What Brought Me Here
There was a time when I didn’t imagine I’d be living in San Francisco one day. When I told my friends in the fall of 2010 that I was moving here, they all thought I was crazy. This was before the Instagram, Uber and Airbnb explosion. Back then, San Francisco was associated with Facebook and the dot-com bubble. I had just graduated from fashion school and knew that I wanted to create a brand at some point. My friends told me that SF was not the right place for fashion, but deep inside of me, I knew I was making the right decision. I wanted more from life. I recognized that SF was a land of smart, innovative people changing the world, which was important to me.
While I still feel more Polish/European than American, the American culture has made a big impact on me. In Poland, I went to K-8 where I was taught by Americans, so I became familiar with American culture early on. Still, moving to Silicon Valley was an entirely different experience that challenged everything I knew about life. Becoming an entrepreneur was part of that.
I think it’s hard to fall in love in SF immediately as you would with NYC or London. Silicon Valley attracts very interesting sorts of people who create culture, which is not evident until you have enough interactions or work here. It’s also a type of culture that accepts people being delusional. Crazy science fiction-sounding or too-good-to-be-true ideas might be met with skepticism by some people. But most people in the valley won’t call you nuts even though they might have an urge to do so. Instead, they go home and wonder whether you are crazy or up to something. I like how Sam Altman views it. He is the CEO of OpenAI and the former president of Y Combinator, an organization that provides seed funding and guidance to startups. He talks about how important it is to believe in yourself to the point of delusion. This is one of my favorite quotes of his: “Most highly successful people have been really right about the future at least once at a time when people thought they were wrong. If not, they would have faced much more competition.” Of course listening to other people’s feedback is important, but you need to filter it and decide whether you want to act on it or not. Growing up in Poland, being confident was often perceived as being arrogant. Failure had a negative meaning. In Silicon Valley, failure is not a bad thing- It’s part of the process of accomplishing great things. You fail, you learn. Failure is the beginning of lots of new things.
I love how beautiful and empowering this is. It took me a while to unlearn some patterns and train my brain to see things from a different perspective. Even today, I still have friends asking me why I chose SF over NY. I like how little distraction SF has. It gives you space to think. It’s like an oasis in my mind – a quiet, peaceful place to think and create. Regularly being part of a conversation about how innovators are changing the world is refreshing and invigorating. I love the intellectual honesty and values Silicon Valley represents: perseverance, an entrepreneurship mindset, and constantly challenging the status quo.
There are a few things that brought me here. One of them is Silicon Valley, which made me think differently about my life, travel and human nature. It also made me feel more comfortable with myself, and my home is always a place of comfort, whether it’s in Warsaw, San Francisco, or the South of France.
P.S. While SF can be a great city, it also has some flaws. I plan to write more about it in the future. Stay tuned.