Big Move: Kenton LeVay

For those who don’t know you, can you tell us about yourself to get us up to speed?
My name is Kenton LeVay. I was born in Cincinnati, OH. I spent some time in Missouri and Kansas as a kid, too. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Finance.

 Where’d you move to?
San Francisco, California

Why’d you make the move?
I got a job offer at Cisco Systems in a finance rotation program. I exclusively looked for jobs that allowed me to move out of Ohio and, in particular, jobs on the West Coast. I have nothing against where I grew up, but I knew I wanted to move away from home and challenge myself in areas I never have before.

Was there anything in San Francisco you had to get used to?
The pace of life is much faster than expected. Being a West Coast city, I expected something slower. The culture of constant innovation makes for a much faster pace of life.


 What goals are you looking to accomplish while you’re in San Francisco?
I think listing career aspirations would be a mute point. My goal while living in SF would be to allow myself to grow mentally, socially, and professionally. I want the best parts of the San Francisco culture to rub off on me and be something I carry for the rest of my life.

What are your favorite things to do in San Fran?
In my spare time, I like to read, hike, go to SF Giants games, and dabble on my guitar. Some of my favorite things to do specific to SF are trying awesome food and meeting new people. SF is one of the most educated and ambitious cities in the world.

       Being at the center of technology start-up culture, SF is loaded with people who moved there for the purpose of changing the world with their tech – driven by an incredible amount of dedication and resourcefulness. It’s truly an exciting place to live as a recent college grad with a heart full of optimism.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
My favorite restaurant is a place called Sweet Maple in Pac Heights. It’s the best brunch I’ve ever had – the bottomless mimosas and ‘Millionaire’ bacon are truly something special.

 Do you miss Ohio?
Absolutely. I’d be naïve to say Ohio doesn’t have a piece of my heart. I recently was talking to one of my friends from France (who also lives in SF). He told me that ‘home’ is where you are, at the moment. Nostalgia has a funny way of playing with the heart. If we have fond memories related to a specific location, we tend to want to go back. The reality of my situation is that I’m in SF and the act of longing to move back to Ohio will undermine opportunities for growth professionally, socially, and emotionally. I love Ohio but I want to remain content with the past in order to optimize my time in California. The irony of it all is that I wouldn’t be aware of the importance of not idolizing the past had I not moved to SF in the first place.

Any words of advice to those who are anxious about making a big move?
My advice to people making a big move is to know that home is just a phone call away. Don’t occupy all of your spare time and neglect to take the time to reflect on your life since your big move.

      There are some life lessons you can only learn after you experience living far away from home and it would be a shame if you didn’t allow yourself time to take inventory of your life and process some of these lessons.

 And of course we have to ask. Are you UpByFive?
Yes, when I can.

       There’s something special about being up early that makes your day productive and meaningful.


Interview as told to Chiedu Bosah and edited by Maggie Tarasovitch.
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