San Francisco – A City of Transformation
This blog post was created by GPI US’ San Francisco office.
San Francisco has long been a city of importance in the US and the world. As one of the Pacific Ocean’s largest natural harbors and ports, San Francisco’s birth into national and international recognition started early and has continued until modern day. Marked by its progressive social movements, its dedication to the Arts, the genesis of beatnik poetry, and of course its current status as one of the world leaders in innovation and technology, San Francisco and Silicon Valley have become part of the regular national and international dialogue.
The San Francisco Bay Area is a mind-boggling mix of Metropolitan city-scape, suburbia, industry, and Mother-nature that has attracted a diverse, international population for an equally diverse number of reasons. But there is one common thread, one mutual theme, that seems to connect and bind all that move here, and that is transformation. From the Gold Rush of the 19th century to modern-day, people, businesses, and families have sought out San Francisco and the Bay Area in hopes of transforming their lives. From the poor that hoped to strike it rich, to start-ups looking to become the next Google or Facebook, one can’t help but be transformed by the area, whether you’re just here for a visit or living and working in for years or decades.
There is a mindset in people here that is different, something in social architecture that sets San Francisco apart from other cities and locations around the world. That something changes the way you look at things and the people around you. Problems are seen as challenges, obstacles become temporary obstructions, and that “something” drives us to continually innovate, to improve, and eventually to transform.
Transformations can be subtle or obvious, for some it happens overnight and for others, like the river that carved the Grand Canyon, can seem to take forever, but a transformation will happen and San Francisco, its people, its nature, and its culture will be the catalyst.
GPI US Staff in our San Francisco office reflected on this past summer’s programs… “This summer we had the opportunity and the privilege to watch dozens of students experience their own transformations. For some, it was overt, obvious, and almost immediate. For others, it was much more subtle and subdued, to the point that some of them probably didn’t realize it or maybe won’t see it in themselves for a while.
One of the best examples from this summer was a student that attended a program on leadership and mindfulness. Mindfulness is a pretty difficult concept for adults, let alone teenagers learning about it in a second language, but this student’s transformation was a fantastic event to witness.
As one of three leaders for her school’s trip, she was already outgoing and personable; but, her ability to lead and style of leadership was lacking. When it came to it, her style seemed to be modeled on an anachronistic, top-down, corporate manager style where someone higher comes in, barks orders at everybody and people get to work. But within a few short days, she began to understand quickly what it really meant to lead and that there were multiple ways to do so.
She learned to listen to those around her, or to support someone that might be shy but had a good idea. She also learned a vitally important skill during this time, and that was to build consensus around an idea, in order to move forward as a group. Her transformation was stark and took place in a matter of days. And to top it all off, she was aware of it. In her final presentation, she noted the difference in herself by relating to her classmates.
When she started the program, she thought being a leader meant telling people what to do, but through the program, she learned that’s only one way of leading, and it may not always be the best. True leadership, she learned, came from being mindful of herself and the thoughts and feelings of others.
So come to San Francisco; come for the food; come to see Googles of now and the Amazons of tomorrow; come for the amazing scenery, the incredible museums, the eccentricities and oddities of its people, but most importantly, come to experience your transformation.”