Sunday, March 20, 2011

Letter from America: Third time's a charm.

I am back in fabulous San Francisco for a couple of weeks with work and, now clocking up a total of 3 months here since May of last year, it really does feel like a very nice home away from home.

On the work side, I'm here doing brand strategy for a super cool app with some very exciting technology behind it. As such, I had the opportunity to do a brand workshop from the client's Command HQ in Paolo Alto. Just south of SF, Paolo Alto is a sweet suburban enclave just riddled with tech start-ups. You can't buy a Soy Latte without overhearing someone discussing their latest round of VC funding.

The client's house is your classic American modern home pimped out to the nines with screens and servers. Every room has been re-purposed to house tech and engineering teams all "wired in" and making the future happen. For someone with a barely concealed Geek Fetish, such as myself, their place is pretty nerd-tastic. The app I'm working on has already launched in Beta, so watch this space to see how the project develops!

Outside of work, there is only really time to eat. So I have been hitting the breakfast, lunch and dinner scenes pretty hard. For breakfast, I can nip out of my hotel to The Ferry Building for a Bluebottle coffee with a goat's cheese and apricot jam sandwich. Lunches, grabbed from nearby South Park in the Soma district consist of "Super Tacos" from Mexico au Park, or a Jalapeno Popper from The American Grilled Cheese Company. And dinner has been anything from hipster pizza at Delfina, Lobster Po Boys at Anchor & Hope, posh fried chicken at Foreign Cinema and even a quick and dirty Burger from In "n" Out. Calories on location don't count, right?

And finally, in this travel journal-esque post, to note that I have just returned from a rather wonderful weekend in Napa. Carrie Bradshaw's response to Mr Big's announcement that he was moving to Wine Country was "If you're tired you take a nap-a, you don't move to Napa!". And how wrong she was. My friend and I left SF yesterday morning with bags under our eyes and full of work anxieties. After mucho vino and mucho lolling in the hot tub in the cool and pleasant rain, we drove back today feeling well-rested and ready for another week.

Working abroad has its downsides - jetlag, disorientation and feeling forced to pull the plug on your life at home. But they are far outweighed by the upsides - new sights, new friends, new experiences and - for those who find it hard to switch-off - the chance to have a change of scene while still showing up for work each day! Clearly Napa didn't quite get its hold on me, yet!