I hate when my friends leave Chicago

There are only a few things that get to me as much as when I see talented folks leave Chicago. They tend to go to New York, Los Angeles, SF, Portland and Austin, all places that I do adore. I try to be a gracious loser, and I do my best to show as little visible saltiness as possible upon a departure announcement. But, I can’t help it… Deep down inside it burns like a mother fucker.

Yes, LA is warm, super hip, there is amazingly delicious sushi and now legalized recreational marijuana. There is a special place in my heart for the Bay, proximity to the ocean and mountains and ridiculous farmers markets. I know New York is so populated that special things happen there that can’t occur anywhere else. Austin is booming. And Portland is well… Portland.

I’m aware that the state politics and fiscal condition of Chicago are in about as shitty shape as you can find them. I believe we have the highest sales tax in the country. Yes, a few miles in a couple of directions are some of the most violent in our country. I’m sure there are countless other issues that one can point to on a deeper analysis.

It’s cold. Sometimes it’s really fucking cold.

But, the frigid temperatures remind you to appreciate all the other seasons. The often “fly over” reputation pushes you to work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone. We’re a metropolis that is mostly commutable by public transportation. We’ve got some of the best architecture, parks and city planning in the entire world (thanks Chicago Fire). World class culture, excellent museums and an unobstructed park covering the largest source of fresh water in the world. We’re the home of modern improv and arguably the best theatre community in the states. Some say we are the home of blues and house music and we’re a stop on the latest world tour for musicians and performers alike.

The people here are honest, they’re humble and they work damn hard. We don’t walk around with a chip on our shoulder. We’re focused on bootstrapped and profitable companies first, growth and scale later. We have incredible entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes from mighty little boutiques to international behemoths. But, it often takes a little poking around to see the magnitude of our impact.

Compared to other places with the culture, amenities and scale your dollar goes so much farther here. Us Chicagoans value our quality of life over the cache of our coasts. Our apartments and houses tend to be a little bigger, have central air conditioning, and they cost less than other notable cities. Plus we have alleys, so we don’t have to leave our garbage in smelly stacks on the streets every night

Did I mention the food? Hands down the best food city in these United States of America with the bellies to prove it.

I’m born and bred here, I’ve got roots, so I’m not going anywhere and I encourage you to do the same. Let’s build a creative hub here unlike anywhere else. An economy that isn’t just focused on growth and output, but on happiness and work/life balance and creating great things.

Let’s make meaningful world class work and let’s do it together. Let’s get together and share our tools, resources, and hard lessons learned to make something bigger than all of us individually. Let’s make our friends so envious that our sheer gravity wills them home as we build a foundation for our next generation to make it even better.

And while you are figuring it out, know that I’m always here to help.

Happy Wednesday.

PS: Fly the W.

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