As I walk down the crackled sidewalk, the child in me still tries to avoid stepping on the lines. I breath in the half fresh, half polluted air. I walk by a homeless man begging, and toss him one of the clif bars in my backpack. Once I reach my destination, a coffee shop, I walk in to find countless people in converse shoes and hipster glasses. There’s a large tub in the middle, filled with coffee beans. The beans are being slowly stirred around under heat, releasing the most wonderful aroma. I make my order, sit by the window, and wait.
I continue to gaze out, lost in my own thoughts, until I’m tapped on the shoulder. I’m greeted by the CEO of a recent YC graduate, the person I’ve come to meet is here. We sit down, they get right into it. Asking me question after question, getting my take on a particular problem they’re trying to solve, and having trouble implementing. We part ways, they to try some of the things we’ve talked about, I head back to my co-working space, where ideas are bounced off me, and I bounced ideas off those next to me everyday.
This is the power of San Francisco, and the Bay Area in general. Having just moved here, and before being an outsider looking in, I was always curious, what exactly made the Bay Area so great? Sure, there where a lot of smart people, a lot of VC’s, and a lot of great companies to work for, but it still felt disproportionate to the level of success in the area. Maybe it’s that the amount of smart folks, VC’s, etc., exponentially raised the level of success in the area. While this is probably true, there still felt like something missing from the equation.
That something is the willingness to talk, to collaborate. From people on all sides of society. Not only is there the willingness, it’s expected of you. In an article written yesterday, the new head of YC, Sam Altman, said he keeps in contact with ‘low hundreds’ of people everyday. While not everyone takes it to that extreme, if you’re not regularly reaching out to new people and agreeing to meet those who reach out to you, you’re falling behind. This constant collaboration is one of the valleys greatest strengths.
The best part about this is, nothing about it is intrinsically the valleys. No matter where you are, you can start the behavior, learn from others. Reach out to those you don’t know.
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can. There will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” – Sarah Caldwell