Greetings from Nerd-ville: We’re Number Two!
Sometimes you just luck out and end up living in the place that suits you.
Seriously, I pity the anonymous commenters who frequent boston.com and bostonherald.com (and who may even be in the paid employ of the latter, given the insanely frothing nature of the comments there) to – no matter what the topic of “conversation” is – piss and moan about how terrible it is to live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Honestly, you’d think that the Bay State is anything other than an excellent place in which to live.
Most educated – 1st
Lowest divorce rate – 1st
Healthiest – 4th
Wealthiest – 5th
Pursuit of Happiest - 10th
Gun-happiest (i.e., firearms death rate) – 50th
And all round best places to live – 7th
Seriously, other than being in the Top 10 for taxes paid – which may have something to do with being the 5th wealthiest state – there are few factors that we don’t rate pretty darned high (or low, where low = good) on. Even – and this is incredibly surprising – our rank as the state with the worst drivers, which is 48th.
Maybe our weather isn’t the best but, still, this is a great place to live, especially if you’re the type of person who likes living around healthy, educated people who aren’t generally shooting at each other.
In any case, I am always delighted to see the news when we rate high on yet another list, the most recent being the pocket protector rankings. This list ranks states by the concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals.
Massachusetts came in Number 2, second only to Virginia (which outstrips us because of all those government agencies, contractors, and sub-contractors there). In the Number 3 position was, thanks to Microsoft, Washington. (Source: Bloomberg.
There are other states with more techies in absolute terms – think California – but in terms of geeks per capita, Massachusetts is right up there.
Just as the top of the heap is not surprising, neither is the bottom: Mississippi, West Virginia, and Nevada.
Being high on STEM-mers is good for a lot of reasons. It’s where the growth is. Where the high-paying jobs are. It’s the future.
And, as someone who has enjoyed a good long career in nerd-dom, I have always enjoyed working with techies. For the most part, they were smart, funny, off-beat, and decent. Not that I never encountered any techie a-holes: I met plenty of them, often – why am I not surprised? – in the executive ranks, where an apparent willingness to be nasty and aggressive conveyed them out of the cubicle and into a windowed office and a seat at the table. Sometimes even at the head of the table.
But for the most part, working with techies was wonderful – certainly one of the best aspects of working in high tech.
When I worked full time, whatever the company, I was always part of a bull session group that, maybe one evening every couple of weeks, gravitated to someone’s office, where we spent a couple of hours shooting the breeze and, of course, solving the company’s problems. (If only they had listened to us…)
These groups always had at least one techie (in my world, that would have been a software engineer). Ed, Charlie, Frank, Paul, Ted. Some of the most wonderful and interesting guys I ever worked with were techies.
So, too, were some of the oddest.
There was Mike, who more or less lived at work, and in whose office we one day found a bag of suppurating sweet potatoes that were stinking to the high heavens.
Not to mention Jim who, when we doled out desserts at Friday lunch – at this small company, we took turns bringing dessert, and had our weekly full-staff meeting over brown-bag lunch and mostly home-made goodies – would tremble with anxiety if he felt he was going to be deprived of a second helping.
And then there was the marvelously (mostly) outspoken Bill.
For one client project – a custom information system - I was managing, Bill was the only full-time tech resource I had. When the client came to town, I introduced Bill as the lead engineer on the project.
“Lead engineer?” Bill snorted, “I’m the only engineer.”
All was forgiven a while later when, as part of what was more or less a hostile takeover (at least as far as the rank and file were concerned), our new president flew in from wherever out of town to address the troops. He had started into his remarks – the usual bull and bromide – when Bill’s hand shot up.
Mr. President acknowledged him.
“Would you mind introducing yourself, sir?” Bill asked him.
Our new president told us his name.
Bill nodded deeply. “I thought so,” he told the slack-jawed new head guy, who was just starting to get a clue about what he was in for.
When younger marketing professionals ask my advice on whether to pursue a career in product marketing or marcomm, I always ask them one question: If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with the engineers or the sales guys.
I always knew who I’d rather be with, which is how I ended up going the product marketing route.
One of the things I miss these days is that I don’t get to meet with the techies as often as I’d like. I’m with the product marketing folks, the product managers, the marcomm-ers. Once in a while, I get to work with the engineers, but I only have one client with whom I work directly and regularly with the geeks. No surprise that they’re just about my favorite client.
Sure, maybe they’re not the smoothest of the smooth, the coolest of the cool, but what’s not to love about nerds?
So happy to live in a place where we have so many of them.
Labels: where we live