23 June 2004
I live in a city known for its image issues. To say there is an inferiority complex is to dramatically understate the case. As a distribution center, Memphis is a lot like a city with a huge Air Force base. With FedEx headquartered here, we have some pilots in the area. However, relative to the work done by FedEx, pilots are far outnumbered by other ”classes” of workers. Wages in Memphis are low. It’s a poor city relative to cities of comparable population.
If you doubt what I say, take a look at this chart from the June 14, 2004 InfoWorld. Notice just how ridiculously low the I.T. salaries are in Memphis. This has been true for many years. During the height of the personal computer ”franchise wars,” Memphis led the nation in product discounting. [Remember, Entre, Computerland, Inacom and MicroAge?]
For that reason, I’ve spent the majority of the last fifteen years working for clients outside of the Memphis area. Memphis is also a place that has no respect for knowledge. Who-you-know is far more important than what-you-know. Consultants are held in lower esteem than they are nationally, which is bad enough. Anyone, other than doctors or lawyers, who attempts to earn a living from what-they-know is quickly identified and categorized. Advisory work that commands $1500 to $2500 or more per day in other places might be valued at $500 in Memphis. That price assumes you’re in the good ’ol boy network, you’ll invoice the work well after the work is done and then happily wait sixty days for payment.
Keep these things in mind as you read InfoWorld’s 2004 Compensation Survey and you’ll understand more about why we travel. Traveling gets old, but it certainly has provided a different standard of living than the I.T. industry in Memphis can provide.
Filed under: Careers