Top Minds Moving to Different Fields

I never quite thought about it, but many industries rise and fall based on the type of person they attract to work there. Over the last twenty years two industries attracted the most inventive minds – Technology and Finance. Why? There are probably many reasons, but I’m going to say it was the level of accessibility. Prior to 1990 only math geeks and computer nerds were interested in those industries. However…

President Reagan was charming; he ushered in a new era. An era of wealth obsession. Hollywood caught on and created characters that were gripped by money and were memorable. Drama’s like Wall St showcased Gordon Gecko and sitcoms had personalities like Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties). Cultural subtleties creeped into the minds of the viewers. I liked Alex P. Keaton. He was witty, he got the girl, and he was easy to understand. The 1990s beckoned and the age of the mega bank was born.

The internet did the same thing. The instant riches were glorified by the media. Not too many people understood how to value this thing, so they overpaid for it – just ask Mark Cuban. But the key word here is instant. Once the big paydays became known many top minds moved into the industry.

It is now early 2009 and a recession has hit. The news still covers big pay days, but they’re the illegal kind. The Financial industry has succumbed to the same fate as the Technology industry – back to being boring. The NY Times has noted in a few recent writings that the top minds are no longer committing to the Financial industry. There are two areas that seem to have some cache: Energy and Social Programs. In regards to Energy, I’m mainly referring to clean or renewable energy. The opportunity is big and it is accessible. When I say social programs, I mean working with charities, public service, teaching and so on. If the top minds are really moving into these two areas, then it signals a new set of values – on their own, energy and social programs don’t pay that well.

President Obama is charming; he ushered in a new era.

I guess — I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities. – Sarah Palin

Working Thoughts 04/15/08
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