I’ve just arrived to Palo Alto & Stanford, the heart of today’s Internet. I will be staying here for almost two months trying to learn how politics and government are changing because of high tech and Silicon Valley’s geeks. I don’t know if I will get to know the secret formula, but I am going to try it hard and two months seems like enough time for it.
But before that I have already spent one week in the US, on the East Coast and Arkansas, so I’ve got some first impressions:
– The main one is the positive attitude of Americans. Not just about business, but about everything in life. They always think that things can improve and they fight hard for it. On the opposite, in Europe we probably have such a long history that we are probably quite pesimistic about the human nature. As you can imagine, this positive attitude is great in business.
– The second one is the importance of marketing in this country. It’s everywhere. Whenever you do something, the provider (be it a shop or just a tourist information office) wants you to come back. Selling is very important, but reselling is even more. This explains many things, as why restaurant keepers would smile so much to their customers (maybe not in New York). It’s also about having a positive attitude.
– In third place I think that the real America, the one of people who don’t live in so large cities, is always taken into account here. If you go to Europe, and specially to countries like Spain or France, this is completely different. Besides Madrid, Barcelona or Paris, there is nothing else for politicians, for media and for advertising agents. The US is a large country, and everybody knows it is not just about NY and Los Angeles.
– In fourth place, there is no identity problem in the US, which helps a lot when you try to think about the future, as everybody pushes in the same direction. Europe is broken and even some countries in the EU are broken inside. This explains why Europe has been able to build a common currency and market, but nothing else. Culturally speaking, we need more things to share if we want to build a common identity (and a real common market) in Europe. The more I know Europe (and Europeans), the more sceptical I am getting about this. My conclusion is that Spanish people share more things with North Americans than with North Europeans and even than with many French. And I am not just talking about the fact that Spanish is becoming a very important language in the US.
– In fifth place, politics is a general topic here. While in Europe we hide our ideological thoughts, in order to not get in trouble, in the US people are really willing to share and front them. I haven’t found yet anybody not willing to tell me if he/she considers himself/herself a democrat or a republican. Try to ask that in Europe. You would get in trouble just by asking. How does this help? Quite a lot. Political discussions in the US are about things which are really important for people, such as health care. I think this also explains why an almost unknown guy, as Barak Obama, could become president in a little bit more than a year by just getting close to people’s problems and getting people involved in his campaign. Europeans would never get involved in a political campaign. And his changes so many things.
So this is for today. Expect more posts in the following days, as I also want to explain how things are different in the day to day life.