Every year local tech business newspaper, Mass High Tech, runs an award program called the MHT All-Stars, recognizing the movers and shakers who make a difference in the local tech economy. The celebration culminates with a party to recognize the winners and give them a chance to say a few words. “No panels, no presentations, just a party,” stated MHT publisher Doug Banks.
“Few” is the operative word here as the winners are charged (for charity) $1 a character for any characters over 140 characters, the length of a tweet. Last year I was uncharacteristically saddened (I like a good short speech) at most of the honorees’ strict adherence to the limits. THIS was the time to go over, in spades. I’m happy to report that 2011 saw a more verbose group, even nonprofit leader MITX’s Kiki Mills went over the limit (she claimed fellow honoree Shawn Broderick was fronting her still-not-too-lengthy speech.) Tim Healy, CEO of EnerNOC Inc., should get a refund since he used his extra characters to talk about hiring between 50 and 100 new positions in the next few months.
Among the movers and shakers are usually a Distinguished Achievement Award Honoree (or, in the case of this year, two.) These honorees had no limits on their speeches. Founder of Analog Devices and Stata Venture Partners Ray Stata and Bernard Gordon, founder of Analogic and NeuroLogica each took a moment to recognize their wives in sweet and charming fashion, and then move on to a more serious topic — educating the next generation of engineers and leaders.
Needless to say, the two gentleman had obviously talked before they spoke, and in well-coordinated, back-to-back speeches, they laid it on the line in no uncertain terms. Today’s schooling is not adequately preparing the next generation to take up where Gordon and Stata have not yet left off. “Today’s engineering students do not come out of school capable of handling complex projects.” “…concerned about the ability to replicate the success of the past.” “We need to encourage our best and brightest to study engineering and science.” (Apologies to both gentlemen if these quotes aren’t perfect, note-taking on an iPhone is challenging.)
Meanwhile, the party goes on around them. Did anyone else notice the challenge being given? A few perhaps.
Instead of worrying about whether there is free beer and a band at the next meetup or whether we throw enough parties, perhaps we should be spending our time encouraging students to spend more time at their studies, or listening to and learning from guys like Stata and Gordon.