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Are West Coast Business People Better Than Midwesterners?

I am struck by the business-culture differences of executives from the midwest and West-coast. Some say it’s subtle, yea… like a jack hammer.


After our meetings ended last week in Newport Beach California,  Kathy (see pic. below) and I mingled with some executives in their 30s and 40s at the Balboa Bay Resort (pic. above). To these coastal business execs our Midwest earnestness, optimism and you-betcha moral compass was either charming, disarming or uncool.

A the end of the night, at a private party, a young gaming executive came up to me and asked if I was from the Midwest.

Kathy Schaefer

How the hell did he know? I was wearing a $600 dollar pair of Gucci high top sneakers and a bunch of other threads from Neiman Marcus. I thought my West-coast camouflage was working.  I told him yes, guardedly. Is it my dialect that gave it away? Nope he replied, it’s your niceness.

I was a little annoyed by his remark until he said he misses that trait living in LA.

So What’s The Empirical Data Show On This Issue?

The scientific, geographic distribution of personality traits gives us insights  into what was once just a bunch of hunches and stereotypes.

Recently psychologist Peter Rentfrow dug deeper into this issue with an interesting study of the openness,conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. He used cluster analysis to identify psychological regions within America.

Here’s a quick overview I’ve boiled down the original research report and I punched up some of the phrasing for added fun.

Midwest Nice Region

The “friendly and conventional” (FC) region in the middle and southern part of the country is characterized as being more extraverted, agreeable and conscientious, a little more emotionally stable (low neuroticism), but also much less open to experience than the national average.

Midwest Nice Region
Midwest Nice Region

The Cool West by West-coast  Region

The “relaxed and creative” (RC) region in the western part of the country is characterized above all by being very open to experience and emotionally stable, but also introverted and slightly less agreeable than the average.


You Lookin At Me? Punk! Region

And finally, the third region, “temperamental and uninhibited” (TU), located in the northeastern part of the country, from Maine down to West Virginia, is characterized as very emotionally unstable and low in conscientiousness while being moderately introverted and open to experience.

Let me know what your experiences are on this topic.Thanks so much, as we say in the Midwest, for reading my blog.

My Bottomline: 

I think neither place is better, just different. Finding the right place to live is similar to finding someone to share your life. You need to find a place where they share your kind of weird. We are all bozos on this bus, a bus called life.

Source Material: thanks to psychologist Peter Rentfrow who wrote this interesting study of the openness,conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.  And thanks to Staffan’s Personality Blog where I lifted some phrasing.


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