Month: September 2016


I few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on Medium about Uber: Uber in Nairobi — Struggling to Understand the Customer Mental Model. The point of the piece is that in a city like Nairobi, where crime is high and safety is a top concern, it is hard to understand how Uber could get a foothold. If you’re interested in the subject, feel free to read the full article.

National Identity

In my last two posts, I discussed how I’m a little different. I grew up as a Third Culture Kid. I don’t have national allegiances. If I am anything, I am a New Yorker. This was always driven home (no pun intended) every time I left New York. I am not always patient. I am very direct. I wear a lot of black. I walk fast. I’m hyper-efficient. I will root for any team playing against the Boston Red Sox. I am a New Yorker to the core and that has been clear for a long time. What I didn’t realize until I moved to Nairobi is how American I am. I always thought of New Yorkers as different from the rest of America. In a great many ways, we are. But, I am more like the rest of the country than I had previously thought. I make cultural references that are very American. I have certain values and attitudes that I hadn’t realized are inherent to America. I have mannerisms that are American. In terms of cultural …

Me, grown up. I look just like this. Art Credit: Bitstrips.

The Third Culture Kid as an Adult Expat

Here I am, middle-aged and all grown up if not altogether mature. (Yes, I look just like that Bitstrips illustration. Actually, I kind of do.) I grew up as a Third Culture Kid and then spent my entire adult life (up until a year ago) in a very international city. Now, I’m an expat in Nairobi (which is another international city). Did my upbringing prepare me for my life today? Yes, it did. No, it did not. Which is it? It’s both. I was totally used to moving. Yes, but now I was leaving the only place that had even been home. I never had a home to leave before. I didn’t know what that was like. It’s harder than I thought it would be.  I have no issues picking up and going to a different continent. Yes and no. Going off on a new adventure? No problem! But I had to think through a lot more. I had to consider my career. I had to think about what it would be like for women …


Third Culture Kids

I grew up as a Third Culture Kid. What is that? In general, Third Culture Kids are those who grow up in a culture/country that is not native to either parent. How this occurs can vary greatly, but the crux of it is that the formation of your identity is not tied to that of either parent or even necessarily of where you are living. You become your own culture (taking in bits and pieces from all that you experience). In my case, this was coupled with moving frequently and on an international basis. In many ways, that made me an open-minded and well-rounded adult. I always had a good sense of geography. I am pretty good at languages. I know how to get out there and make friends. I am culturally sensitive. I love to travel and learn about other cultures. I know how to assess what I value, be it things or people. I know what is truly meaningful versus what is just stuff that I don’t need to take with me. (I have been referred …