Stranger 1, Day 1 – Meet Lee, the “Closer”

Stranger 1, Day 1 - Meet Lee

Sitting at the Starbucks in Brookhaven on any given day, you’ll see a gentleman sitting perched at the high table against near the windows and doorway. He’s perfectly positioned to meet and greet the Starbucks regulars — and there are many who give him a friendly wave, hello, and hug. Meet Lee Rice, resident happy, go-lucky Starbucks enthusiast.

Lee Rice, 55

What do you do?

“IT Business Solutions for the federal government.” Lee costs IT services, prices the services, and presents to the decision makers. Lee very much enjoys his job happily claiming it as a “great job”.

What’s your passion? Any dreams? What?

“Life… the people you meet… experiences you go through.” Lee expands having traveled the world over, “been to a lot of places” including favorites such as Australia and Greece.

What is your biggest regret?

Lee took time to think about this one. He obviously had not thought about this very much. Then, “probably… girls in the past that I didn’t treat so good. Wish I handled it differently.” Lee’s regret is rooted in an appreciation, now, in respecting others. “Wish I had respected them more.”

Then, Lee also shared another regret — one that he had little control over — “My mom passed away when I was 16 from cancer… wish I knew what it’d be like to know her still.”

He and I spoke about his years following his mother’s passing. Again, this is not a regret in action he could have done or addressed. If he could cure cancer, that’s a whole other story. But instead, this highlighted the importance and appreciation of both life and time with loved ones.

This helped segue into…

Any great life lessons you wish to share?

“Listen and take advice from older people… they’ve been there and done that”. For Lee, it was apparent there was much he learned the harsh way despite receiving advice from those more experienced. You could get a sense from our discussion around time and life, listening to elders could have enabled Lee to tackle more opportunities rather than stumble where others had guided him.

A second life lesson was, or more like advisement: “Actions speak louder than words.”

Lee continued, “People talk a lot, but do they come through?” He lamented the countless just-graduated college students asked Lee for introductions for jobs. However, after making the requested introductions, the students failed to follow through or continue call backs.

What do you want to be known for? What’s your legacy?

“Known as a caring, giving person, and fun to be around.” Again, you could sense that over the years, Lee has appreciated more and more how others are treated (especially how he treats others). The honesty was refreshing and something really authentic and beautiful as the first Stranger of this project.

For Lee, “As long as I treat people good, that’s all that matters to me.”

What’s your goal when you meet someone for the first time?

Lee didn’t have a straight answer for this at first. In fact, he said he didn’t have any expectations… before saying, “maybe friendship? If we get along, great.”

What’s your greatest achievement?

… another pause for long reflection… “my career overall”. For Lee, his job meant so much, and he had achieved a great deal. I appreciated those he worked for and how he strived to impart learned skills to those who now work for him. He’s met some “really, really dynamic leaders”, and had travel all over thanks to his job. He’s appreciated those who have appreciated his hardwork and were champions for his success.

After the handshake.

This was a great start to this journey of meeting 100 strangers in 100 days. Lee was so excited to be a part of this, and at the end, really appreciated the types of questions I asked. I, too, appreciated meeting him and learning about him. His points about “actions greater than words” hits home for me as I strive to be deliberate in what I say and what I do. This project being an example of being deliberate and following through.

Further, Lee and I spoke about “listening to elders” or at least, “those with experience”. This was one of my lessons learned from my first entrepreneurial endeavor. I realized that I had heard from and spoken to a number of established entrepreneurs. As it was my and my fellow cofounders’ first entrepreneurial endeavor, you’d think we would have listened to their advisement. However, we didn’t. We were over-confident in our abilities, and we paid for that later.

It was great to meet Lee, and I’m kicking off this journey in style!

Meet Lee. No longer a Stranger.

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