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Opinion: For Utah’s Silicon Slopes to succeed, competition is not the answer

When the tide comes in, all boats rise. Communities aren’t built from competition, they are built from working together

SHARE Opinion: For Utah’s Silicon Slopes to succeed, competition is not the answer

Clint Betts, president and CEO of Silicon Slopes, speaks during a press conference in Lehi on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

I’ve now been in the community building game for more than a decade. In that time, Utah has changed in profound and fundamental ways. Silicon Slopes played a significant role in that change, but tech isn’t the only reason things look different.

Our population is growing, our economy continues to outperform, and we’re closer than ever to adding another professional sports team. Of course, I think it should be an Major League Baseball team with a stadium in Utah County. Give me that, and I’ll keep my mouth shut when you name it the Utah Pioneers. 

With success comes challenges. You know what they are: housing prices, water, air quality, traffic, cookie wars, etc. Except for that last one, we’ve talked about these problems for some time now. We’re impatient and want things to move faster, but I believe progress is being made on all fronts. You can yell at me on Twitter if you disagree.

There’s a success challenge we don’t talk about.

As an ecosystem matures and experiences success, the desire to be its leader or receive credit or monopolize the microphone increases exponentially. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire. In my experience, more often than not, those who seek the microphone do so with sincerity. They usually deserve the thing. Plus — who’s going to tell them they don’t?

And that’s kind of my point. A cohesive, productive community passes the proverbial microphone to anyone who desires to grab it. It should not be owned by one person, organization or group. 

There’s no such thing as competition in community building.

I know that’s hard to wrap your head around (and a bit rich coming from the CEO of Silicon Slopes), but I firmly believe in the principle of a rising tide raising all boats. The one thing that will trip us up faster than anything else — and force us to solve straight-up problems rather than success problems — is tearing each other down in a pointless battle for the spotlight. 

We got where we are by building each other up, celebrating our successes and giving back to the next generation. Let’s not stop now. If we do, we’ll lose the heart and soul of this community. 

Who knows how much longer my voice will matter, but what I know for sure is that everyone in the Silicon Slopes community matters. You don’t matter more than anyone else, but no one matters more than you. 

If you’re building in this community and start feeling competitive with another group, take a step back and focus on why you got in the game in the first place. You’re not doing this for the microphone or the spotlight.

Leave the politics to the politicians. We’ve got a community to serve.

Clint Betts is CEO of Silicon Slopes, which is hosting its annual Silicon Slopes Summit Sept. 29-30 at the Vivint Arena.