When comparing different cities, I like to bring up this little shortcut in how people in different cities seem to compare each other:
- In New York City it’s: “How much do you make?”
- In Boston / Cambridge it’s: “What do you know?”
- In San Francisco it’s: “What can you make, and how many people think it’s cool?”
- In DC it’s: “Who / how powerful is your boss?”
- In LA it’s: “What powerful people / how many people know who you are?”
Those are the ones I have a pretty good idea about, here are others I’m less sure of:
- Chicago: I have no idea (perhaps: “How well can you make a pierogi?”), please help me with that one!
- Philadelphia: is tricky – it’s such a chill city that I think people just aren’t likely to care too much about comparing themselves to you
- Seattle: likewise, although probably there it’s something like: “What awesome backpacking trip did you do last summer?”
- Houston: some variant of “How classy is your family?” (again not much knowledge there)
- Portland: perhaps “How organic are the vegetables you are eating and how many hours did it take you to harvest them yourself?”
Now, to be fair I did not come up with the overall idea that there’s a common yardstick that people measure themselves against – that would be the amazing Paul Graham. However I do disagree with his analysis of DC: I may know someone, but if I can’t ask them a favor or I don’t work for them, I gain no status.