From 2010-2012 I was lucky enough to call New York City home. The urban jungle that lured me in with its incandescent lights, made me adept to maneuvering the ins and outs of expensive big city life, and the special niche in the universe that once again managed to capture my heart in just six fleeting days. This time, I came as a tourist and guest of my close friend and mentor.
Last night over a few bottles of a 2010 French classic at Hillstone on Park Ave., a group of six of us talked business and life. My significant contribution consisted of a serious analysis regarding the difference between NYC and my preferred and beloved European style of living. I was battling three young hustlers who are a part of a very large bustling group of motivated and hungry Manhattan entrepreneurs. Despite one of them being French, I managed to lose the dialogue, which was summarized with “if you leave NYC for too long, you will lose your edge”. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR EDGE. After a brief pause, there was nothing I could say, they were right and I was a victim of this.
In five short nights, I overheard two girls on the metro (presumably dancers) discussing the gigs they booked on Broadway, stayed with my friend/mentor who is currently chasing down a $14 million dollar real estate listing and damn close to closing it, had drinks with a friend accompanied by an American Apparel model who granted my friend inside access to a top NYC club at a 50% discount to throw a famous fashion designer’s post fashion week party in order to lure in big fish clients, met a mutual friend who is 21 years old and has a 20k/month fashion consulting job that flies him out to London every month (not to mention a full-time job at a top jewelry designer and a recent 150K hip hop record deal), overheard deals being executed next to me twice in restaurants, met with a close friend and ex-classmate with an incredible hunger and network who is relocating to the city because of its beauty and opportunity, bumped into an Ivy League educated McKinsey consultant at the gym, and met and mingled with more people “getting it” than the last six months combined.
There is no place on earth with more hunger, motivation, energy, and opportunity. This is the mecca, the center of the universe, where every industry flourishes. I was watching these deals go down, the way people discussed next level movements, the creations taking place, the allure…all of this as a friend of a friend and bystander with a somewhat cool travel history and a once forgotten life in New York.
I don’t particularly like name-dropping, bragging, or general obnoxiousness and the ironic thing is the people I encountered were anything but. In reality, for NYC, none of these people were doing anything extraordinary. Granted, I may have been exposed to a select circle that is not the norm, but from what I saw this type of ambition is commonplace and they were humble enough to speak with humility and appreciation for what they have accomplished and were chasing.
Look, the weather is shit, miserable actually. You encounter more odd people than anywhere else in the world. A 500 square foot apartment in Chelsea will set you back $3,500/month, if you are lucky. Parking? Another $500/month in Manhattan. But, as odd as it is, the people, energy, and grittiness of it all is what makes it charming. A Brooklyn native yelled at me from across the street during the middle of the snowstorm for tiptoeing across an ice patch and compliment me on my effort to preserve the Jordan’s I was wearing. The cab jumping, quick talking, straight to the point, more times than not friendly New Yorkers make this place real.
My question to the dinner table was “when do you stop chasing”? When is enough actually enough? Do you die trying, even if you never reach your goal? There really is no middle ground in NYC. The easy way would be to tap out, get a comfy job in France, travel six to eight weeks a year, and enjoy the good life. I realized I want NYC more now than ever. I want the hustle, the deal closing, the networking, the ego manipulations, the fast pace, the go big or go home attitude, and all the bullshit that comes with it. It is in reality what will bring out my most aggressive form and as a result my biggest potential which I feel like has yet to be reached.
Operation NYC in full effect. Might not be now, tomorrow, or next year, but this will be home again soon enough.