Look at the people

When deciding which company to join or what city to live in, look at the people, not physical objects.

The social environment strongly influences people. If I hang out with entrepreneurs — I start thinking about business ideas. If I’m surrounded by people who like luxury, I start to think about what car I am driving and at what restaurants I’m eating.

For example, during my business trip to Zurich this spring, I felt pressure to change my wardrobe. I usually wear nice casual clothes in California — T-shirts, hoodies, and jeans. In Zurich, where most people wear nice suits, I felt inadequate. I felt I needed to go to the store and buy something more formal.

The social environment also affects my intellectual preferences. For example, when surrounded by scientists, I start thinking like a scientist. I feel I need to know the subject well enough to withstand rigorous questioning.

When I moved to Silicon Valley, I didn’t know what I would do, but my friends were entrepreneurs and engineers. So in a few years, I started my own business. Two years after, I joined Google.

When you contemplate a significant change in life, you will be influenced by the new people that are going to surround you. Their impact will be more substantial than the exact details of your job, salary, and house. So, when you choose your new destination, look at the people you will spend time with. Chances are you will become just like them.