Goodbye, San Francisco

It was a quick two years.

Quicker than I thought it would be. Since graduating from Chicago Booth, I’ve been lucky to call San Francisco my home. A place where I can walk out my front door, bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, and ride along the rocky cliffs of Marin. Where I can ski Lake Tahoe in winters and hike through Yosemite in summers. Where kitesurfing in Santa Cruz, kayaking in Tomales Bay, and drinking wine in Napa are all within an hour’s drive of my apartment. I knew San Francisco was the city for me, so when a consumer drone startup in Berkeley called 3D Robotics offered me a job the day before graduation, I accepted on the spot.

Living in San Francisco appealed to me for many reasons. Like New York or Chicago, San Francisco attracts ambitious people who are eager to grow their professional careers. Yet unlike those other cities, San Fran is surrounded by endless outdoor getaways, which in turn attracts people with a love for adventure and exploration. I knew this combination of nature and professional opportunity is exactly what I wanted in a city, and during the time I’ve lived here, SF has delivered on both fronts.

After a year of helping 3DR build out its drone operations, Apple hired me to manage the iPad Display supply chain. Both companies taught me how to be an effective operator, but each in its own unique way. While 3DR forced me to be scrappy and get things done on a limited budget, Apple showed me how to manage a global supply chain serving hundreds of millions of customers. Working at Apple made for long hours and challenging work, but I always found time to see my friends on the weekend. Come Saturday morning, we’d speed across the Golden Gate Bridge in search of hiking trails that led to hidden beer gardens, or head East over the Bay Bridge to kitesurf the warm waters of Sherman Island. A new NorCal adventure awaited us around every corner – all we needed was a full tank of gas, a few granola bars, and the energy to get up and go.

San Francisco inspired me to become the best version of myself. Hidden dirt paths through the Presidio inspired me to start running – I’m on track to run 600 miles this year. Co-workers described storybook windy roads through Marin’s Redwood forests, so I bought a bike to start cycling. Spending time with my health-conscious friends motivated me to cook more and eat healthier. I said yes to nearly every invitation that came my way, and people said yes to mine. San Francisco is a city filled with Yes People – people who jump at the opportunity to explore a new place, be active, be outside. They will always try something new, even if it scares them a little. I certainly self-selected into these types of friend groups, but point is, they were pretty easy to find.

After two years of growing my career, establishing my friend group, and improving my physical and mental health, I felt like I had finally built a quality life for myself in San Francisco. Everything had somehow fallen into place, and I was happier than I’d been in a long time. I thought to myself – this is home.

And just as I had that thought, a Boston-based private equity firm offered me a job. An incredible job, one I couldn’t say no to. So I said Yes.

I never expected to leave California so soon. But life brings constant change, and I believe the best way to keep growing is to embrace that change. Saying goodbye is bittersweet – I’m thrilled to be starting a new job with an incredible firm, and delighted that my parents are now within driving distance. But I am heartbroken to leave San Francisco, a city that has given me so much. I became the best version of myself in California, but that doesn’t mean I can only be my best version in one place. Now that I’ve learned what lifestyle keeps me happy and motivated, I’m excited to create my new life in Boston. Kite surfing on the Cape, hiking in the White Mountains, and skiing in Vermont are all within driving distance of my new front door. All I need is the energy to get up and go.

So for now, goodbye San Francisco. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You taught me to eat healthier, to be more active, to say Yes more. You gave me an incredible group of friends. You gave me a best friend. For these things and many, many more, I will forever be indebted to your beautiful city. I promise to come visit you often, my friend.

 

Life’s Biggest Adversities

I recently watched Sheryl Sandberg’s graduation speech on how to deal with life’s biggest adversities. It’s a powerful talk, and I’d encourage anyone reading this to watch the whole thing.

Many of us have lived through adversity like this, my family and I included. My mom and dad both went through divorces in their early 30’s before meeting each other. In 2008, my younger sister Keenan passed away while on a trip to Nepal. More recently, my longtime girlfriend and I went through two separate breakups. It’s telling that these profound adversities are all people-related, not profession or material related. The people we surround ourselves with give us the love, strength, and energy to become our own great person, so we can go on to do great things. They provide meaning to our life. So when one of these people we care so deeply about vanishes, that love, strength, and energy they gave us seems to vanish with them. That’s where I think the seemingly unbearable pain we feel comes from.

As Sheryl says in her talk, it’s how we deal with these adversities that shapes who we are. When Keenan died, I didn’t know the proper way to grieve. Maybe I was too young, or maybe you never know how until you’ve been through a tragedy once before. When my girlfriend and I separated, I felt just as heartbroken as the day I found out about Keenan. I felt the same emptiness I did when Mom and Dad sat me down on a hotel bed in New York City eight years ago to tell me my sister was gone. But this time, I recognized the pain, and though I let it consume me for awhile, I knew it would eventually get better. And it’s starting to.

A few weeks ago, I emailed my sister Devon congratulating her on landing a summer internship at HBO. She is an incredibly smart girl and has a very bright future ahead of her. Our parents have given her the love, strength, and energy to do great things. As an older brother, I couldn’t be more proud of her. But as an older brother, I cautioned her that she will almost certainly face profound adversity again in her life. My only advice was to not let the sadness consume her, and know that whatever pain she feels will not last forever. She should remind herself of all the happiness and opportunity she’s been blessed with in other parts of her life. Devon is incredibly resilient, perhaps more so than anyone else I know. She will use that resilience to find strength when hardship comes knocking.

In taking my own advice, I want to remind myself of all the happiness and opportunity I’ve been blessed with. I don’t say this enough, but I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful and loving Mom, Dad, and sister. I can always count on the three of them to be there for me, no matter what. I am who I am today because of them.

Thank you Mom, Dad, and Devon for all of the love and support you’ve given me these past 30 years. I do not take it for granted.