I recently had a chance to take some time out in January. Apart from snowboarding in Whistler, I did a tour of technology in America. This comes highly recommended if you have the time and money. My itinerary:
1. New York – I plugged into Ultralight startup event in Microsoft New York
2. Seattle – only passed through: looking forward to a longer stay later
3. San Francisco – MoMo at Adobe on Healthcare. Lots of startup action happening in the city, as well as an ever growing tech hub in the city (friend at salesforce.com says it is now much harder to get talent due to the reinvigorated love of San Fran). I love this place: enough outside activities, REI store with fake mountains, brilliant intellectual conversations, infectious tech.
4. Silicon Valley – I hired a car in San Francisco and based myself in Mountain View at Hampton Inn (Hilton Brand :-)). Brilliant jogging nearby (Steven’s Creek, run past NASA, Microsoft, etc). Trips included Computer History Museum (wow – need at least 3 hours), Intel Museum, Google café visit, the mall :-). Going by car meant that I could see all the sites of the tech giants: linkedin, Microsoft, nokia, apple, etc. Unfortunately only had 3 days, so did not make it down to Cupertino, Oracle, etc.
5. Houston – chose this because I have a friend living here. Looking back though I should have gone up to Austin, which is meant to be better for tech startup.
Along the way, I also had sessions with right management, as I was lucky enough to have my previous employer pay for a recruiting outplacement agency, so I decided to use that to understand the employment scene everywhere I went.
I got History Channel’s History of America for Christmas. It has many things I did not know and includes many famous / important people speaking.
Here’s my take of why America won the Revolution after watching the documentary:
1. Smallpox. Smallpox came to the Americans whilst they were dug in at Valley Forge. 1000s of people died per week. Washington’s doctors used a cure mentioned by African slaves, which forms the basis of many innoculations today.
2. Changing rules. For first time ever, Washington’s men targetted the officers with snipers (after killing the scouts who had the local knowledge). Without the officers, the foot soldiers were leaderless. Simon Frasier was the first British officer to be killed in this way.
3. Baron von Steuben. Prussian general destroyed by his homosexual reputation. Managed to retrain Washington’s army. Brought order, discipline, hygiene, spirit. Relocated lavatories, kitchens, produced training manual (some still in use today). Introduced new technology: bayonnet.
4. Approach. von Steuben said other nations’ soldiers would just do what they were told. Washington’s men always had to be told why they were doing something before they did it.
5. Spies. Through use of a sophisticated spy network, Washington was able to save the French fleet, giving the rebels dominance at sea.
And this shows the thinking of the time…
During the Battle of Brandywine, Capt. Patrick Ferguson had a tall, distinguished American officer in his iron rifle sights. Ferguson did not take the shot as the officer had his back to Ferguson, only later did Ferguson learn that George Washington had been on the battlefield that day.