Before taking the proverbial leap in entrepreneurship I had the pleasure of working in technology public relations. I never had any aspirations to work in technology but I was seduced by tech in a time when social media was just making its way, cyber security was making headlines (and appearances in hollywood), and tech startups were becoming the popular table at lunch. I loved my job. I represented these companies (small and large) and got the opportunity to help them reach their goals.
I left tech because you can only work with so many startup founders before you start thinking shit, I could do this…(blah, blah, blah...insert long story about me leaving it all behind to follow my dream) and I’ve found myself in the world of apparel, retail and dare I say it, fashion. Sure I still get to work with tech people but it’s not the same. So I’ve written the industry a little love letter.
[I’ll admit that what I’ve written below is not true for every single company or every single person in varying industries and yes, these are generalizations but they are generalizations that I’ve found to be alarmingly true in my experience.]
Dear Tech Industry,
I miss your childlike enthusiasm for innovation.
Don’t take this for granted. Not every industry has an enthusiasm for change. You are in a world where you are pushed, motivated and celebrated for entering unchartered waters and building something that’s never been - this isn’t something that’s widely accepted outside of your bubble. For example, innovation in apparel is typically met with an eyeroll or even worse a condescending “that’s a neat little idea” from others in the industry. So if you are a tech founder or just a “cog in a wheel” at a larger company - do something totally different today - because you fucking can!
I miss the way your walls are down.
Much of the building in the tech world happens behind a screen. But when the tech industry does go out socially - damn are they excited to share their ideas with others. They are all willing to listen to each other and help in any way they can. There is no secrecy or fear that ideas will be stolen because it is understood that ideas are cheap and execution is everything. This creates an open environment that you just don’t find in other industries.
In apparel for example, we’re told not to say anything about who we work with, what we’re working on or where it’s being done. The walls are up. Intros are rarely made, communication in general sucks and networking hardly exists. Technology, more than any other industry, is constantly hosting events, speakers, panels, etc. to encourage sharing, support, transparency and education. It inspires others rather than deterring them.
I miss how nerdy you are.
You are made up of some of the smartest minds in the world. Now, every industry has their geniuses, I’m not denying that, but tech is stacked with talent. Whether it’s the money or the same factors that seduced me into the tech world, it’s attracting the heavyweights when it comes to brains. Oh and these brainiacs are the new fucking cool kids. Yeah, that total dweeb who never left the computer lab in tenth grade, you work for her, and she’s awesome, oh and she’s wildly smart. Take advantage of that and learn from as many people as you possibly can.
I miss being a leader with you.
Whether you like it or not, we are all looking to you to lead the way. Heavy may lie the crown, but you can use that influence to make some real waves - across industries. So rock that popular table and use it for good. Inspire innovation, transparency and intelligence in apparel, government, politics, medicine, manufacturing, science, or any other industry that can learn from you...we need you.
For my part, I promise to take what I’ve learned from you and bring it into my next endeavor, even if it means over-sharing and being on the receiving-end of more than a few eye rolls. Like any good breakup, I’m sad our time together is over but you can be damn sure I’m happy that it happened.