So it’s always a mixed blessing being back in the Valley. San Jose (the Bay Area in general) is a great place… to visit. The weather is good. Food-a-plenty. Gas is cheap (compared to the UK anyway). Shops galore. Etc. Etc. Etc.
The flip side, however, is that it’s hot, crowded, over-priced (in many ways) and traffic is a bee-atch…to name but a few.
So I signed up to go to a Tech in Motion mixer. Frankly I have no idea what that even is but it sounded good.
Whenever I am back here, I try to go to as many events (tech or otherwise) as possible. The theory is to hopefully stay ahead of the curve on Social Media and Tech but also, I may just come up with (or back with) an idea to launch in Glasgow one of these days. My mantra in life is to be open to all possibilities.
So I arrive at the Blackbird Tavern in Downtown San Jose – faced with several hundred strangers. Who do you pick to strike up a conversation with when faced with a sea of unfamiliar faces? Some days, I find networking a whole lot harder than others but it was a case of “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
One of the first guys, Steve, I meet is from Los Angeles, but working on a project at Google. He’s chatty and interesting. We swap cards and move on to work the patio.
By the time I check-in with the hostess, the FREE drinks tickets have gone, so I make my way to the bar for a tap water (yep, that’s how I roll) and find a group to introduce myself to.
There’s the guy from India, a lovely young couple from Australia, a guy from Chicago and one guy from Northern California. The night pretty much went on like this – whereby everyone I met was from somewhere else.
It begs the questions – are there any Native Californians left in California?
Just about every day I hear comments like “You’re from California, what are you doing here?” – often uttered in the most incredulous fashion as if to say “You must be mad”.
But the fact is, unless you’ve actually LIVED in the Valley, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Yes it’s a hotbed of innovation. Of that there is no doubt. But comes with that – the inflated house prices, and the sense of entitlement that is unlike anywhere else I’ve been. Egos-a-plenty.
Driving in your car and need to change lanes? Well, good luck with that. God forbid someone will actually let you in. They’re always in a hurry to get somewhere very important no doubt.
As with any networking events, I always feel quite content if I’ve made a connection or two. If I’ve come away with a business card of someone I may actually want to speak to again, or had a meaningful conversation, or learned about a website or app – it’s a success to me. So the night was a success.
Meanwhile I’m watching TV with my dad, brainstorming ideas poolside, reading a Dummies Guide to Buddhism, watching thought-provoking documentaries like ‘Happy” and generally just trying to enjoy some downtime. It’s been a full-on few months and the schedule is set to continue that way from Aug through October so I may as well make the most of the my time here.
Next week I’m looking forward to the Blogher14 conference which I am quite certain will be amazing. Watch this space.