In the blink of an eye, summer has almost slipped by and we are nearing the month of September. I am definitely not ready for pumpkin spice anything and will continue to enjoy being outside. Maybe I should plug myself into an alternate universe where summer lasts all year? Nah - I already lived in Arizona and my internal body clock ended up really missing how time was marked when there were four distinct seasons.
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I couldn’t resist diving into the metaverse this week as it’s not an area I am really familiar with, so this was a learning opportunity for me too. After Mark Z's big announcement that Facebook will focus on bringing the metaverse to life, the internet is all abuzz. My favorite simple definition of the metaverse is: a single, persistent virtual environment shared by everyone on the planet. The concept of a metaverse was coined in 1992 by author Neal Stephenson in his foundational sci fi novel ‘Snow Crash’ -- and it is positioned as the successor to the internet. If you’d like to fall down a giant metaverse rabbit hole, you could read VC Matthew Ball’s 9-part primer series. Or the NYTimes offers a slightly easier-to-digest topical review.
Now if you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself why you should care about this? I’m not a gamer, don’t have any VR headsets, and I kinda like our real world. But in these times, I can understand wanting to escape from the world for brief (or even extended) periods. Especially if I could travel...
Reason #1 to care: who is building this world that many millions or billions of people will inhabit? And is it a good world for us to inhabit? Will it be like The Matrix where you have to jack in and out, and the VR world is all pristine because it’s been carefully curated? Or will it be more like Epic’s vision to extend Fortnite? Not surprisingly, there are many companies competing to define what this universal metaverse will look like. Microsoft envisions an enterprise metaverse, which seems to be an extension of the IoT universe, a hybrid of the digital and physical worlds. And Facebook’s grand plan is that multiple companies partner with individual creators to build a new virtual world where work, commerce, shopping and education all can happen. I’ll admit - I’m skeptical of the 3D world that Facebook will create, given the bang up job they have done so far with the 2D world. And these are only 2 of companies that have visions for how the metaverse will be created - it would be helpful to understand who all the other players are to understand motives and goals as the internet 2.0 is being created.
Reason #2 to care: how will this virtual world interact with our real world? What type of funding/money is at stake here? If this new virtual world is as extensive as many envision it will be, we will conduct our commerce there, take shopping trips, travel to faraway places, and meet with colleagues at virtual workplaces. Cryptocurrency companies believe their currency will be the de facto coin of the realm. Marketers and CPG brands are considering the endless possibilities to position their brands in a new 3D virtual world.
One big challenge is that the hardware to connect seamlessly with the growing metaverse is still years away, though Oculus is aiming to be at the forefront of the VR headset revolution. Another challenge: I cannot believe that there are many (or any) workplaces yet where employees are clamouring to interact with colleagues in a fully virtual world. What social cues do you lose? I could see beginning with an AR world to try to help us imagine we’re working together in the office...but I’m not buying the VR world yet, except for maybe a few specific workplaces (like small startups). My friend Scott joined Mark Zuckerberg & others for the first public test of the new FB Horizon Workrooms last week and wrote in-depth about his experiences. It is interesting how the VR world can feel both more and less real than our current one - so I’m intrigued but not holding my breath.
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How do you overcome two common fears about pivoting into tech?
I work with clients on a daily basis who are accomplished high achievers — and yet, many are completely terrified of taking the leap to transition into tech. They don’t think they are technical enough, have enough background in tech, are the ‘right’ fit, etc, etc, etc. It’s ok - everyone has these fears. It’s natural to be cautious when making a change. Just name the fear and it’ll make it easier to move forward.
Here are 2 common fears I’ve heard from clients that might resonate with you, along with actions you can take to get over these fears.
MYTH 1: I heard I need to know how to code to work in tech.
- Nope. You do NOT need to know how to code to work in many jobs in a tech company. Those jobs include marketing, sales, business operations, finance, customer success, people operations, market research, program management and more! Tech companies need people with many different skill sets – in fact, 43% of roles posted at tech companies were non-coding.
- What tech cares about: you are able to understand tech trends, to solve ambiguous problems, to work collaboratively, and to use digital workplace tools.
- CAVEAT: Now I’m going to be honest with you: despite all I said above, it is still worth it to take an intro coding class – simply for you to learn the lingo. The better way to think of it is: what tools do I have in my toolbox to succeed? And what tools do I need to get or learn?
ACTION: Read up on the tech industry. And go take a coding class. Purely for fun.
- Start reading daily articles on Techmeme to start getting familiar with industry news.
- For coding, I would start with CodeAcademy. It’ll only take a couple hours and add immense value to your resume.
- You could also download the grasshopper app from Google to get started with learning simple coding concepts while on the go. You won’t be fully fluent in coding, but you will have picked up beginner level skills which can help you feel a bit more confident.
Myth 2: You have to live in Silicon Valley to work in tech.
- If you already live in California or really want to move there, plenty of opportunities exist for you at tech firms. BUT – while many of the largest tech firms are headquartered in the Bay Area, there are SO many opportunities to work in tech across the country – and across the globe. And these days, the number of remote-friendly jobs in tech has continued to increase.
ACTION: Think about where you want to live and work.
- Consider both the type of lifestyle you want to have and the career trajectory that you’d like to pursue. For some tech companies, you need to be in HQ to advance to higher positions. Be sure to consult any relevant decision-makers (partners, family members, friends, etc) to help you review your goals and criteria.
- Then look to see what companies/opportunities exist in the cities you think best fit your career & lifestyle needs.
- Check out the free 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem report to see where startup ecosystems are growing in the US and around the world. This serves as a great proxy for forecasting potential tech company growth in a particular city/region.
** We dive further into dispelling these myths and more in my Tech Search Compass course, which is designed to help you chart your successful pivot into tech. Check it out! **
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