In real estate, they say it's location location location, but in my world, it's timing. I graduated from Quebec city's Laval University as a Mechanical Engineer. This was in 1993, a time when 40,000 engineers were unemployed. Not the best time to graduate as an engineer. So basically there were no jobs, no offers for months from anywhere, so I started to wonder if my country (Canada) was the place for me. Even if I did get a job, the government takes half what I earn. Eventually I was hired as an engineer and practiced engineering for few years and really experienced the pain paying a lot of taxes. The salaries were not that great to begin with, but the taxes were really overkill. Brief interjection: I have to point out a lesson on taxes. Back in those days, in the mid-90s, the government was taxing cigarettes drastically. In the USA you could buy a pack of cigarettes for $2, but in Canada it was $6. All in taxes. Well, what happened was probably obvious - the average guy became a trafficant of nicotine. Most people were getting smokes illegally. The situation was so bad that almost everyone who smoked was involved in some sort of illegal operation. I'm glad I never smoked but the government was forced to make drastic changes. They finally wised up and they reduced the taxes by 95% to almost no tax at all. That destroyed the entire illegal business going on at that time. The interesting story here is they started to make more money than they did before because they sold even more. This is something to think about, that there is a middle line somewhere that we always need to be aware of.
I eventually grew tired of engineering; I needed something to stimulate my gray matter. I had to get back to my hobby which was until then writing software. I started to have some real thoughts about going to Silicon valley around 1996.
I then got my first job in the USA in 1998. It was not in Silicon Valley as I initially planned but in midwest in Ohio. I drove down there, practicing my English along the way. When I got there, a few things surprised me.
I was really surprised by the way people drive. I never passed so many cars on the right lane in my life. People just seemed to refuse to move into the right lane to let people pass on the left. This was my first surprise. The Second big surprise I got was Meijer's. I never saw a store that big in my life (even today), and on top of that it was open 24 hours. I never woke up in middle of the night to go get Ice cream at 4am, but the idea of it is nice.
The third thing that I was surprised is how many people were very overweight. It did not seem to be a problem to theml; the doors are wider down there, they can pass through. I just was a little surprised. Maybe they still lived in the period of Louis XIV when only the healthy can eat.
The fourth thing I was surprised about was a slight different from where I come from regarding people to be more polite and respectful in the United States. This is interesting difference maybe due to more religious people and being wealthier in general. I had to learn to tone down my blunt French Canadian somewhat unless people thought I was rude.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed living in Columbus, Ohio for few years. This was not the best place for me to make my strategic career moves though, though since I was now a software developer. I decided to make the move to Silicon valley. I had now enough experience and confidence. I moved in California in the beginning of year 2001. Was not the best timing again (dot com crash) - but was great weather!