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The Great DC Hoax

January 26, 2012

The fate of the folks who live and work in Washington, DC are to be determined. DC is a lovely city but it’s a sad excuse for making things happen. The climate and conditions in DC aren’t the most ideal environment for the entrepreneurial, disruptive leap that’s necessary to make change real (I should know, I’ve lived there for 10 years).


What do I mean by this? It’s no secret that each city takes on the energy of its power source. New York embodies the energy of Wall Street, Las Vegas thrives off the energy of The Strip, and LA is Hollywood. Unfortunately, DC takes on the personality of the government. And the government is bureaucratic, slow, and stodgy. With no personality, to boot. If that’s your thing and it works for you, wonderful. But if you’re someone who likes to see progress, and enjoys things like feeling alive then I have one piece of advice: Get out of DC.

There’s a lot of truth to the little joke that runs amongst the DC circles: “Once you’ve lived in DC for four years or more, you’ll be stuck forever.” Four years is an election cycle, and if change doesn’t get implemented during the 4 years, we’ll cross our fingers that it’ll happen in the next 4 years. False promises from a stagnant city means that the leadership is driven by people who don’t know how to combat the lizard brain. DC secretly stands for Don’t Challenge the status quo. Oh, and did I mention it’s among America’s rudest cities? The great DC hoax is that the people of DC are supposed to “serve” the rest of the country. Oh, really? On whose watch?


I’ve lived in DC for the majority of my career. I learned about work ethic, deadlines, and leadership. Towards the end of my career in DC, I learned how I don’t like to operate. Seth Godin wrote a list of pitfalls to avoid when planning your career based on the failed leadership of Congress. He goes on to say:

I’m disheartened that even when a linchpin shows up in Washington, she is quickly beaten into submission. Where are the lions, the Mr. Smith‘s and the statesmen who would rather do the people’s business than business as usual? Sure, Congress has a marketing problem–largely because they have a problem with the decisions they make and the way that they make them.

The energy in DC is blocked. It’s smothered in its own past history and resistant to new ideas. If you’re strong and resilient enough to maneuver your way through that stagnancy, go for it. Be a change agent. Create opportunities. Be bold. Be a visionary. I know some people who found ways to somehow make DC work for them (not many, to be honest). Outliers do exist. But if you’re living or working in DC and disappointed at the amount of progress you can make, and the rude people you encounter on a daily basis, then get out. Now. (I did and got my soul back. thank gawd).

Either get out or don’t. But don’t try to change DC. It’s fueled by complacency. If the President of the United States can’t make change happen, neither can you. And do you really want to wait four years to determine if the inertia will subside? That’s for you to decide.