Scaling up in Chicago means finding talent. Our return to Chicago saw us watch the Chicago Blackhawks, and following 60 minutes of play the Hawks and Nashville were even stevens. What should have been a quiet work night out instead saw extended play, and we returned back to the hotel at 1am. Thankfully the Blackhawks had won, and for those of you who have never been to an ice hockey match I would thoroughly recommend watching a Stanley Cup game.
Back in England, Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspurs is an up and coming talent. His namesake Kane of the Blackhawks is one of the stars of the Chicago ice hockey team. So where do you find talent? And specifically where do you find tech talent in Chicago.
Entrepreneurial hub 1871 was opened in the Merchant Mart in the city in 2012. We attended an Innovation event one evening with a panel discussion. The audience included tech entrepreneurs, investors and city heavy weights. Speakers included Chicago Ventures, a professor from The Kellogg School and others. Whilst the discussion was very interesting, one of panel started dishing the British as being risk averse. Upon hearing this my natural reaction was to rebuke this as I said ‘I beg your pardon’. Now this sort of rebuke would have been laughed off in Britain but not in America where they don’t understand irony in the same way we do. Of course the lady in question was right – the Brits are risk averse, as I was the only Brit in a hall of hundreds. I apologised after the panel had finished and explained how on reflection I agreed with her statement.
Visiting marketing agencies later in the week, I learnt that in the UK you have hit to connect with people’s heads whereas in America it’s through the head.
I guess the Hawks had touched my heart with their comeback victory, and I must now go and buy a Blackhawks shirt. As for finding talent, connecting with 1871 and with the Department of Commerce should help that. We hired two more members of staff so our talent pool is growing across cultures. And we certainly need Americans who understand the local culture to serve local customers. We are after all two countries separated by a common language!