Ankurman Shrestha

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Should You Move To Silicon Valley To Kickstart Your Career?

Definitely not if you complain about not having time or money all the time. Then you’ll be miserable in the Bay Area.

My Story

Back in the fall of 2017, I dropped out of my Ph.D. program and wrapped up graduate school with a Master’s in Chemical Engineering.

Then I was stuck with a decision to make. What is going to be my next move in terms of entering the workforce?

The 1 non-negotiable criteria I had: My future workplace has got to align with my personal mission to live inspired and live to inspire others.

But I was stuck with analysis paralysis on what’s going to be my next home.

So I followed Steve Jobs advice.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have totrust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Over the course of 5 years in grad school, I had successfully built 7 failed business ventures.

I read over 300+ non-fiction on business, psychology, consumer behavior, growth marketing, personal finances, entrepreneurship, stoicism, persuasion, nutrition, and quantified self, among others.

I had traveled to 45 US States and lived for a month in Mexico at a shoe-string budget.

Connecting the dots looking backward, I knew one thing with full certainty.

That taking up a job related to my degree and work in a laboratory wearing a white lab-coat, parenting Saccharomyces Cerevisiae or Escherichia coli cultures in a petri dish would make me want to kill myself.

But then I thought — why kill myself when I can leverage my interdisciplinary skills and drive, to contribute to something more than myself, build new relationships, make some money while having lots of fun along the way?

So after going through the list of cities in the US that were current and upcoming hot hubs for tech startup scene, I settled into deciding between New York City & San Francisco.

My thought process around NYC

”Should I get a job at an early-stage startup in Manhattan and get 5h closer to my then GF who lived in Vermont? WeWork and Etsy sound like cool companies to work at. Plus I love the hustle life. Two of my cousins live in Jersey. I’ll be 20h flight from my parents in India. But damn, the snow during winters suck! I’m done with it after having lived in the MidWest for 5y.”

My thought process around SF

”Airbnb, FB, Google, Netflix, Uber, Lyft are HQ’d in the Bay Area. It’s the friggin Silicon Valley — the birthplace of the internet. I can crash in Prashish’s (future best man on my wedding) apartment in Mountain View during the job hunt. Angel.co is showing 10X more job openings compared to SF. Plus, I’m curious what’s all the hoopla about the California weather? Screw it! The only way to figure it out is to experience it for me.”

I booked a one-way flight ticket and landed in SFO on August 15th, 2017.

Below are my KPIs from 2017Q4 to the period ending September 30th in 2018Q3.

  1. Financial Health: 1872.98% growth in net-worth.
  2. Physical Health: 59.4% reduction in body fat, 18.6% gain in muscle mass.
  3. Intellectual Health: Got 2 job-offers in early-stage tech companies, became the top-performing SDR at my current company, finished 18 non-fiction books.
  4. Emotional Health: Started a mentor-mentee relationship with Craig Todd. Built 9 new relationships who’re now members of my inner circle. Met many more individuals who’ve inspired me and continue to form new friendships with a diverse group of doers, makers, and status-quo challengers.
  5. Spiritual Health: Got clarity on my core values and what drives me in life. Aligned my personal mission with the mission of the company I’m currently a team member at.

Oh, wait! I didn’t mean to digress.

Let’s back to the original question —

Should You Move To Silicon Valley To Kickstart Your Career?

Let’s first look at data.

There’s a common misconception that Silicon Valley is the accelerator of the world. The real story is that the world keeps getting faster — Silicon Valley is just the first place to figure out how to keep pace.

San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland take 3 spots in America’s top 10 most expensive cities.

But that’s just one side of the picture.

Like I said earlier, if you complain about not having time or money all the time, then you’ll be miserable in the Bay Area.

But if you’re still reading, here’s some exciting data!

As of the end of 2017, there are only 14 publicly traded companies in the world that have a market capitalization of over $100 billion. Want to guess how many of those are in Silicon Valley? Seven — that’s half of the world’s most valuable tech companies.

Taken together, Silicon Valley’s 150 most valuable publicly traded technology companies are worth $3.5 trillion. That number is so big it doesn’t mean anything to most of us.

So consider this: those 150 companies alone make up 50 percent of the value of the NASDAQ, and they account over 5 percent of the entire world’s market capitalization.

That’s a lot of value created by a region with an estimated 3.5 to 4 million residents, or roughly 0.05 percent of the world’s population.

But past performance doesn’t correlate with future results. I agree with you here.

While this may change in the future, the historical and current success of Silicon Valley still makes it the perfect melting pot of talent, capital, and entrepreneurial culture that makes the place the front-runner in technological innovation.

There’s a common misconception that Silicon Valley is the accelerator of the world. The real story is that the world keeps getting faster — Silicon Valley is just the first place to figure out how to keep pace.

But there’s also a secret alchemy at work here in Silicon Valley that fuels the rapid-fire growth of so many of the world’s most valuable companies?

Blitzscaling is that secret. Based on the 2018 book by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh, blitzscaling is a strategy and set of techniques for driving and managing extremely rapid growth that prioritize speed over efficiency in an environment of uncertainty.

Silicon Valley is the place where you can maximize your chances of being a part of an organization which purposefully and intentionally does things that don’t make sense according to traditional business thinking.

If the following sounds like you, you’d feel like home here in Silicon Valley.

You -

  • are a true entrepreneur at heart — resourceful, intellectually curious, experimenter, persistent, and have a strong bias for action.
  • have a greater than average tolerance for discomfort and are open-minded about having to reinvent yourself.
  • are frugal, have up to $5,000 -$7,000 in cash or credit, and bonus if you have family and friends where you can stay at no- or subsidized-rent for 90-days (enough time to kickstart your career)

This is not to say that Silicon Valley is not a place for people who just want to have a job, make money to support their family, travel to different places, and enjoy their lives.

And that there are many more cities and places in the world where you can create a meaningful life with a fulfilling career.

If you are planning or aspire to live in Silicon Valley someday, here’s a quote by Seth Godin that helped me when I had to choose between NYC and SF.

Most people think that they have to play with the set of cards they are dealt with. But very few of us realize that we always have an option to leave our current table and move to a new one.

PS: If you have friends who’re debating whether they should move to Silicon Valley to enter the workforce, I hope you’ll share this article with them.

PPS: Did you migrate to Silicon Valley? Definitely comment below and share your experience with us.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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