Dear Chicago: Embrace the Edge, Ignore Thiel

by | Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Last week, entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel casually and brazenly denigrated Chicago, hyping Silicon Valley while speaking at a Roosevelt University Chicago event.

In Thiel’s own words: “If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

Chicago has reacted with numerous self-deprecating or defensive articles.

Buck up, Chicago.

According to the IRS, five MILLION people have left California in the past decade. The exodus equates to a whopping net loss of $26 billion in annual income for the state. The majority headed to one of five states: Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Washington.

The reason for the California exodus is no secret: exorbitant housing costs, a housing shortage, the second lowest home ownership rates in the country, high taxes, statewide unemployment higher than the national average, low wages, fiscal instability, systemic gender/race discrimination, increasing business regulation, not to mention a dearth of companies solving *actual* problems, severe droughts, a water shortage, earthquakes, dry lightning, and accelerating ozone pollution levels (also among the highest in the country).

Peter Thiel paints a rosy picture of Silicon Valley. Meanwhile Silicon Valley’s restaurant industry is literally starving.

Location is everything. Research has proven that environment has a surprisingly strong influence on success. Unless you fit Silicon Valley’s very narrow niche “mold for success” (read: white, educated, technology-savvy males under age 40 — age 50 if you are lucky enough to be a VC — with money and family connections), look elsewhere for opportunity. The folks in Silicon Valley are not more talented; they’re merely more insular, protectionist, and elitist with regard to membership in their private club.

Remember folks: DIVERSITY DRIVES INNOVATION and INNOVATION COMES FROM THE EDGES.

In the words of brainy entrepreneur and adventurer James Clear: “Life is a game; if you want better results over a sustained period of time, play the game in an environment that favors you.” James also wisely once advised: “worry not — aim for the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.”

Embrace the edge, Chicago. Don’t kow-tow to Silicon Valley pundits and bullies. You’re better than that.

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