Stranger 40, Day 40 – Meet Jake, the “Transition Enabler”

Stranger 40, Day 40 - Meet Jake

I met today’s Stranger in the lobby of my office. I thought I might meet my Stranger at the conference (last day today), but I didn’t have much time to do so. No problem as Atlanta Tech Village has lots of opportunities to meet Strangers.

So today, I stood around the building’s lobby waiting for someone to walk by who I didn’t know. I didn’t have to wait long to spot a man waiting for the elevator. So before the doors opened, I asked him the question…

Meet Jake, 28

Who are you?

“My name is Jake. I enjoy fly-fishing. I’m pretty new to this startup and tech world. I run a company called Digital Crafts here on the 5th floor, which is a coding school. Outside of work, fly-fishing and outdoors. At work, all about helping train some of these guys on development.”

Thinking about fly-fishing, training others on development, what are some of your passions/ other passion?

“The passion is what led me to Digital Crafts. I used to work in a corporate job, but I realized my passions… I enjoy helping people. So somebody would send me their resume, I would spend an hour redoing their resume — formatting it correctly, fixing the grammar and the typos. I didn’t mind doing that. So when I was presented the opportunity to start a code school to help people transition their career from one thing to a better thing, that excited me.”

“I’m not a developer. I’m not that passionate about tech. I’m more passionate about helping someone get to the next step of their career.”

Where do you think that comes from?

“One of the companies I used to work for, we had to read a book — we were required to read a book. It was to identify your top five strengths. It was by Gallups. Strength Finder! It was one of these innate strengths that I was born with, that I just enjoy. Relating with people is was one of my strengths. Reading that book and just understanding my five strengths, which I probably couldn’t name right now. Futuristic, innovative, responsibility… relater… restorative. So reading the book and understanding your strengths, you don’t have to make up for your weaknesses. You just focus on your strengths. So it came from that. I took a step back and was said, ‘what do I enjoy doing?’ Well, I really enjoy helping people, so when I was presented with this opportunity, I just jumped on it.

When you think of those five strengths, were any of them shocks to you? Were you expecting another one of the strengths to be higher?

“Not really. It was kind of clear once you saw them and read what each one meant and thought about what you did on a daily basis. How you addressed situations like conflict, for example. Restorative is one of my top five strengths. I don’t like conflict. Or if I am in conflict, I do everything that I can to restore that conflict. Even if it’s probably not the best for my best. If somebody’s not happy, I’m going to do anything I can to make them happy; even if I lose money.”

Have you found any other strengths are your weaknesses?

“Yeah, so case in point: if I have an employee where I have to relay some bad news, it’s tough for me to do that.” I asked him how he deals with that.

“I’ll send an email, or a written communication first, and then I meet with them. So that way, when I get face-to-face, I have to follow-through on discussing the point that I emailed earlier. I’m much better at communicating written vs. verbally, so that helps.”

How has this transition — you like to help others transition — was there anyone who helped you transition from the corporate life to Digital Crafts?

“I definitely don’t have a mentor now, per se, that said, ‘do this’. I guess my one person would be my wife’s grandfather — someone who’s worked in the corporate world forever. He’s 90-years-old. He wants young people to succeed and do what they want to do. So I remember telling him the story about Digital Crafts — ‘hey, should I do it? I got a really good job. Should I quit?’ and then walking into his apartment, two hours after I had told him about the opportunity, he was hands in the air. ‘You gotta do it!'” He raises his arms like his wife’s grandfather likely did.

“So that’s a defining moment actually for me. To actually go, ‘alright, look. This guy with all this wisdom just says go for it.’ So that was a defining moment.”

“I’ve had a lot of supportive people, but not necessarily anyone saying, ‘hey, I’m going to help you do this.’ Transition from that to this.”

I mentioned yesterday’s Stranger, Megan, wanted to know about his Life-Defining Moment to which he pretty much went there already. So I asked him if he had any others.

“Just in general for me?” Jake asks. Yes.

“Not off the top of my head. I just recently got married, so that was my biggest Life-Defining Moment… so no.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I would ask him, just an odd question to get the conversation started.” He wants me to ask to start. Okay, I can do that.

“Yeah, just give them that level-playing field before you jump in. Maybe what’s their favorite thing to eat.”

“… and at what restaurant do they get that at in Atlanta.”

He shares, “that for me at the moment is a bowl of ramen at Shoya Izakaya.”

After the handshake.

Jake mentioned to me later about giving the Stranger a moment to prepare, but I shared with him that I was very interested in the spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment response and connection with Strangers. Makes sense he would feel this way, though, seeing as I stopped him before he went up the elevator.

Again, appreciated meeting Jake as Stranger 40. He was about to get into an elevator, and took about 10 minutes to sit down with me and share a little about himself. As we said at the end of this, it’s great to finally meet another in the building.

Meet Jake. No longer a Stranger.

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