I recently packed up my life and moved from Chicago to LA.
Before I left, I heard the same advice over and over again.
"You're going to hate it there."
"Everyone is so fake."
"Watch out, Hollywood will swallow you up."
I'll be honest, in the past two months I've had the complete opposite experience.
Instead, what I've found is a city full of entrepreneurs who, oddly enough, understand this thing called "balance."
The first coffee meeting I attended ended with an invitation to join a group of founders on a weekend hike.
The first networking event I went to was an exclusive backyard dinner with a home-cooked meal.
The first real social event I went to was a private mastermind dinner, invitation only, at a beautiful home in the Hills--with the best gluten free, dairy free, everything free meal I've ever had in my life.
People here work hard. But they know how to relax as well.
I heard a lot of stereotypes before coming here.
I'd like to dispel a few:
1. "LA is full of fake people."
Every major city is full of fake people. I loved Chicago, and leaving that city was really hard for me. But I also had people there pretend to be my friend, steal my work, take credit for things they didn't do, and flaunt similar-sounding titles to make it seem like they had accomplished the same sorts of things I had.
It happens everywhere--not just LA.
What's more important than avoiding "fake people" is you refining your own radar.
Play the game enough, and you learn pretty quickly what people's intentions are.
It's up to you to decide how you want to handle it.
2. "Everyone in LA is an aspiring-something."
Personally, I've never understood why this is seen as a bad thing.
One of the things I like the most about LA so far is how everyone I meet seems to be working on something. I'm not turned off at all by the barista who wants to be an actor, or the server who wants to be a musician.
If anything, it shows their ambition.
And as someone who once was "a copywriter, but I'm working on my first book and I hope to be a professional writer some day," I can relate to that--a lot.
3. "LA will turn you Hollywood."
I feel strongly about this: nobody can turn you Hollywood except you.
The "I'm a celebrity" vibe is significantly more prominent here than it is in Chicago or other major cities I've visited. I feel like I can't walk three blocks without seeing someone wearing a gold chain, ripped jeans, and trendy sunglasses.
Whatever floats their boat is cool with me.
If you're the type of person who "turns Hollywood," you never knew who you were in the first place. It's up to you how you spend your time, and who you spend it with. It's up to you whether you start spending your money on sunglasses (instead of, I don't know, reinvesting it into that startup of yours). It's up to you whether you want your goals to change.
And if you want to turn Hollywood, by all means.
But just know there are those of us who are still doing the things we've always done, just closer to the beach.
4. "The traffic alone will make you hate it."
Eh, traffic in any major city isn't great. But being able to drive with your windows down everywhere you go while staring at palm trees is a decent trade-off.
And the fact that I can drive to the ocean in 30-60 minutes instead of hopping on a plane and taking a long weekend vacation is pretty unbeatable.
I would probably feel differently about the traffic situation if I worked the more conventional hours of 9-5. But if you travel mid day or at night, it's no worse than Chicago.
5. "Silicon Beach is the scene for wanna-be entrepreneurs."
First of all, I really hate to admit this because I hold Chicago very close to my heart. Leaving that city was such a challenge, and I admire the entrepreneurship scene there tremendously.
But Chicago (and many other major cities) have a lot of growing up to do. Even if Silicon Beach is Silicon Valley's younger brother, it is still leagues ahead of most other entrepreneurial hubs.
Things here seem to move quicker, leap farther, ask tougher questions, and require more money.
One thing I prided myself on doing in Chicago was meeting with a lot of different kinds of people. I made it a point to root myself in the entrepreneurship scene and get to know the big players and the small players, the ones just coming up (starting their first company, raising their first round) and the ones who had been around the block a handful of times.
In less than two months of being in LA, I feel like the "average" out here is much higher. Founders seem sharper, investors seem less fazed (and more experienced), the whole equation exists on a heightened level.
I wish I could say I came here and it "wasn't all it was cracked up to be."
But it is.
There's a reason why so many people move to the west coast.
The competition is better.