Idealog - - CONTENTS -

New heights

T here has been a bit of chat­ter re­cently around whether our cul­ture is hold­ing us back in busi­ness. A re­cent Guardian ar­ti­cle, ‘'New Zealand wants you': the prob­lem with tech at the edge of the world’ iden­ti­fied an is­sue in our tech­nol­ogy sec­tor: our mod­est na­ture means we of­ten don’t back our abil­i­ties enough. An Amer­i­can en­tre­pre­neur said Ki­wis were ‘hum­ble to a fault’, while Mixt CEO Jes­sica Manins said she has cre­ated an Amer­i­can per­sona to come across as more con­fi­dent. In New Heights, New Depths, Peter Beck talks about the dif­fi­cul­ties of build­ing a bil­lion-dol­lar-com­pany in this at­mos­phere and says a cul­tural shift needs to hap­pen if we want more of them. He of­ten faced skep­ti­cism from other New Zealan­ders when he told them his vi­sion, but look at Rocket Lab's val­u­a­tion now: over $1 bil­lion and count­ing.

Mean­while, re­flect­ing on a suc­cess­ful global ca­reer in tech in 25 Things, NZTE’s Clau­dia Batten said some­thing she wished she knew be­fore she started was to be more out­ra­geous and ag­gres­sive about what’s pos­si­ble.

New Zealan­ders are well ac­cus­tomed to grow­ing up in this con­tra­dic­tory melt­ing pot of pride and self-doubt. So when I met and in­ter­viewed Google Em­pa­thy Lab founder Danielle Kret­tek (pic­tured right, be­side yours truly) and ex- Wired ed­i­tor and pro­ducer of Ab­stract: The Art Of De­sign Scott Dadich in Syd­ney re­cently, I didn't think they'd have the same qualms.

Af­ter all, they don’t hail from a na­tion that loves pro­mot­ing home­grown suc­cess sto­ries, yet has no time for ar­ro­gance, set­ting off a chain re­ac­tion of anx­i­eties for any­one who’s be­come rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful: ‘Will con­fi­dence in my idea come across as boast­ing? Come to think of it, am I re­ally that great at what I do, any­way?’

As it turns out, this is ac­tu­ally a world­wide phe­nom­e­non called im­pos­tor syn­drome – and even those on the top rungs of the ca­reer lad­der glob­ally ex­pe­ri­ence it. THE TECH­NOL­OGY I SSUE

When I asked Dadich if he’de’d ticked off all his goals in an il­lus­tri­ouss ca­reer, he told me, “Oh no. I have im­pos­toros­tor syn­drome.” The same went forr Danielle. She said she of­ten feels like shee doesn’t be­long in the room along­side the tech­nol­o­gists at Google, see­ingg as she “fell back­wards” into her dreamm job.

At first, I found this slight­lyy alarm­ing. Once you get to that level, sure­lyy you should be al­lowed the com­fort of not sec­ond guess­ing your­self. But, re­as­sur­ingly,eas­sur­ingly, ex­perts say those who feel like they’re­hey’re im­pos­tors ac­tu­ally tend to be more in­tel­li­gent and com­pe­tent than those who are un­ruf­fled by self-doubt,t, as they’re con­stantly striv­ing to in­crease­crease their abil­i­ties (in con­trast to this,s, the Dun­ning-Kruger ef­fect is “a cog­ni­tiven­i­tive bias in which peo­ple of low abil­ity haveave il­lu­sory su­pe­ri­or­ity and mis­tak­enly as­sessess their cog­ni­tive abil­ity as greater than it is.”)

So maybe these nig­gly in­se­cu­ri­tiese­cu­ri­ties aren’t as much of a hin­drance as we think they are. Per­haps they canan ac­tu­ally be an ad­van­tage when har­nessedsed cor­rectly, and it’s just our lev­el­sls of as­pi­ra­tion that need tweak­ing.g. Or, as David Downs put it in

Dear David: ‘If all Ki­wis had thehe same ex­pec­ta­tion of win­ning that ou­rur na­tional rugby team does, I am cer­tain we’d achieve the same re­sults they do. It’s time to use our ‘un­fair ad­van­tages’ages’ and dream big­ger.’

So, on the cover, we pre­sentnt to you one of Idea­log’s big, lofty dreams.ms. An op­ti­mistic, thriv­ing fu­ture whereere the tech sec­tor dom­i­nates down­townown and has sur­passed our two cur­rentt in­dus­try ta­ble top­pers, tourism and dairy,iry, to be­come our big­gest na­tional ex­port.xport. Ecosys­tems take a long time too de­velop, but com­pa­nies like Weta, Trad­ede Me, Xero and Vend have paved the way for a host of ex­cit­ing new com­pa­nies suchch as Soul Ma­chines and Rocket Lab. Whoho knows what kind of com­pa­nies they will in­spire.

There’s been a lot of dark pre­dic­tions about the role tech­nol­ogy will play in shap­ing our fu­ture, but we’re not feel­ing so cyn­i­cal. We reckon our tech sec­tor will help our cities, our econ­omy and our in­dus­tries reach new heights – per­haps quite lit­er­ally, if Vick­ers Air­craft or Ze­phyr Air­works, a sub­sidiary of Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk that is test­ing a self-pi­loted air taxi in Christchurch, achieve their goals. And as you’ll read on the fol­low­ing pages, this move­ment is al­ready well un­der­way.

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