Twenty years ago, various industries each had their own epicenters. The place where you could find the best of the best in that particular field.
Milan as the fashion center of the world. Madison Avenue for the advertising industry, Hollywood for motion pictures, and so on.
Today, the hottest place for fashion might be Madrid, or Hong Kong, or Miami. Advertising? How about London, or Sao Paulo, or Johannesburg? The movie industry might look towards India, where Bollywood produces double the number of feature films compared to Hollywood.
Why the change? Three reasons:
Talent: If you’re great at what you do, you no longer have to make the pilgrimage to some old industry stomping-ground to get noticed. If you’re good enough, you can be based wherever you want.
Technology: This is linked to the one above: Technology now connects people in amazing ways, no matter where they’re physically located. Just taking our own example, we couldn’t do what we do now if it wasn’t for enablers such as VoIP, Skype, smartphones, WebEx and the rest.
Power: The days of autocratic individuals or groups that decided who could be part of the party and who couldn’t are over. The old methodology of “industry gatekeepers” has either gone or is on its way out.
It used to be the case that a tech start-up had to be based in Silicon Valley. Today, it can just as easily be based in Mumbai, or Guangzhou, or Lima.
It’s not so much that the world’s getting smaller, though that’s certainly the case: Less than a lifetime ago a trip across the Atlantic would take weeks, rather than hours. No, it’s more about the fact that we’re all connected.
It’s not like I’m “over here”, and you’re “over there”. It’s that I’m in the middle, and so are you.
And so is everyone else.