I’m currently sat in the New York Library typing this. I’ve walked past this building a few times on my minimal visits to the City but this is the first time I’ve been inside. It’s beautifully grand, but it’s certainly not made for comfort. I’m sat in an awkward wooden chair surrounded by gold clad bookcases and computers from the early 90’s. Libraries make me smile though; I feel an energy when I sit around people working away; trying to better themselves in whatever is their chosen path. It spurs me to work harder and more creatively. I feel my competitive nature burst to the surface and I find I type faster and more furiously than normal.
So why am I here? Well, back in the UK I ran an employee development consulting and writing business and my plan was always to continue my work in the States. Today was my first client meeting in NYC.
As I got dressed in our home in suburbia, I felt much the same as I did getting ready for the countless new client meetings I’d attended in London but with a few subtle differences. Rather than putting my flat pumps and black tights on to walk to my meeting, I opted for my pink trusty flip flops and I made sure I had a bottle of water in hand. It’s 90 degrees in the City today and coupled with the endless streams of workers and tourists, cars pumping out fumes at every intersection, and skyscrapers reflecting the heat, it felt more like 200.
Sat on the train, I expected to feel nervous about the prospect meeting, but I realised that building the business felt simpler at this stage than it had the first time round. I was clearer about the services I offered; I knew what I was good at and enjoyed; I knew what I was not so good at and what I definitely didn’t want to do, and I had strategies for how to find clients. I felt braver than I had done in the past. Although I was painfully aware that the culture here might be quite different, and, as I feel before every new venture, I had a sense of trepidation at something new, I felt comfortable with my brand and offering. I was ready to face the big city.
As I walked through the hot, buzzing streets, I ‘felt’ the descriptions New Yorkers had given me in the past about their city; “It’s faster and more vibrant than London.” I’ve been to NYC a few times now but visiting the city for the first time as a ‘worker’ I could internalise this difference. The bright sunshine blazing on the sidewalks; yellow taxis illuminating the tarmacked roads and people of all shapes and sizes, speaking every language known to man, buzzing around in every direction. Dressed in business attire, I found I was no longer a target for the tourist bus trip offerings as I walked out of Grand Central. I was excited at getting to play at being a New Yorker, and I found myself trying to keep up with other workers pounding the streets, coffee cups and mobile phones in hand.
Arriving at my destination, I changed into my heels and I felt a surge of pride and excitement at being here and having the opportunity to build a business in the States. I never imagined life would take this turn.
The meeting was much like any other business meeting I’ve had; hopefully successful but one never knows until the work lands in your inbox. It was very interesting to learn about some of the cultural differences when working in NYC compared to London; apparently people work harder and longer here – I thought London was bad! People are also blunter in their conversation than in the UK. Maybe my honesty in writing will be more valuable than I realised.
There’s a huge mountain to climb to build a network of clients here, and I’m quite sure the learning curve will be steep in all aspects of business building in a new country. But, for now, I feel a renewed passion to create something amazing. Bring it NYC.