One of the memorable moments from Big Omaha 2010 was when Melody McCloskey presented. (I detailed her presentation awhile back, and you can read the post by clicking here.) She set off a war of words, online, when she said “to be successful you have to move to San Francisco, Boulder or New York City”.
It was funny to me that I somehow had morphed into defending her. I was “Team Melody”. (Random thought. I have an idea for a “Melody McCloskey World Tour” shirt. Tour stops in San Francisco, Boulder, Chicago, Boston, New York City…and Omaha.”)
At Big Omaha, she mentioned that she was going to write a post about what she meant to say. Melody did that last week. (You can read her post by clicking here.)
What do I think now after reading her blog? I’m still on “Team Melody”. (Some had speculated to me that Melody was telling me only what I wanted to hear when we talked, and that she’d revert back to her original opinion.)
Granted, I may be interpreting her words differently than some, but I agree with a number of her points in her post. Here’s some of what she said:
In my opinion, if you’re an individual who’s serious about building something great; the best business in the universe for whatever problem you’re trying to solve; you’ll give yourself, your company, your co-workers, your investors everything you have at your disposal to make them successful.
This means going to the place with the most intellectual capital. Building a network of people who are succeeding at what you want to do, who have the experience in the things you don’t, who can answer problems you can waste months trying to solve. It means building trust with partners who will quickly do deals with you because you know you both have a shared work ethic and great product.
It means spending every non-working moment at events and conferences learning about every aspect of your business (lean startup theory, customer driven development, marketing, analytics, design, customer acquisition, sales, etc). While you can build a great business anywhere, these things are more readily found in big cities and make the business building easier.
If you wouldn’t drop everything to do these things, you’re playing a different game than most of the rest of the people in tech.
What entrepreneur wouldn’t agree with that? We could get into what she meant by “going” to a specific city, but I choose to believe it doesn’t have to mean moving there. Any number of us have travelled to various cities to better ourselves with our craft. Most everyone I know in Omaha has done this, but we then we leverage the new info and relationships back here in Omaha.
I’ve worked in seven other countries, and over forty states when I was doing humanitarian and missions work. I’ve been to Austin, Beijing, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Moscow, San Diego, Seattle, Washington D.C. and more. All great places, and I utilize those experiences for what I’m doing in Omaha right now. (And, for the record, I choose to live in Omaha over any of those places. I love Omaha. Although, I wouldn’t mind visiting Austin, Boston and Seattle again!)
With what I do in ministry, I’m always trying to better myself. What’s helped me become better? The Story Workshop in Seattle, Willow Creek Leadership Summit and Arts Conference in Chicago, podcasts from Pastor Tim Keller in New York City.
Melody was asked to speak about entrepreneurship, not community. Now, a further discussion on community would be interesting, and she’s game for that. Her post touched on a few things about building community, and she said Omaha is on its way to being a major tech community in 5-10 years.
What will Omaha’s community be like in 5-10 years? What will it be when people outside of the area recognize it as a “success” or one of the “major tech communities”? A community like San Francisco is going to be much different than Omaha. This was highlighted by a comment from Micah Baldwin, on Melody’s blog, that contrasted San Francisco and Omaha. If people are moving out to San Francisco to build their own business, they are not necessarily interested in building the community out there. Some may think there is no need to build the San Francisco community because it’s established, but long-term is that good? That’s a strength for a community like Omaha where people are just as concerned about the community as they are their own work.
There’s a lot one could dive into with all this. The conversations have been great with Melody and numerous others. She continues to connect and engage with people who want to talk about entrepreneurship, community and more. I respect that. I hope I can connect again with Melody and take her up on her offers, whether it be in San Francisco or someplace else.