Pulling Muscles From A Nor Cal Shell

by | May 7, 2012

We took a marvelous land cruise to Northern California last month. The highlight of the trip wasn’t the Southern Oregon coast, the redwoods, Mendocino County, or Marin. Those were highlights, but the highlight was having dinner with friends in San Francisco on Friday the 13th.

Our friend Andy made a reservation for five at Lot 7 on Valencia. The place had me at Hamachi Crudo, but everything else was off the hook, as well. Including the ambiance, the oversized photographs of San Francisco in the 1930s, and of course, the company around the table.

Andy is a builder and an entrepreneur, so it’s always fun to hear what’s going on with him. He spent the past several years introducing the California market to the environmental advantages of kegged wine. In fact, Lot 7 carries Andy’s wine and I like how they make the most of the presentation, delivering the red liquid in an artfully designed carafe.

Feel this with me. The air in San Francisco is rarefied, and the light makes everything look rich. In other words, it’s not like other places. And one could, without hesitation, extend that thought to California. California is not like other places.

Andy asked me how things are going with Bonehook here in Portland, and I replied it’s going okay. He said many people in Oregon are coming from a place of scarcity, whereas Californians are all about abundance. He said, tell a friend in Oregon about your new business idea, and they’ll pause and eventually say, “that sounds hard.” In California, on the other hand, the friend gets excited, introduces you to their contacts in the field and encourages you to go for it.

This little tale of two states — the states of scarcity and abundance — lodged in my brain and I’ve been mulling them over ever since. While it is true that Oregon doesn’t have the number of jobs, the economic might, or the vast opportunities that can be found in California, it’s wrong to think of Oregon as a place short on resources. In fact, no place in the United States has the right to think it’s coming from a place of scarcity. Scarcity simply isn’t real here. All of America is awash in abundance. We haven’t spread the wealth to every person and every family, but that doesn’t mean the wealth of this nation is limited in supply. It means it we have a distribution problem.

On the way home last month, we recognized how good it felt to be in California, but it felt even better to return to Oregon. Would I love to see Oregonians become a bit more free-wheeling in their ways? Yes, I would. Would a more open and inclusive mindset — not just politeness, but genuine friendliness — also open Oregon up to bigger and better business opportunities? Of course. Bottom line though, I can only do what I can do about it. I can be more open, friendly and free-spirited, and I can build my business in Oregon, whatever the challenges.