It’s hard to write given a deadline. All my writing has been driven by emotional spurts, pouring out in-the-moment, raw. So why am I sitting in the dark, cross legged in my friend’s apartment in New York City, wondering what to write about? Some context may be in order for the first installment of “15,000 Words”.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed recently. In starting a company, my brain is on overdrive, from the moment I regain consciousness from sleep, till I lose it back to sleep. Mostly: engineering, design, and project management occupy the brain. However, more and more brain cycles are consumed by tangential thoughts, and insights are being gained without being articulated. What follows is my attempt to navigate this new environment.
I’ll be talking here about the industry, trends I see, and biases I observe. Some politics may find its way here, but it’ll (hopefully) be carefully treaded. I’ll talk about the process of starting a company, my challenges along the way, but I have yet to determine the level of detail to get into.
So here I sit, having just spent an evening of sober karaoke (see my FB feed for that explanation) with a bunch of my ex-coworkers. This isn’t technically my first time in New York City: A couple of years ago I spent 4 days here for Electric Zoo, but half that time was spent on an isolated island, and the other half was spent wandering. Not quite enough time to say you’ve “been” to a place. This is the first time I spend a whole week here with a purpose.
The first indication that I’m in a different place, right off the airplane, was the diversity. San Francisco, or at least my exposure to it, is not a very diverse place compared to NYC. From the African lady who sold me my bottle of water to the Sikh Uber driver to the large group of Hassidic Jews in the arrivals terminal, this is not a place to be painted with a broad brush. One lady in particular stood out to me in the terminal. She was an older lady – I would place her in the 70s – was sitting next to a similarly older gentleman in a Yamaka. She had a tight black flapper hat on, bright red lipstick, and a black dress. She looked perfectly composed, and perfectly authentic, in a way no costumed-outfit can look.
In the cab, watching the city pass by, Manhattan’s skyline lit up in the distance, you begin to feel it. New York doesn’t feel like a place to settle to me, it feels like a place to fight. Like the driver told me: “I don’t like it here, I’m not comfortable. You can make a lot of money here, but you can’t be comfortable.” Those words rang true for me. You can feel it in the bricks here. This city was built on the backs of industrialists, tycoons, and political bosses. This place has a buzz. Nobody has time for your shit. I like that. The city feels like it’s posing a question to me: “What you got, punk?”