Stranger 63, Day 63 – Meet Chris, the “Consistently Inconsistent”

Stranger 63, Day 63 - Meet Chris

I started my day wondering where was I going to meet my Stranger today. I knew I would be going to the gym, to the office, to Starbucks, and to yoga. There would be so many opportunities. As I stepped onto my floor at work, I met my Stranger. In fact, he actually approached me.

We entered our floor together. In my mind, I was thinking, “I don’t know him, and I see him all the time. Maybe I should ask him now… I should put my stuff down first, and then see… or should I wait?”

Well, leave it to him to actually say hi to me, introduce himself, and say that he didn’t want to go everyday seeing each other and not know each other’s name. I laughed because of what was going through my head, and I told him about the project to which he happily accepted to be today’s Stranger.

With one condition…

Meet Chris, 34

Who are you?

“Who am I? Name? Or whatever?” He laughs. “I can tell you make it purposefully vague.” Haha, yup!

“Who am I? Good question. Some days, I don’t know.”

“… My name is Chris. I’m from Atlanta. I went to Georgia Tech. I have a degree in computer science. And the last four years, I’ve been running a business, but prior to that, I’ve always been in e-commerce. I’ve always been like a CTO-type person in an e-commerce company. So that’s who I am. I guess part of who you are is how you identify.”

“I grew up in the 90s, so that’s who I am. I saw the internet explode, but I didn’t grow up in it. I think there’s a big distinction between my generation and like the ‘millennials’. I don’t completely get them. But I did build a website in 1999. That was my first foray into programming. It went viral. I don’t think people realize how expensive web stuff was back then. I got a server built for $18,000 for like 90 GB of throughput which today would be laughable. And I only had 20 Megs of storage. So that’s who I am.”

“I’m a dad. I have a one-year-old.”

What were some of the learnings you have from so early on from the early internet age? How do you continue to carry that forward today?

“The two biggest learnings was that the reason the site went viral was not because I just flipped it up there, and left it. But because I flipped it up there, and I would tell people about it. Nobody would look at it; or, they wouldn’t go back. So then I’d change it. I’d tell people again. I kept iterating over it until one day, I just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to completely scrap this. I’m just going to put a bunch of funny videos on here’. The interesting thing was that I did not tell anyone else about it. I just changed it.”

“I guess somebody I’d told about it a few week ago saw it. He told someone. They told someone. That was probably the biggest learning for me — 1. whatever it is that you make that takes off, you just have to strike a chord. The eventual site, and everything it had on it, wasn’t what it started. What it started as was just five videos on a page. What it became was this big thing, but if I had tried to build that from the beginning, I wouldn’t never gotten started. That was the biggest learning.”

“The other learning was that when something does succeed, you have no question that it’s succeeding. Some people, I think, can get caught up in ‘Is this idea right? Is it working?’ If you don’t have a hit, it’s not flying off the shelves, it’s not it. You need to keep changing it.”

“Lastly, success will inevitably bring your first failure. Mine was that $18,000 server bill. I didn’t see that one coming. What I know now that I didn’t know then because I was a kid, is that solving those problems are what make you better. I could’ve gone out and gotten an investment. I could’ve done stuff like that. But I didn’t because I was young. I didn’t know any better.”

So when we think about right now, you’re doing a startup. You’ve run it for the last four years, and did something back in the 90s. First, what’d you do?

“Worked for big e-commerce companies. Always being new sites. I know a lot about the internet. Or mobile.”

“I also had a mobile app development firm for a little while.”

“So that’s what I did!”

What drives you today?

Chris takes his time to think about it. “It’s hard to put in words. But it’s something about autonomy and believing in anything is possible if you just do it.

What is a lesson you’d like to teach your daughter? Possibly values of diversity?

“It’s not about her. It’s about us.”

“Us” is…?

“Society. People. Family. Friends. The collective. I think people get too caught up in themselves.”

“What can you do for others? What can you do for not yourself? Not being about yourself is big. Listening. Learning. Taking in a different direction, can’t be all about you.”

What are a couple ways you’re doing that now? What’d you do yesterday for someone else?

“This guy reached out to me, and asked me about being a B2B e-commerce platform. Looking for one. So there was this old prospect that I had that blew me off, but I knew he had an e-commerce platform for his company that worked for him, and I wanted to know what it was. Give back to the other guy. It’s not going to benefit me — just information. That’s probably the biggest thing I do is I give people leads.”

I guess part of that, you like being that connector. I point out that he approached me this morning as one way. Is there anything that drives you to meet some of the people who are around?

“Well, remember what my WHY is. It’s independence and believing that anything is possible if you just do it. I think what drives me is I don’t know where my life is going to take me. Absolutely no idea. But I know that if I have faith, and if I just reach out to people, learn, act, do… something’s going to happen. I have a certain amount of…” He pauses and thinks what the right wording here is.

“I am consistently inconsistent.” Okay. Interesting. Let’s see where he goes with this.

“I try to do things I don’t normally do often. I find that it keeps my life interesting, and it helps me learn, and I meet new people like you. You know, I’m fodder for your website right now, but for all we know, we’re going to have a friendship. So that’s why I do it.”

Any relationships or happenstance meetings over the last few months where you’re like, “wow, that was such a cool meeting. Now, we’re friends. Or, we’re doing business together.” Something that you’re really proud of?

“Yeah, happens all the time. I met this guy walking down the street. I noticed he was coming from the Village. Started talking to him, and now his wife works with us.”

“Stuff like that happens all the time.” Sometimes, the most obvious connections are right in front of us…

What are you doing this weekend? (Thanks to Kevin, Stranger 62)

“I’m going to Fort Gaines, GA which is way south Georgia. It’s where my family’s from. For a craft fair with my family. It was a tradition that they’d always do, and I haven’t been since I was 10, so… That’s what I’m doing!”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What is it that you think is impossible that if someone was to show you the way, that you would believe is possible? What is it that you want, or that you’re trying to do, that feels impossible?”

After the handshake.

Chris’s condition to be today’s Stranger was to one day ask me these (or similar) questions. I happily accepted that as well.

Before we started “our meeting” we talked a little bit about this journey. He was interested in it, and I think largely because he’s a guy who meets Strangers all the time. He seems to really appreciate the serendipity of life, and how action really does shape how our paths go. He says he’s “consistently inconsistent.” I say I’m “comfortable being uncomfortable.” In any case, I think we’re cut from similar clothes.

Meet Chris. No longer a Stranger.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *