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.