It's different here. Yes it's not perfect, but it is so different. We don't care if Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie -- men don't wear ties here -- and the last point in Julie Steinberg's recent Wall Street Journal article on the "Nine Rules Women Must Follow To Get Ahead," that as a woman you need to "Dress well and play golf," is just out of touch with the way power works in technology.
Successful young people (men and women) in Silicon Valley certainly don't need to play golf here to get ahead.
In 25 years of being a high tech exec I have played golf only once -- and then it was only because the sales team begged me to -- and they hired a pro to play with me so all I did was putt (I think they didn't want me to slow them down!). I have never, ever felt I needed to play golf to get ahead. Even with the older golf-playing execs I worked for, I found they also liked to go out for a drink or a great meal to bond and talk business.
In today's Silicon Valley, the bonding hobbies are younger men's hobbies. You are more likely to be bonding over the benefits of a titanium racing bike frame than over titanium clubs. You may well want to be able to discuss fine red wine. You will definitely need to be able to bond over tech gadgets and geek out on how many LEDs are in the new iPad.
And what is so exciting about the under-35 generation here is that you are also very likely to bond over family. What little Katie is doing in school, where little Tommie likes to go camping. There is a generation of young nerds coming up who, while they still outnumber the girls 4 to 1, are much more engaged in their homes, their families, their gaming and their outdoor hobbies than the prior generation of executives where the old boys' club and golf are much more prevalent.
So don't pay attention to old school advice about having to play golf. Instead make sure you work hard, impact the business and either be the executive, or understand the next generation of execs coming up because they are the future.
But note: I have a few girlfriends who love golf -- now that's a good reason to play!