Diver-City | Atlanta and Why I Choose the South



While catching up with a friend last night and sharing the video above to garner some last-minute votes, I had a realization. In order to build this city to be its strongest, it has to attract the type of talent and creatives isolated in other parts. Twitter had just laid off a number of experienced users out of Silicon Valley, and this friend had just opened up about her contemplating moving to a new city.

As a self-proclaimed freelance digital nomad with a desire to maintain a lifestyle and career that supports that, I began enumerating reasons and projecting on myself the details of Atlanta was a great place to consider growing. It was from this conversation, I felt I owed it to my friends and future ATLiens a reflection on a metropolitan that will inevitably show even more progress before its 2019 Superbowl spotlight, and worth consideration.


What is chooseATL?

ChooseATL - Metro Atlanta Chamber's Campaign aimed at attracting and retain top talent

ChooseATL – Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Campaign aimed at attracting and retain top talent

Just after graduating and prior to my move to Los Angeles, through work I had the opportunity to attend the SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Like many, after the first year I was hooked. Each time I would venture out for the March conference-turned-networking-rager, I would come across individuals with similar goals and mindsets – all of whom also had California drivers licenses. This fueled my interest to explore the west coast and ultimately influenced my move to Los Angeles. Even after the move I continued to attend Austin’s annual tech and entertainment pilgrimage.

This past spring and in my 6th SX, I readily accepted an invitation (and if nothing else mere curiosity) to an event held at SXSW and put on by none other than my home city of Atlanta. It was here I first was made aware of the chooseATL organization and their very deliberate campaign to attract many of individuals with similar mindsets at SXSW to the South’s capital.

I learned of their ongoing ties to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, some long-time friends and colleagues turned entrepreneurs and city advocates, and their heavy involvement with my alma mater, Georgia Tech. Of course as all good SXSW encounters also mandate, the party was lit and the Sweetwater was flowing. My home city had impressed and peaked my interest once again thanks in large part to this campaign.


Why the Atlanta return?

It’s secret to none that I became Property of the Atlanta Braves as a young child and then I bought property by the Atlanta Braves as a young adult. Truthfully, I came back to catch the last few months of my team during the last opportunities they’d be playing at Turner Field. I sold the car and packed up all my belongings in a close friend’s storage unit and came to pay homage to a property I considered heaven on earth with cracker jack and conversation just as I had all these years.

The day I left for California, I foreshadowed my imminent return to the A and tattooed my city and my initial as a reminder to always remain humble and keep home always at bay. While my tattoo remains and Turner Field disappears (along with my bitterness for its departure as a property owner), I have come to be amazed and enamored of how Atlanta has grown and changed in the last three years I’ve been absent.

As an Atlanta AirBnB host, I get to play diplomat and tour guide for guests to our city coming from all over while rediscovering much of what has changed firsthand. New buildings, skyscrapers, restaurants, industries, they’re all adopting those amazing qualities of other cities I admire and giving us a unique way of making it the south’s own. Even our environmental landscape is adopting the ways of the west. If you stepped outside the last few days your olfactory senses were overwhelmed with a scent unfortunately commonplace all over California – droughts and wildfires.  The last one a joke, I have seen changes here already here and on the horizon and am confident in my ability to having an impact and opportunity to shape the world-class international city I’ve always called home with these positive progressions.
There’s a concept introduced first by Carl Jung that I have always put a lot of faith in – synchronicity. Synchronicity is a concept of ‘meaningful coincidences’ if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.  During the last few months of residing back in Atlanta I have reconnected with more than a handful of great friends and former coworkers through exchanges and ‘meaningful coincidences’ I could not ignore. That small city feel still exists and is poised to absorb all of the spotlight of a larger one and I’m eager to facilitate that.


What is the contest?

The Ultimate Job Interview Competition is in its second year and focuses on recent graduates from around the country who are interested in calling Atlanta home. Full information and contest details can be found here, but following the public video voting round, a group of ten and then three finalists will be awarded prizes and an opportunity to meet Atlanta-area Tech Executives.

Admittedly, I am not the contest’s typical entrant having been removed from school and traveled and worked elsewhere following graduation, not to mention my video in albeit a different format than the other 134 entries; I couldn’t help but throw my hat in the ring and offer me an excuse and opportunity to be an ambassador in a city that has offered me more than roots. A monetary prize also means I can ship my golf clubs back across country and get them out of my friend’s storage unit!


Why the Video?

Honestly the video came as an intoxicated consequence of watching Lin Manuel Miranda to get in character for my Halloween costume as him Alexander Hamilton. It was the week he was set to host SNL and his unparalleled genius and writing always leaves a lasting impression. Being a lover of limericks and with an affection for any opportunity to edit a video, I jumped at the chance to put the brews in my brain to work and churn out a meaningful message that is just what I needed to also jumpstart my confidence in my credo and answer so many questions in a creative manner. Given the somewhat professional and serious nature the contest dictates, I did what I could to stymy my style and still keep it in the time limits. Hope it solicited at least a smile!


Why are you sharing?

Voting ended on Monday, but the reasons I’m sharing the rationale for my move and what has attracted me back to Atlanta are a little greater. In any collective effort to get buy-in or illicit growth, you have to garner support of others. My ‘story’ if you will, is a direct reflection of a very natural adaptation of what I think the city is attempting to embody and I have hopes that in documenting it will in-turn also draw some more attention to a growing and fast-paced city.

I have a project I have been using much of my time the last few months to develop and I see this chooseATL campaign as a great avenue and excuse to update so many of my friends and family who have asked the question what it is I am doing back in Atlanta. That being said, I am counting on this same group of people (as well as myself) to keep me honest and accountable for pursuit of this project, and in documenting the process through this post or a video, I hope to leave a trail of breadcrumbs and accomplish just that. Having traveled and experienced the world outside of the South, I know the diversity of Atlanta is worth showcasing and uniting and want to use my influence and networks as a platform to do so. So thank you in advance for your continued support.


What’s the Project?

The project is the fun part I’m not ready to just quite yet share publicly. I’ve hinted at it throughout this blog post, shared with few advisors and mentors and allude to it in my video. It is something that is very dear to me, excites me more than anything else I’ve had a hand in, and like any endeavor worth pursuing gives you that tingly dopamine dump sensation of excitement and vulnerability reminiscent of a fantastic first date!

Should I move on to the next round I will have the opportunity to interview with some of Atlanta’s top tech executives to pitch a concept which I feel could be very beneficial for the growth of my idea and garnering early support for the project. If you are interested in learning more about the project, I’m more than eager to share over a pint, bite, or Skype, just drop me a line.

I shared this city’s principle beyond a country mile-
Coax folks with jokes and tokes along with a simple smile.


What Next?
The contest has now concluded, but then has a semifinal round and ultimately pitches and prizes to the top three finalists. If I move on to each subsequent round, I will certainly share that here on my blog and across my social channels, but more importantly, stay tuned as my project progresses (within or outside of the contest) these channels will be the same places to keep abreast. Through time zones and travel logs, I admittedly haven’t done the best of keeping in touch with all of my contacts as I would have preferred, but hope to reestablish an open line of communication with many. What that means?  More evening happy hours at Krog Street Market, and more from my otherwise dormant blog.


In the words of my favorite artist, Ludacris – “Welcome [back] to Atlanta!”

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