Stranger 56, Day 56 – Meet Joey, the “People Person”

Stranger 56, Day 56 - Meet Joey

I’ve met today’s Stranger before, but I knew nothing about him other than his name and he went to the gym. We see each other often, and it’s like many other Strangers. “Hi!” then back focused on my workout. That’s it.

So when I saw him today, I was excited to share with him the project, and to get to know him better through it. Happily, he accepted.

Meet Joey, 23

Who are you?

“I graduated from Georgia last December. I grew up in the Atlanta area my whole life. After graduation, moved here, and started working at Hanover Insurance Group in the spring. So I do insurance underwriting. I interned with the company last summer. So that’s what I do for work. I’m training right now, so it’s still… six months or so. Sometimes, it’s boring, but it’s no stress. But yeah… hobbies, I’d say, obviously fitness. I played sports. I played baseball and soccer growing up. College football. I mean, Georgia.” Joey points to his shirt with the big UGA logo emblazoned across the chest.

“I love the dawgs… Braves. Pretty much any Atlanta sports team — pretty passionate about.”

“I’m trying to think.” He admits, “Creativity is not… there yet.”

So you grew up in Atlanta your whole life. Why’d you decide to stick around?

“The company that I told you I interned with — I really liked the culture. They’re all about helping people. I mean, other than the work, they take care of the employees, but… the way that they care about the community and other people. There’s a lot of others-minded aspects to the company that really stood out to me. When they said I could start out full-time here, I was like, ‘oh yeah, that’s great!’ So then next year, or I guess more in the summer, they’ll put me full-time somewhere else. It could still be here, but it’s up to whoever. I was like, ‘yeah, I’d like to stay for a year or so’ then after that, I’m up for an adventure. I have nothing tied down to me, you know. We’ll see what happens.”

“Like I said, that first year out of college, I was a little, ‘I’m going to get my feet under me real quick, and then I’ll move if I have to.’ That’s pretty much the reason — just wasn’t ready to go away yet. I think it works out.”

Now that you’ve got your feet under you, and you’re thinking about your long-term trajectory in some ways, what are some of your aspirations? Do you have any Dreams? If so, what are they?

“I guess from a career standpoint, I’m not 100% sure yet what I want to do. I like this underwriting career path for now and maybe in 5-10-year goal. As for the rest of my career, probably not. That, I’m still kind of figuring out as I go on — narrowing down my interests, and what am I more passionate about. I’m still in that discovery phase. You know, I like working with people. Because half my job, I’m able to talk with people… get to know them. Take them out for whatever. I like that aspect, too. There’s that analytical side, too. Definitely, I’m more of a people-person, than sit-behind-a-desk and analyze risk.”

“Back to the original point, I guess it’s really pinpointing what I am passionate about it. I think it is ultimately people. Something in that regard. It’s not more so what… How can I make the most money. That’s nice, but at the end of the day, it’s not rewarding. For me, I think it’s too early to tell what exact path I want to go down, but that’s the gist of it from a work and personal standpoint. As long as I’m working with people, and if I can make their day, then I think that’s a pretty successful day. Or life, you know.”

“That’s why I said this project you’ve got going on… that’s cool you thought about it yourself, it’s not like… even if it was part of a bigger organization, everyone has this individual challenge to try to meet. That’s cool. It’s creative. I like it.”

I share with him how he’s Stranger 56, and how the Strangers’ stories have been inspiring others in so many different ways. I tell him it’d be very interesting for him as a people person.

“Oh yeah. If I have access to them all… I’d see other people’s inputs. How are you similar? How are you different? What ideas can I take from these other people.”

“Like I said, that’s a cool concept.”

You like working with people. You like talking to people, but that means people will need to interact you. So in many ways, they have to like you as well. So what is it that you think about you that people like?

“One, I’m very laid-back. I’m easy to approach — approachable. I can talk about a lot of different stuff. Even if I’m having a brutally, painful, awkward small-talk with someone, I can still find a common ground to keep a conversation going. And like, yeah, I might be out of my comfort zone, but I can still have a conversation with someone, and end up being fruitful. Yeah, you can talk to your friends or coworkers who have similar interests, but it’s easy for me to talk to anybody about something. I’m not going to sit there and just, ‘hey, how’s it going?’ Definitely, some mornings, don’t talk to me. I’m tired. But I think it’s that approachable aspect to me. I’m not turned off to certain type of person based on whatever. I’ll talk to anyone.”

“It seems pretty basic, but I think a lot of people need to be like that more. Just open and accepting of that… everyone. That should go without saying, but things are, these days, rough.”

I talk to him about some of the things I’ve learned and noticed since starting this journey including how odd it is how we don’t connect or know many of the people around us day-to-day. Or how Simon Sinek pointed out in his book Start With Why how we are open to connecting with other Americans abroad even though they’re complete Strangers. Yet, at home in our day-to-day, we’re reticent to open up to the person next to us we don’t know.

“It’s interesting. Yeah, when you put it that way. Because I mean… it’s the same when you see someone with a Georgia or a Braves shirt somewhere else. Here, you don’t think anything of it. If you were in Texas or Virginia, you go to them and you’re like, ‘hey, you know, we have this mutual connection here!’ But then here, because it’s so normal or common, you’re numb to it. So it’s a good point. You can get to know the people around you on a deeper level, than just ‘hey, gym-goer’.”

What is your earliest memory? And why do you hold that as your earliest memory, and remembering it now and articulating it, what does that mean for you today? (Thanks to Natalie, Stranger 55)

“Earliest memory… man, that’s a deep question,” he laughs.

“I have a pretty good long-term memory. My short-term is pretty bad. You know, there are certain experiences I remember when I was 5 years old, 4 years old. While they’re simple and whatever, it’s still the house I was at, the friends that were around me. Yeah, those were obviously good times. I was 4 years old. Those people I ended up growing up with. Some moved away. Some I’m still kinda friends with. Some, unfortunately, passed away. It’s crazy to think 20 years later, how much… I mean, 20 years is a long time. A lot is going to change, but then you think about it, ‘like wow, everyone’s passed… went in very different directions.'”

He goes straight into his question he wants to ask…

“Bouncing off that same topic, how do you maintain your relationships with people?”

“How much do you keep in contact with your everyday friends? Your old friends? Because you never know… it’s hard to keep up with people you grew up with, went to school with, you worked with, switched jobs or something… relatives… Personally, I try to reach out to people as often as I can. Maybe once a month or maybe even sooner. Even if nothing’s going on, just like, ‘hey man, how’s it going?'”

How do you do that?

“I’ll text or, ‘hey man, I’ll give you a call or something sometime. Whenever your schedule’s free, just to catch up for 10 minutes.'”

“I think it’s just strained in some ways that relationship with friends and family. Like my grandparents, they’re obviously family, but they live 10 hours away. So I see them twice a year, but they’re getting pretty old. I think I do a better job now calling them more often rather than when my parents told me to. Now, it’s personally, I need to, and I want to, because time’s ticking. I think the same thing can do with your friends. ‘Hey man, how’s it going? Everything okay? Anything I can do for you?’ I think people…”

He catches himself, “rabbit’s trail, for sure…”

“But going back to it, I’d say, I think everyone should kind of do a better job of keeping in contact with each other. Watching out for each other. Stuff like that.”

After the handshake.

It was great to hear Joey take to this journey. He totally gets it as he’s a people person as well. Or perhaps more importantly, he values relationships and how we can all cultivate stronger relationships — with friends, family, and just those in our community.

I really didn’t know Joey much other than the big guy who lifts a good bit. Now, I get to know his passion and what fuels him beyond the protein. (Yes, that was a terrible, corny joke.) It’ll be great, too, for Joey to check out some of the Stranger stories here as he’ll likely recognize several from the gym.

Meet Joey. No longer a Stranger.

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