This article was published in the Summit 2021 issue

by John Bowers, Head of Business and Partnerships, Silicon Slopes

As we approach another Silicon Slopes Summit and Utah becomes host to many influential businesses and individuals from around the world, I felt it might be important to share a few thoughts stemming from some recent conversations I’ve had with partners and leaders from around the globe.

For example, most of the people I speak with (both those from Utah but especially those from outside the state), are shocked by the rapid growth of Utah’s economy. Many of those people ask a variation of this question, “What is it about Utah that makes this growth possible?”

A number of them have also asked, “How can that culture be maintained and not changed in adverse ways?” and, “How do you avoid becoming another San Francisco?”

My answers have varied, and my reflection on these questions has spurred me to think extensively about the unique characteristics of Utah’s culture, the characteristics that have created the foundation of knowledge and principles that have fostered the growth of Utah and Silicon Slopes.

I won’t pretend to know all the exact reasons for Utah’s abundance, but without diving into too much detail, I’ve concluded that it’s due to two main reasons: our people, and our relationships.

Utah’s people are unique, and relationships have been at the core of who we are for many years. Generally, we care about our neighbors; we strive for honesty in our associations, and we thrive on progress and improvement within our communities. I believe such focus is a direct effect of the cause: we care about our children and the rising generation, insomuch that we try our best to make decisions with them in mind.

For some, that focus extends to relationships outside of family, and when this happens, our organizations and institutions are strengthened and our culture is fortified.

It’s on this point that I wish to share what I think gives Utah and Silicon Slopes the greatest competitive advantage and future security:  A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY.

At some point in one’s career money becomes relatively automatic, and for some, might even become incredibly easy to accumulate.

But simultaneously, if we don’t remain proactively engaged in our relationships, life and our actions can become transactional, without meaning other than ”playing games.” In fact, when numbers outweigh people in importance, then people become numbers and relationships become transactions.

On the other hand, when given the appropriate energy, effort, and attention, a deliberate focus on relationships and people provides a wealth and abundance that cannot be duplicated. These kind of relationships are born out of need, service, and generosity. You know them when you’ve experienced them. We all have.

Authentic relationships are the greatest asset we have as a species. We need to value them and tend them. We need to nurture our relationships, and mend them to ensure we maintain and grow them. After all, our friends and loved ones are those who have helped make us who we are, a collective people with undeniable energy for improvement and innovation.

As Utah has continued to be the crossroads of the West, it has now become a crossroads of the world.

With companies and people moving here from all corners of the globe, let’s seek to build meaningful relationships, not just businesses focused on transactional value.

Clearly you can’t make old friends. But imagine the exponential increase in the wealth of our culture in 10 years when today’s new friends have become old friends.

The liveliness of hope and opportunity are critical to the reality of growth and innovation. A healthy culture needs this. And hope comes from generosity.

Let’s continue to build upon a culture of generosity. Doing so will keep us connected and grounded.

And let us, together, set this expectation in all of our dealings and relationships as we look to the abundant future that lies before us.


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