What I Did Expect When I Moved BACK to Los Angeles in 2015

Just under a year ago, while wrapping up a 4 year ‘life’ in Lisbon, Portugal, I posted a blog entitled ‘What I Didn’t Expect When I Moved to Portugal in 2011’. It went viral. And it continues to get large bursts of views, comments, shares and likes. Today I woke up to a couple hundred views of this post and with readers from over 20 countries visiting my blog/site. Thanks/obrigada!

The timing of this particular blog post last year was nearly perfect as many eyes were starting to turn to Portugal and my experience in Lisbon during these 4 years was amazing. I stand by all that I wrote in this blog and I still feel the same about my special time in Portugal. Leaving, for many reasons, was one of the hardest decisions of my life.

Had I moved to Portugal today, I would have missed so much, but my value as a marketing consultant would have been viewed much differently. In the early days of a growing ecosystem, most startups are focused on development and not growth (marketing, PR, branding, etc). But now I can share a long list of Portuguese startups very concerned about growth and many who have made major investments in their marketing departments in Portugal, the US or elsewhere.

So my timing to witness the growth of all that has happened was great but my earning ability, especially coming from the US, was a challenge.

So after being away from ‘home’, family and friends in the US, I decided last year to return to Los Angeles and touched ground 10 months ago. My transition was smooth and rather easy as I was returning to my house, driving a car I had left behind and I had the comfort of family, friends and a city that I adore as much as Lisbon but in a different way. Los Angeles is a city where anyone can be anything they want, good or bad and it just screams opportunity. It’s a unique type of opportunity that allows one to create or recreate their lives.

I knew a lot of what to expect when I was returning to Los Angeles and here and here are some of the highlights;

  • Too Many Networking Opportunities
    • Don’t even sign-up for LA Tech, Meet-Up, Eventbrite and tons of other organizations, sites or tech groups as you will be overwhelmed with such a wide selection of networking opportunities. I knew I would have to pick wisely and focus on networking where it made sense for me.
    • A few days after I returned home, I heard the always ready to shock and candidly honest Gary Vaynerchuk speak at Expert Dojo. It was the perfect first event to attend. And so very LA. There was a costs and it seems a bit much, the place was jammed and people were early, of course there was hipster beer and then Gary took the stage and was typical Gary. It will be awhile before the takes the Gary show to Lisbon and I am hoping there will not be hipster beer when he gets there!
  • 4,5,6 Startup/Tech Ecosystems in the Same City
    • Yes, Los Angeles has a lot of hotspots of startup/tech companies to include Santa Monica (and/or) Venice, Playa del Rey, Hollywood, Downtown, Pasadena, Burbank/Glendale and there are more pockets, but you get the picture, there’s a lot happening all over town and I’m glad the LA Metro, as of this past weekend, now goes to Santa Monica! But again, you have to pick wisely where you work, live, network and play as it’s spread out.
    • Oh, and you cannot walk to meetings easily or get to meeting fast with public transportation in Los Angeles. It all takes time.

Take a look at the LA Startup Map to get an idea on where companies, investors and others are located.

  • Co-work spaces around LA
  • Co-Work Spaces are Taking over Los Angeles
    • Yes, it’s happening everywhere and since LA is a bunch of cities inside of a city, I knew I would see co-work spaces popping up on every corner. Since I returned, there are now tons of WeWork locations, Cross Campus, Blankspaces, Opodz and many others with a very particular focus (women-owned startups, hardware, etc.).

 

  • The Busy Trap
    • Maybe it’s many places around the world and the US, but when you compare Angelenos to the Portuguese, I think people in LA thrive off of being too busy. Big cities take longer to move around and have lots to offer, so it’s easy to hit the gym on your way to work, commute, work long hours, network at night, go out for drinks and not stop to enjoy walking through the city, having longer lunches, a little wine with a meal, a few coffee breaks and many other calming and enjoyable rituals you often see in the Portuguese culture.
  • Home by 11pm, Midnight at the Latest
    • Many Americans like to sleep, and not that it’s a bad thing, but in Los Angeles in particular where the bars are cleaned out by 2am, most have long gone and are sound asleep. The Portuguese know how to enjoy the night. Any night! And this does not mean too much of anything, but it’s easy to move around Lisbon, eat, drink, walk, have long conversations, catch outdoor music and just get to know people.
  • F*cking TV
    • I knew when I returned that there was this increasing number of new TV shows. Original programming on Netflix, Hulu, DirectTV and just about everywhere else. I have been asked dozens of times about what I watch and I look like the deer caught in the headlights. No, I have never seen The Wire, or Sopranos or tons of other shows. I have lived outside of the US for 6+ of the last 11 years and I missed a lot of TV, but that’s ok. Do I get extra credit for being a Game of Thrones fan?
  • Cost of Living
    • Yes, Los Angeles is a lot more expensive, but we all know that reality. Housing, food, entertainment and really just about everything is more expensive in LA compared to especially the very affordable Lisbon. And in the 4 years I was away, LA prices went way up. Plus charging $14 for a glass of wine is criminal.
    • Bottom line, you can make a lot more money in LA and there is a lot of real opportunity in startups/tech/consulting here.
Los Angeles traffic

Don’t be jealous of our traffic!

  • Traffic
    • No blog about living and working in LA is complete without mentioning the shit show that is Los Angeles traffic. It is horrible and getting worse by the day/month/year.

So since I left Lisbon, I have mentored and taught 6 startup programs with one being Startup Braga which I returned to Portugal in February. I can see that things are moving so fast in Portugal now that it is easy to lose track of ‘who is on first’ but that is good news.

EyeSee at SXSW

EyeSee Winning the Startup Pitch Competition at SXSW

I have also been working, consulting and advising with a number of companies to include EyeSee Solutions. We were the winners of a start-up competition at SXSW in March and I’ve closed some interesting business opportunities for this client and others.

 

Vijay from Stride

Vijay from Stride presenting at TechStars KC

My time in Portugal was a gift and I so appreciate the fact that I had this opportunity and had so much interaction with so many bright and good people. IT’s also good to see many of ‘My Challengers’ from The Lisbon Challenge going through other programs such as Stride at TechStars in KC (congrats Vijay) and others get funding such as Doinn (congrats all).

As I approach a year back home, I will continue to grow my network, make new friends, have new opportunities and spend quality time with family and friends drinking Portuguese wine and eating tasty Portuguese cheese.

Thanks to all that shared my blog post a year ago (and other posts before and after) and for your support in the past, present and future. If you are in Los Angeles and need consulting services for your growing company, please reach out!

Have a safe and sound Memorial Day weekend to those in the US and a wonderful weekend elsewhere around the globe. Big American hugs,

Sandra

PS: And for those attending The Lisbon Investment Summit, I will be there in spirit and celebrate for me as it’s on my birthday!

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