Announcing the Silicon Valley Junto

I’ve mused before that a lot of Silicon Valley folk would like to exercise mental muscles outside their core domain of high tech/business. Most of us realize that breakthrough insights occur at the intersection of ideas, cultures, and disciplines. Further, most of us realize that it’s important to be interesting, which means being able to hold a conversation on topics beyond the one little niche in which you work.

My friend Chris Yeh and I decided to do something about it. Drumroll please…

The Silicon Valley Junto (who-n-toe) will be a free quarterly discussion group/forum – "thoughtful conversations about topics that matter" – for business/hi-tech people to talk about about things they don’t usually talk about. It will be a community of peers, not podiums.

Go check out the Silicon Valley Junto web site, blog, and wiki for more information. The inaugural meeting is January 5 in the morning in Palo Alto/Menlo Park (will alternate btwn South Bay and SF). The topic is "Americanism as an Idea": What does it mean to be American, is the American dream as good as it gets, etc.

Why "Junto"?

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin convinced 12 of his friends to form a club dedicated to mutual improvement. Meeting one night a week, these young men discussed the topics of the day. Junto was a private forum for discussion and as a surreptitious instrument for leading public opinion. One of the functions of the group was to brainstorm publicly beneficial ideas. They recommended books, shopkeepers, and friends to each other. They fostered self-improvement through discussions on topics related to philosophy, morals, economics, and politics.

Why Just Business/Tech People?

We want everyone to speak the same language. Plus it will be a networking opportunity.

I’m really busy, do you think I really have time to talk about stuff not directly related to my work?

Yes. Exercising intellectual muscles that you may not have worked since college will not only be refreshing, but will expose you to new ideas that will help you in your work. Read The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures for more on this. Also see Jim Collins on why executives can increase their leadership capabilities by reading non-business books.

I don’t live in the Silicon Valley. How can I partake?

Hopefully the conversation starts on the blogosphere, continues in-person, and then is continued online again. You can certainly participate in the 1st and 3rd parts of that cycle. Join in! Check out the Junto blog and send a trackback ping. What does being American mean to you?