The suits vs. the geeks

I’m sitting with a bunch of suits right now. It’s the Savvis Web 2.0 conference. Almost all men. A large percentage of whom are older than me. This is NOT the YouTube generation. Although they sure talk about it and talk about MySpace (one speaker suggested that everyone should have a MySpace page for each of their products).

It’s interesting to see the difference between this audience and the folks who showed up at the Podcasting Expo last week. There was a lot more energy there. But a lot less money and power. This room reeks of power. That room reeked of creativity and fun.

I’m seeing this “geek vs. suits” separation more often lately.

Yesterday I went to lunch at a country club over on Sand Hill Road. They wouldn’t let me in because I was wearing jeans. “Excuse me?” I said in my head. After all, it was people in jeans (denim, they called it) who made the products and services that made all those VCs so rich that they could have a private club to hang out at and play golf at.

They made me sit outside for lunch. Which was just fine. My host (who helped fund the country club) and I had a good laugh about that.

It reminded me of the time when I worked the counter at LZ Premiums in San Jose. A guy came in with ratty jeans and a T-shirt. I treated him the same way I treated all the suits that came in. He noted that and bought a nice camera system. Later, after he kept coming back in and buying a lot of stuff, I learned he was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Said that I was the first sales guy who treated him well, which is why he brought his business back to me.

Last night I saw it again. I wore my standard jeans and T-shirt to a press meeting hosted by Become.com (a cool shopping search engine, they released a research report that found that people liked their shopping search engine better than Google). Everyone else was dressed up.

I’m gonna put my jeans on and hang out with the geeks this weekend at Code-Camp in Silicon Valley. No Beck, but no suits either.

The real action in the valley is still with the folks who wear jeans and T-shirts. No matter how much all the suits try to avoid that.

When did Silicon Valley go all suity on me? It’s certainly a sign that we’re back in a bubble. In 2001 when everyone was unemployed I rarely saw suits. Now that the money is back I’m seeing a lot more suits.

Not a good sign.

167 thoughts on “The suits vs. the geeks

  1. …it’s been there for a thousand years.

    If you go to battle, put your armour on – just that we don’t use swords any more, but keyboards. Suit of armour changed from iron to wool/silk. What does an amour do to you self-esteem?

    This only relates to courtlings. REAL leaders always made their own rules.
    Also does not relate to startups/rebels. See Robin Hood and his startup in the woods.

    So if you are a courtling at the court of, let’s say, MS, you will have to fight against the other courtlings, as wells as against the other courtlings of the other majesties.

    If you were a productive peasant then, or are a productive geek now: love it, change it or leave it. (Possible now, not then – that is were the “progress” hides)

  2. …it’s been there for a thousand years.

    If you go to battle, put your armour on – just that we don’t use swords any more, but keyboards. Suit of armour changed from iron to wool/silk. What does an amour do to you self-esteem?

    This only relates to courtlings. REAL leaders always made their own rules.
    Also does not relate to startups/rebels. See Robin Hood and his startup in the woods.

    So if you are a courtling at the court of, let’s say, MS, you will have to fight against the other courtlings, as wells as against the other courtlings of the other majesties.

    If you were a productive peasant then, or are a productive geek now: love it, change it or leave it. (Possible now, not then – that is were the “progress” hides)

  3. …it’s been there for a thousand years.

    If you go to battle, put your armour on – just that we don’t use swords any more, but keyboards. Suit of armour changed from iron to wool/silk. What does an amour do to you self-esteem?

    This only relates to courtlings. REAL leaders always made their own rules.
    Also does not relate to startups/rebels. See Robin Hood and his startup in the woods.

    So if you are a courtling at the court of, let’s say, MS, you will have to fight against the other courtlings, as wells as against the other courtlings of the other majesties.

    If you were a productive peasant then, or are a productive geek now: love it, change it or leave it. (Possible now, not then – that is were the “progress” hides)

  4. …it’s been there for a thousand years.

    If you go to battle, put your armour on – just that we don’t use swords any more, but keyboards. Suit of armour changed from iron to wool/silk. What does an amour do to you self-esteem?

    This only relates to courtlings. REAL leaders always made their own rules.
    Also does not relate to startups/rebels. See Robin Hood and his startup in the woods.

    So if you are a courtling at the court of, let’s say, MS, you will have to fight against the other courtlings, as wells as against the other courtlings of the other majesties.

    If you were a productive peasant then, or are a productive geek now: love it, change it or leave it. (Possible now, not then – that is were the “progress” hides)

  5. The suits in upper management and the “account executives” are making the big bucks off the brains and 24/7 work ethic of the geeks.

    It’s not unlike the royals in their silk clothing wigs and slippers living off the spoils of their craftsmen and peasants.

  6. The suits in upper management and the “account executives” are making the big bucks off the brains and 24/7 work ethic of the geeks.

    It’s not unlike the royals in their silk clothing wigs and slippers living off the spoils of their craftsmen and peasants.

  7. The suits in upper management and the “account executives” are making the big bucks off the brains and 24/7 work ethic of the geeks.

    It’s not unlike the royals in their silk clothing wigs and slippers living off the spoils of their craftsmen and peasants.

  8. The suits in upper management and the “account executives” are making the big bucks off the brains and 24/7 work ethic of the geeks.

    It’s not unlike the royals in their silk clothing wigs and slippers living off the spoils of their craftsmen and peasants.

  9. But jeans are not particularly comfortable. I live in a fairly hot part of the US, and though I have jeans and sometimes wear them for yardwork etc., lightweight slacks are much more comfortable for general wear and indoors.

    T-shirts don’t look good on most people either. They don’t stay ironed, and quickly lose their shape.

    It seems to me much more that wearing jeans for indoor work is a cultural and fashion statement that shows that the person concerned is actually very concerned about how they are perceived by others.

    The problem with wearing suits, on the other hand, is that they cost a lot to buy initially, and require expensive dry cleaning. Additionally, the accessories like shoes, shirts, and ties may also be expensive.

    Either way, jeans and T-shirt or business suit are both uniforms, and the important thing is to know what you need to wear or not wear to be acceptable in whatever work environment you operate. If you dress in such a way that you alienate others, then clearly you are dysfunctional in that setting.

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