Stranger 36, Day 36 – Meet Jeff, the “Always There”

Stranger 36, Day 36 - Meet Jeff

My weekends are getting wicked packed much like my weekdays now. Before noon, I had already met up with family and friends, hiked Stone Mountain, coordinated some meetings, and etc. etc. So today, I immediately looked for someone to speak to while walking to my “next thing” as the rest of my Saturday wasn’t going to get any slower. Lo and behold, I spotted a guy who just sat down at a table on the sidewalk about to whip out his phone. Insert me, a complete Stranger to ask him a few questions.

Meet Jeff, 36

Who are you?

“Born and raised here in Atlanta. Played baseball all my life. Now me and my dad have a company together. Engaged to get married in May. Doing that! Livin’ life!”

I introduced myself as the “other person born and raised here in Atlanta.”

I take it baseball is one of your passions… what else?

“Now, I’m just a fan. Baseball… Unfortunately, I’m a workaholic — can’t help it. Everyone I went to college with, I was in a fraternity, so I keep in contact with all my friends. Church. And… cannot say I’m passionate about politics. I’m too PO’ed about it now. It’s awful.” Jeff laughs.

Jeff tells me how he went and played baseball at the Middle College and State University in Milledgeville, GA.

You started this company with your dad. What do you want to grow out of that?

“Well, it’s a commercial real estate company. We’ve grown. I like the fact we’ve given people jobs. We’ve got 40-something employees — probably as big as we can get. Most of the people have been with us for 15 years or so. For us, it’s about continue to grow in the community. Continuity to work with people who we’ve worked with for a long time, and build relationships.”

Have you had a Life-Defining Moment?

“I got in a really bad car accident back in 2001. Someone t-boned me. I was in a coma for three months. Both legs broken. I have rods. I have rods in this arm. I have barely any use of this hand.” Jeff motions over his legs and arms and hold out his hand.

“Yeah, that’ll define you a little bit.”

“But God saw me through that one. Able to walk out. Everything’s still intact.”

The car accident occurred one week before graduating from college, too. I asked him how it changed his life.

“If there was some major person at fault, or something, I’d probably have to look at it a little differently.” Jeff goes on to tell me how it was raining really hard, and as he started to take off from a stop, the car heading in a perpendicular direction could not stop in time. Jeff acknowledged that the other driver was probably going to fast so he couldn’t stop in time, but did not place too much blame on the driver. Again, Jeff acknowledged it as an accident, and one that was due to weather conditions.

“Wasn’t something he meant to do, so at some point, I just had to get over that this moment of being in a wreck and how to recover, what do I have to do to get back to where I was. What do I have to do to get get back physically. Not dwell on why or what happened. Just move forward.”

Has that influenced you in any other type of way? This was an accident, but knowing that something like that can happen, how has that changed you today?

Jeff tells me how he’s very conscious of things like driving, especially. He’s very conscious of others’ driving habits like texting a driving.

“I guess it really hasn’t affected me from driving, like driving habits. I was always like a grandma-driver, anyways. It does make me more conscious of my surroundings when driving, for sure. It’s also given me a new lease on life. It could’ve gotten a lot worse. His car did hit right on my door. In fact, it could’ve been a much worse accident. Fortunately, I was in a truck that did a good job of not getting me too hurt. In the end, you have to look back on it, and say you’re real fortunate and God had your back. Just keep trying to live your life, I guess.”

“Sometimes you can get in a habit of living your life, you don’t think about it. But when you do stop and think about it, you reminisce on how lucky you really were.”

Who can you say were all around you supporting you?

“Parents!”

“I never had a situation where I had a bad break-up. So any girl friends that I had — I had a few — I’m still very good friends with, and all of them were there through the whole thing. That was pretty good. I was in a fraternity. Every single one of the fraternity brothers were there the whole time. Some people look down on fraternities and all that, but in the end, you make some friends that you end up keeping your whole life, that’s for sure.”

Do you have a Life Lesson that you’d like to share?

“Never let yourself get down. Always look at the positive side of whatever the situation is. That’s how I always look at it. I know lots of people who seem to be “the glass is half-empty” attitude all the time. I just always try to find what’s the best thing that could possibly come out of whatever. That’s kind of how I always operate.”

Is that how that helps you be one of the leaders in your company?

“I think that makes you successful. If you’re down or depressed or whatever, you don’t tend to succeed. That’s just my opinion, but if you’re in a bad mood or you always seeing the negative in the situation. You’re not going to try to excel. You’re just going to be focused on whatever the problem it is you’re seeing as opposed to seeing what you could possibly make happen out of it. I think that’s something definitely is an attitude thing that people need to work on. Try to stay as possible as you can.”

What would it take for you to talk to 100 strangers in 100 days? (Thanks to Mike, Stranger 35)

“As a sales person, I talk to strangers all the time!” Haha, yeah, but what about without the motivation to sell…

“I guess a want to meet more people. Want to expand your friends base who you’re not even friends necessarily… more of a connectivity base.”

Jeff adds, “100 days is a pretty long time when you think about it actually!” We laugh about this. It most definitely is.

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What kind of an impact do you want to leave on this world?” To this, I asked Jeff what impact he wants to leave behind.

“In the end, family and friends said if they ever needed anything, I was always the one that was there. I will always try to be that person — some need, or if somebody needed something. ‘Watch my kids’ or whatever. They can call me, and know I would do it. Simple stuff like that.”

After the handshake.

From the get-go, Jeff was ready to go. I was partly surprised that he didn’t have to think much about any of the questions. In fact, he went straight into each question almost immediately. It’s as if he either already thought of some of these questions before, or he’s just that quick of a thinker. For the latter, he is in sales, so maybe he’s real good at improvisation as he crystallized on his true answer.

I also appreciate how Jeff recognized that to make an impact on someone’s life like always being dependable, it’s not always the big stuff we glorify. Instead, it’s the simple stuff like “watching a friend’s kids” or being available for a call. Being dependable and someone others can trust isn’t about the big stuff. It’s usually about the little things that no one else ever celebrates or even knows.

Meet Jeff. No longer a Stranger.

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