Goodbye LA, Hello Minneapolis

Before I come home, I have to say goodbye to Los Angeles. The last 14 months have been a crazy ride.

It began at a beach-side bungalow, where I crashed on a couch for three months. My bedroom was a living room which I shared with two full-sized Huskies who shed. on. everything.

I spent the next three months washing my clothes to get the hair off. I also worked at a venture-backed startup marketing nootropic energy drinks designed by a PhD in neuroscience.

This was one of my first LA challenges. I knew a fair amount about energy drinks and what happens when you mix them with vodka. I did not know a lot about email marketing, which was what I was hired to do.

The following months were like four years of college jammed into half a year, as I learned email marketing and startup growth-hacking from the ground up.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Learning a new tradecraft, without the help of a mentor or HR or ‘career development courses’ but through sheer trial and error, was painful. It was difficult. It was frustrating.

The end result was amazing. My personal growth was sparked into overdrive. I‘d doubled my resume in 6 months. I had been a traditional marketer at a Fortune 500 company and now I was a digital marketer at a startup.

I began to wonder, what else could I learn?

I left the first startup and joined a second, an event analytics firm.

Here I learned about failed startups. I learned about ‘pivoting’, the art of changing your business model because your old one was no good. I learned about IT issues, as marketing software conflicted instead of integrated. I learned about red flags — indicators that are invisible to some, but neon warning signs to others about the health of a company.

I didn’t stay long, but I took away another career’s worth of learnings. And in a way, it was kind of fun — I got a peak behind the startup curtain you don’t see in the media and on TV (unless you watch Silicon Valley).

I continued to wonder, what else could I learn?

I joined a third startup, an influencer marketing agency. I learned about the dizzying, intoxicating world of social media stardom— the art of managing Snapchat kingpins and YouTube divas, and marketing their content to the world’s largest firms.

Cue another 6-month college degree in a new career. Cue another incredibly rewarding experience, another industry and tradecraft learned at an amazing startup.

My working experience in LA was great, but my personal experience was even better.

I explored Venice, hiked in Palos Verdes, partied in Hollywood, beached in the South Bay, ate in Koreatown, clubbed in Downtown, relaxed in Culver City, walked around Santa Monica, tripped up to Malibu, and chilled in Beverly Hills. I met some fantastic people and made amazing new friends.

I experienced all the classic LA phenomenons. I think I spent more time stuck in traffic than sleeping. I spent more money on, well, pretty much everything. The rent I paid back in Minnesota would have paid for maybe two LA parking tickets.

Which, I should note, is a fraction of the number of parking tickets I got out here. You pretty much need a law degree to decipher LA street signs.

But it’s cool because along the way, I learned some things.

I learned about the existence of that holy Hawai’in dish known as Poke — my new favorite food.

I learned that people from California do not call it Cali, and that makes a Minnesotan stand out almost as much as how we say the word “bag”.

I learned that every Uber driver is an actor and every actor is an Uber driver. I haven’t been picked up yet by Brad Pitt, but I know he’s out there, probably ferrying drunk kids around downtown as we speak.

I learned that vegan, gluten-free, organic, free-trade food blessed by the Seven is available at almost every restaurant.

I learned that if you don’t have a profile picture from Coachella, who are you? Do you even go here?

I learned that I don’t watch the Bachelor enough — something I never thought I’d say — because I met at least a hundred reality TV stars without recognizing them. Luckily, I recognized Arnold Schwarzenegger when I saw him. He works out at my gym — also something I never thought I’d say.

I learned that sneaking a flask into a bar can be a classy move, at least where your wallet’s concerned.

I learned that Korean food really is better in Koreatown.

But most of all, I learned that Los Angeles is an amazing place, filled with a mix of people of every race, color, orientation, religion and creed — all united behind one goal: the idea that if you want something, you can make it happen.

The energy and optimism in this city is palpable. The hustle is tangible.

It’s impossible not to have FOMO here — you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear about and miss out on a dozen cool events every night.

Everyone out here has a fantastic story to tell, and I was continually impressed by the grit, the determination, and the sheer determination each individual had to succeed and actualize their dreams. It inspires me and will continue to inspire me.

As with all adventures, there is a time when one must end, so that a new one can begin. Where I’ll end up on the journey, who can say — but I know that my next stop is home, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to my family and friends that I love.

I’m grateful for the amazing people that have made the last year so fantastic. Thank you Brennan, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan (the three of you can work out who is who), Caddie, Bailey, SQUAD!!!, Blaire, Dana, Bryan, Josh, JP, Mal, Sky, Cali, Erica, Chelsea, Zoe, Kayla, Ashley, and everyone else who made living out here such a blast.

Distance will never triumph over friendship, and I hope our friendship will last longer than a downtown LA drive in rush hour — that is to say, forever.

I love you all.

Minneapolis, here I come.