Stranger 88, Day 88 - Meet Kelley

Stranger 88, Day 88 – Meet Kelley, the “Photographic Nomad”

I ventured outside my normal today, but only because I actually had a meeting with a prospect. The meeting was at a coworking space in Buckhead near my office. I was excited to walk around the space, and find today’s Stranger.

As I wrapped up my meeting and was walking towards the exit, I spun my head around (because my head’s on a swivel like Beetle Juice). I noticed a woman working diligently on her computer in a conference room. The door was open, so “what the hey!” as they say. (Note: I say it, too.)

The woman looked up and, for a moment, gave me that “uh oh, what do you want” look, but that quickly dissipated and turned to a big smile. That smile would remain a constant throughout our meet with the occasional curled lip as she thought about my questions to get to know her.

Meet Kelley, 32

Who are you?

“I am a photographer!…? From Atlanta…? And… I don’t know. That’s it!” She says she’s a photographer and she’s from Atlanta with an intonation that starts out excited before curling back up into sounding like a question.

“… and I’m just here!”

Where’s “here”?

“Here is… well, I guess it’s in Atlanta, but don’t necessarily want to be here for the rest of my life. I’ve been here 10 years. So, what I really want to do is one day be able to just travel the world, and just always be traveling… kind of like a gypsy. We’ll say a nomad.” She laughs.

Why do you want to be a nomad?

“Well, I’ve never really liked boundaries or boxes like that.” Uh oh. I just realized I closed the door to the conference room we were in. I just closed the box…

“… just being in one place. I used to move a lot. I didn’t realize until later that it’s actually what I prefer — changing my scenery and changing where I’m going, just so that you don’t get bored. And I’m a photographer. I would get bored very quickly staying in the same place, and always seeing the same things.”

Actually, yesterday, the Stranger (her name is Emily, Stranger 87) is getting into photography, too. Her father is always an accomplished photographer. So, let me ask you a question that I asked her. What do you like to take photographs of?

“I like to take photographs of people that are not paying attention. So just real life.”


“Yes. But really, real real-life. Like people just doing random things. Doesn’t even have to be something specific. That’s just how I see. When I walk around, I just see that. I’m a natural observer, so I like taking photos of just life happening.”

Thinking about one of those pictures that you took that really resonated with you — very powerful to you. Can you describe that picture?

Kelley thinks about this for a moment. “There’s probably a few. I do a lot of hands… sometimes. Hands or feet. For some reason, those photos seem to tell a better story than the person’s actual face. I don’t know why. I think it might be just because of our point-of-views usually like our hands or just other things. So every time somebody’s just doing something with their hands, for whatever reason, they stick out to me.” She pauses for a moment, and asks herself out loud, “I wonder why? Something about hands…”

“I feel like they just tell a better story than the person’s actual face.”

What is the story your hands tell you?

“I think they tell me how I’m feeling of where I am. Usually, not hands on phones. I don’t really take those photos. But, just like if I’m taking a picture of a bride, and she’s getting ready. Her hands tell a lot about how she’s actually feeling. She might be doing something like this or fidgeting.” Kelley holds up her hands with fingers interlaced. “She doesn’t realize it because she’s making sure her face looks nice. But I can tell how she actually feels through her hands. I don’t know. Something about that speaks more than the person’s face.”

“Your face can lie, but your hands will be like… they’re doing something.”

So very much body language is very important to you.

“Yeah, because the way I shoot is more so I try to invoke a feeling or bring through feeling more so than surface value, if that makes sense.”

“So pose portraits, those don’t bring forth the true feeling as much as just a candid.” She strikes a pose to illustrate her point. “So those are my favorite.”

I’m looking at my hands now which are stretched out in front of me resting on the table. Fingers are interlaced. I ask her what does this say.

She laughs. “You’re in deep thought. You’re thinking of the next question.” Makes sense. We laugh together.

So you’re a nomad….

“Try to be…”

You’re a wannabe nomad. You love to stare at people’s hands and feet. (We laugh again.) I guess, what brought you to where you are today? Not just here in Atlanta or photography, but what brought you to where you are? Was there a life-defining moment that put you on this path?

“I think that I put a lot of stuff out in the universe that I want, and I don’t always know exactly what it is. But I do trust that I’ll get there — whatever it is, and I’ll figure it out. So actually when I’m looking back, I actually ask for all the different steps that led me to here. It’s really weird, but… photography, I’ve just been doing that since I was little. And then, I’ve just always wanted to be my own boss. Never put those two together — they’re very far points. And one day, we just bought a camera to take pictures of some t-shirts, and somehow that rolled out into a business where people pay me to take photos of their lives. I don’t know how.”

“But yeah. When I look back, I realize every step, or everything there was a reason, a purpose for everything. I don’t look at anything as a mistake or failure. They’re just like lessons, or shaping you to the next place. That’s really what I do.”

“I don’t even now where I’m going. I don’t even know what’s the final stop!”

Thinking about the pictures and the feelings, I’m curious what does taking pictures or photographs mean to you?

“Well, I used to move around a lot. And I always had one of those little Kodak cameras because I knew when I was moving. I was in a different school every year because my parents were divorced. So I just started taking pictures to remember things… to remember my memories. I was, obviously, the only person that carried around a camera — WEIRDO!” she exclaims. Haha

“I would take pictures of people, and just people I wanted to remember. I would have books and books of the actual…” she resets. “When you go to CVS to print out photos. I just think that was just a way for me to remember my life because I knew it was always going to be changing. That’s why I never put 2 and 2 together that it was a business. I was just trying to preserve my own memories.”

Makes sense! I think right now, like you said, and I think what you said was interesting — to take pictures of people at events and their special moments. It means a lot to them the pictures. Was curious what those pictures meant to you.

“Yeah, just me trying to take pictures for myself. That turned into people wanting me to take pictures of them. I was like, ‘Sure! That’s fine.'”

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? (Thanks to Emily, Stranger 88)

“If I wasn’t afraid, I would contact Vogue magazine, and ask them to look at my work.”

But I would never do that,” she very, very quietly whispers.

“You would never do that?” I whisper back to her.

“I mean, I am. One day, I will be on the cover. But I don’t want them…” She explains, ‘I have to be in a better place first. So basically, I don’t think I’m good enough, yet.”

What are some of the steps to get there?

“I am working on getting clients that have awesome locations, or want to do things that would be considered, I guess, cool for Vogue — so, I would be able to show them. Or, that they would actually be interested in.”

“Like, I have a wedding in Iceland. So I thought that, like, take pictures and then maybe I’ll feel like contacting somebody.” She laughs. “I guess.”

So now, it’s your turn. What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“A question that I would ask the next Stranger is… are you doing everything you can to be happy?”

“I like to know if people are actually happy in their lives. Or just to get them to think about it.”

After the handshake.

Kelley was fantastic. She had great energy, and I enjoyed getting to know how much she appreciated the details that are more often than not, go unnoticed. Oftentimes, we notice the details of the bigger things like maybe it’s the smile of a person’s face or the light wrinkles of experience on someone’s face. Kelley appreciated the more nondescript part of the person — his/ her hands (and feet).

After our little Stranger introduction, we talked a little bit longer. She had a huge smile, and like other Strangers, she was glowing. She shared how she was just… happy, and that she felt great to talk to someone on a deeper level. We spoke for about 15 minutes, and I could tell that brief moment made her morning and that energy would carry through for the rest of the day.

Meet Kelley. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 74, Day 74 - Meet Stan

Stranger 74, Day 74 – Meet Stan, the “Provider”

I’m on a real get-to-know-the-people-you-lift-near vibe at the moment, so I met today’s Stranger at the gym. In fact, he’s another person I’ve been wanting to get to know, but we’ve both been pretty focused on our routines, that we don’t talk. He was about to exit the building, too, but luckily, I just finished my workout, and I did the normal thing to chase him as he reached the door. He had to get to work in 40-ish minutes, but he still agreed to sit down for a few minutes and share his story.

Meet Stan, 30

Who are you?

“Father. Two kids. Married. Working man,” he laughs. “That’s about it.”

Your email contains “imagine”. What is that?

“I used to rap, BUT I stopped because I got married. Working out is just my passion. I had this little thing called Imagine JR. That was just my little theme for the time being. So I just kept it over the years. It’s not professional, but I just kept it because everybody has that email.”

You used to do it, so it used to be a pretty big passion. Do you still do it on the side?

“No. No. I just love music. That’s about it. I don’t rap anymore.”

What’d you love about rap before?

“Well, I started when I was 5. So I started way before everybody else tried to even get on. But…” he pauses. “Yeah, when everybody started doing it, as I got older, it just seemed like a hoop dream. I had a lot to take care of. That’s pretty much how I came to a halt.”

Then working out has since become a passion.

“Yeah. My health has always been a passion.”

He admitted, “I used to be bullied as a kid actually, because I was smaller than everybody. I went to high school 90 pounds. I was just the target, so I started lifting weights. I started getting bigger, and yeah.” He laughs.

Bullying is an interesting and tough thing. I was slightly bullied at a couple times when I was younger. However, it’s become more of an important issue to me as I have a little niece. As I put my niece in that perspective if she was ever bullied, it breaks my heart. So I wanted to ask some questions about this to Stan — How did you cope with that?

“Well, the school I went to was very… ghetto.” He laughs. “So, it was pretty much fight or get picked on and then they’ll beat you up. So I had to beat up the bully. That’s pretty much how people stopped messing with me!” He laughs some more.

“So I had to fight to get out of that. Once they saw, ‘Oh, Stan’s strong!’ They stopped. Immediately. I just kept on working out from there.”

You’ve got two kids (son is 3, daughter is 1). What are you going to teach them about bullying but also about respecting others?

“We’re Christian. So, my son is… is deep in the Word right now. Every time he does something or I do something he doesn’t like, he says, ‘God doesn’t like that’.” He laughs again.

“Even if it’s right or wrong, his number one thing is ‘God doesn’t like that’. So he can get his way.” Haha

“Yeah. I teach them morals of what’s right, what’s wrong. I want to teach them to run their own business. Of course, my children are going to be strong… working out-wise. I want to teach them to be on top. Not to work for somebody. That’s the direction I want to take them.”

What is your Dream and goal?

“My Dream and goal is… I really can care less about myself. I’m more so focused on my children. I want them to be better than me. I want them to really be way better than everything I’ve ever done. As far as what I’m teaching, I’m big on that. I’m not going to push them to the point they’re tired of me, but I’m going to show them the route and everything. My life really consists of providing for my family and making sure they get everything they need to succeed.”

I think about this as I look around at every one else who is a father and mother — how do you still be authentically you other than living for your kids and wife? Is that even possible?

“The gym is my LIFE! I go to sleep thinking about the next day in the gym. I’m here 5-7 everyday, Monday-Friday. If I could get in on Saturday, I will be here. This is what makes me happy.”

“And I’m also an artist. So drawing and getting in the gym… my day’s complete! So, I mean I pray before I get to the gym. I keep God first. This is my passion. I’m here.” He’s smiling and motioning to “here” as he speaks.

If you were in a bad situation, and you didn’t know it, would you want to know? Or would you want to live in like blissful ignorance? (Thanks to Kailee, Stranger 73)

“Well, that’s a trick question. I don’t want to know my future. But, I don’t want to live ignorant. I would want to better myself so I’ll look at it as whatever situation that happens, I’ll let it happen and be prepared next time to not let it happen. But I don’t want to know the future.”

I wasn’t sure if I had relayed Kailee’s question very well, so I expanded on the question using a “practical situation” where his company was doing something shady. Would he want to know, or would he rather live in the “blissful ignorance”?

“Yeah, well, in that case, yeah. But in the fortune teller sense, no.” Stan laughs, and thinks.

“If I knew something was wrong, yes, I most definitely would like to know — what’s going on? Where’s the future of this company headed in order to get out of it. Yeah, most definitely.

What is a question you’d like to ask?

Stan asked if I meant someone who’s really successful or not. I said I wasn’t sure who I was going to walk up to and speak to tomorrow.

“I would like to walk up to the most successful person in the world, Warren Buffet… there’s even a guy in here who’s an undercover millionaire, and if I could go up to him and he’ll give me a million dollars, I wouldn’t even ask for that. I would just ask him, ‘how did you do it?’ I want an authentic answer. I don’t just the B.S. he gives everybody. All I want to know is how. That way, I can either do it, or I can push my child in that same direction. Even Bill Gates got into computers when he was [young]. But I want to get my children into computers, and get them on that right path. Just follow in his footsteps vs. going to pre-K. Going to elementary. High school. College. I don’t want them to take that path because that’s the same path everybody’s going. But the select few that’s doing bigger than that… whose owning corporations, who owns this gym. I’m pretty sure they didn’t sit in class, and go to college. I’m pretty sure they did something different. I wouldn’t be surprised the majority of people of the corporation dropped out of school. Dropped out of college. There’s more to life than sitting in somebody’s classroom.”

“To answer that question, I want knowledge vs. a handout.”

I tell Stan that I’m not sure if I’ll speak to a millionaire tomorrow, but I could phrase the question in such a way so that tomorrow’s Stranger can share how he/ she is successful in whatever capacity — look for something non-conventional, if available.

“I think everything I got in my life was God-given. Everything. Because every aspect of my life, every time I lost a job, I always got a job that makes more money. Lose a job, more money. Lose a job, more money. So I believe God is taking care of me. Even my previous job before the one I have… I got a house. I have bills. I got a mortgage. So…” he laughs.

“The thing about that is I was working at FedEx. I don’t even know how I was surviving. $8.50 an hour! I don’t even know how I was taking care of my house, feeding my family, and paying everything. Now, I’m making more money and doing the same thing, I don’t understand how that was even possible!” he laughs and says incredulously.

After the handshake.

I’ve seen Stan at the gym. A lot. I mean, he’s there every weekday 5-7. However, I also saw him running up Stone Mountain once. At the time, he was running up one of the steeper grades carrying a kid on his shoulders who happened to be his nephew. I said hello to him then much as I give him the head-nod-hello at the gym. Suffice to it say, it’s about darn time we met for real.

Stan’s view on the world is a bit different than my own. His perspective on life is centered around his children, and providing for them. Much of what we talked about was about his kids. Even his question to tomorrow’s Stranger was about learning how to achieve success for his kids (and likely for himself, too) without following a template. I suspect he doesn’t fit into the normal “template” that even I’m accustomed to as someone who went through the many levels of education here including grad school. My path post grad-school may otherwise be less template-like having done my own startups and even this journey. However, he’s acutely interested in these “millionaires” to which he has great deference for. Perhaps I interact with lots of people who have the millions and billions, and what resonates to me is not so much on the money as much as it is on the life style and the pursuit of passion. But that, again, is my view as a single guy with no kids. I’m not a provider, so to hear Stan’s perspective is an enlightening one that highlights the focus those closer to me who have families.

Meet Stan. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 71, Day 71 - Meet Alex

Stranger 71, Day 71 – Meet Alex, the “Apparel Designer”

I met Alex at a retailer in the mall this morning. I really don’t like going to malls especially so close to the holidays. However, I wanted to check something out, so I went to the mall before it opened. When the store I was interested in finally opened, it was slow enough to ask the associate I was working with if he’d be my Stranger today, to which he was happy to do so.

And mind you, I told him I wasn’t going to buy anything today. In fact, I had already scoped out the product for a while before saying I would wait. (Just in case you were wondering he accepted just to complete a sale.) 🙂

Meet Alex, 26

Who are you?

“Young, professional trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Definitely still figuring it out. Day at a time. Not really knowing what’s going on. Not planning. Just jumping in, waking up, and just doing it.”

What are your passions?

“Apparel design. Outside of here, I, actually, have my own apparel design company that I’ve been working on launching for the last thee years.”

When are you going to do that?

“Hoping by the end of 2017.”

Why did you want to get into apparel design?

“My mom. I’ve always admired her, and she used to sew when I was a kid. I picked it up off of her.”

What did she sew for you?

“For me, Halloween costumes,” he laughs. “She did all of my costumes.”

What was your favorite?

“She made me a White Power Ranger costume because we couldn’t find my size.”

How else has she inspired you?

“Being the strong individual that she is. She’s very strong. Always motivated. Never negative. Smile on her face 24/7 even if she’s having a bad day. Definitely someone I aspire to be when I’m older, for sure.”

When you think about designing clothes and building that brand, are there any values or anything she’s done to inspire you that you want to make sure you carry over into that brand?

“Just passion and motivation. Make sure every piece shows there’s passion behind it and not have it as a second thing.”

What kind of fashion do you want to design?

“Women’s evening wear. I actually went to school for that.” He tells me how he went to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Meanwhile, I notice he has an Ohio State University bow tie on, and ask if he’s going to be supporting them for the game today (pretty much a given, but was curious where/ what he might add on to this).

“I am, and unfortunately, I’m stuck here!” he laughs. “The biggest game of the year, and I’m stuck here!” We’re referring to the OSU-Michigan game today in a Top-5 clash.

Why THE Ohio State?

“My dad went there. His whole family went there. I started my undergrad there, and then transferred to SCAD to finish it.”

Anything else that you’re really, really passionate about?


Why is football such an influential sport and part of our culture?

“Culturally, I’m not 100% sure. I know I do it because it’s the one thing that bonds my father and me. Yeah, football’s the one thing that bonds us together; whereas, my mom and I have always had a strong bond my entire life. My dad and I only bond on Saturdays during football season.” Alex laughs again.

Thinking about that bonding… what was your earliest bonding experience with your dad?

“When I was 10, he actually took me up to the Ohio State campus to watch the Michigan. We were at the 50-yard line.” So today was a real big day for Alex given today’s Ohio State game against Michigan.

“It’s a big day more so personally than it is actually for the game just because it is the BEST memory I had with my dad.”

Alex’s dad will be able to watch, and Alex will be at the store listening. I asked him if they were going to be texting throughout to which Alex responded, “Of course. Of course. As long as my other managers don’t talk to me, I’ll be good.” He laughs.

Going back to your passion of apparel design where do you see that going? Where do you want that to go?

“I mean, I’ll always aim big. Hopefully be a huge design like Dior and McQueen and all that. On a smaller scale, I, more so, want to work with different philanthropy programs, and work on maybe donating to different charities and use my name for positive instead of just fame.”

Why do you want to do that?

“It’s just always been something my mom’s instilled in me. Always make sure people know you came from humble beginnings. Don’t forget where you came from.”

I realize, too, that Alex is working in a retailer who really doesn’t have any apparel.

He admits that he hates folding clothes.

“And working with accessories and luggage, I’m learning a different side of the industry without having to hate the side that I actually love, if that makes sense.”

I asked him for some fashion tips given I have had some… constructive criticism at times. (Hey, I’m always trying to learn.)

“Style is something you acquire, not something that you learn.” Hmm, I hope I can learn something still!

So I asked him for a fashion tip for me/ men.

Alex instructs me, “Don’t wear flip-flops in public. Unless you’re going to a pool, a beach, or a gym locker room, don’t wear flip-flops.”

He adds, “hate when guys wear sneakers with suits. And then black shoes with a brown belt. Never do that.” *phew* I haven’t committed any fashion faux pas recently.

For me, I wanted some direct advice.

“I say always just go with what feels good on your body. Because at the end of the day, if you’re not confident in what you’re wearing, you’re not going to look good. Always make sure you’re confident in what you’re wearing, and don’t really care about what other people think.”

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? At any point in time, what would you change? (Thanks to Bruce, Stranger 70)

“That’s really tough. I probably would’ve stayed at Ohio State to finish my degree.” His degree was in early childhood education.

“And probably not be working in retail if I had done that. Probably stay and finish my original degree instead of transferring for a passion. And then, while working in that field go to classes for the passion. That’s probably what I would change.”

“Definitely, I would’ve focused more and stuck with the smarter route instead of… go with my head and not with my heart.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“That is so tough.” He thinks. “Just cut all the crap and go deep…” Of course, if he wants to go deep. Doesn’t have to.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years? That’s a question I ask everyone. I feel like knowing someone’s future plans helps get to know them as a person now.”

After the handshake.

It’s been a few hours, but I’m still thinking about what Alex said about not pursuing his passion while in school, and instead, focus on the “rational” (or as he put it, “smarter route”). I think there’s a lot of commotion for people to follow their passions, and that’s indeed something I espouse. However, there’s also an element of diving into your passion without a safety net. The logic here is that you’re backed into a corner and have to make that passion/ business work. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Instead, it’s just making that decision and executing. For Alex, there is no reset button on college. He’s instead building his brand while doing what he needs to to live.

I also appreciated Alex sharing his earliest (/ fondest) memory with his father and how it coincided with the OSU football game. When I think back to one of my fondest memories with my dad growing up, I think about how we would go to a local baseball batting cage about 8PM. I’d be done with my homework, and he’d be done with work. We’d drive about 15 minutes to the batting cages (Grand Slam in Norcross), and I would practice for about an hour. After then, we would to a fast-food restaurant (The Varsity in Norcross) and order big things of ice cream in waffle cones (I would get simple vanilla while he’d get mint chocolate chip). We’d sit in my dad’s (and later mine) ’88 4Runner. We’d have so much ice cream that it’d start to melt, and he would show me to put the ice cream upside down in a cup so the ice cream wouldn’t drip everywhere. I’d then use a spoon to eat it. We’d sit there for about 30 minutes just eating. And I remember a cop walking up to our car sharing with us how much he loved his ’88 4Runner, and how he had taken off the fiberglass top to drive it convertible-style and had considered getting a “bikini top” for it. I include some details (just a small fraction) because that’s how vivid that memory was for me, and how powerful it was. I imagine Alex has a similar memory with his father at the game 16 years ago. Stories like Alex’s make me relive my own memories and recall so many great experiences and relationships.

Meet Alex. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 4, Day 4 - Meet Dasha

Stranger 4, Day 4 – Meet Dasha, the “Artist”

Here’s a great reason why I’m doing this journey, too — I walk around Atlanta Tech Village everyday. I see a ton of different people all the time, and they’re usually the same people. And yet, I know very little about them. We give little smiles that say, “yeah, I see, but I think it’s weird to say hello”. Well now that I have 100 straight days to talk to new people, I’m now embracing this opportunity to meet the beautiful faces of ATV.

Today, I got to meet Dasha.

Meet Dasha, 25

How would you describe yourself?

“I am…” Dasha laughs here and looks away, “… a sci-fi fantasy enthusiast and self-proclaimed artist”.

Dasha and I laugh as she admits she’s usually shy, except for once she feels comfortable and knows someone. Well, we had only a few minutes to get there.

Given Dragon-Con just happened in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend, I was curious less about if she went (of course she did), and more interested in what she dressed as — “Leela from Futurama,” she happily shares.

She was born in Belarus before moving States-side in ’92 with her mother, father, and sister. She continues that she’s “awkward and introverted”, but from our few minutes since truly meeting each other, I don’t get “awkward” at all. Instead, I see — no, I experience! — someone who is ecstatic to share who she is. I experience someone who’s excited about life.

What are your passions? Your dreams?

“To write a children’s novel and illustrate it.” Dasha wants to take her interests in sci-fi fantasy, teaching, writing, and art into a book to teach children to think deeper. She first got into reading after getting a book from her sister (her first sci-fi novel) to which has opened her eyes ever since. In fact, she wants to co-create the book with her sister.

At this point, Dasha has peppered our talk saying, “we”. Whether she knew it or not, she was letting on how close she is and how much she cares of her sister.

Having immigrant parents (excluding the fact that she was herself also an immigrant), what do you get/ learn from them that perhaps others don’t?

Dasha and her family moved to the States from Belarus to receive medical help from Northside Hospital (mother has had a long bout with cancer, and she’s still fighting strong).

Ever since moving to the States, Dasha’s parents were quick to adapt and immerse the family into American culture as quickly as possible. They did not want to be seen as outsiders and coming over with very little, the parents worked extremely hard to provide Dasha and her sister with a “normal” life — taking on several English classes, quick to acquire jobs, integrating Dasha and her sister into five sports a week, a house (the American Dream), etc.

Having read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and having immigrant parents myself, I hypothesized Dasha likely took on many of the same traits of her parents — fighters, highly adaptable, independent. In fact, “independent,” Dasha laughed, “would be the one word that describes me”.

What was your biggest regret?

Ever since Dasha was young, she dreamed of living in New York, and so she kinda did. She was there for 11 months some 1.5 years ago. However, with her boyfriend back in Atlanta, and with a job she did not enjoy, she rarely left the house. She admits to not allowing herself to “strive there more”.

Looking back at the dream she had of New York and finally having the opportunity to, she wished she had put herself in more situations… to let herself grow.

What was your great achievement?

“Proud of myself… used to be too shy to share my art and my writing.”

Dasha has learned to overcome her timidness while building confidence in herself. She wants to develop skills in art and realizes feedback drives growth.

What is a life lesson you’d like to share?

“Don’t keep doing something if you wake up not excited. Find something that makes you happy and share with people.”

For Dasha, she has found that being more open has enabledher to be a better person. She grew up always loving art, but no one knew of this passion. When she finally shared with family and friends, she found supporters everywhere. Friends and family consistently encouraged her to practice her passion. I saw in her eyes how much this meant to her and how just… HAPPY this made her… how it happy is MAKES her.

What was your Life-Defining Moment?

Living abroad in Venice, Italy –“first time all alone”. By living alone, Dasha was able to experience life by relying on not just herself, but complete strangers (*gasp!*).

The experience abroad helped her appreciate everything about life, especially her love of art. It was in Venice where Dasha started to draw more and more. It gave her space and time to take a step back… “time to think where to take life in the future”.

Also, her top 3 places to travel:

  1. Slovenia
  2. Ireland
  3. Sicily (Venice was up a close fourth)

What’s a question I should ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

What has been the Stranger’s most valuable relationship? Who and why?

After the handshake.

Dasha is going to bring some art so I can share a picture of with you. So stay tuned.

Otherwise, I enjoyed connecting with Dasha on our commonalities with foreign-born parents and reminiscing how we have both taken on the independence and work ethics of our parents. Also, Dasha’s story about New York (and Venice) hit home for me as I consider living in the present. I’m doing what I love now at SalesWise, and I know it’s a stepping stone. But as I take on projects like 100 Strangers, 100 Days and my separate Entrepreneurial Ninja blog, I need to ensure I live life in the present.

Well, let’s hope I don’t create more projects. 🙂

Meet Dasha — no longer a Stranger.