One year after Silicon Valley

Last month or so has been an emotional roller coaster thanks to Facebook’s On this day app. 2 years ago, my November and December were filled with previously unseen excitement about life. I was just about to step in to the plane and fly to San Francisco to start a whole new life. One year ago I was leaving Chartio in San Francisco and preparing to coming back home.

If you would have asked me (or if you actually did) last Christmas what I learned in San Francisco, I would’ve answered something along the lines “I learned a lot of Python, Django, Javascript and being a software engineer”. Today, it’s a whole new ball game. Although I did learn a lot about being a software engineer and building good SaaS products, I learned and gained so much more that is visible only now a year later.

First of all, I made a lot of friends amongst the Finnish engineers, designers and entrepreneurs. I had the pleasure of living for a year with a brilliant young guy and shorter periods of time with other brilliant engineers. I met so many aspiring Finnish young entrepreneurs who either lived and worked there or visited the Valley during the year. These friendships connected me to such a network of opportunities that my opportunity horizon blew up. Thanks to those friendships, my 2015 has been way different than it would’ve been if I never left Finland. Regardless of how much I learned as a developer.

Secondly, I gained a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem and learned a lot about selling. I didn’t learn it directly from the sales people in Chartio but from the general buzz and atmosphere of how the entire ecosystem there works. In meetups and a Rails Girls workshop I met people who were just like me or you but who knew how to be more. They didn’t hide from the world under the blanket but took advantage of opportunities and situations. I read Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and both of them made a really big difference in my life.

I also learned to small talk, a skill foreign to me and many other Finns. And it’s a skill that helps in networking, creating meaningful relationships and selling.

Just last week I started a frontend meetup group in Turku. If I would’ve done that few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have attracted much people. I wouldn’t have had the self-confidence to tell people it’s gonna be cool, I wouldn’t have had the skills to sell it to people and companies and I wouldn’t have had the credibility as a guy who can make it happen. Now we gathered a community of over 100 people in 48 hours to kick off a new meetup group.

This year was a limbo state for me, trying to figure out what to do. I took three months to just hang out and see friends, then spent four months working for, another month of freelancing followed by a new position and a slight career change to community management position I currently have. Next year though? It’s gonna be an amazing one.


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