Daily Archives: October 12, 2008

Female-Dominated Environment

One more thing for tonight.

I’m studying international development, and for my class, this concentration has been dominated by females. There are maybe four other guys studying it.

I’ve had a lot of female bosses in various disciplines (web design, the Army, USAID), so I’m used to it. It has benefits and drawbacks. Usually women tend to be more engaged in tasks than men do. Women are more studious and more detail-oriented. Men tend to get bored easily and drift about. That’s really all I should say on that topic.

I have a class on small-medium enterprise which has a few guys in it but is still female-dominated.

Last year I went on a ski trip with all women, except for my friend’s dad. Very bizarre — I think we just ceded our opinions to the girls on that one.

I go to yoga with my friend and I’m typically the only guy there except for a few random guys who are mostly gay. So I’m in all black and have tattoos and a beard.

I have a workshop on managing development in which I’m the only guy out of maybe 15 people. Our professor is a female. Her guest speakers have been all females so far. The other week we had a class on gender roles in project design. I told the class I was going to keep my mouth shut.

This has been nothing but a continuous source of amusement for my classmates.

To be honest I think a development strategy, as Muhammad Yunus and Grameen have been doing, focused on developing plans around the women in society is sound. Women have innate responsibility and control in communities, even in Muslim ones, so they tend to be more reliable even if legally or culturally speaking they are not empowered.

Anyway I guess I’m pointing this out because I think it’s interesting to note the changes going on in my life experiences. I spent five years in the Army which was extremely male-dominated and now I’m on the other side.

The good part is that I’ve succeeded in both environments. Bottom line is to make a lot of money as a result of helping people. Hopefully this process will help me get there, no matter who I have to work with. As all startup literature says, the most important thing is to have the smartest team you can find.

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Filed under Anthropology, Business, Education

Optimism

So the G7 is meeting up with Dubya this weekend and so far nothing substantial has been announced. These people are useless. Dubya gets wheeled out to give a clueless speech that inspires no confidence. If anything, it encourages fear. Fear that we have no leadership to help us fix these problems. McCain for his part offers this fucking stupid platitude that Americans are the hardest-working people in the world, EVER. How banal.

Last week’s stock market action was unlike anything I’ve ever seen — relentless selling every day for the last few months. This made 2001 look like a cakewalk.

This in turn caused the web crowd to froth itself into a tizzy talking about the coming Silicon Valley slowdown. Led by Sequoia Capital, the clarion call is for cutting costs, firing employees, reducing burn rate, and trying to extend runway.

I guess my question is: if you’re a start-up, you’re already concerned about bootstrapping every nickel. Why wouldn’t you be relentlessly cutting costs before this crisis even started? Doesn’t this suggest there’s some bloat in the web space right now, a lot of people who are just dragging down companies with salary, ideas that don’t add value to the value chain, etc.?

So isn’t this a good thing?

I tend to be optimistic about this downturn, personally. Then again, I’m a wannabe entrepreneur who is still safe within the confines of grad school. I have less than a year now before I’ll be looking for a job so this will directly impact me.

There’s reason to be optimistic. Check out what Gary Vaynerchuk says about advertising, for example, in this totally awesome video:

“ROI. I am talking about Return on the Investment of your advertising dollar. Traditional media advertising is incredibly expensive and doesn’t provide nearly the rate of return you can derive from intelligent web-based marketing campaigns in 2008 and beyond.”

His point is that those who will be truly hurt by the downturn will be newspaper, magazine, and TV advertisers. Smart advertisers will move more and more towards Google Adsense and online marketing. It’s a lot cheaper and you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.

The underlying point is that there’s still a lot going on on the internet. There’s projects created by love and collaboration that will continue to grow while the economy reorients itself towards the internet model. The shakeup in the workforce will reorient workers towards better ideas, letting bad ideas die. I still think good ideas will be funded by angels since the startup costs are so low.

Even if the good ideas aren’t profitable, they’ll still thrive through word of mouth and love online. At least in this way, the downturn will resemble 2001’s bubble burst: the internet will continue to evolve.

The good news for me I think is that layoffs might make it easier for me to find coders who want to help me build a reputation management platform for persistent identities. So far I haven’t had much luck.

The only thing I’m really looking for in terms of something negative looking forward is policy or legislative change. In the same way that we need structural changes worldwide to fix the financial system, Congress or the EU or the incoming president (doubtful if it’s Obama since he has a great tech policy lined up) could pass laws that fuck things up for the internet.

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