Cheryl Wicks: The times they are a changin’ — sometimes for the good and sometimes not
With sadness I learned Silicon Valley giant Hewlett-Packard is moving its headquarters to Texas. This great company represents the beginning of Silicon Valley, the high tech hub for some of the most exciting innovations in the world.
Bill Hewlett and David Packard were two of the most remarkable men of the 20th century, not only for their entrepreneurship, but also for their philanthropy and generosity.
California’s high taxes, over regulation, energy policy and public safety breakdown have driven companies and individuals out of California. Businesses large and small succumb to these pressures.
Other states with lesser taxes and regulations are enticing business to their states. Texas is becoming a big winner of all things California.
A study conducted in 2018 showed 13,000 businesses had left the state since 2008. One business owner said his cost of business had been reduced by 32% by moving to Texas. Texas is well positioned to take in these California businesses.
Five million individuals have left California in the past decade, with 650,000 of them leaving in 2019. Texas, Arizona and Nevada are the top states that people move to. Why is this?
High taxes and over regulation are the main reasons for people leaving. Two decades ago California was ranked among the best in terms of its public education. Now it is 10th from the bottom and ranked as a solid C-.
Conditions have been slowly eroding in California since I came here as a child from South Dakota so many years ago. This kind of erosion is like soil erosion. It happens so slowly that you don’t realize it until there is a mudslide.
Learning that Hewlett-Packard, the foundation of Silicon Valley, has chosen to leave for Texas hit me like a ton of bricks.
Many years ago I worked for Hewlett Packard. At the time I arrived there, I was doing OK in life. After six weeks of employment in this wonderful company, I came to life like a little flower when it finally gets watered after a long time of slowly wilting.
That was many years ago and I have been on fire ever since. Previously, after graduating from college, I had worked for Fresno County and Sonoma County. My performance reviews indicate I was a solid employee, dependable, hard working and compatible with co-workers.
After just six weeks at HP, I became a leader and found my creative gene. I didn’t even know I possessed those qualities until my time at HP. How is this possible, you might ask? The formula HP made great products we could be proud of.
They made money and shared with all of us (at the time I worked there there were 100,000 employees) through profit sharing and stock options. They created an environment that encouraged each one of us to be all we could be.
Bill and Dave really cared about the employees, and we knew it. I had the good fortune to know these two amazing men. Since six weeks into my employment with them, my world changed and I’ve never been the same since (in a totally good way).
Once upon a time I was invited to speak before the U.S. Senate on the “Quality of Work Life in America.“ Yes, little ol’ me from the plains of South Dakota. Without my experience at HP, I would never have been invited to do that and certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it.
HP was like a loving parent supporting you to do amazing things. After HP, I worked for two other companies, one being Apple. They were great companies making great products, but they never quite got the people thing down to the degree HP did.
Bill and Dave were trained as engineers and instinctively were sociological geniuses. I co-founded and still operate Sammie’s Friends based on many of the same values I learned at HP. Bill Hewlett said, “We need to have soft hearts and hard heads, and unfortunately at times we get hard-hearted and soft-headed. That’s not right.” Very good words to live by.
I’ll close with “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” What I learned at HP has been the foundation for everything I’ve done since as an employee of two other companies, as the owner of my own consulting firm, and as the co-founder, leader and visionary for Sammie’s Friends. Thanks Bill and Dave! You live in my heart and mind forever.
Cheryl Wicks lives in Grass Valley.
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“You’ve heard me say this before: Every acre can and will burn someday in this state” — Cal Fire Director Thom Porter.