How Can I Help? East Coast vs. West Coast Mentalities

Often times when I’m traveling on the east coast, whether it is NYC area or back home down south I try to spend some time to catch up with various people. In catching up we’ll spend some time talking about what we’re both up to, thoughts on tech or in general, and at the end I typically ask “Is there anything in particular I can help with?” More often than not the answer to this question isn’t super substantial, which is fine. But what is surprising is the stark contrast on reactions to this question and how it differs from west coast vs. east coast.

On the east coast when I ask “How can I help?” I get a look of:

  • What’s the catch?
  • Okay, what is it you want me to do for you?
  • There is no way you actually intend to help…

Meanwhile on the west coast the mentality is generally quite different. I often have people showing their own willingness to help. It may be someone you know personally that is offering help, but have also seen where someone gets asked for input or help, refers someone else and now you have two people that have known each other for under 5 minutes and one willing to dispense helpful advice or assistance.

The how I can help mentality of the west coast seems to follow that offering assistance is not a zero sum game, and by extending some effort now it hopefully comes back around when they need it themselves.