I just got back from a meeting of the Silicon Valley Junto, a group of business and technology folks dedicated to exploring the intersection of ideas and culture. The Junto was started by Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, both entrepreneurs, because they believe that what used to be dismissively referred to as “the liberal arts” are critically important disciplines for business people. I tend to agree, especially since I entered this business somewhat by accident, having devoted so much time to the liberal arts in college that even my closest friends openly doubted my future employability.
Each meeting has an almost comically broad theme—Americanism, humor, happiness—that tends to spark a lively and usually messy conversation. Today’s theme was “love,” based in part on Ben’s reading of Tim Sanders’ Love is the Killer App, which argues that love is the most powerful force in business.
It’s a distinctly countercultural point of view, given the wealth of clichés about the fate of the nice guy. And let’s face it: there aren’t too many examples of leaders like Dave Duffield, whose values are so much a part of his unique brand of success.
One interesting question was whether the Internet and the blogosphere can actually act as a corrective to bad behavior, be it financial, political or otherwise. Will people tend to behave better in a more transparent world, when misbehavior can so quickly be exposed to millions? Will collaborative technologies actually foster more collaboration? Is it possible that the Internet could be a catalyst for more humanistic attitudes in business, or is cultural change driving the adoption of these more collaborative technologies? Maybe all of this is unknowable, maybe it doesn’t really matter. Maybe biology is destiny. But I really like the idea of a group, however small, of idealists who are willing to hash it out over pizza a few times a year.