seeing greener grass

In deep thoughts, inspiration, motivation, stories by Jay Clouse

Yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon in Cincinnati, just a couple hours south of Columbus. I was catching up with my friend Eric, who offered to show me around Union Hall.

Union Hall is this amazing facility in Cincinnati that is a hub of their entrepreneurial/startup ecosystem. The building houses:

  • Cintrifuse, a fund of funds designed to launch Cincinnati startups through funding, resources, and space
  • The Brandery, a nationally recognized startup accelerator
  • CincyTech, a seed investment firm

It’s an awesome resource and microcosm of the ecosystem in one building.

As Eric and I got to talking about the differences and similarities between the Columbus and Cincinnati ecosystems, we both presented envious perceptions we had of the other.

There were aspects of Cincinnati I really wish were present in Columbus, and Eric saw things Columbus was doing that he wished were happening in Cincinnati.

Both are great places — but it seemed to me that we both were sort of envious of what the other had.

But that’s super common, in all areas of life. When we can barely see the grass, or we’re recalling the grass from memory, or taking the word of others who are describing the grass to us — it’s easy to think that grass is greener than our grass.

We just know our grass more intimately. We’ve seen the sausage get made, and we’re once again comparing our backyard to someone else’s front yard.

Several months ago I listened to an episode of the WTF podcast with Marc Maron, and he was interviewing Fred Armisen. I’m a big fan of Fred Armisen from SNL, Portlandia, this weird video he made at SXSW in 1998, and more.

At the end of the episode they got to talking about Fred’s most recent failed marriage. It was a big public breakup that seemed pretty messy — and he talked super frankly about his struggles and his pattern of failed relationships. Then they had this short exchange:

Fred Armisen: There are musicians out there…I wonder “how do those people [maintain relationships]?” They don’t seem to have the same [problems]…but we don’t know these people.

Marc Maron: You don’t know them at all. That’s the same part of your brain that romanticizes everything else. The thought that like, “Those guys do it!”

But we don’t know their fucking life. It could be a nightmare. It could be a fucking nightmare.

You see this public personality…But at home he could be like just apologizing every five minutes.

I’ve thought about that exchange a lot since then. The people who seem to have it all, people who seem to be killing it — you just have no idea what their life is like. They could be fighting fires all the time.

Elon Musk has been divorced three times.

It’s really common to undervalue your own grass and overvalue someone else’s. I’m trying to do that much, much less.


Dig this? Enter your email address to receive Work In Progress, my newsletter dedicated to both personal and professional improvement. If you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, or creative, this is for you.