Update: This article was originally published for the Houston Chronicle on June 10, 2015.
Be like Mike. The original and greatest mimetic. You can also be like Michael Jordan. Nobody ever said Be like Magic or Be like Malone. It was always about Jordan. Here’s the problem with mimetic techniques. Beneath the feel-good aspirational comparison is a whole lot of hollowness, an empty void where actual value and quality should be, masked by a marketing-friendly image.
Be like Silicon Valley. In the past few days, I’ve witnessed this debate pick up again, about Houston’s constant struggle to compare itself to Silicon Valley. There’s constant desire to frame our challenges and problems in terms of “why aren’t we more like SV?” And, after some thought, all I can ask is “Why?” Why do we settle for mimetics when there’s plenty of quality and talent to stand on its own? You can’t want to be unique AND want to be like Silicon Valley. There’s no having the cake and eating it too.
The announcement made me giddy: As of September 18, Houston has an open data policy. Most of the city’s data will become public, allowing any resident access to terabytes of information that can be used to improve the city’s quality of life. At data.ohouston.org, the city has already posted 162 city datasets – data on everything from hurricane risk areas to registered city lobbyists to crime stats.
The Bayou Startup Showcase, held Thursday at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, peered into the present and future of entrepreneurship in the nation’s fourth largest city.
The showcase is a collaboration between OwlSpark and Red Labs, the accelerator programs at Rice and the University of Houston, respectively. Teams from each school — made up of undergraduates, graduate students, alumni, even faculty members — pitched startup ideas to the Houston community after three months of rigorous business development.
As you can see, I spend a bunch of MY time sleeping.
I’m a college student. The one thing all college students want is more time. To be fair, that’s what most people want. So how do all of us spend our time?
Thankfully, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the results of their American Time Use 2013 survey (yes, I examine BLS stats for fun). A lot of cool information is in there, but the one that really caught my eye was the breakdown of time spent on primary activities.
Summer of 1992 in Barcelona, a collection of US basketball players touched down and set off an international firestorm. The Dream Team, perhaps the greatest collection of basketball talent ever assembled, rolled over their opponents as though they were playing against middle school students. But their victory wasn’t the important part so much as what followed.
Forbes recently published an article ranking America’s top 20 most creative cities. As with any rankings, context and criteria have to be taken into account. Usual suspects like Boston, San Francisco, and New Orleans were present in the top 20, but one city was amiss. The city that I reside in now, Houston, was nowhere to be found.
“Financing dreams, creating solutions.”
That was the motto of my firm during my foray into the mortgage-banking world. Our aim was not to simply sell a 30-year loan at a steadily rising interest rate, but rather to connect our clients to the means towards achieving the American Dream of owning their own house.
I entered the industry as a naïve teenager who thought doing business was only about selling products and making profits. How wrong I was.