Tim Urban: New York City

What’s your historical connection to Los Angeles and New York? (when did you move where)
After growing up in Boston and going to college in Boston and hearing 22 straight years of Boston accents, I needed to get the hell away from the East Coast.  LA was a different planet, so that fit the bill nicely.  After five years in LA, I needed to get the hell away from the West Coast, and moved to New York, which fit the bill nicely.

Describe your experience in NYC (or LA).
New York is the best.  It’s some combination of a giant yuppie playground and hell.  It’s the most vibrant place on Earth and also the most depressing.  It’s like the height of the Roman Empire in a terrible mood.  I love knowing that every restaurant I could fathom, every type of person I could meet, and nearly every professional opportunity I could ask for is somewhere within five miles of my apartment.  As a lazy person, I love how convenient everything is here—I can walk out of my apartment and get basically anything I want within a short walk, 24 hours a day.  As a socially insecure person who hates “missing out” on things, I love how it feels like I’m in the center of everything—it feels like the most relevant place on Earth.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to LA (or vice versa)?
Most people who move from LA to NYC probably cite the weather to answer this question.  Not me.  I’m a pasty Jew and don’t really like being outside anyway—and being inside is less depressing when the weather sucks.

And I would say I miss driving, because I do, but given that my main safety technique as a driver was “assuming that the other cars around me are all defensive drivers” and I came close many times to perishing on the road, that part is a plus too.

No, the biggest challenge for me is the rent.  I’m a 31-year-old man living in a hapless, undignified apartment smaller than the one I was in when I was 23.  I recently bought an iron, and after circulating the apartment four times, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to fit my iron anywhere that was hidden, so now it’s just sitting out on the table.  The price of rent almost makes all the positives of NYC not worth it.  Almost.

How can NYC and LA engage with each other?
The finance world in NYC and the entertainment industry in LA make the two cities appear to have little in common professionally, but that’s far from the truth.  In the worlds of both business and the arts, NYC and LA are meccas, and you almost need to have a network in both places to be relevant.  My network certainly spans both cities, and it’s rare to go two months without an LA contact visiting NYC or a visit to LA on my part, so it’s not a challenge to maintain strong, in-person relationships with my LA contacts.  Having a business that functions in both cities is ideal and means that in addition to NYC and LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia, and DC are all within day trip distance of one of our employees.

Favorite LA secret spot

Sushi King on 14th and Wilshire.  Tiny hole-in-the-wall sushi place that is better than the fanciest NYC sushi restaurant.

Favorite NYC secret spot
Mission Chinese on Orchard and Rivington.  If you like waiting two hours to sit and then eating painfully spicy food that makes your experience feel like difficult manual labor, this is your place.  I’ve been about 14 times, each time worse than the last.

If you were not at Launch Education, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be working on building some kind of app—maybe education-related, maybe something else.  Mobile software is such an exciting and still relatively new industry.  Andrew (my business partner) and I have built a mobile app before, and I think we’d like to try it again at some point down the road.

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

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