What is the benefit of living in NorCal
The eight most important reasons why Germans emigrate to California
Emigrating to California needs to be carefully considered. Around 5000 Germans live and work in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. 5000 people with daring, education, creativity and hard work who are missing in Germany. Astrid Senior, German exile in California and owner of a marketing and PR agency, spoke to Karsten Weidemann, program director for digital media and entertainment at IDC, San Francisco Bay Area.
He lists the top eight reasons high-tech employees go to California. “This list is also a list of the things that business leaders and politicians in Germany can do better,” said Astrid Senior. In addition to Karsten Weidemann, other voices from emigrants are also quoted.
Many Germans only take a deep breath once they have settled in California: After living in Germany, the land of skeptics and introspective brooders, they are now finding a class of people in the Americans who have a positive attitude, who look ahead and do something.
Emigrating to California: "You look for the positive, not the negative."
Thomas Neubert, founder and head of the management consultancy Global Business Communications, speaks from the soul of many ex-patriots (expats): "You look for the positive, not the negative." Heike Bartlett from the personnel consultancy Korn / Ferry International says: "The Americans are looking forward to the future, in Germany everything (new) is initially examined with suspicion." The unanimous opinion of the overseas Germans: If a difficulty arises, the Americans do not fall into melancholy, but ask "What can we do?"
This attitude not only makes life more pleasant, it also helps to advance the high-tech industry. More than 200 years after the founding of the United States, the pioneering spirit of the Americans is alive and well: Americans are relentlessly looking for the new, the chance, the next frontier that they can cross. He is open to everything new. Every new product is met with enthusiasm first, and every new idea gets its chance.
This mentality is the ideal breeding ground for new ideas, “to develop new things, to discover new territories, to develop new (…) technologies”, says Fritz Schulz of Nuance, one of the leading providers of speech recognition software. “Projects are approached much more enthusiastically, it's just more fun,” adds Schulz.
Why Germans should emigrate to California: Faster processes
On top of that everything happens a little faster than in the Old World, says Klaus Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer at the video streaming company Teveo: “The difference (between Germany and California) is really in the speed. That's the only way you can survive here by just being quick. "
Schmidt continues: “From a German point of view, one would say, ah yes, that's just botched. But (...) the combination of (...) a European quality standard and the American opportunity (...) to get something up and running incredibly quickly, that is the combination that (brings success). "
The Germans' experience with their old homeland is in contrast to this: Germans fear change, everything is endlessly problematized, talked to death, progress is only painfully slow. The German says: This product is not yet ready for the market. The American says: It doesn't matter, let's get it out first, we can always improve it. “When the Germans finally take the leap, the Americans will have already made five leaps,” says Heike Bartlett, describing the difference between the cultures.
Karsten Weidemann continues: "Here I can make mistakes - and learn." In the USA there is more courage to open a gap, more attempts are made, and that also means: more mistakes are made. If a creative young entrepreneur fails in Germany, he is done for. Second chances are not given in the German economy.
Americans like to learn from mistakes - German entrepreneurs shy away from the risk
The American approach is expressed in a recommendation by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson: “So always go forward and make mistakes. Make as many mistakes as possible. Only then will you find success. Beyond failure. " Heike Bartlett says: “If you try something here, even as a young entrepreneur, and it goes wrong, then you will not be branded by society (...) but it is said: 'Great, learn' from it and try 'something different . '”
“Buten and inside, dare and win!” - The Bremen motto could also be that of the bear republic. Be daring and don't be afraid of failure: both are good for imaginative entrepreneurs and a dynamic economy. Most high-tech expatriates see this as one of the reasons America has become the focus of technological innovation and why a large part of the web businesses in Europe are nothing more than copies of US ideas.
Karsten Weidemann continues: "I want to be where the high-tech music plays." What the old adage knew centuries before modern economics: The devil always shits on the biggest pile. Ever since Silicon Valley reached a critical mass of ideas, people, businesses, and money, it has been attracting more and more ideas, people, businesses, and money.
No wonder that the German high-tech experts are settling in the Californian high-tech center: They want to be where the music is playing, not in the sleepy German tech province. Between San Francisco and San Jose there are always interesting jobs at the forefront of technological development.
Emigrating to California: The market is bigger
One reason America's economy is brisk: the market is just bigger. “When you have a new product (here), you simply have more mass. (...) ”, says Fritz Schulz, but sees a silver lining for the Old World:“ Europe is trying to change that with the common European market. ”
Improvement could be more difficult in other respects: The New Californians view the entrepreneurial daring of Germans in Germany with suspicion as well as their work ethic: “Here you don't automatically set your brain to private on Friday. Something happens here on the weekend too ”, says Teveos Klaus Schmidt,“ (...) it's just a question of attitude, and that of entire teams and not just the manager. ”
In Germany there is a lack of entrepreneurship and a willingness to take risks. “There is not yet the will to take (a) risk, and new business start-ups are inherently risky. In Germany they are often not ready to accept that. As an individual person, but also as a society, ”explains Schmidt.
Entrepreneurial thinking has almost become a popular culture in America. “Here entrepreneurs like Bill Gates are considered pop stars, in Germany they are still class enemies,” says Fritz Schulz from Nuance, describing the difference in mentality.
But perhaps the German Michel is only used to doing what the authorities in the state and in business require of him - in return, he doesn't have to worry about anything from cradle to grave. “In Germany everything is taken from you,” summarizes Heike Bartlett. No wonder that this comfortable symbiosis hardly produces employees with personal responsibility and initiative, and hardly any entrepreneurs.
Unlike in California, start-ups in Germany are struggling with too much bureaucracy
But if someone in Germany takes the courage to found a company, they will find that it is still a ludicrous run over the hurdles of bureaucracy. Ulli Kohl, Chief Technology Officer of Questico, an expert exchange on the web, says: “For the promotion of startups: Less bureaucracy! That really slows down a young company in the early stages. "
“Here I am also rewarded for my hard work”, says Karsten Weidemann. Another reason that attracts the German high-tech elite: "Everyone has the dream of making big money in California (...)", says Simone Brixel, ex-employee at the HP subsidiary Verifone. The joke is: “You can actually go from dishwasher to millionaire,” says Heike Bartlett.
“If you work hard, you will be rewarded for your hard work,” says Thomas Neubert. “The salary scale is open at the top,” so the tenor of a survey in the German community in San Francisco. Teveos Klaus Schmidt adds: “It also sticks more. The whole American tax system (...) is a bit fairer. "
You can earn more and you can also make a career faster. Anyone who does a good job will also make their way. The Americans call this “meritocracy”, the principle that only what you can do counts, not what you are.
In Germany mainly certificates are valid, in California not
In Germany, on the other hand, the seniority principle applies: You have to be a department head for five years to become the main department head. Everything is still pretty hierarchical, authoritarian, schematic. Simone Brixel describes an experience from an interview in Germany: "Although the HR officer knew me personally from several interviews and knew what I can do, he said:" Send me your exam certificate. "That would never have happened to me in the USA."
Additional incentive for the techno elite: Every high-tech company issues stock options to its employees. After a certain waiting period, they give employees the opportunity to purchase shares in their own company at the price that was valid on the day the options were allocated and to sell them at the current price. If your own company is doing well, the price has risen in the meantime and the employees benefit from the company's success. “With us everyone has a share in the company, and that means that they automatically have an interest in the company,” says Klaus Schmidt. In Germany, more and more companies are issuing options, but this type of people's capitalism is still in its infancy.
Karsten Weidemann: "I find America's internationality exciting." In California you can find Americans of all flavors, whites, Asians (now the largest population group in the Golden State), Latin Americans, blacks, Europeans ... the cliché of the melting pot is still true. The Germans here are enthusiastic about this multiculturalism, the openness and tolerance. Even veterans of the industry get sparkling eyes when they describe how this generates new ideas, new perspectives, how it allows them to learn more about themselves and their own culture - quite apart from the fact that cultural diversity drives economic prosperity.
The German community therefore praised the attempt by the federal government to lure Indian software experts to Germany with the so-called green card. Meanwhile, the dispute on this topic caused a lot of amusement: At first, diligent questioners worried about jobs or even the national identity in the face of 5000 potential Indian immigrants - and then so few Indians came that Gerhard Schröder still knows everyone by his name.
Those who emigrate to California experience a multicultural society
Fritz Schulz sums up: “What I like here is simply the multicultural. There is a lot of talk about it in Germany, (but only) because Germany is still miles away from being a multicultural society. (...) Germans still have a hard time (a la) 'Children instead of Indians'. The Germans are very taken with themselves. They just think that they are very open to the world. But there is a lack of tolerance. "
"Americans learn procedures instead of book knowledge - and the universities encourage top performance instead of punishing them," says Karsten Weidemann. Another secret of Silicon Valley's success is the high-tech Germans who make education in the United States: there is agreement that elementary school education here is so bad that even Bangladesh could probably compete with it. “Do I want to let my children grow up here? I think the answer is “no”, says business consultant Neubert.
But many Germans point out one advantage of the local education system: “The Americans are trained to set goals and to pursue them systematically. But they are less well educated. In Germany you learn content, but not procedure, ”says Klaus Schmidt, father of two sons who go to school in California. That is why Schmidt sees “a better prerequisite (...) to also think into new areas and to implement (ideas). And for that you need a process, you don't have to delve into details beyond scientific treatises in order to get to the bottom of the matter. "
Many elementary school children in the USA now have access to a computer and the Internet on top of that - the success of government programs and the commitment of high-tech companies. In Germany, many teachers and parents do not want to know about it: computers only make children and young people passive and stupid, it is often said that they only play games and are also endangered by porn on the Internet.
Emigration to California: Greater practical relevance at US universities than in Germany
American universities are also recognized: unlike secondary schools in Germany, most US universities are run like companies. They teach what students can actually use in real life and charge for it in the form of tuition fees what this training is worth in the education market. The disadvantage of focusing on money: Children from poor families have less chance of asserting themselves - however, scholarships encourage talented people. The advantage of this system: greater practical relevance and a better educated elite, especially in engineering and science. In the Federal Republic of Germany, universities concentrate on providing the masses with an average education, which means that even the most talented will soon be average. “The German universities are a big gray mush,” complains Fritz Schulz.
“Politicians promote the economy - and democracy is livelier,” is Karsten Weidemann's seventh thesis. The American approach: if the economy is doing well, then the workers are also doing well. As a result, taxes are lower here, for both companies and individuals, there is less bureaucracy, and it is easier for start-ups to find support from angel investors and venture capitalists than in Europe.
"Less state!" praises Fritz Schulz. “There is more democracy, the whole thing (referendums in California) ... the German citizen is not yet expected to do that. Democracy is lived here. (...). In Germany you get the impression that that's politics, you can't do anything anyway. "
More influence of the citizen also means more public discussion - and this is perceived as more fact-oriented: “I find the discussion here essentially (...) more objective, more neutral,” continues Schulz. “(The public discussion in America is much more open, democratic and transparent than in Germany. In Germany, public disputes are always very ideological, bitter, divisive and personal. " A German management consultant agrees: “Discussions in Germany are often dogged and demonize the opponent. The ideological battles of the past are still being fought there. "
Emigrating to California: "Friendly People, Comfortable Life."
And last but not least, Karsten Weidemann thinks: "Friendly people, comfortable life." The high quality of life in Northern California does one more thing to attract and retain Germans. It starts with the fact that people are simply friendlier in their everyday dealings, that it is easier to make new acquaintances: "I love the openness and friendliness of Americans," says Fritz Schulz.
Of course, from here on, opinions are divided. For half of Germans, the stereotype of the “superficial American” is still true. For them, people are friendly, but also superficial. You have friendships in Europe and acquaintances in America.
The other half of the elected Californians, for whom Thomas Neubert could speak, see it differently: “It always depends on you what you make of it. I've never had any problems building up a circle of friends. " And Schulz adds: "I cannot subscribe to the prejudice that Americans are flat at all."
All Germans perceive the fantastic comfort of life as a paradise compared to Germany.Again and again they cite the fact that many shops have much longer opening times and some are even open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Sellers are friendly and helpful. Heike Bartlett says: "Everyday life in Germany is exhausting, (...) you can't go shopping at the weekend, the people at the office are unfriendly." A businesswoman sighs: “Customer service has gotten better in Germany. But sometimes I still have this daydream in shops in which all German salespeople are forcibly sent to the USA to work and have to fill my shopping bags and carry them to the car. "
But despite all the criticism of Germany and Europe, the German high-tech employees share one assessment: the old world is on the right path to reform and to revive itself. The politicians have finally started to clean up: The federal government, for example, has cut taxes for individuals and companies, has tackled the immigration issue, albeit cautiously, has begun to reduce overregulation (for example with the mitigation of the law on closing times and the abolition of the discount law and the free allowance ordinance ).
The European Union (EU) plays an important role in the imagination of all Germans here. Even if roughly every second German here sees themselves culturally more as a German than a European, everyone knows that the nation-state is a thing of the past. The EU is needed if the economy is to run better: “If you could bring the different cultures and economies of Europe under one roof, then Europe could definitely keep up with the USA,” says Klaus Schmidt.
The new common currency is given an important role: “The euro is good all round,” says Klaus like many others. They see the euro as a factor that standardizes the markets, promotes sales and lowers transaction costs - and promotes more European unity in business and politics. Most see the current weak euro as an intermediate low.
Emigrate to California: reasons that speak against it
Despite all the enthusiasm for what is better in the West Coast state, the Germans do not lose sight of what is worse than in Europe. Here is the list of the eight most frequently mentioned problems in California and the USA: The high cost of living, caused by the huge amounts of money flowing through the high-tech industry. The housing situation: It is difficult to find an apartment at all, and if you get hold of one, you are “faced with rents that are twice as high,” says Simone Brixel.
The catastrophic traffic situation: the road network is not keeping pace with the influx of new residents and their cars. Local public transport is so neglected that it is underdeveloped and in poor condition. A bureaucracy that is just as bad as in Germany, but less efficient. The US immigration authority INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) has met with particular criticism of the chaos and the apparent arbitrariness. The crass materialism that pervades society: “It's all about the money here”, Simone Brixel. A management consultant says: “Here you have pure capitalism. (...) In Europe, other factors than just money count. ” In general, the lack of a sense of enjoyment in life is lamented. The social inequality and the lack of social security, the consequences of which are clearly visible with the homeless, the homeless in San Francisco's streets. The level of force majeure in society. The lack of environmental awareness.
And so most of the overseas Germans sum up their experiences as follows: Europe can learn from America how it can revive its economy. And America can learn from Europe how a more state order can ensure a reasonable public infrastructure and social equilibrium.
Also read: Comment on Silcon Valley: Founders need the courage to fill gaps
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