Leaving San Francisco

#MessinaOdyssey, Part 1

Chris Messina
Mar 4 · 5 min read

Yesterday I took my leave of San Francisco. I no longer have a permanent address and I don’t know how long I’ll be nomadic.

But here I am.

Psyche! Just kidding. I’m not a 🐫😂

It’s not that I’m sick of the city, but rather that I don’t recognize myself in it anymore. I’m not at all bitter about it — the citizenry of San Francisco always seems to ebb in accordance with the latest boom and bust cycle, and this time is unlikely any different.

My kind just isn’t as useful as it was before. Or rather, it’s not that we’re not useful, but that more professionalized, narrow, and focussed individuals are more useful for this phase of minting coin from all the bullion that’s been mined from our minds. It’ll pass, like it always does, but in the meantime I feel a bit bored and superfluous. If I can now do what I do anywhere in the world — why don’t I?

Thus my decision to leave is less a retreat from San Francisco and instead a deepening of my journey into myself.

Everything fit into an 8'x10' storage unit!

As of February 10, I moved out of my Dogpatch apartment where my rent was going up 20% and proceeded to purge and then move my remaining possessions into storage. I’m currently living out of two suitcases and a backpack — and will be for at least six months. This is the longest stretch I’ll be away from the city since I moved in to a shared apartment in the Inner Richmond in 2004.

I’m optimistic, anxious, and ready.


The next six months I’ll be speaking, consulting, visiting with friends, exploring and enjoying parts unknown; I hope to unset whatever stale or limiting ideas I may have developed or absorbed over the 15 years I spent living in the Willy Wonka bubble of Silicon Valley.

I have a rough sketch of this odyssey I’m embarking on — and arrived at my first destination today, on March 4, in Lisbon. I’ll be spending several weeks here ahead of speaking at Pixels Camp (a three day, non-stop developer event), after which I’ll fly to Bend, Oregon to give a speculative TEDx talk on the cultural infrastructure necessary to develop more humane artificially intelligent products (hint: it starts with better humans!).

The rest of my journey isn’t yet fixed, but I have several destinations mapped out:

Mar 3–25: Lisbon, Portugal

Speaking at Pixels Camp on March 22

Mar 26 — 31: Bend, OR

Speaking at TEDxBend on March 30

Apr 1–4: Portland, OR

Apr 4–12: Puerto Rico

Apr 13 - May 12: Bay Area

May 12–14: New York

Receiving award at Genius Gala at Liberty Science Center (May 13)
Speaking at Amplitude’s Roadmap event (May 14)

May 15–21: San Francisco

May 21–May 23: Austin, TX

Speaking at scrum alliance’s Global Gathering (May 22)

May 23 — Jun 5: New York

Seeking housing for May 30 — Jun 4
Speaking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s “A Transforming World Conference: Humanity 2.0” (May 23)

Jun 5-12: New England (Cape Cod)

Speaking at #GetSocial (Jun 5), a free seminar for realtors on social media and the future of social technology

Jun 12-22: San Francisco

TBD

Jun 22-28: Perth

Keynoting the State of Social (Jun 25)

Jun 28 — Jul 9: Berlin

Speaking at TOA Berlin

Jul 9-21: Montreal

Speaking at StartupFest (July 9–12)

July 21-Aug 4: Tel Aviv

Participating in the REALITY Design program

Aug 4-Aug 15: Bay Area

Aug 15–29: Edinburgh

Speaking at TuringFest (Aug 28)

Aug 29–31: Zurich

Speaking at Front Conference

Aug 31 — Sep 5: Helsinki

Speaking at Joint Futures

Sep 5–9: Copenhagen

Speaking at TechFestival

So — that’s my current itinerary. I will be updating it from time to time as my plans evolve.


Here’s how you can help me

N.B. This asking for help thing is edgy for me!

Help me find places to stay!

I’m looking for friends of friends’ couches, guest rooms, or other in-network spots to crash throughout my journey (see above)! If you have ideas or local contact that I should reach out to, drop me a line.

Seeking consulting or a speaker?

I’m available for short term consulting and speaking gigs.

Opening Web Directions Summit 2017

My talks run the gamut from product design, UX, startups, technology & society, culture, media, “the future”, user behavior, conversational computing/commerce/marketing, and more. I’ve given talks for small, intimate audiences in large conference rooms as well as to 5000-person developer events. Lessons from the Death of the PC at Web Summit is an example of the kind of talk I’ve given.

In terms of consulting, I’m happy to advise on product strategy, design, launching and making the most of getting featured on Product Hunt. I can provide guidance on social media strategy, user experience, or review applications to accelerators like Y Combinator. In the past I’ve put on workshops and other consulting programs for startups, small companies, and enterprises (including the Federal Reserve and American Express).

Get in front of my audience!

I’ve spent more than a decade building up audiences across social media channels — primarily Twitter and Instagram (100k and 120K followers respectively). I’ve worked with brands on paid social media sponsorships in the past and would like to work with individuals, companies, and brands that are interested in tastefully connecting with a sophisticated, technologically literate and savvy audience. Got something to share?

What should I do? Who should I meet?

I intend this nomadic period to provoke and provide inspiration, direction, and stimulation — by reconnecting me to the wide world outside of the Bay Area and its inhabitants. Most of my best contacts and connections have come to me serendipitously and I intend to lean into that abundance.

Thus, I’ve I’d love your hints, tips, and hidden spots that I shouldn’t miss when visiting these places! Ideally these might come in the form of Foursquare lists or Google My Maps, but hey — whatever you’ve got I want’em! And if there are other places that you recommend I make time for visit — and better yet—you have ideas on how I can work out the logistics in a cost effective manner—💯!

Coming Soon: Part II

I realize that this all may seem surprising and sudden — but it’s really been a plan that’s been materializing over the last several months. Part 2 covers the background on how this all came to be:


Chris eventually reads every response on Medium or you can chat him up on Twitter, send him an email, or subscribe to his seldom email newsletter. Do let him know what you think .

Chris Messina

This can all be made better. Ready? Begin.

Chris Messina

Written by

Inventor of the hashtag. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Previously: Google, Uber, Molly (YC W18).

Chris Messina

This can all be made better. Ready? Begin.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade