Default to yes in Silicon Valley

I recently moved to San Francisco. Certainly I do not want to move back to São Paulo, Brazil — where I was born and raised — or to Boulder, Colorado where I spent almost 3 years going to grad school and working for SendGrid (which I still do). Love those places, but the plan is to establish my life in the Bay Area.

I’m a firm believer that here in SF you can find everything you need to be the best person you are destined to become. 

A while back I had coffee with Shane Steele. She is awesome and a very experienced marketing professional having worked for Twitter (pre-IPO), Yahoo, Coke and some others. Probably one of the best pieces of advice she gave me was that in the early days in the Bay Area I should be “default to yes”. 

When we talked about that in more details, the meaning of it took more shape. When things are new and fresh you should accept random invitations, not try to have total control over the people you meet as well as keeping a sane level of space and emptiness so new things can flourish in your life. Like a personal Sunyata for newcomers. 

Personally I tend to be a bit of a control freak with my time and productivity, so taking that approach was certainly a challenge. That said, here are some of the things I've learned on the “default to yes mode” after 6 months in SF:

 

  • Kayaking around the Bay Are is awesome, safe and totally possible
  • In general people are very much open to meet for a cup of coffee
  • You'll rarely make it to the South Bay, unless there is a business thing going on
  • Being in SF makes things much easier if you work in tech. Synchronicity happens with much more frequency 
  • It’s very important to be able to build something (a blog, an app, events, art) 
  • Pay attention to events and learn how to filter the good and the bad, by attending some of the bad ones
  • Don’t network for the sake of networking, make it relevant for some purpose 
  • Finding an unique voice in Silicon Valley is something very important and hard (still working on that)
  • Help people without expecting anything in return 
  • If you are single (like me) do a healthy combination of offline and online dating - it’s the best way
  • Enjoy a lot of the famous public events like Chinese New Year, Oktoberfest, St. Patricks, Santa Con 
  • Just show up!
  • Do volunteer work
  • Know how to pitch “you” in less than 2 minutes
  • Organize parties
  • Help friends organize parties
  • Wait until visitors come to actually do all the touristy stuff 

Important to say that "default to yes” does not mean saying yes to everything. It means being open to things that look and could be interesting, without letting go of your core principles and mission. I guarantee that some of that randomness will certainly help you find yourself faster. It’s been working for me and I plan to continue to welcome positive things in life.