Fast Company

East versus West Coast

The United States of America is massive, and other than the 3,000 miles that divides us coast to coast, we see a lot of cultural difference between states. I personally live on the West coast but have worked extensively on the East coast. I have seen a huge cultural divide between the two coasts. No offence to anyone, but things become progressively uptight as you travel from West to East. Look at the early morning rush hour at Wall Street and you will see people wearing mostly dark colored suits. On the contrary, early morning rush hours in California you will see mostly laid back clothes, jeans, sneakers and sometimes even flip flops. You will almost never see a person wearing a tie, unless the person is an East coast transplant or a tourist. The logic is simple: You don’t want to entrust a gen Y-er wearing tattered jeans and a ball cap to allocate your hard earned 401k in mutual funds. Similarly, on the West coast, you cannot really have a whole lot of expectations from a guy in a pin stripe suit applying for a creative or engineering job. You would immediately think, "If this guy spends so much time and effort on his looks and clothes, how will he stand up to the long hours and hardships of the tech world?" Both East and West coast of America are in the same country divided by roughly 3,000 miles. For all you number crunchers and keepers of useless facts (like me), the actual distance is 2,500 miles from Los Angeles to New York as the crow flies. It is 3,073 miles using US highway 50 and 2,925 miles using US highway 80. From Virginia Beach, VA to San Jose, CA it is about 2,990 miles. Okay, so I guess it is safe to say that the distance between East and West coast is approximately 3,000 miles. So why is it that we have so many differences between the two coasts? Things change drastically when you travel East or West. West is, and has always been portrayed as laid back and easy going. East coast, on the other hand, has always been more uptight, rigid and conservative. We have the New York Stock Exchange and financial markets on the East coast. West coast boasts cutting edge high technology centers and startups in Silicon Valley and is the tech capital of the world. From the bohemian culture of Berkeley, CA to tech geeks of Santa Clara, CA, West coast has a lot to offer. And the same goes for the East coast. I personally think that both the coasts (apart from their obvious differences in culture) work in tandem like a well oiled machine. If you live in the 50 states within the country and have a bank account, 401k, mutual fund or CDs, you are DIRECTLY promoting our economy. Get this: Your money, from your bank or mutual funds is allocated by the money managers sitting on the East coast to Venture Capital firms in the West coast. VCs in the West coast fund high technology startups in Silicon Valley...think Google, Oracle and Yahoo. When the companies hit big, they go public and are listed on the East coast. And the circle keeps going. I call it "The Money Circle." So no matter where you live, YOU are directly contributing to the success of our economy. The world is indeed becoming smaller with the advent of technology.

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