at an Orange Business Meeting organised by our Orange representatives based in Bratislava, the Capital town of Slovakia in central Europe. Mark played hockey for 26 years and he retired only six years ago. He played in Edmonton, Canada for 12 years and then joined the New York Rangers with whom he won the Stanley cup in just three years. He is credited for the amazing turnaround of the New York City team, despite incredible media pressure.
I have taken extensive notes during that meeting, so here are my takeaways from Mark’s presentation. An impressive and extensive biography of Mark is made available online on Wikipedia.
the wolf inside you
Mark opened his presentation with an old Cherokee quote: “there are two wolves inside you” he said, “one good and one bad; guess who wins? The one you feed!”.
The real challenge is how to convey a “positive and energetic attitude”; something he understood when talking with his uncle Victor Messier “some sort of Guru and philosopher”, in a “Buddhist kind of way” according to his own words. Victor showed him the pictures of one Alex Grey, an artist interested in anatomy whose paintings were trying to make personal energy visible in 7 foot-high paintings. Mark described this as a defining moment. Although he admits that this kind of revelation could happen in various ways according to who you are and how you feel. What is important is to understand “how you can capture the energy in order to show a positive attitude which can lead you to success”.
I have just come back from a week spent in the Silicon Valley, during which I was
able to have meetings – as
part of a press tour – with various start-ups in the areas of IT infrastructure,
software , storage area networks to name but a few of the subjects that were tackled
during that trip. Beyond the various interviews and discussions that we had with
leading entrepreneurs in the Bay area, I have tried to highlight the eight points
which, at this very moment and in my opinion, are making the Silicon Valley stand
out from the rest of the world in terms of high-tech innovation; here they are:
- above all, the Silicon Valley is about a state of mind in sync with entrepreneurship; the whole Valley is resonating with the desire to foster free enterprise and innovate,
- secondly, there is the possibility for such entrepreneurs to find easy money and the real ecosystem to launch new ideas and new services,
- thirdly, swiftness of action, which enables a new high-tech venture to be set up in something like 3 months or even less,
- fourthly, the strength of the Silicon Valley is in the software, what ever the application concerned, even in the infrastructure business. We have indeed seen several start-ups work up to 4 years in order to develop a new operating system and therefore try and get a leg up in competition,
- fifthly, a true myth, which enables the Silicon Valley to live on, despite the current credit crunch and the crisis that everyone has been through,
- the sixth characteristic of the Bay area is private money, often coming from families or entrepreneurs (not VCs) who have succeeded; ethnic funds are also involved significantly (Indian and Chinese mainly),
- the seventh reason is a sense of a global perspective, whereby Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are thinking global even before the opportunity arises to launch beyond their local markets,
- lastly, the intensive use of offshoring for software developments, with unlikely countries like France being used as cheap alternatives to Bay area developers (a junior php developer in the silicon valley is paid $60,000
to 80,000 a year, a senior developer $120,000 to $150,000 per annum).
As a conclusion, it’s not just one reason that makes the Silicon Valley different from what is seen elsewhere, often copied and rarely matched, even in the United States. This region is really a maelstrom of innovation and entrepreneurship.
note: picture Yann A Gourvennec, Orange Business Services: the photo was taken at the plug and play tech centre in Sunnyvale.