Prominence, influence, and celebrity are products of place. Frank Sinatra knew this, which is why he sang of New York, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” Fortunately, we no longer have to move to New York become successful (and assuage our Sinatra-sized egos). As a community grows in size, importance, and influence, so do the local leaders and celebrities.
New York has been the heart of global finance and trade for centuries now, and it’s been one of the epicenters of fashion, music, literature, and other creative arts. Silicon Valley was home to perhaps the biggest and most important community within the technology, science, and business worlds for the last three decades. Hollywood was the where most big movies were made. But now importance and prominence are shifting elsewhere. Now the world’s attention and investment capital are decentralizing to multiple smaller hubs. Austin is one of most popular of the new smaller, favored cities, but it’s only one of many. Small but successful communities are popping up all over the world in nearly every industry.
As this decentralization continues to occur, a wave expands outward from each of the large hubs, engulfing one new city after another in a massive power shift. As this happens, the wave lifts the previously unknown local stars into the world limelight. I live in Austin, and many of my friends are already riding the beginning of that wave. It remains to be seen whether the wave has a crest. How long will the wave last? Will it crash upon the shore with barely a memory that it ever existed? Will the riders end their short ride without the global audience paying much attention? Who among us will find a way to propel themselves to the next wave, and the next after that, becoming the next global leaders? Where do we find the next wave? What cities will it hit next? Or does the swell keep rising, continuing to lift us all for a long time to come? Where does it all go from here? We’ll likely find the answers to these questions by observing cities like Austin in the coming years.