From Cali to Nebraska. Wait, What?

Dan Vallier – Marketing

“Wait… so, you left California to live here? Why?” That’s probably the number one question I get asked. Being in a new state and constantly meeting new people, I hear it almost daily and don’t expect it to stop any time soon. I know, it’s hard to believe that I’d leave behind the beaches, In-n-Out, and seemingly endless warm weather to come to “Silicon Prairie” in pursuit of an employment opportunity. Sometimes I can’t believe it either. Except, my California is not of the Hollywood novelty that most associate with the Golden State.

I actually grew up in a small-ish agricultural city in Northern California. Yuba City, a.k.a. Little India, is the kind of town they don’t typically talk about in movies or TV, nor is it close to any beaches. For the past several years, I was a student of Engineering and constantly in search of the ironical balance between studying, a flexible work schedule that would allow me to study, and being able to afford to study. Like many others, I was putting off a lot of my passions, like music, and it began to weigh me down. I decided to take “a semester” off so I could focus on myself a little and maybe actually make some money. Being free of my educational ties, I was ready for a change.

Given my upbringing in an agricultural town made my transition to Nebraska quite easy. In fact, Lincoln and Yuba City are very similar in a lot of ways. Rows and rows of suburban neighborhoods surrounded by farmland. Getting across town doesn’t take long, except for all the bad drivers out here (Y’all need to work on that. Just saying). The major differences so far are the weather, obviously, and the hospitality. There’s no denying that the Midwestern hospitality is alive and well. You are greeted with a friendly smile and are always made to feel welcome wherever you go. People seem to want to help one another, which is a trait that is apparent even at my job.

I work in Marketing for Evol Empire Creative, a company that strives to help other companies grow and be seen. More specifically, I get to sit on my computer all day and play around in [insert Adobe Program here] and make branded content to help our clients promote themselves. Not a bad gig. It’s rewarding knowing that I get to create something that will benefit someone else, if even in a small way. This is the first job I’ve ever had that not only exercises my creative abilities but encourages me to push myself to grow and level up my skills. I am surrounded by creative people and have plenty of time at the end of the day to work on music. And it beats the hell out of schlepping mulch at a hardware store like I used to do.

Coming from an employment background of mostly mindless physical labor, It’s fascinating to have suddenly been immersed in a community of startups. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs and people constantly seeking growth and opportunity is truly inspirational. I’ve picked up a lot of marketing skills that will translate to my life and musical hobbies. Also, I’ve learned to keep my eyes and ears open at all times. You never know when a passerby will mention a book that will elevate you, or when you’ll find yourself at the bar next to a business owner who could use the services your company provides. There are opportunities all around you every day and if you’re not paying attention, they can slip by.

Recently, I read a statement along the lines of “Home is not a place, it is a feeling.” In my short time here, Evol has made me feel at home. I’ve met some of the most down to earth people, leveled up many skills, and I have grown up so much. Whether or not Nebraska will remain my home forever is still unknown to me at this point, but I do pride myself in my ability to take chances in search of opportunity. You can’t possibly know the world from one point on a map. You couldn’t possibly know that In-N-Out has nothing on Whataburger unless you’ve had it (Yeah, I said it. Fight me). Don’t be afraid to get out and experience the world, no matter where that may be. Look for beauty where you go and you WILL find it. And when someone asks you, “Why did you move here?” respond to them with, “Why do you stay?”