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What's in the water in Greater Seattle? Microsoft. Amazon. Starbucks. Nordstrom. Boeing. (Troubles & all. And, no, it's not a "Chicago company.")
Tom Peters posted this on 05/13/05.
Like music to my ears since I'm from Seattle - and my mom said earlier this week that Bill Gates is spending Billions in the local area to ensure the Emerald City is high quality in coming decades.
Posted by Sean at May 13, 2005 9:55 AM
Doesn't it also have the highest suicide rate?
Posted by Douglas Karr at May 13, 2005 11:04 AM
Yin - Yang. Vermont - Seattle?
Posted by Tom Asacker at May 13, 2005 11:25 AM
Just moved to the Seattle area and I love it here. Other than a need for improved roadways the area is wonderful place and it seems like everywhere you go there are talented and engaging people.
Posted by Jeremiah Andrick at May 13, 2005 11:28 AM
It is the water. Rather the continous and glorious excercising of the water cycle. Keeps things fresh ya'know.
Seattle IS cool. I spent 20 years there working with lots of great teams and energizing projects...I'm now about 85 miles north of Seattle and 45 miles south of Vancouver British Columbia, in the county of Whatcom, the city of Bellingham, and the neihborhood of Whatcom Falls...http://www.bellingham.org/
We'll figure out a way to get you here Tom...this place is bristling with grass roots innovation and opportunity.
Thanks the shoutout to the Pacific Northwest.
Posted by Rick Kennedy at May 13, 2005 12:15 PM
Its in the culture here. People here are spoiled by great, incredible customer service (Nordstrom started it all) so when they start ventures, it's already in their blood, it comes natural, they just do business that way, which often breeds success. We also have Eddie Bauer, REI, Washington Mutual, CoinStar, Costco and about a thousand software companies.
Posted by Jeff Rubingh at May 13, 2005 12:33 PM
Hey, you make it sound nice, Jeremiah. Have yet to make it there. It's interesting that there's like a force of some kind that attracts people to places and industries ... for a time. Same with empires and cultures. The Greeks, the Romans, Egyptians, Sumerians, Mongols, (no particular order here) you name it, all once ran the known world. It's like a pal that hangs around for a time and then wanders away, and you never know where they will show up next. Everyone says China for everything. I'm not so sure.
In terms of industries, I think the talent now is in doing amazing things with sound and 3D graphics. The bs that was long associated with being a "creative" is finally going away and what's left is a craft, a professional craft. One of the best programs Iâ€™ve used is ZBrush by Pixologic. I recommend it to everyone. The Return of the King relied heavily on it to generate creatures instead of relying on sculpted maquettes. And the team at Weta (the digital company behind Lord of the Rings) helped Pixologic to develop itâ€™s latest release.
Any aspiring graphic designers out there, check out ZBrush 2.
Posted by Noel Guinane at May 13, 2005 12:35 PM
I remember when I moved to Seattle last summer, Ahnold Schwarzenegger had a billboard campaign downtown trying to lure Seattle businesses down to Cali. Ahnold declared "WE WANT YOUR BUSINESS." Sorry, governor, you can't have us.
And by the way, let's not forget T-Mobile USA and Nintendo are some other big companies up here.
Posted by Kevin S at May 13, 2005 1:06 PM
It's too wet and cold there, what else are they going to do but innovate. :-}
Posted by RTodd at May 13, 2005 1:50 PM
2 elements to Seattle:
1) Success draws success. Success + success breeds success (barring the existence of two recessive genes).
2) The inspirational beauty of the NW draws inspirational people. I spent a few days in Couer d'Alene, Idaho which is a short drive from Spokane. Breathtaking.
Noel, do you see a distinction between craftsmen and artists? I disagree that all that's left is a craft. I think what we've seen is the line being drawn between imagination (dreaming up ideas) and creativity (imagination with a purpose).
Posted by Dustin at May 13, 2005 2:40 PM
Okay. I think that's all that should be left since that's all it really is - a craft, no different to sculpting, carpentry, knitting if you like! We can fall in love with ourselves and "imagine" we're meaningful artists blurring lines. It's mental masturbation.
I notice you didn't mention anything about "work", you know, that thing that gets things done.
Posted by Noel Guinane at May 13, 2005 3:17 PM
The secret is the city planners grew up here in Colorado...
Posted by Tony at May 13, 2005 4:09 PM
Yes, it is the water.
The record rainfall forces them all to huddle indoors. Out of sheer boredom, they have to work and be creative or their suicide rate would be even higher.
Down in Southern California on the other hand, the surf, sun and fun calls like one of Ulysses' Sirens.
Posted by Robert Stover at May 13, 2005 4:14 PM
Sorry I wasn't more clear. The base word for "creative" is "create." This is an action word, not a passive word. If we fail to create (what you coin as work), then we fail to be truly creative. We just dream up infinite fantasy that never enters our finite world.
So, how can the craftsman create without being creative? I think we create language (alternate meaning for "creative") that clouds our worldview.
Posted by Dustin at May 13, 2005 4:35 PM
Dustin, don't even worry about it. You weren't clear enough and I was far too clear! It's easy to forget this is a public forum! Let's call it even.
Posted by Noel Guinane at May 13, 2005 5:15 PM
I wish it was the water -in a big way. Never hurts to try to expand new horizons. Think chess, bridge and water for the future perhaps?
If some folks dream about new washing machines at dinner, surely Seatle kids must think about something bigger than a bread box and smaller than a refrigerator. Hmm ..I wonder what it might be?
Posted by V. Golubic at May 13, 2005 9:16 PM
Customer service is fabulous in Seattle and the weather helps one feel calmer, more creative. With so much water around (Lake Washington, the Sound, etc.) people are out and about, not staying inside. Each year I take my Mom to Seattle on the Fourth of July, when it's over 100 degrees here in California's Central Valley! Oh yeah....where else in the country do they have signs that say "Drive Friendly"? Only in Washington.....
Posted by Sue Mosher aka Deva Moody at May 14, 2005 8:53 PM
Havn't these companies transcended one location?
Posted by PaulH at May 15, 2005 6:18 AM
Whats in the Seattle water ?? I lotta of Canadian influence , me thinks !! :)-
Posted by /pd at May 15, 2005 11:23 AM
Seattle is a rare place of amazing physical beauty with the Olympic and Cascade mountains - Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Union, Elliot Bay, et. al. - and rolling hill neighborhoods with views and vistas most everywhere.
Plus the intellectual capital is one of the highest of any world city - #1 in graduate degrees per capita in some polls. Even educated Canadians are welcome on visa to lend a hand. Washington, D.C. actually gets a bit more rain than Seattle - although it does world class drizzle from gray skies in Seattle like no where else it seems and those short/dark winter days are a bit much!
Posted by John at May 15, 2005 4:32 PM
I've been here for 20 years and work in high tech. I think the keys to the widespread regional creativity and quality include individuality, independence, and self-confidence. I grew up back East and left because anytime someone came up with a new idea their peers felt threatened and focused their energies on squashing the innovator. That's the wrong sort of competitiveness. In Seattle the attitude has been that there's plenty of room for everyone's new ideas and we can all benefit from encouraging successes. (Don't forget the great biotech companies out here, BTW.)
Posted by Karen at May 16, 2005 1:55 AM
What's so great about these companies? (ok I am being slightly provocative here)
Boeing - not doing so good since they faced some REAL competition from Airbus
Microsoft - I am impressed with their business - but they have never innovated much
Amazon - Love em to bits!
Nordstrom - who? Where are they in Europe?
Posted by PaulH at May 16, 2005 9:33 AM
Paul I have a feeling Boeing is on the rebound, dont count them out just yet!! Boeing is starting to sell some real good planes! The 787 is going to be something else!!! how to buy viagra online
Posted by Mike at May 16, 2005 5:41 PM
Paul, Amazon is a good company. Had my doubts when they first started but have only received good value and the best customer service from them. Read recently that the institutions are pressuring Amazon to cut the subsidized customer delivery policy, but Jeff Bezosâ€™ mantra is customer first and I canâ€™t honestly say Iâ€™ve ever experienced anything less.
Agree with you on Microsoft. I remember the fanfare surrounding Windows 2000 - last Microsoft operating system based on DOS - only 20 something years after object oriented programming had been developed by Xerox and a mere 16 years after Steve Jobs gave us the original â€œwindowsâ€ in the Mac operating system.
Microsoftâ€™s latest operating system, â€˜Longhornâ€™, is meandering its way along and should be with us sometime in 2007. Meanwhile, Tiger, Appleâ€™s latest operating system, is out now and is far ahead of anything theyâ€™ve even thought of putting into Longhorn, not the least of which is core image which will allow phenomenal advances in graphics capabilities for those of us who care. No doubt 27 IT guys are going to pile in here to protest, but I say look at the facts. Microsoft focuses on making sales while Apple focuses on making the best, easiest to use, most beautiful products. Theyâ€™re proud of their software and their equipment and it shows.
Posted by Noel Guinane at May 17, 2005 3:53 PM
Looks like all the Microsoft supporters out there are too busy dealing with various catastrophic techno burps, ie., fixing bugs, rebuilding hard drives and searching fruitlessly for missing files (after they've cleared out the viruses that is), to come in here and defend their lousy software!
For those of you on the sidelines wondering which way to jump ... from more than a decade of satisfied experience, let me assure you, Apple makes the better product, or should I say, the best!
Posted by Noel Guinane at May 23, 2005 6:50 AM
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