Stranger 66, Day 66 – Meet Andrew, the “Man with the Vibe”

Stranger 66, Day 66 - Meet Andrew

I met today’s Stranger walking around my office again. This time, I stopped by the coffee shop to say hello to Kellie, Stranger 31. Then, I continued walking around, and stopped by one guy working on his computer. I walked up and started talking to him, and he was immediately game on. In fact, he had an interesting energy about him from the get-go. He had an air of optimism, confidence, and just… something, I’m not sure. However, it was a great vibe from him, so let me introduce you to today’s Stranger…

Meet Andrew, 26

Who are you?

“My name is Andrew. Graduated from Hampton University in Virginia with my MBA. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial. Just moved down here to Atlanta about three months ago to expand the marketing agency that I have — started in the D.C. area. We like this market so we’re growing here. We have a new product that we’re releasing. That’s why we’re here at Atlanta Tech Village.”

“But yeah, been an entrepreneur for… going on four years now full-time. Really, really excited. I love what I do. I love meeting people. I think I’m pretty good at what I do, too, so I’m excited to take things to the next level.”

What got you into being an entrepreneur four years ago?

“I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, number one — just the knack for it. Started when I was young trying to always flip things or sell things on the school bus or whatever it is. Trying to always make a dollar. Have very frugal parents — Asian parents. So I had to get it on my own. If I want it, I had to get it. So I had that mentality when I was pretty young.”

“When I went to college, my freshman year, I set up a barbershop in my room. Started cutting everybody’s hair. Started making $5 an hour. I’d book out the whole day, and make a hundred bucks or whatever. After that, I saw another opportunity to actually become a DJ at my school. The DJ there was DJ Tay James. He was a senior, and I was a freshman. I was like, ‘hey, this guy’s graduating. This means there needs to be a new guy.’ So I kind of jumped in, learned the trade/ the craft, bought speakers and equipment shipped right to my dorm room, and learn a little bit under him. He ultimately left, and in a few years, became Justin Bieber’s DJ. The DJ before that was DJ Baby Drew which is Chris Brown’s DJ. Before that was Envy who’s with the Breakfast Club. Hampton has a pretty long lineage of very successful DJs. So I was right there behind them. I came in, did my thing. I took over. That allowed me to make a lot of money in college. That was cool. I was grinding and working every single night. Also gave me a lot of business experience, too — networking, business development, partnerships, when also throwing events and having equipment and renting those out. Just a lot of different business transactions. Just a lot… good and bad. Been sued. Sued others. Lost tens of thousands of dollars. All that when I was still 18, 19, 20. Ultimately, still doing what needed to be done, too. I was doing what I wanted to do which was finishing school. Getting my MBA.”

“Graduated. Went to work at Pepsi right after. I still wanted a bi-weekly check, so I said, ‘hey, let me go work for a Fortune 500 company’, with the intention to understand the system, the backend, the processes, the sales structure, all of that good stuff, financing of a big company. Take all of that knowledge and start a new company which is where I started the O Agency at the same time. This was back in 2013. So I started it at the same time. That was probably one of the hardest years because I was working from 4/5 AM to 4/5 PM at Pepsi. Then, go home and put in my time for the O Agency — 6 till 12/1/2. Wake back up at 4 o’clock, but I was still DJ’ing at the time, too. So I’d have contracts at different schools — basketball, football games. I would drive an hour. If it was a 6 o’clock game, do that. Double-header, 8 o’clock… that finishes at 10. Drive an hour back home. Try to put in a couple more hours for the agency till 1/2/3. Then, wake back up at 5 o’clock. I did that for an entire year, so that I could quit Pepsi.”

“And been doing this full-time ever since. Now, we have a new project we’re working on, and we’re pretty excited about it!”

So your project has opened up a space here in Atlanta, and you have a product.

“So we’ve historically always been a services-based industry. We’re working on moving towards the product-based industry now which has allowed us to get into the Atlanta Tech Village with a more tech/ product-focused business. So now, we haven’t launched, yet. Plan on launching early 2017. It’s basically a platform. The goal of it is an educational and media play. We’re talking about lots of users — daily active users. That’s the main metric, right? After that, converting whether it’s an upsell, downsell, or subscription, whatever it is. We’re helping a lot of… well, I guess the difference between us, we’re attacking a market that really, really needs it. It’s an educational platform, but we’re helping to teach and diversify the tech and entrepreneurship industry. I’m talking about minorities, everybody — African Americans, Asians, Latinos. All of that because there’s a niche where, I want to say it’s under-tapped, but we know that’s where the world is going. We know by 2040, Americans will be a minority-driven nation. There’s a lot of opportunities for a brand to come in and capture that market and build relationships in that field and grow as the economy and as the market grows with it for this sector of education and tech and entrepreneurship.”

You’ve grinded pretty hard for a while there. I’m sure you’ve had some opportunities to be a DJ for someone sort of like your other Hampton alumni. Why go down the business route? What kind of advice would you give in that way?

“I think that I became really good at DJ’ing. That was a skill, but the reality is, I really didn’t like DJ’ing. I really, really enjoyed branding and marketing myself as a DJ, and growing that. The reality is that I wasn’t even the best DJ. But I had the best relationships. I had the best brand. I had the best connections, etc. etc. which really allowed me to get booked every single weekend, and become the face of that school and all of that. That led onto me working with some of my friends — testing my skills. Next thing you know, we’re on an East Coast tour doing all types of stunts. Getting on TV and all that stuff. Again, as the journey continued, my true love and passion is in branding and marketing. Good thing is, whatever business I pick now, I can pretty much use those skills to take you really, really far.”

“I think most people get… I forget. There was a really, really good quote from Steve Harvey.” He forgot a while, but then went and Googled it.

“Do not ignore your gift. Your gift is the thing you do the absolute BEST with the LEAST amount of effort.” – Steve Harvey

“He was talking about the difference between your gifts and your passions. I think a lot of people get trapped into this whole ‘passion’ — follow your passion, love and all that good stuff. But people will sometimes, I don’t want to misinterpret, but sometimes, your gift isn’t necessarily your passion. What he said, ‘do not ignore your gift’. It’s natural. You’re innate to it. The road is bumpy, regardless of the road you take.”

“I know it’s very, very similar when you talk about passions and gifts and following your dreams… all that good stuff. I think a lot of people get confused. Sometimes, I say, ‘don’t pursue your passion, pursue with passion.’ A lot of times people don’t know what they don’t know, too. You think this is your passion till it gets hard, it gets tough, and you quit or whatever. A lot of times, you really, really gain clarity on what your life’s purpose is, or what your gifts are — this will allow you go with life a little easier. There’s the whole dream, and what you want to do, but then, there’s also the reality. What you need to survive. You have to make money, and all that good stuff, too. You have to be able to just coordinate it and balance it correctly. Don’t get lost in the sauce!”

If you could describe yourself in 3-5 words?

“Humble, confident, and faithful.”

What are the happiest moments of your life, and what are the saddest moments? (Thanks to Victor, Stranger 65)

Andrew laughs for a moment. “Oh man… literally, I’ve had the happiest and saddest moments of my life this year.”

“This year… literally, the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows. I guess it just comes with the amount of success plus also — and this is why I said faith is so important to me because ultimately (and this is just to me) when I put too much faith or trust in things and people, and just some worldly stuff, it can tend to fail you. So for me, personally, I put my faith to something that’s higher and above me.”

“That was my lesson this year, but I’ve had the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows with just the success of the business. But also, understanding at any moment, it can get taken away if I’m not just humble by everything that goes around me everyday, and just appreciate all that good stuff.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I guess I would say… just want to throw something out there… have you ever been betrayed? And what did you do?”

After the handshake.

I really enjoyed meeting Andrew. I’ve gotten along great with many Strangers, and have had some good connections. However, there was something real special with Andrew, and I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps because I appreciated how much he grinded working such long hours, but doing things that he really enjoyed. He set himself up for success, or at the least, the attempt at something greater by working long in the morning and into the night. He was good at what he did before, and he saw how he was following in the footsteps of some notable DJs making good money. However, that wasn’t his passion. That’s something big and telling… something I can really get behind.

I also appreciated his realization of the difference between what you’re good at and your passion. He said, “don’t pursue your passions, pursue with passion”. Not sure if I fully agree, but I can see his point. I suppose in a perfect world, you would do both. In fact, I like to say that you should find yourself in the intersection of three circles — what you love doing, what you’re good at, and what you get paid to do. (I have this in a Venn Diagram drawn up somewhere, but I can’t find it. D’oh!)

Great to connect and meet Andrew, and I’m excited for all the great things to come for him. Today was just the beginning at ATV. Will be great for the entire community not just here at ATV, but in Atlanta.

Meet Andrew. No longer a Stranger.

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  1. […] the two were able to meet since they’re both good people. I’ll also make the intro to Andrew, yesterday’s Stranger, who spent some years DJ’ing as […]

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