Global viewpoint from Seattle
A view from Shane Atchison

Global viewpoint from Seattle

Many people think of Seattle as Silicon Valley with more rain but, aside from a love of tech, we’re very different places for creative people.

Seattle is only the US’s 17th-largest city (though, according to Fortune, it is its second-coolest). That gives it a small-town feel together with the scale that comes from playing host to many of America’s enterprises, including Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia.

The presence of Amazon and Microsoft in particular has made us early adopters of the cloud – and that has launched hundreds of start-ups in the city. This is a place where ideas happen. New companies are constantly coming together and new buildings go up all the time. Everyone helps everyone else, making it easy to forge the connections and find the people you need to build almost anything. Not surprisingly, every year we see a few lucky companies, such as Zulily and Zillow, take off.

As a result, Seattle is a special place to be a creative person. At 4 per cent, our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the US; in creative fields, it has to be even lower. Everyone competes for talent, which gives creatives a lot of say in what the workplace looks like and how they should spend their time.

We work hard, but we enjoy life too. Coffee is a religion, and you can find a great cup on every street corner. We have dozens of microbreweries, craft distillers, farmers’ markets, nearby wineries and great restaurants. Seattle is close to the beach and the mountains – on the weekends, you’ll often find us skiing, biking, mountain-climbing or kitesurfing.

With so much competition for talent, workplaces have to be fun, inspiring and transformative

With so much competition for talent, workplaces have to be fun, inspiring and transformative. You’re more likely to find dogs and a bar in any given office than rules and hierarchy. Typically, your voice will get heard.

But what really makes Seattle interesting is how creative people are demanding and driving change through their work. Seattle has the highest minimum wage in the country and a progressive approach to everything from policing to urban gardening. You may move pixels at a start-up, but that start-up will likely have deep roots in the community.

Possible sponsors a programme whereby our employees take time out to coach people at small non-profits on digital skills. And we’re hardly exceptional in this. Most companies have initiatives with the same idea at heart: enabling their employees to use their expertise to make a positive difference.

So do I recommend Seattle? Of course. With its combination of digital technology, entrepreneurial opportunities and innovative energy, it’s one of the best places for a creative person to be right now. At Possible, we say that we have no headquarters; but if you ask me where I live, it’s right here.

Shane Atchison is the global chief executive at Possible

Topics