Los Angeles and Nashville are both entertainment industry towns. LA has movie studios. Nashville has music studios. Star sightings at Starbucks are common occurrences in both cities. Waiters and bartenders work for small tips and big dreams…. You get it.
In Music City, as in Hollywood, perception is paramount and image is everything. However, the images crafted by aspiring country artists would get them laughed out of Los Angeles (and vice-versa). The reason: Social Rounding. In LA, people round up. In Nashville, they round down.
What does this mean? Here are some examples:
- In Los Angeles, I have heard a second-floor apartment referred to as “My Penthouse.”
- In Nashville, I have heard a $75,000 luxury SUV referred to as “My Truck.”
- On "MTV Cribs" wannabe superstars fill their refrigerators with Cristal and expect us to believe that they drink it on a regular basis.
- On "CMT Cribs" carb-conscious songbirds fill their refrigerators with Miller High Life and expect us to believe that they drink it on a regular basis.
- In LA, people name-drop famous directors they haven’t spoken to in 20 years.
- In Nashville, people name-drop quaint hometowns they haven’t visited in 20 years.
In LA, people lie to sound important. In Nashville, they lie to sound authentic.
Unfortunately, social rounding in Nashville and LA extends well beyond the entertainment industry. Young people who are trying to make it in business often adopt the rounding style of their celebrities. Contrary to what TMZ and CMT would have you believe, social rounding will not help your career. Rounding up your resume is a desperate (and often transparent) move. Rounding down with false modesty during interviews comes off as arrogant.
No matter where you live, you can’t afford to compromise your career with social rounding (unless your goal is to stay connected to your folksy roots by living in your parents’ subterranean penthouse).