Katharine Bierce: San Francisco

What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
I was born in New York, grew up in the suburbs, and spent a bit over 2 years living in Manhattan before recently moving to San Francisco.

Describe your experience in NYC.
New York City is “always on.”  From taxi horns to sirens to 24/7 everything, you can pretty much get whatever you want, whenever you want, if you survive the pressure.  It’s a bit of a crucible of people who choose to throw themselves into the mostly meritocratic melting pot.
While I was there, I wish I had gone to more theater and art events and spent less time trying to “prove myself.”  Many of my friends and close family are in or near NYC, and in addition to those ties, the city itself has a high escape velocity.  If you spend a few years there, you may never leave.
What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to SF?  

The biggest challenge was adjusting to how people interact.  New Yorkers are more efficient and San Franciscans are more holistic in how they interact with others.  New Yorkers want to know where you’re from, what you do, and how they can help you. San Franciscans want to know who you are as a person, what you value, what you do in your free time, what inspires you, etc.  Both ways of interacting are valuable but if you act in an East Coast way to those in SF, they’ll think you’re too abrupt, inauthentic, and trying too hard.  If you act San Franciscan in New York, New Yorkers might think you’re wasting their time and don’t know what you want.
So the biggest challenge in moving was to identify how people prefer to interact, and then adjust my style to be more in tune with that. But I think it’s valuable to have spent some time both in NYC and in SF, since the vibes of each city are valuable in their own distinctive ways.
How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
New Yorkers could learn active listening skills and learn when and how to “be present.” They could also (when the occasion calls for it) talk more about what they feel and not just what they know. San Franciscans would benefit from being more efficient in networking and perhaps make it clearer when you see someone as a friend or business contact – that gets pretty blurred on the West Coast.
Favorite SF secret spot?
Hard to say – there are so many!  Golden Gate Park’s grove of redwood trees is pretty fantastic. I also like Phoenix Lake in Marin or just hiking on Angel Island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.
Favorite NYC secret spot?
The Frick Collection – an art museum in New York that is also in a gorgeous mansion with an indoor courtyard.
If you were not freelancing, what would you be doing?
At this point in time: if I weren’t freelancing with various San Francisco companies and
nonprofits, I would like to be the CEO of a social mission business company.
(Well, that’s my goal for the next 5 years, at least!)
Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Jason Silva’s talk on “The biological advantage of being awestruck” is incredibly inspiring.

From the 2905 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + SAN FRANCISCO

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