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Stranger 101, Day 101 - Meet Me
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BONUS ROUND: Stranger 101, Day 101 – Meet Me, the “Doer”

So, I wanted to throw in an M Night Shyamalan-esque twist for my 100th Stranger. After all, I had a lot of different people want to get to know me better. Meanwhile, most of my meetings with Strangers was in one direction — myself getting to know them.

However, I miscalculated thinking the 100th Strangers would be the 26th. Instead, it was yesterday — Christmas. It was difficult to find someone who would interview me on Christmas Day. Note: I originally wrote a post interviewing myself from the original bank of questions waaayyy back when I started. I wanted to use that, but seeing as this journey has evolved to be more conversational, I wanted someone to interview me.

Instead, I met a terrific woman named Toccoa yesterday on Christmas Day. So today, would be my BONUS ROUND, and I asked my good friend, Don, to interview me as Stranger 101, Day 101.

I’ll let him now “be me” while meeting me as a Stranger…


When Daryl asked me to interview him, I was a tad intimidated. He’s an expert. He has interviewed over 100 Strangers. What qualifies me to interview him? Yes, I was the first person with whom he shared the idea for this project. However, I think the most important reason is that I know Daryl very well. We’ve been best friends for over a decade. I understand him on a level that many don’t, and a major key to this project are Daryl’s internal motivations. After coming to that realization, I was ready to channel my inner Terry Gross (shout-out to NPR).

Meet Me, 31

Alright. So, we have Daryl Lu… Founder of 100 Strangers, 100 Days. The first question I would like to ask you is, “Who are you?”

“You forgot to ask for my birthday.”

I have to ask you for your birthday?! You didn’t say anything! You didn’t say I had to ask! Is that required?! What is your birthday? Sorry.

“31. Actually, it’s my age, not my birthday. Alright, so who am I? Who am I…”

“I am a doer! I like to call myself a doer. Because… I love to not make excuses. When I had this idea, for example, I had the idea coming down the mountain. Then, I called you immediately. Then within two hours, I was interviewing my first Stranger. Six hours later, the website was up! So for me, I love to not make excuses. I love to inspire others.”

“Or rather, my personal mission – to change the lives/ the world for the greater through entrepreneurial endeavors. To be an entrepreneur, it’s not about ideas. It’s about execution; so, I love to do things.”

“Yeah.”

So, why this project? What inspired you to interview 100 Strangers? That’s a Stranger every single day for more than three months. Why?

“Uhh, I’ve had so many – well, I think I’m in a really great place today. And, I’m the product of the great people who put me here. That’d be inclusive of my family, my friends, even Strangers who I come into contact with and somehow form some great connections. Meanwhile, we’re getting lost in our phones. We’re not texting back. We’re not emailing. We’re not calling. We just… don’t take time out for those people we love.”

“I think that we should also love the people who are around us in the community. So, this was to inspire others who ask me all the time how do I know so many people. How many people – great people – with all different backgrounds. It’s purely because I say hello, and then, I like to go a little bit beyond the hello, as I like to say.”

“So, this project, or this journey, has been to inspire others to connect with those around them. As well as, to show people when you have a little passion or you want to start something interesting, it’s not hard to start. The hardest part is being sustainable, but you can sustain something that is as simple as one Stranger-a-day.”

Have you, I guess, if someone doesn’t know you, have you always been the type to just go up and talk to Strangers, and get to know them? Or is this just kind of a continuation of what you’ve always done, like when you were a kid? How do you go, and approach Strangers? Were you always this extroverted?

“Definitely not.” I laugh.

“I grew up introverted. Then, I decided that – well, not decided, but I saw how hard my father worked for my family. So, I’ve always wanted to be a business owner. Then, through Boy Scouts and soccer teams, alike, and all the great people around me, I said that I always wanted to be more than just a business leader. So even though I grew up being introverted, I made it a habit of being comfortable being uncomfortable.”

“For me, that meant meeting people, and being more extroverted. Back in college, I did a Senior Design project, I made sure to volunteer for every single presentation. Not being I loved doing presentations, but because I wanted to be accustomed to that feeling. Since then, I used to be really to myself. Didn’t even want to get hugs or anything else. But over the last… oh my gosh, it’s almost been 8-10 years now!” I realize. “I now just try to meet the great people around me.”

“So, this is kind of a continuation of that. Continue that effort, but… yeah.”

It sounds like this is not just a social experiment on other, random people, but also, an experiment on yourself. Right?

“Yup! Yup…” I laugh.

What have you learned about others? And also, about yourself during this process?

“So… when it comes to others, I’ve learned that – think I have like an 80% acceptance rate. I think that’s pretty phenomenal. People are willing to say hello, and allow me to get to know them better. Even to share their story. If I was include people who weren’t comfortable with the picture, but still wanting to get to know, I think that number would probably more like 90-95%. So, I’ve learned that a lot of people are very open to meet. Just take the time to get to know them. A lot of people will get really, really super excited when you do. Especially at the end of our ‘meet’, they’re all just… glowing. They’re all just so excited. When they read their stories, they’re like, ‘Wow!’ Like they discover a little bit about themselves.”

“In terms of myself, I seem to be pretty friendly, and approachable. Or people can let me approach them.” I think about this for a moment.

“I learned that when I set my mind to it, I really do do that. Because this has added a lot of extra work – like another hour, hour and a half most days. Every single day on top of the things I already do… It hammered home more and more to me that you make the time for the things and the people that matter.”

“And no excuses. So for me, it was like, ‘Wow! I can really do this every single day, no matter how hard it is. It just takes a little bit of priorities and processes.’”

“So, I’m happy about that.”

When you started this, did you… can you talk a little about how your process has evolved and changed? Not just how you go about finding a Stranger, and doing the interview and write-up, but the kind of questions you would ask, and the kinds of responses you would get from those questions?

“Yeah, so when I started out, the first two people I started with, ‘What do you do?’ Then, I realized that both of them, they went straight into work mode. That’s maybe who they are as well, but I really wanted to get to know who they are, and let them, kind of, dictate where they want to take me.”

“So, I changed it to, ‘Who are you?’ I normally have a pen and paper, so I’d take notes. And I also had like a bank of questions to ask. So I would almost ask in a very interview-esque fashion. Over time, I started recording the voices, so it became a lot more natural. So, I’m not taking notes and stopping… stopping and starting.”

“And then, instead of just having a list of questions, I still want to get down to what drives people – like their motivations and passions. Especially as an entrepreneur, I’m very interested in that. So, the questions would start from the ‘Who are you?’ Based on the feedback there, then I would ask questions that would build on that. Maybe taking what they do, if that’s what they share. Or, what their passions are. Or, what matters to them, whether that’s family, religion, or sports, comics, video games, that sort of stuff.”

“I started getting a lot more conversational and really connecting with people. And I think a better, deeper level. I think a lot of readers have also expressed their interest in how great this kind of transformation has been.”

So, when did you start making that transformation? Was it 30 Days in, or 30 Strangers in, you started transitioning to more conversational approach? Or, did you kind of just try different things with every Stranger?

I thought about this for a second. “I think the transition to more conversational – I don’t remember. Maybe it was 20 or 30? But, it really started getting a lot better in the second half.”

So… you’ve just done/ completed a marathon of meeting new Strangers. What’s next? What do you see as the next step for this project, or is this it?

“Several people keep asking me this, and sometimes, I ask myself that. Then, I say, ‘You know what? I’m going to first, A, take a little time for myself!’” I laugh. “Not press myself to go meet someone every single day. I’m also going to let it all sink in. So, I’ll probably have a good lessons learned post, or several posts. I know several have been asking for it.”

“And… not sure yet. I might start interviewing friends. Meeting my friends on a deeper level. A lot of people have been asking me about that. Might turn some of the lessons and the approach into a book.”

“… might also make this into a TED talk. Everyone keeps asking me about that as well. So, have a few different things. Doesn’t mean they’re all mutually exclusive, or I’ll do one, and not the others. But, the next several days, I’ll probably just, at least, let it all soak in.”

Can you give us a preview of some of your lessons learned about, maybe for example, how you approach Strangers? How you get them to open up? Is there like a secret sauce or magic secret approach to doing that?

“I think the biggest approach is being open.”

“So, I know there are a few people I would see normally, and I think I’d guess – well, I know – I would judge them. Through this, this also inspires me to say instead of judging someone, why don’t I get to know them. Right?” I laugh at myself. “Instead of just going based on what I see. So, that’s been really fascinating. That’s been fun.”

“So that’s one thing. That approach of being open… being open to anything. This guy or woman can shock you in terms of the good, or could be for the bad, but either way, you don’t know. You might as well spend a couple minutes just getting to know ‘em. So, that’s a big one.”

“Other lessons… yeah, everyone… most people are willing to open up for a couple minutes. And definitely still, my heart beats a little bit still, when I think about approaching someone, but it’s… now, it’s probably more, ‘Well, heart’s beating fast! Doesn’t matter!’ Right? The whole being comfortable being uncomfortable… Being able to acknowledge that, and say, ‘I’m going in anyways!’ I think that that’s been really fun.”

“So the big lesson for that is just doing it. Just like any project or passion, just giving it a go. Doesn’t have to be ridiculously big. Can be something small. That little effort. That little change can make that person’s day, can make your day. Can change the whole week. And you don’t know if that connection’s going to be a life-long connection, either. So, could even have huge… benefits, and ripple effects.”

Interesting. So speaking of ripple effects, what are some of the most… can you give us a couple examples of some of the most interesting conversations or shocking revelations, or maybe contentious conversations that you had or interactions that you had with Strangers? Something that stands out in your mind?

“I don’t know if there’s any contentious ones. Thinking about a couple stories that they shared, their low-points. Those, for whatever reason, resonate really heavily with me. Maybe because I’m the ‘Master of Failure’ having written a book,” I laugh. “I love the motivations and passions of what drives people. A lot of times it’s the low-points that drive people. Hearing about people’s battles with alcoholism or drug abuse has been fascinating because they’re open to that. They acknowledge that. They’re okay to share that. I think that’s a beautiful thing to be confident that you’re in a better place, and you can be vulnerable to share that. And trust! You know, vulnerability and trust in me and others to share that. So, I really, really love that.”

“And, just how hard some people work on whether it’s a startup, or like, heck yesterday. I just pulled over at a Waffle House on Christmas Day. Met a mother. She works at Waffle House. She drives Uber. She drives Lyft. She does all these different things because she’s trying to provide for her daughter. Her biggest goal and aspiration is continue with college – or rather, she’s 10, so get into college, but also get her doctor’s degree. To do better than her. I thought that was something that was really beautiful because she was working on Christmas Day. She still allowed me a couple minutes before she had to go rush off to see her daughter.”

“And then, so many about just walking up to people at Starbucks, and how some of them are pursuing their passions, but you never know it. You never know they have a side gig. What can you do to help them? Because being an entrepreneur, knowing some of the stuff, it’s like, ‘Oh wow! I never knew this! Now, I can help you with some of the stuff that you have questions about. Things you have trouble with. I can probably do that. I can probably connect you with this DJ that I met the other day, and then, this DJ and four other people who are in the music industry. Would you like to connect? Seems like you guys would get along great!’”

“Even though they can be really successful in something that everyone else would be so impressed by whether it’s music, and then, they pursue something more business… 9-5 isn’t always bad. The corporate world isn’t bad. It’s still motivating. People have a lot of fun. It’s not always about the creative kind of occupations, too.”

That’s really interesting because I think part of… everyone has their own interest in your project. For whatever reason, my interest has always been for people I see around because you and I share – we share a similar network. With you going out and interviewing all these Strangers, you’ve broadened your network by at least 100 or more. And the people I see around that I don’t know, and I go to 100Strangers100Days.com, and I read their profiles. I get to know them, and I feel like, “Oh man, it’s almost like cheating” because I didn’t actually interview them, but I feel like I know so much more about them in order to engage with them. So, I’ve actually engaged with people based on your posts. Like, “oh, I know about you! I didn’t know you had five or six brothers and sisters! That’s really cool!” And instantly, the Stranger is like, “Whoa, what?! You know about me?” We’re like instantly connected in a way that I would probably have to spend a lot more time, or many more interactions with that individual. So, that’s been really cool to almost kind of cheat my way in to getting to know some people I see around all the time without interacting with them. So that’s really cool.

“Well, that’s like the whole point – to inspire connections. If I can inspire one person to make one connection, again, like, what are the ripple effects of that? You know, that one interaction can make that one person smile big for that day. Could make you smile for that day.”

It’s something you’re adept at in the business world, too. It’s good to see. You’re able to do this for just the general population. Would be interesting to see what else comes out of your creative lab with dealing with interactions and connecting people. Inspiring connections.

“Yeah.”

Anything else you want me to ask?

“Yeah, so, I like to ask the Stranger of the Day, if you could ask anyone anything, what would you like to ask? So, I think remembering Toccoa’s question yesterday, which was, ‘What can, essentially, I do or what am I doing to make the world a better place?’”

“So for me, I’m just going to encapsulate it with that personal mission which is: To change the world for the greater through entrepreneurial endeavors. So an entrepreneurial endeavors like this, 100 Strangers was just to inspire others to connect. Or, it could be helping them with their startup and being an Adviser or whatever that is, and helping them grow what they love or their passion. Or, encouraging others to write. Those types of things. So, you know, I want my entrepreneurial endeavors to be a catalyst for others.”

Cool.

“And then, I think the other question, or the final question I like to ask others is what is the question I would like to ask a Stranger.”

Yeah, what is a question?

“You’d think I would have a good one at this right now. But I really kind of don’t. Everyone has some really cool questions. Some people are really interested in what is true happiness. Others, ‘What can you do to make the world better’. Before, I used to ask like, ‘What’s your biggest life regrets?’ Those types of things. Or, what’s stopping you. I think they’re all such great questions.”

“But I guess because I start out just about every conversation, every meet, might as well keep being my question for anyone. That is, ‘Who are you?’”

After the handshake.

I was a little surprised that our conversation flowed with such ease. We hadn’t prepared beforehand, but I felt comfortable asking Daryl about his experiences. Thankfully, Daryl helped me ask the right questions when I felt lost. Yet again, he demonstrated his natural affinity to guide. One thing I noticed about “playing” interviewer – active listening without interrupting takes work, and I wondered to myself how many times Daryl sat in my position focusing on his interviewee.

Coming out of this interview, what really interests me is not only the lessons Daryl has learned, but also how he chooses to present them. I agree that a TED talk would be an excellent way to distill his experience and findings in an easily consumable medium for a general audience.

As to what his findings will show, my guess is that the truly insightful points will be what he learned about himself. If you read closely, this project was as much about Daryl testing and discovering unknown things about himself as it was about learning more about and connecting with others. He is quite adept at hacking his internal wiring through consistent and measurable approaches. In this case, he has successfully hacked his inner-introvert to become an extrovert in unfamiliar situations. He repeatedly stepped out of his comfort zone by approaching Strangers, asking their permission to be photographed and interviewed, getting them to open up to a Stranger, and publishing a write-up. He did this for 100 straight days – a true test of consistency, discipline and stamina.

So, what’s next for Daryl? What else will he hack about himself through others? I don’t know, but I agree that he should definitely take a break first. Even if that means that he does what I tell my kids. Don’t talk to Strangers.


Okay, so that’s Don interviewing me. It was pretty fun. I definitely could have prepared myself even more for this seeing as I had this pre-determined. Much of it, I also know by heart. What was surprising, though, was how I really did go straight into my passions of doing things. I didn’t even touch on how much relationships matter. I talked about family and friends, but I feel I talked about them only in context to myself as a doer. Even as I answered the ‘Who are you’ question, I thought to myself that I should mention I’m also a family man — thinking a lot about my amazing niece who I got to spend a lot of time with over Christmas. But I didn’t. I kept this focused on this journey and my entrepreneurial drive. So yeah, I thought that was interesting.

There really was so much I wanted to say, but I wanted to be somewhat brief. (Are you shocked that my lack of brevity here is still what I consider “somewhat brief”? Me, too.) As I mentioned to a Stranger the other day who felt that he rambled, I felt he was speaking differently than “rambling”. Instead, I felt his passion through his words, and how immersed he was in sharing with me his passions and motivations. I, too, hope my passion came through, even if I kept this somewhat abbreviated.

As I said, and as Don said, I’m not sure what my next adventure is. Don’t know if this will be resurrected into the coming months, weeks, or days, and in what form. However, I’m so proud to have not only completed this goal, but to have met so many great people, and to have influenced the many people who have actually said hello and went beyond with Strangers with familiar faces. I hope this is just the beginning…

And of course, thanks again to my best bud, Don, who was also the author of the Foreword to Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success.

Meet me. No longer a Stranger.

 

Stranger 100, Day 100 - Meet Toccoa

Stranger 100, Day 100 – Meet Toccoa, the “Hard-working, Loving Mother”

Merry Christmas! Today… was an interesting day to find a Stranger. I didn’t intend on today being the last day when I started this journey 100 Days ago. However, it was/ is. I wanted to spend a lot of time with my family, so at some time, I needed to leave my family in search of a Stranger. I drove to two Starbucks nearby (the first was closed.) At the second Starbucks, I approached a couple, and they weren’t at all interested.

The second couple agreed. Or at least, the woman did. Unfortunately, the woman was actually underage. She’s got a fascinating story, and was emancipating from her parents. I still spoke to her, though, to meet her, and honestly, I wanted to share her story if only because I was worried about the sparse Strangers around. (Christmas has a lot of places closed.) However, as I drove away back to join my family, I realized that I wouldn’t normally share an under-aged story unless I have explicit O.K. from a parent/ guardian. So, I’ll share her story, but in a different way later. Onwards!

Where else can I count on to be open and full of Strangers in a city I don’t live in? Waffle House! Haha, perfect. I drove to a local Waffle House, parked, and saw a few servers outside. I approached one of them, and shared with her my journey. She happily accepted to be Stranger 100. This is her story.

Meet Toccoa, 30

Who are you?

“I am a server. And, I drive for Uber and Lyft. What else?”

Anything!

“And I’m a mother. That’s about it.”

“… and an owner of a dog,” she laughs.

Tell me a little bit about being a mother. What’s that like?

“It’s exciting! I love my baby. She’s my best friend. She’s 10 — just turned 10.”

… And you have a dog…

We get interrupted. She has several coworkers who stop her trying to “put me to work! I gotta go!”

You drive Uber and Lyft.

“… and Waffle House!”

Why do you work so hard?

“I have a daughter. I’m the only parent,” she chuckles.

“I’m a single parent.”

What is a dream or aspiration that you have for your daughter?

“For her to do a lot better than me, and finish college. Finish college with a doctor’s degree!” she laughs!

“That’s my dream! I don’t want her to stop at Masters or Bachelors. I want her to get her doctor’s degree, and do whatever she wants in life.”

How do you do that for her now? How do you inspire her to do that?

“With the grades. We keep the grades up for school — can be a little easier for when you do go to college, you won’t be so hard. You won’t be so stressed out because you’ll be a little more ahead, than behind.”

I’m guessing, too, that seeing you work so hard inspires her.

“Yeah, because I don’t want her to do what I have to do. I don’t want her to work so many hours just to make ends meet when life can be easier. I want her to know that, not just see it… just see me struggling. We actually have talked — she’s my best friend — we talk about it. I tell her, ‘I don’t want you to struggle like mama.'” She laughs quietly.

“I don’t. It’s not a struggle, but I don’t want you to work so hard for something that can be a little easier if you just finish school. Whatever doctor…”

Seeing as today’s Christmas and everything, what is something that maybe you can’t just buy her? What is something that you want to give her that you can’t just buy?

“The only thing she wants that I can’t buy, by the grace of God, is a brother and sister. I can’t buy that!” she laughs. “And that’s what she wants, so… everything else, I’m blessed. I’m blessed to buy her everything she wants.”

Very cool. So, I like to ask the Stranger of the Day, if you could ask anyone anything, what would you ask anyone? Yesterday, I met a gentleman by the name of Shyamal, and he wants to, essentially, ask you, “What is something you’re planning to do or do do to make the future better for everyone?” (Thanks to Shyamal, Stranger 99)

“I pray. I pray a lot. I pray for everyone. I’ll pray for you when I leave. So, I will advise the world to keep praying for each other instead of being mad at each other. That’s what I advise the world. More prayers, and less hate. That’s all I want for the world to do.”

So what’s a question you’d like to ask anyone?

“I would like to ask…” She thinks.

“I guess, what would they do to change to make the world a better place. How can they help us be a better place?”

“Yeah, make this world a better place.”

After the handshake.

Today’s story is a little shorter. However, in what few precious moments I spent with her, and hopefully, you can read, she is an incredibly hard-working mother who loves her daughter dearly. She had just gotten off her shift, so many people kept asking her to stay longer or go to another location. She was exceptionally courteous, and I didn’t want to take up too much of her time because the minutes she spent with me were minutes she was not spending with her daughter. It is, after all, Christmas. I was so happy to have met her, and to wave her goodbye because I knew she was on her way to see her daughter who would no doubt have a big smile on her face to see her mother.

Today’s Stranger 100, Day 100. In a lot of ways, this was the perfect story. My earlier meet with the woman who was a little younger was great, too, and I do want to share her story in a more “age-okay” way. She was very mature, and had a big, big smile. However, today is Toccoa and her daughter’s. Toccoa’s story encapsulated much of this journey in her making time for a perfect Stranger like me while sharing her love for her daughter. That’s what motivates her. That’s why she works so hard.

Meet Toccoa. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 98, Day 98 - Meet Lindsey

Stranger 98, Day 98 – Meet Lindsey, the “Super Fan”

I met today’s Stranger on my floor in the kitchen, like several other Strangers. Yes, there are that many people on my floor that I can continue to meet new Strangers, and still adhere to my rule of speaking to Strangers who have never read or heard about this journey.

She was casually making her breakfast when I approached her. Happily, she accepted, and luckily, it’s a slow day this Friday before Christmas weekend.

Meet Lindsey, 29

Lindsey’s birthday is next week, so happy birthday in advance!

Who are you?

“I’m Lindsey,” she laughs.

“I guess I am a sister — a baby sister. I have two older sisters. I actually work for my brother-in-law. So, my oldest sister — that’s her husband — she comes in one-day a-week on Tuesdays. I get to work and I get to still see my family, so it’s awesome.”

“I guess if someone’s to just like, ‘Okay, who are you?’ I’d be like, ‘I’m a fan.’ I have a lot of fandoms. I really like Star Wars. I really liked to read Marvel comic books. My dog’s name is Marvel. I am definitely a dog-lover. So, that’s, I guess, who I would be. Not really a short answer.”

Nah, that’s okay. That’s the beauty of that question. Thinking about you’re a fan of “fantasy” or… I don’t know. What do you love about the comic books, Star Wars, and the like?

“I like reading, in general. So, I read a lot of Star Wars. Not only have I seen all of the movies, seen all the cartoons, I like to read all of the books. I’m actually reading the book that’s almost one of the prequels to Rogue One right now. I like the fact that you can read about things, and encompass yourself with things that don’t exist. You know, like, spaceships and space battles and things like that and super heroes. If I could be a super hero, you know, that would be awesome! But I hate to feel like, sometimes, I think I would end up being more of a villain!” she laughs. “But, I like the aspect of, you know, people helping other people, coming together, using non-traditional ways.”

“I really love Miss Marvel — that’s actually my dog’s name — Miss Marvel. She, in the new comic book, she is like a younger, urban teenager. She encompasses these powers from the original Miss Marvel, and she basically has to take on this whole new life as a teenager similar to Spider-Man and things. You’re trying to deal with life, and also trying to not deal with being selfish. You know, helping other people as well; which is not normally everyone‘s human nature, especially as a teenager. So that’s probably the aspect. And it’s fun. Having friends that are into the same stuff you are. Going to Dragon Con, and things like that.”

I like how you might actually be a villain as you’re wearing a Darth Vader shirt. If you’re a villain or super hero, or whatever, what would your name be?

“Oh, my name!”

… and what would your super power be?

“I’ve never even thought about a name, though. It would probably have to, you know, how people have a name based on their power like the Flash or things like that. I would probably have to go with something being small.” She thinks.

“Like, I’m really short. Something along those lines of… I don’t know!” She’s unsure of how to answer this one admitting, “I’ll have to think about that one.”

“I always think that reading minds would be really cool, but I actually think that it would be terrible. Like ‘True Blood’ is one of the worst shows and books ever. But, she could hear people’s thoughts, and it ended up driving her crazy because you hear people all the time.”

“I would think being able to teleport because I really like Night Crawler. I live in the city. Traffic sucks, so why not have a power that would, at least, help you out on your day-to-day life. You’ve gotta save people sometimes, but you also gotta live.” she laughs. “If I could teleport, that would probably be awesome. Then you can just, you know, you have family who lives in one spot. Family lives in another spot, and you can just go all the time. It would never be, ‘Oh, I can’t go do this because I gotta get there. Gotta work in the morning’. Things like that. Kind of selfish reasons, but…!” She laughs. “Whatever!”

“I can’t think of a name. I don’t know…”

Well, maybe it’ll come to you.

“I’m going to be thinking about that forever now!”

The other side of that, you talked about being able to read minds was your first thought, right? Kind of like the rest of the super heroes, they kind of gotta figure out ways to control that. So in a lot of ways, maybe it’s reading minds, but not just being able to hear everything, but being able to control.

“Yeah, that would be so key!” She laughs again.

Is there something that you’re really, really good at, but you gotta kind of control how often you use that “super power”?

“Yeah, well, I do get really excited. My boyfriend is more…” She pauses before continuing, “I got him into the fandoms and the things like that. We kind of have different things we’re interested in. He does the stuff with me, and he rides dirt bikes. So, I have a dirt bike now. We do stuff like that.”

“I would think I’m very emotional when it comes to animals. It’s almost like… we had a squirrel that fell off a pole yesterday — right in our front yard. It’s like, you get so sad about that.”

“I’m like, ‘Why am I sad? It’s a squirrel’. So probably, maybe something like that that you’d have to tone down. It’s just a squirrel. There are a million squirrels. You can’t be so sad about this one squirrel.” She gives a big laugh.

“I don’t know if that makes sense.”

I think it does. Sometimes being empathetic or emotional about some things…

“Yeah, you can’t cry every time you see a trash bag on the ground and think it’s a dog.” I was a little lost at this. Huh?

“I had a friend who posted that the other day. They drove by, and she would start crying because she saw this dog on the ground, but it was a trash bag. She found out the next day it was a trash bag. Stuff like that.”

“I guess the older I get, the more emotional I get… and caring about things, I guess, more so.”

Why do you think that is?

“Well, I think, I’ve always cared about people. I talk about my family a lot. I’ve always cared a lot. I lost my dad. When you lose someone, it changes the way you think. So, you know, now more so, it’s like, ‘Oh, you always think that could be the last time I see that person.’ So you always kind of feel more empathetic. More emotional. ‘Oh, they’re so mad today, but I’m not going to be mad because you never know when you could not see that person again’ because it’s happened to you before. I think the older I get, the more I realize things like that.”

I guess, to that point, sometimes that can be tough balancing that, right? You want to be cognizant of this person is here. Be present in the moment. But at the same time, you can’t always be pulled towards that emotional side.

“It is definitely a pull.” She shares with me someone close to her who gets angry at personal relationships somewhat often. “Then, it’s kind of like, you don’t want to get into that situation of letting her anger or frustrations take on you.”

“It’s also the thing of ‘you don’t miss calls from family’. If your family called you two times, and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! I gotta call them back immediately!’ So definitely, things change. Like you said, it could be something my mom just wants to tell me something like, ‘Oh! You left something at the house.’ But they call you twice. You’re like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ You think the worst things just because you’ve been through a situation like that. So, it’s definitely a pull, and it’s definitely something you’re thinking about. It’s very strange. Only people who I’ve realized who have lost someone really close to them kind of know what you’re talking about.”

“And then, not that I want anyone to ever lose someone, but they realize, ‘Oh! I see what you were seeing’ kind of thing. Not that it’s good or bad, but I think it definitely puts things into perspective — for your life and what’s really important.'”

I’m going to use this as a segue. Start to wrap this up. I like to ask the Stranger of the Day (congrats, you’re number 98): if you could ask anyone anything, what would you ask them? Before you have that opportunity, I’ll ask you what the previous day’s Stranger. He proposed two scenarios. If you could live in a place where everything is perfect and happy. Everyone’s happy, but there isn’t much fun. Would you live in that vs. you’re living in the present where there’s a bit of sadness, a bit of hatred, as much as there is. But there is that fun component, but of course, you have to balance that. Which one of these lives would you want to live? (Thanks to Alvin, Stranger 97)

“That doesn’t even take me a second to think about to answer because I would choose the present. The reason is I’ve realized that, you know, just living and happy/ normal/ whatever may sound great, but that sounds like a zombie to me. Emotions. Feelings. That’s what makes us humans. Your ups and down. That’s really… the downs are what makes the ups so great.”

“So, I know I would always choose the present, not just somewhere that’s complacent, and fun, and mellow. I guess more so of a world, if that’s what he was intending. I would definitely pick something that was, yeah, the present. So I could feel what’s going on.”

(It’s your turn.)

“So for me, I mean… You know, I would love to ask… let me think.” She takes a moment to think to herself. “Hmm, that was a tough question.”

“If I could ask anyone anything… Hmm…”

“That last guy’s was so good! He must be a deep thinker. I’m going to take it more on the light and airy side of, you know, the things I’m into.”

“Everyone always asks if you could be one super hero, what would you be? Or what super power would you have? I’m going to ask if you had to be a villain and fight against one super hero, and you had to destroy them, who would it be? And why?”

“Because I want to take it on a different angle of the question. I don’t know!” She laughs. She’s wondering if tomorrow’s Stranger would have any idea.

Anymore thought as to what your super hero/ super villain name might be? Knowing how you said some of them would adopt their super power like the Flash or Super Man… your super power is about reading minds or teleportation.

“Umm, everyone always calls me Shorty. Like, that was just my nickname forever. But I would probably go with just something like, ‘Little Lindsey’. That’s what my mom calls me. It’s easy. It goes together. They can call me Double-L! I don’t know…” she laughs. Then, she exclaims, “There’s Double L!”

“… that’s a terrible one! But one day, I’m going to think of a good one, I’m going to find you, and I’m going to be like, ‘I found it!’ Finally. It’s going to be like a year from now! I don’t know. I’ve never thought of an actual name for myself.”

A lot of times, super heroes never really come up with them. It’s the newspaper.

“Yeah!”

So if I was the newspaper, maybe if you can teleport, I would call you INSTANT or something. Instant Woman!

“The INSTANT WOMAN!”

After the handshake.

Haha, I had fun getting to know Lindsey. She has so much energy in the morning, and she’s clearly passionate about comics. Won’t lie, I got pretty into thinking about the comics and the Marvel heroes as she was sharing. I have a lot of fun watching the movies and “experiencing” some of that world.

I noted how much Lindsey was laughing because she really had so much positive energy today. Perhaps because we’re heading into some holidays. She was great, and she gave me a little more pep and kick to my day. Had a real pleasure meeting her, and look forward to talking to her about the upcoming Marvel movies.

Meet Lindsey. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 95, Day 95 - Meet Christian

Stranger 95, Day 95 – Meet Christian, the “Nurturer, Enabler, Empowerer”

I met today’s Stranger in the familiar coffee shop on the first floor of my office building. He was busy on his computer, tip-tapping on the keyboard. However, he seemed friendly enough to make an approach, so I did, and he was happy to be today’s Stranger.

Meet Christian, 25

Who are you?

Christian laughs. “That’s a difficult question. I’m Christian B. I’m my mother’s son — first and foremost.”

“I am a developer, designer, marketer that works on passion projects. I’m lucky enough to be able to pick and choose the projects I work on.”

“I guess that’s who I am. I’m my mother’s son who does digital stuff for cool projects, or efforts, rather.”

What is a cool effort you’re working on right now?

“So, I’m in Atlanta. I’m working with some musicians. I’m seeing like a macro picture. I’m just seeing a lot of musicians shying away from traditional record labels. They’re going more the independent route. I’ve got a digital toolkit to help a lot of musicians kind of liberate themselves… move forward and build a career as an independent musician. That’s one of my main focuses right now.”

Why do you enjoy that?

“I enjoy music a lot. At my jobs, I would just realize I was spending a lot of time listening to music. So, I just figured I would try to make my guilty pleasure… make my priority or business. Something sustainable.”

“… and I get to help musicians. Like, a lot of people don’t really understand the music business whether it be executives or managers or the first singer/ pianist/ violinist/ whatever — how to own their masters, build a career, how to support their families, in many cases, off their music. And I get to be around a lot of cool creative people.”

Do you find yourself to be a creative person?

“Ah, I do. I think that’s why I get to connect with a lot of the creative people. But I found that I’m a little more… structured — formally structured — and a little more technical than my creative counterparts. I also get to tap on the creative side when I’m dealing with business colleagues, or my technical compadres.”

One of the first things you said started out was being your mother’s son.

He laughs. “Yeah, absolutely!”

When you say that, what does you mean?

“I guess before anything, that’s what I was. Before I even had a name, I was just kind of conceived as her son. It’s just a difficult question for me to answer, in general, just because I kind of move per project, or my roles change a lot. So that’s been the most consistent thing.” He laughs. “I’ll just always be mom’s son.”

When you say that, I expect (or think) that your mom had a pretty big impact on you other than birthing you. (We laugh.) How has she continued to play that mother role for you, and kind of supporting you in pursuing these passion projects?

“Yeah, absolutely. My mom was a single mom. So, just inspiration just to see what she did for us coming up. She was also a programmer. I didn’t realize how influential that was until I entered my professional level of my life. Just always having computers around. Always having pianos around. Just having programming books around. I remember, like, playing and having to enter the command prompt like MS-DOS so I can play ski games. I just thought that was brilliant.”

“She’s a pretty cool woman, I think.”

How would you like to thank her?

“I would like to thank her by, I guess, giving her a son that she can be proud of. I think she’d appreciate that.”

Is there anything that you do in particular that you’ve really strived to be for her?

“It sounds superficial, but even just financially. I saw her make a lot of sacrifices for me earlier in life. It warms me to not only be independent, but to be able to contribute to her. Instead of receiving, I get to give.”

Thinking about how you work with these new artists trying to establish themselves, control their destinies, and find financial stability, I feel like you’re playing some of that role nurturing them. Is there something your mom taught you or imparted on you as a value that you try to bring to these artists?

“I guess that nurturing… ness? Or again, single parent. So even when she would be at work, I would have to nurture my little sister. Just kind of take on that ‘fill in the blank’. So if mom’s not there, I kind of have to be big brother and mom now. That nurturer. That supporter. That enabler. That empowerer. She allowed me to reach my full potential. I see a lot of people just need that sometimes. I work with the musicians, but before I gave myself permission to work with musicians, I was doing a lot of these same things for smaller business. Super inspired by a lot of startups. Super inspired by a lot of that. I still get to work with them, but the musicians — it’s just super interesting. Working with musicians… I guess that nurturing, that enabler that allows you to do things you’re good at so you don’t have to do the things you have to do.”

“That’s the mindset I kind of keep centered around… as a digital service provider.”

I’ll start to wrap this up. A few questions left. I like to ask the Stranger of the Day (congrats, you’re Day 95!), if you could ask anyone anything, what would you ask them? Or effectively, what would you ask tomorrow’s Stranger? Before you have that opportunity, yesterday, Brandon wanted to ask you, “What’s your life’s purpose?” (Thanks to Brandon, Stranger 94)

“My life’s purpose is to move the human race forward. Maybe a brick at a time. Maybe I can get a brick or two. But, just kind of take us all forward. Put in a little work for the team.”

In this case, what is a “brick”?

“I think I take on a few bricks. They could be, let’s say we just talked about the financial aspect… so financial empowerment. Or, whether it could be like information. Or whether it could be like a lot of connections. I do a little bit of traveling. So if you’re in Atlanta, you do something really cool, I’m like, ‘You need to meet so-and-so in Texas, in California.’ Just those little bitty micro-advancements, I think, all kind of add up. Whether it be a brick or a pebble or a stone…”

Or an Egypt pyramid brick — like two tons!

He chuckles, “Right, right. Or anything in between. Can be just a single grain of sand. I just think progression. I just really like growth and progress.”

Now, your turn — what would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I’d ask tomorrow’s Stranger… hmm, what would I ask tomorrow’s Stranger,” he thinks out loud.

“I’d ask tomorrow’s Stranger why they chose to be the Stranger of the Day… and what does that — what does that say about them. I guess I’d be curious to know. I want to check out the site, and keep up with that answer, too.”

“Why did you choose to be today’s Stranger, and what does that say about you? And what was your impression to being asked to being the Stranger of the Day?”

What is your answer?

“Umm, just being more open. Just coming to a different place and working, I’ve just made the conscious effort to just be more open to people. Or like that whole help humans.”

“I think it’s weird that Strangers are Strangers. I think when you can be social, you can just see somebody and be friendly and be cordial, I just think things smoother. Rather than seeing everybody as like their own independent thing that has nothing to do with you.”

After the handshake.

As Christian and I were going outside to take his picture, I ran into the person I was about to head into a meeting with. Christian was happy and excited to meet another Stranger. He was indeed excited and happy to meet people around him. That was nice to experience as someone just watching him interact with someone else (not me).

He asked me a few more questions about this journey afterwards. I think he was really excited to not only be a part of the journey, but also to continue to exercise his friendliness. I also am curious and happy to hear he’s interested to hear why others are open to talking with me. Should be fun to hear.

Meet Christian. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 90, Day 90 - Meet John

Stranger 90, Day 90 – Meet John, the “Real Estate and Investment Guru”

I’ve seen today’s Stranger countless times at ATV. We pass by each other, and I admit, we haven’t done the courteous thing often of even smiling or saying hello. What makes this even more strange, is that I’ve seen him before outside of ATV… many times. I don’t recall where or when. Surprisingly, it’s taken this journey up to 90 Days to finally say hello and get to know him.

As we met, initially, he asked me if I knew a couple of his friends. Ahh, that’s where I’ve seen him (and maybe, loosely, met him). I couldn’t recall for the life of me, and he agreed that he didn’t remember me all that well, either. So there you go — a Stranger with an even more familiar face. Now, let me introduce you.

Meet John, 34

Who are you?

“Geez, I guess… you know, we work in the Tech Village.”

He starts out by talking about the company he works for. “What we do here is more traditional commercial real estate. It’s just democratizing the process. It’s essentially real estate crowdfunding. So, it’s just like crowdfunding that’s been around for 4 or so years where we’ll be able to bring potential commercial real estate investments to people that have never been able to seek before, or couldn’t hit those high minimums, and let them get involved with it. Been in real estate the entire time. Always interested in the tech space. Do a lot of startup investing as well. I’m on the board of a fund over at BIP Capital. I’ve been doing stuff with those guys for 5-6 years. That’s kind of it in a nutshell right there.”

So that’s a little bit of what you do, and what you like. You have a ring on your finger?

“Yes! Married. Three girls.”

Three girls?!

“Three girls!”

How old are they?

“6, 4, and 1.” Congrats!

Have any aspirations for more?

“Yeah, we’ll see where this goes. I kind of wear a lot of different hats as well. This is the primary job and stuff. But I’ve got some other things going on. I haven’t really decided what I want to do yet. But, I’m trying to, I guess, work that way.”

So what are some of your passions?

“I… I really like real estate. It’s kind of what I’ve been doing this whole time. Beyond that, hanging out with the kids. Playing golf. Things like that.”

What’s been — you mentioned your kids a couple times — thinking about your kids and raising your girls in this world today, how do you think you’re going to continue to instill the values that you have on them?

“Yeah, I don’t know. It’s kind of hard. They’re still in preschool right now. Just gotta stay involved. As long as you’re just there, and keep pushing them in the right direction. Just making sure they’re good people. There’s probably not much more you can do there. They’re gonna do what they want to do. But, I think, as long as you’re involved, they’re not going to be screw-ups.” Haha. John laughs.

“Keep them on the right path. Keep on supporting them, and encouraging them. Still too early to tell.”

Your kids are young, and I’ve found kids to fascinate me in so many ways. How has your daughters fascinated you? Can you recall one time?

“It’s the memorization. I mean, they don’t forget anything. We’ll be, like, talking about something or doing something, and she’ll bring up, ‘Remember a year ago when we did this?’ It’s just crazy what they can already think of right now. I guess you lose your memory over time, but it’s amazing how fast they grow. I mean, the oldest one wasn’t even reading much at the beginning of the school year — September-something. Now, she can read books.”

He’s astonished and wonders, “Sometimes, I can’t tell if she’s already memorized it, or just memorizes by listening to us reading it to her. Or, she’s actually reading the words, but it’s crazy the kind of switches they take, especially, in kindergarten.”

How did you and your wife meet?

“At the very end of high school, we started dating. I went to Tech. She went to Georgia. So we kind of did that thing for a while. Probably a good thing — give us our own space. And the rest is… We got married in 2007. It’s been a while. We’ve been together 17 years. Something like that.”

Half of your lives!

“Yeah! Trying to do the math… I think… Yes. 17, and I’m 34. Yes.” That’s awesome.

So I guess circling back to your passions in real estate, what about real estate has fascinated you?

“You know, it’s funny how I got into it. We were all sitting around the fraternity house in college. Forgot how we talked about it, but somebody asked another guy, “What do you want to do when you get out of college?’ and said, ‘I want to go into real estate’. So I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do that, too.'”

“I think I took one class there in the business school about real estate. I couldn’t tell you what it was about. But then I just went along that. Started networking. Got an intern job at a brokerage over here. Did that for a while. Went to another one. Then, went to the banks. Did commercial real estate for the banks. The crowdfunding thing… it’s funny. I was always super interested. It started with like Lending Club, and then, Realty Mogul, and then all the other competitors of ours. And even some venture crowdfunding — like seed investors, Angel List. Did some deals there. Then, I saw that. I did realize I didn’t want to be in the bank anymore. It was just terrible, so I decided to look around. See what they guys can do. I saw they were going to hire someone in Atlanta. We’re based out of LA. There’s 60 of us — 60 employees in LA. Two of us here. Others, in some other cities.

“So then I saw they were going to hire in Atlanta. Took me a few months — talked with my guy at Realty Mogul who I knew just doing investing. They’ve already hired him, and I saw they hired Chuck, who sits right there.” He looks in the general direction of the empty desk across from him. “He’s not in right now. I ended up here. Emailing him, calling him in a week.”

“We talked for like 6 months. I’ve been here a year. When we were in LA last week, we have this thing called Top Hat. You’ve been there a year, and you become a vested partner. You can get your pad. That was just his thing that he was attracted to.”

“… I attracted him. That’s why he decided to bring me on. He saw I super passionate about this space we’re in.”

“Just, you know, go from there.”

“With the real estate background, for the passion for the crowdfunding/ startup area.”

What’s been, I guess, the most fun part about the startup area and being in Atlanta?

“It’s different. I mean, we’re at a startup, but it’s fun really still doing a lot of the traditional stuff. He doesn’t have a tech startup background. I don’t really either. It’s all been traditional real estate. But it’s fun here. We get to sit in this place and do this, but we get to wear a lot of hats. We’re not like… at the bank, I was at Suntrust, we were so silo’ed into what you are going to do. Here, you know, you can do a little bit of whatever you want to do. As long as you make the deals get done.”

“It’s fun. So half the team out in LA are the developers, and seeing what they’re doing. We’re highly technology focused, so we try to keep building up technology — do it better and faster.”

“But, umm, you know… while we are a startup, we’re venture-backed. All that stuff. It still feels like a traditional — it’s like a more fun traditional real estate company.”

Thinking about how you’ve got three young girls at home, have the wife, you’re doing the traditional commercial real estate/ startup part, do you ever struggle with the balance?

“No, it’s not bad. I’ll travel some, but it’s not too bad. I still got here in decent time. Work even after they go to bed. You know, it’s nothing crazy like it was kind of in the old days. Working on the weekends and stuff.”

“They all understand. As long as you can make the time, and do that, it hasn’t really affected that at all. You know, we get busy at times doing a lot of deals. But there are some down times, you can kind of relax, and go home more often.”

Do you have any aspirations for you and your family? Or maybe just yourself in terms of what big dream is?

“I think it’s just to stay with this company as it moves through. We’re getting bigger. We also have our speed bumps and all that stuff. I think just seeing where this company can go. It’s a very, very new industry. The industry’s really, at most, four years old. It could be a big, big industry. Even the amount of dollars crowdfunding has raised since its infancy till now, it’s a big growth plan. It’s just how we can scale this. We’re trying to do a lot of deals. Make it fast, easy for everybody. At the end of the day, we’re still struggling with how to scale it and do more deals. But I’ll hang around here for a while. See how it works out, and just keep trying to do more deals.”

“I think, at the end of the day, I’ve always wanted to kind of run my own small-type investment fund. But you know… That’s about it.”

I’ll start to wrap this up. I like to ask the Stranger of the Day (congrats, you’re Day 90), if you can ask anyone anything, what would you ask? Before you have your opportunity, like I said, I met a couple guys at a store, one of them is named Morgan. The other is Xavier. So Morgan wants to ask you what is your story. You said a little bit about it through your “who are you”, but I’m curious if there’s anything else you’d like to add to your story? (Thanks to Morgan, Stranger 89)

“No, it’s pretty straight forward.” He pauses to think.

“Born in Atlanta. Just know this area so well. Trying to build up the network in this town. Try to hit an area and level in my life where I can make the choices if I want to do something with the family, I can do that. If I want to work hard, I can do that, too. I think that’s how this company bridges that balance of traditional banks and the old jobs, and you know, I kind of enjoy that, too. So we can kind of make our own decisions here, and make our own plans as well.”

Cool. And then Xavier wanted to ask, what can you do to make this world a better place? (Thanks to Xavier, Stranger 89)

“Make sure the girls are raised to be good people. That’s the key right there.”

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

His eyes get big for a moment. “Oh geez. I would ask anyone… if you could do one thing different, what would you do?”

John adds on, “… and why?”

After the handshake.

I was relieved to finally meet John. I’m also surprised we haven’t seen each other more often given our common friends. That, and we haven’t met yet since I’ve been at Atlanta Tech Village since the beginning of the year.

John was super friendly, and open to meet + be today’s Stranger. It was great to hear how passionate he was about his industry, and how active he is in supporting other startups. Specifically, he’s an investor in startups. I’m interested to connect with him further to learn more about investment strategies, and understanding the whole venture funding world. Being an entrepreneur who has not gone through funding rounds, I’d like to learn more.

Meet John. No longer a Stranger.

 

Stranger 87, Day 87 - Meet Emily

Stranger 87, Day 87 – Meet Emily, the “Beginning of an Adventure”

I met today’s Stranger partially in the stairwell in my office as I was heading downstairs carrying a bunch of stuff. Except, I didn’t really say much given I was on the move with a bunch of props for a startup showcase on the first floor. As I was done setting up my company’s little booth, I was back upstairs looking for a Stranger to talk to. I had actually asked a police officer to be it earlier on in the day. The police officer agreed, but then, she kind of (definitely) disappeared. Not sure why, but didn’t see her again. Sadness.

I then met a gentleman at ATV who I’ve been wanting to get to know. I was torn if he should be the Stranger of the Day given he actually heard about this from others in the building. Alas, he would not be it.

So as I walked around on my floor, I went back to the kitchen to which I ran into the woman who I had met in the stairwell so briefly. I asked her if she had a moment to talk, and shared with her this journey. She happily accepted to be today’s Stranger.

Meet Emily, 23

Emily just had a birthday, so let’s wish her a happy birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

Who are you?

“Trying to figure that out still.”

“Hmm, who am I? I guess on a surface level like when you meet a Stranger, you’re like, ‘oh, this is what I do. Blah, blah, blah.’ Work in Atlanta Tech Village for a company called Engage Media. We do pharmaceutical marketing. So I do that. But… I like making people laugh, and drinking wine, and traveling.” She laughs lightly.

“I like photography. Yeah. Always looking for some kind of adventure. So, I guess that’s who I am.”

What’s an adventure you’ve got going on right now, or you’re thinking about going on?

“So, my girlfriend lives in Chicago. Trying to figure out — we’ve been doing long-distance since the end of July. I’m considering possibly moving there. That’s kind of a big one that’s very present in my life right now because it’s a huge life change. But it’s one that I feel like a lot of things in the universe are leading me in that direction. So I think the time is coming up, but I don’t know. There’s a lot of things to figure out logistically, but it’s one that’s very present right now.”

Where were you born and raised?

“Nashville, TN. I’ve been in Atlanta since 2012. I came here to go to school at Oglethorpe.”

How’d you meet your girlfriend?

“We were sorority sisters,” she starts to smile. “So a little controversial, I guess!”

“Yeah, we’ve been best friends since freshman year. Then, our senior year… I don’t know… Kind of grew into something more than that. The rest has been history.”

I have a buddy who is in Chicago right now for work. I just saw pictures with the crazy snow…

“Yeah, I know. She sent me this picture yesterday with our other best friend — was in town because she works for Kraft-Hines. Their headquarters is there. So she’s there for work a decent amount. They built a snowman yesterday. Sent me a picture. That’s crazy.”

So when it comes to the photography, what do you like to take photographs of?

“I got into it because my dad’s a street photographer. My dad is super talented.” She mentions how she’ll share with me her dad’s website.

“It’s something he kind of stumbled into. It’s kind of how I initially got into it. He gave me one of his old cameras. I liked it a little bit growing up.” She pauses and points out, “This is kind of taking the long way around to your question.”

“I liked it a little bit growing up, especially when I traveled. So now… I don’t know. I’m trying to find my voice in photography right now. Most of it is just about my travels. But I like taking pictures of people. I’m really into architectural pictures right now. I like street art pictures. So it’s kind of it. I’m just now kind of started taking it a little more seriously recently.”

“… yeah,” she laughs.

Do you have a picture that you’ve taken that you really love? Perhaps of people. Can you recall one of those pictures? What was so great about it? Describe one of your favorite pictures.

“One of them that I’m really loving right now is actually a picture of this church I found in Chicago. My girlfriend, she lives in Lincoln Park.”

“It was one day that we’re just like basically walking everywhere just to kind of check out the city. It was the second or third time that I’d been there. We just found this church. I took a picture of the front door, and it ended up having this really cool… really vibrant color that I didn’t really see when I was first there. But I like how it turned out.”

“There’s actually another picture that’s my screen saver. Made me think about it when I got a text.” She was referring to her phone getting a text just now.

“There was one when I was traveling for work in New York. We go there pretty often.” She mentions how one of her biggest clients is in the City. “We had stayed out really late the night before. We passed out in my boss’s friend’s house who lived in Brooklyn. Had to take a cab ride back 6 in the morning. I’m like waking up to make it from Brooklyn to Manhattan to be able to pack and shower and catch our flight. I had this picture on my phone of this sunrise coming over Manhattan that I’m just in love with because one, the colors are just really pretty, but also because it was just a really ridiculous night!” She laughs recalling the night and morning.

We also talked briefly about the Chicago boat tour. Very, very cool tour… on a boat… of the great buildings around Chicago. She hopes to do it in the spring or summer next year — not in the winter now.

What are some of your other passions?

“I really love the outdoors. I went to a camp in the mountains of North Carolina growing up. And then later, while I was in college, I was a counselor there. So being in the mountains, in particular, is one of those…” she thinks. “Whenever I’m off-center or off-aligned from myself, that’s where I go as a retreat. Just being outdoors, in general, but in particular, there. Love that. Really into yoga. Trying to find more time to do that now.”

“Those are kind of some of my passions. I work a lot, too, though. So having hobbies is tough!” she laughs.

So balance is a critical thing, right?

“Trying to find balance, yeah.”

When you think about finding that balance because you work a lot, you love photography, you’re thinking about maybe Chicago… how else do you find your balance in the day-to-day? Is it through yoga?

“Yeah, that’s one of those things that I’m more consciously trying to bring into my life. Trying to carve out at least once a week actually going to the studio to do yoga. Or, do a meditation class there. So I’d say probably that right now.”

“I’ve also been trying to be really conscious about writing it out. Sometimes, I think I’m too busy to do that. I literally, about a month ago, wrote out on a legal notepad, ‘what do you want?’ and just wrote. I’m still trying to figure that out, but I’m trying to be more conscious about how I’m evaluating how I am right now. 23. Yeah, I’m really young. But it’s also kind of a weird age, too — trying to figure out what you want, where you’ve been. Nobody takes you seriously. It’s kind of a weird place to be.”

“It’s also an exciting, optimistic time in life.”

When you think about this long-distance thing, what do you think has been key to being successful at it so far?

Emily thinks. “I think just having an open line of communication. That seems to be really basic, but I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that it’s really hard. It’s not easy.”

“… especially, she’s studying at Second City to be a comedian.” Whoa! That place is great! “So that was really hard initially. Scheduling online, but making that a priority. This is when we’re going to talk or whatever.”

“We also like little things like we make sure to text throughout the day. Send articles to each other. We’re both really politically-minded people. ‘Here’s an article. Read this. Whatever. Here’s this Tina Fey thing.’ Little things go a long way, I guess.”

What motivates you? What gets you out of bed everyday? (Thanks to Jumin, Stranger 86)

“Growth. I’m one of those people who can’t stand staying still. It can be my Achilles heel in a lot of ways. I’m always trying to push to the next thing. Sometimes, my downfall is I do that too quickly. I put a lot of pressure on myself to really try reaching the next thing quickly. So I think probably growth. Whether that’s at work, or spiritually, or, you know, if my relationships/ friendships… I think growth is probably it.”

“At least, that’s the way that’s naturally coming to me now.”

What is a question you’d like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“So this is me kind of being cheesy, but I love Sheryl Sandberg. One of my mantras that I’ll look at it at moments when I’m stuck — which I hate. This mantra comes to me and it’s from her book Lean In — what would you do if you weren’t afraid? So that’s my — it’s hers, but it’s something that’s very present in my life.”

After the handshake.

I thought it was super cool (yes, “super cool”) that Emily’s girlfriend is studying to be a comedian at Chicago’s famous Second City. I’ve been there a couple times, and had a great time both visits. After our talk, we also realized we went to the same yoga studio, but just different locations. (Small world!)

She also shared how she appreciated strong, funny women similar to Sheryl Sandberg and Tina Fey. Kind of made sense then that Emily’s girlfriend also represented the qualities Emily was inspired by and is naturally drawn to. I thought that was cool.

Throughout our talk, Emily was so well measured. She spoke well. Perhaps because she made the comment that because she’s young that people don’t take her seriously. However, I got a different sense from her. Yeah, she’s young, but the sense that I got was that she was very much bright, mature, and thoughtful.

So meet Emily. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 85, Day 85 - Meet Travis and Briana

Stranger 85, Day 85 – Meet Travis and Briana, the “Couple Who Builds On Each Other”

I got up this morning to take my car to get its regular 120K service at the local Toyota dealership. As I was finishing up some other work, I noticed a couple sitting next to me. I was thinking all morning about potentially meeting my Stranger this morning at the dealership. It’d be different than my normalcy. So as I noticed the couple next to me, I decided that today would be the day I would speak to a couple Strangers as part of today’s meet. Though, I would count them as a single Stranger much like I have when speaking to multiple people before.

They happily accepted to be Stranger(s) 85.

Also, our talk was a constant back and forth, so I’m changing up the style to better reflect our meet.

Meet Travis, 28, and Briana, 34

M(e): Who are you?

T(ravis): So, I am a 5th-year PhD student in a neuroscience program.

We get interrupted for a little while as my service advisor comes to tell me some news.

T continues: Male. Obviously. *Haha, yes, obviously.* White male from Ohio. I guess if you want to ask for some personality traits as well what makes me a person.

M: However you want to go.

T: I would say I’m a very curious person. Very compassionate person. I consider myself very open-minded. Very interested to learn about people’s cultures and backgrounds. I’m just kind of curious about life, in general — just kind of like the driving force for me being in science as well.

*I turn to Briana.*

M: Who are you?

B: My turn?

T: She’s a little more shy than me, I think.

B(riana): So, yeah, I’m Briana. Regulatory coordinator in continuing medical education. That’s pretty much it for right now.

T: I can describe her maybe.

M: Describe her, and then, you can describe him.

T: She’s very sweet and a soft-hearted person. She’s very compassionate. I said I was compassionate, she’s very compassionate. She’s the one who keeps me tame and focused, I think. She’s very loving. So yeah, just a very… a great force to have around and keep you balanced.

M: How else would you describe him outside of what he said?

B: He’s doing great.

B: … this is awkward. *Haha, maybe just a little. She’s a little shy.* Yeah.

T: She agrees with me.

B: Yeah, I agree with all his stuff… of what he said about himself.

M: Okay.

T: She’s just more nervous.

M: How’d you guys meet?

B: We met at a Halloween party, sort of. Then, I became friends with his lab mate, and hung out with her a bunch. Then, I met him again after meeting him at the Halloween party through her and other friends.

T: So it was a random, like very disconnected friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, you know? It was a long line and chain of people. We seemingly kept ending up at the same place.

B: Yeah. We were at several occasions together. And then, we started dating and stuff

T: Yeah, so, it was interesting. We met at this Halloween party, but just briefly. She was actually seeing a friend of mine, but he kept saying, ‘Man, I met this girl, but like, she’d be great for you! She’d really be good for you!’ I was like, “oh okay.” So it was this awkward “my best friend’s dating this girl kind of, but he keeps saying, ‘man, she’s great for you!'” *he’s laughing* Okay! So we met, and we all agreed that it’s better for me. *He keeps laughing, and she’s smiling* So it all worked out. We’re still best friends. It’s all good.

M: So, when did you guys meet?

B: That was Halloween of 2015.

T: So just a little over a year ago. It was our first interaction.

M: What were you guys dressed as?

B: At the first meeting? He was the Incredible Hul– Or he was the Sexy Hulk? Slutty Hulk? *Travis is laughing hysterically*

M: The Slutty Hulk?

B: Slutty Incredible Hulk… *Travis is still laughing.*

T: We were an Avengers group. So, let’s just call it that.

B: He was like painted green. And he just had these little shorts on. His best friend, the guy who I dated for a very short time, he painted his whole body green.

T chimes in: Well, no…

B: Well, all the visible parts, I guess.

M: Real best friends…

B: I was supposedly, sort of Cleopatra because I was with one of my friends who was my house mate. He was dressed as Caesar, so I was Cleopatra at that party.

M: So let’s be honest — was it the shorts? *they both laugh, especially Briana* Were you like, “you had me at your shorts.”

T: They were pretty impressive shorts.

B: Yeah, maybe… *she’s laughing*

M: So how long until you guys went on your first date?

B: Between Halloween and our first date?

T: Well, our first date was… Julllyyy?

B: At the sandwich bar?

T: Yes, at the sandwich bar.

B: Sort of. No, yeah… I guess July. So it was sort of… March, but then sort of July. So…

B: It took a long time between the Halloween party and where we are now. We started officially, Facebook officially, dating in August.

M: Oh, well, that’s the only thing that counts really.

T: Yup! If it’s not on Facebook, it doesn’t matter.

B: And then, we went to the same Halloween that the girl who hosted the Halloween party which is one of his friends — she’s from his program. She hosted another Halloween party this year, so we went to the same one hosted by the same girl.

T: … One year. But between the October and August, there was a lot of just like dating casual.

B: Yeah.

T: … spending time together, but that was really us officially dating.

B: … from August, yeah.

M: Well, you’re here at Toyota at 7AM on a Saturday, so I’m going to take it that this is real serious. They say there’s this “airport test”, but I kind of go with the “7AM at Toyota test”.

T: Yeah, I think that’s a fair assumption. *Briana is laughing hysterically next to us* I’ll agree to that.

M: What are a couple of your passions? I’ll let you guys kind of talk…

T: Passions… So, at this point, I’ll make it on the superficial level. I’m passionate about science, obviously. That’s why I do it.

M: And you have a tattoo of it on your arm. *It’s of some chemical bonds, I believe*

T: Yeah, exactly. *He chuckles for a moment* It’s the discovery part. It’s the creativity of coming up with ideas. Testing them. Seeing something for the first time that no one else in the world has seen before. This type of thing is really an intrinsic drive for me to get up everyday and to go to work, and do these things that I do. Keeps me motivated and keeps me focused. On kind of the outer level, I would say discovery is what I’m passionate about. Going a little bit deeper, is more passionate about, significant others. Kind of developing this relationship.

M: Aww. *I look at Briana.*

T: Well, you know, we come to this test! *Briana laughs* You know, it’s to the point now where I kind of get in this bubble where I was just doing work all the time, all the time, all the time. I was like I need step out in a way and discover things outside of that — not just sitting in a lab all day. Like in the last year is when I’ve been trying to work on personal relationship cultivation, things like that. So I’m getting more passionate about other people… about others and developing these relationships, and not just clicking and working all the time in the lab. Something I’m passionate about now is making sure that I’m not doing that all the time. I’m doing other things with people and developing relationships.

B: So, let’s see. I’m passionate about a lot of things. *Travis nods* I’m very excited about change, and evolving education that we can do as individuals. And then us… relationships whether it’s parent-to-child or brother-sister or these types of relationships *she motions to herself and Travis*, but also on a national scale within a company, national scale within a state. All the different ways we can identify little areas of improvement and slowly make them. That’s something I’m just becoming passionate about based on my current work, and also seeing our nation and how it’s developing, whether it’s backwards or forwards. That type of thing, I think, is really exciting. Both in that current way but also when I’m learning about our history or like right now, I’m reading about dead bodies, actually. And all the different things I can learn about those. I really like learning, but I’m really excited about problem-solving and change, specifically. How change happens, and how people can embrace change. How you can kind of… right now, I would say my current passions are communication issues and process improvement issues. I think everything from whatever’s happening now to the Palestine conflict can be taken down to communication and process issues, and identifying where those little areas of potential change and intervention are, is really exciting. That’s what I’m excited about right now. Might be something different tomorrow. *Travis takes a sip of coffee from his bottle*

T: That just kind of reminded me because my brain’s slowly waking up. But yeah, and also to say education is something I’m passionate about. Not just for myself, but educating people on all social, political world issues just so everyone can make an informed opinion about whatever they feel strongly about. Let’s say educating one’s self to looking at educating school children — first graders, second graders — teaching them correct information, not just biased, personal, influenced beliefs, or something like that. To an old grandma that’s going to be voting (or this election or whatever), they kind of understand the situation. Look at the issues, not just from one side, but both sides. We’re all guilty and biased in beliefs — some more than others, sometimes. I think it’s important to educate yourself about the issue and all the components to it. I’d say I’m passionate about education on all issues.

B: I’d latch onto one thing to that. In terms of informing the populace or informing ourselves, I think education from first grade to grandmother, I think the most important thing is critical thinking. Like facilitating critical thinking, creative thinking in the mind from the young to the old. That, going back to the change thing, that people that are quite old and set in their ways can still learn and change. I think embracing that idea as a people can help us a lot. I just think much more than filling up somebody’s brain with information, I think that critical thinking is just so important. So no matter what is thrown at them, they can take it, process it, and be able to make a decision from that material. That’s another thing I feel passionate about. There you go!

*we laugh. Travis takes another sip of his coffee*

M: How do you guys communicate and support one another?

T: I got one more thing about the passion thing that I wanted to speak about. One more thing. *Briana is laughing hysterically again* Is that okay?

T: So the other thing… like I said I’m slowly waking up. I’m drinking my coffee. Every time I take a sip, I’m like, “oh yeah…”

M: Every sip is one more enlightenment.

T: Yeah, it is. I’m going to have one more enlightenment here before I go. *he takes another sip* MMmmm. Something else I’ve become more aware about/ aware of and possibly more passionate about is sustainability as far as climate change. How, what can I do at an individual level and also what nations can be doing to kind of reduce waste, reduce emissions. Thinking about the future of the planet where I think it’s starting to become something that’s more and more critical. You know, the more and more I read about it and think about it — reducing carbon footprints. Even just learning about sustainability. How do I grow my own food a bit, and playing around with these things is something I’m becoming more passionate about. That’s important.

B: So our question now is how we communicate and support each other… You can go ahead.

T: She kind of already touched on it a bit with her passion. She’s really good at communicating, but I’m relatively poor, sometimes, at communicating. I think it’s like one way that we — what? *He looks over at Briana who made a little face at this*

B: No, keep going.

T: So when I get mad, I used to not talk much. Kind of more of a cold person sometimes. But like, I’d say that’s something I’ve worked on quite a bit. Our communication — just open communication — addressing issues immediately helps support each other because we can move and progress through things fast and get over things. Move forward quickly where it’s not holding on to things and not talking about it for days, and this type of thing where I think could really be destructive. *He looks at her again inquisitively. Briana laughs a little* Is it? No?

B: You also have to talk about how we support each other.

T: Oh! *Briana laughs*

M: Or, you, Briana%2

Stranger 84, Day 84 - Meet Chawanis

Stranger 84, Day 84 – Meet Chawanis, the “Woman Finding Flexibility”

I met today’s Stranger before yoga class. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling like meeting someone today after learning I had lost my wallet this afternoon. No clue where it is, sadly. So I was in a rather… unhappy mood. There wasn’t anything else I could do about my now-lost wallet. However, I set myself a challenge to meet 100 Strangers in 100 Days, and today’s Stranger was super friendly and smiling. When you meet someone like her, you find a happy place to keep charging ahead.

Meet Chawanis, 37

She had to think a little bit on her age. We laugh about this.

Who are you?

“I am a wife — 12 years. I’m a mom to two fur babies — two German shepherd mixes. I am a therapist focusing on substance abuse and mental health issues. I have a private practice in Conyers.” Then, she stops. “Actually, you asked me who am I, not what I do.”

“I am a therapist, but that’s what I do. I try to live intentionally and authentically every day. I’m a yoga student here at Infinity at the YTT program. More?” (YTT = yoga teacher in training)

“Yeah, I am, sometimes, introverted — most times introverted. But, I can have a lovely personality, as well. I say that I am a therapist even though that’s my 9-5 job, but really, I counsel people on so many ways throughout my day-to-day contacts in life. So, I think that’s part of me — a gift. You know, that I’ve been given this, so I try to help people in whatever capacity that I can.”

You mention that you try to live your day as authentically as possible. What does that mean for you? How do you do that?

“By being true to myself, my own desires, not hiding behind a mask to prevent people from seeing my imperfections. I’m true to myself. I’m honest about how I feel, and what my thoughts are. I try to consider other people as they are searching for their truths — some knowingly, some unknowingly. So, I try to be sensitive to that. The only way I can be sensitive to that is by being more in tune with who I am. Who I was originally created to be.”

You talk about embracing some of your imperfections. I’m curious what’s an imperfection that you’re proud of?

“An imperfection that I’m proud of…” she sighs and thinks. “That’s a good question, Daryl”.

Chawanis starts, “I guess… I’m structured.” She elongates the word “structured” like she’s unsure of saying it before adding, “If I said rigidity, I wouldn’t be proud of that, so I reframe it as being structured,” she laughs.

“I like things to be done a certain way, and I work hard to get things done, but I’m trying to learn how to be more flexible, and there’s more than one way to get things done. But I’m pretty proud of being structured because it adds value to my life. I just don’t want to be so structured that I am rigid that I miss a lot of opportunities to advance myself or connect with people. You know, make a difference.”

Has there been something recently you’ve been pretty structured before, and then you caught yourself to be more flexible? If so, what was that?

“So, there was an opportunity to make some changes in my practice as far as how I facilitate classes.” She mentions how she facilitates anger management classes.

“There’s a way I did the anger management class, and I wanted it to be done that way. But my facilitator had ideas about how to do it. Initially, I resisted, but then, I said, ‘okay, as long as it still provides structure to what we’re doing, and it’s going to help to advance what we’re doing, then I should be more flexible in that’. So, took a deep sigh, relinquished control, and allowed him to begin to implement that practice, and I think it’s going to work!”

One of the other things you started off saying was that you’re married — 12 years. Congrats! How’d you guys meet?

“In high school. Our senior year in high school. He’s an introvert. One of his friends introduced us in the cafeteria. It was the second semester of high school, so dated for a little while and all through summer. Then, we separated — went to different colleges. Broke up the following summer. Six years later, got back together, and soon after, got married.”

That’s awesome. Is he structured as well?

“No.” She answered that really fast and laughed.

So how do you guys complement each other?

“We have learned how to accept each other for who we are and what we bring to the table. In areas he thinks he needs more structure, I think he’ll ask first. Sometimes, he just is. I think those moments where he resists when maybe I’m being overbearing with my structure. But, he’s taught me a lot about flexibility and being open to change. Because I’ve been open today, it is really has helped me a lot.”

What motivates you to do what you do to try to make the world a better place? (Thanks to Virginia, Stranger 83)

“What motivates me to do what I do to try to make the world a better place…”

“Realizing that everybody is facing something. Everybody has some challenge they have to face. Knowing I can make a small impact by helping someone address that challenge or attack that challenge. That, and knowing that they may be open and receptive to that, then that keeps me going. That helps to make me feel like I’m making a difference.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“Have you done anything today that will bring you closer to your purpose in life?”

… and if so, what was it?

“Yes! And if so, what was it,” she laughs.

After the handshake.

For the several minutes Chawanis shared with me her story, and had that beaming smile, I forgot all about my unfortunate wallet. We talked, and I was interested more about her desire to help others, her relationship with her husband, and how she balanced her structure with flexibility. She was, as I said, super friendly, and was happy to not only share her story, but to learn about the journey I’ve now been on for 84 days. Sure, it’s now been several hours since we met. However, I’m recalling her happiness, and it’s able to remind me that there’s not much I can do about my wallet, but there’s people and things beyond this. (Not that this is that dire.)

Chawanis’ personality and openness to speak brings up a salient point. Especially given her response to Virginia’s (Stranger 83) question, and how Chawanis mentioned that everybody is facing some challenge. Today, I was facing a little dilemma, and her spirit gave me the repreieve and positivity to move on. How applicable and serendipitous, then, was our meeting.

Meet Chawanis. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 83, Day 83 - Meet Virginia

Stranger 83, Day 83 – Meet Virginia, the “Happy-Go-Lucky”

I met today’s Stranger while waiting in the lobby of Atlanta Tech Village. She was walking around the building for a moment before stopping in at the Octane coffee shop. That’s when I walked up to her while she was checking out. She gave me the curious look of what I wanted after I told her I wanted to ask her a random question. However, she was totally game for meeting, and so here goes…

Meet Virginia, 29

Who are you?

She gives me a funny face. “Hmm, I don’t know how to answer that.”

Though, she tries anyways, “I’m somebody that’s pretty happy-go-lucky. I have a lot of passions about a lot of different things.”

She continues, “I’m a nurse, so I have a lot of consideration for people in a lot of different ways. But even when I’m not working, I guess, I still consider people in different ways.”

You have a lot of passions for a lot of different things. So what are a few of those passions?

“Well, I guess, what I mean is I have a lot of passion for what I do at work — like caring about people and taking care of them.”

“But, I guess, anything I do like biking, kick-boxing, or boxing. When I start to do it, I really think about my goals. Like I start to have goals about what I’m trying to do. That’s what I mean.”

What’s a goal you’ve got right now?

“Actually, just started taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This will be a long, long term goal. Eventually, I want to be a black belt. But I just started so that’s going to take a while.”

“And then with biking, I actually, one of my other long-term goals is to do a Century, which is a competition to do a 100-mile race. So I’m going to do that.” She thinks some more.

“And then as far as my career, eventually, I’m going to go back to school. I want to do some travel nursing. So, I can see different things before I go back to school.”

Where do you want to travel?

“I guess for travel nursing, I would have to live in a certain area. I was thinking about definitely over in the west coast. I had some thoughts about Hawaii. That’d be fun. Maybe New York City. Maybe also in Puerto Rico or Bahamas. Like down in that area. But, I like to travel, so out of the country is always fun.”

You mentioned you like to care for people. What are the reasons you’re doing this and nursing? Where did you get this drive and motivations to care for others?

“It started with my family. I originally wanted to be an eye surgeon.” The moment she said that I felt my stomach turn thinking about surgery on an eyeball. Yowza!

“… because my grandmother was going blind. I learned very quickly after watching one surgery that I did not want to be an eye surgeon,” she laughs.

“Then, I started to think back on what I actually liked to do and what mattered to me most. I went through a lot of paths before I picked nursing. I picked nursing because I wanted to be able to do something if something happened to someone I cared about. It’s not too specialized, but it’s specialized enough where I would know how to save some lives for people that I cared about outside of the hospital setting.” That’s cool!

One of the very first things you mentioned to me about you was describing yourself as “happy-go-lucky”. How does that fit into everything?

“I’m not really sure. That’s just kind of how I’ve always been. I guess I get the feedback from people and people tell me, ‘oh, you smile a lot. You laugh a lot.’ Like I get that growing up. That’s my feedback, so that’s how I feel like I am.”

Virginia adds, “I like to take things seriously, but not to the point where it makes you miserable. I think, sometimes, you have to look on the positive side. I know it sounds kind of cheesy to say. It’s hard to do, but sometimes you just have to think positively. I like to exude that.”

Thinking about how you’re a nurse, and how you like to exude positivity. From what I’ve heard from my nurse friends, there are difficult times as a nurse. So I’m curious how you are able to keep your positivity in otherwise difficult situations (that aren’t).

“Umm, yes, I would say it’s very difficult sometimes with certain people in the hospital while taking care of people. I always try to keep in mind that if it’s the patient that’s acting out, I always try to keep in mind that they’re stressed out in this situation. They’re not necessarily doing it towards me. So, I had to learn very quickly not to take things personally. I have to think about their situation. If it’s family members, it’s pretty much the same thing. Like, even if they’re not going through what the patient’s going through, they’re still stressed out for their loved one in that way.”

“I try to keep that in mind. I keep a smile. I like to kill them with kindness. How about that?”

But not actually kill them!

“Yes!” she laughs hysterically. Poor choice of words, but I get it. 😉

What makes you the most happy? (Thanks to Sunshine, Stranger 82)

“I would say…” she thinks about this. “Being around, and just having my friends and family and also my cat… makes me really happy. So we could be happy just being around my friends and family because they’ve got me through a lot through my many years of being on this earth.”

Anything they’ve done specifically that you use as a nurse?

“I think what I learned from them is just to listen. Because I guess, in our day and age, we spend a lot of time talking about things. So, I’ve learned from them how to listen to them because they listen to me when I’m venting about something.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“Maybe what motivates them to do what they do to try to make the world a better place.”

After the handshake.

We had fun taking her picture in different ways, and then, speaking for a few minutes about this journey. I mentioned to her that one of the inspirations of 100 Strangers, 100 Days was the frequency to which we see the same people all the time, but because we do not have to “work” with these people intentionally, we don’t connect often. I shared with her how we tend to do the courteous thing to wave hello or say hi, but nothing else. The rude thing would be to not do anything. Meanwhile, the awkward thing would be to say hi and go beyond the hello. Why is that? She points out that she felt that exact same way when I first approached her. Then, she caught herself and asked herself mentally why she felt this was awkward. So she very much understood the motivations behind this journey.

She also comments how she talks to Strangers all the time, but she does so because she “has to” as part of her job. However, there are many others she sees frequently who she knows nothing about. She thinks about this, and I can see it working in her mind. I can see her thinking about taking a leap to meet some of these Strangers with familiar faces she sees often.

It was only Virginia’s second time at this Octane coffee shop, she also tells me. Well, hopefully, maybe, we’ll see other again in the (near) future.

Meet Virginia. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 82, Day 82 - Meet Sunshine

Stranger 82, Day 82 – Meet Sunshine, the “Crafty”

I was leaving the office before stopping by to say hello to Chandler, the “Wu-Tang Mentor” (Stranger 13). We chatted for a brief minute before asking him if there was a Stranger around to talk to (not seriously, but for fun). One gentleman was in the lobby of the office building, and I asked him if he had a few minutes, but he was unavailable. He had to rush upstairs to a meeting. All good.

I proceeded to the coffee shop on the first floor (Octane) to say goodbye to one of my coworkers. As I was seeing what he was up to and saying goodbye, I looked around for a Stranger in the coffee shop. A few seats away was a woman working diligently on her computer. So, of course, the challenge was on to see if this person who seemed to be working hard would take a few minutes to meet a Stranger.

She was so friendly, and happily accepted to be today’s Stranger.

Meet Sunshine, 39

Sunshine just had a birthday, so say happy birthday, readers!

Who are you?

“I’m still trying to find that out!” she laughs. “I don’t know!” But she tries anyways…

“I’m a girl. And I like to do crafty things sometimes. I like to drink coffee. This is the first time I’ve been to this Octane. I’m a wife and a traveler.”

So what is “crafty”? What does that mean?

“I like to make things. Doesn’t have to be significant. I just like to make stuff. I’m in my second or third year, and I have a little Esty shop on the side.” She points to her computer screen. “That’s what I was working on right now — my Etsy site.”

“I do things with leftover wood cuttings from my husband’s carpentry. And I also do some things with ceramics. But, that’s not all of it. I do things with my nieces and nephews. I’ll cut paper and color, and whatever it is. I like all that stuff.”

Why do you love doing that?

“I have two guesses. I haven’t really thought about this really hard. I’m sure that’s why you do this, right?” Yup!

“I used to when I was younger, I thought I wanted to be an artist, and decided not to. I went into business because I thought I didn’t want to be a starving artist. It’s just a creative outlet. Since I didn’t do that for a living, I’m doing it for fun on the side now. I think that’s one reason. And my… yes! So creative outlet, and I didn’t do it for a living.”

You wanted to be an artist but not a starving one.

“Yeah, yeah. So I have a job, and I do software development things, and then I do this on the side. It doesn’t pay any bills.” She corrects herself, “It pays for itself!” That’s hard sometimes to at least break-even, so congrats!

Is there anything at the job you find creative?

“Yes. To be clear, I’m not a software developer. I’m in software development. And so, I’m actually a product owner/ business analyst-type of person. I work with folks to make sure that what the vision calls for is built. That’s kind of where I am. And so, most of my creative outlet isn’t around something tangible, and I think that’s the difference between what I do and what I do on Etsy.”

“I do be creative. It just isn’t pretty at the end of the day,” she laughs. “I have to come up with ways for things to move forward even though it seems like they’ve come to a dead-end. That’s all creative and fun and everything, but I don’t know if it qualifies for left-brain, right-brain kind of activities.”

How did you get into crafting and start with Etsy?

“OH! I love this. My husband recently had a career pivot three years ago. He started doing carpentry independently. He was doing commercial construction before that. And his sister and him started up a little business together doing interior decor, and now, it’s turning into furniture. His carpentry skills got really, really tapped into. He was generating all this sawdust and wood pieces and stuff. One day, I picked one up, and I was like, ‘This could be a business card holder.’ That’s like up-cycled at its finest, right? It’s wood that would’ve been thrown away otherwise, and I thought people might want that. And they did! Yay!” She gives a big smile and a brief moment of extra enthusiasm.

“And so, his carpentry was able to get me to brush off all these little small things and just start making.”

“… tangible stuff, yeah.”

That’s very cool.

“He’s way better than me by the way.”

In some things.

“In those ways, for sure.”

You hear that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So, that’s really, really cool. (I asked her if he participates in Scott Antique Marketing which occurs every second weekend of the month down by the Atlanta Airport — show marketplace full of original and vintage items.)

“They don’t. They actually sell at Queen of Hearts in Alpharetta. So it’s Scott’s, but much smaller.”

I’m also intrigued by Sunshine’s necklace — green-ish beads as necklace. Hanging from those beads is a picture of a single bird looking up at the sky, and sitting on two branches. So I ask for the story behind the necklace.

“My sister-in-law, who my husband’s in business with, she also makes jewelry. She made this for me.”

“I don’t know if it has any significance for her, but for me, it’s just a very special piece. She made it, and gave it me.”

So suppose the necklace was made specifically for you. Why do you think she would have made this for you?

She thinks about this — “Oh, dear…”

“Because, I’m not very colorful, and I need help.” She laughs. “‘Being colorful.’ I don’t know… it’s pretty. I don’t know if the bird has any meaning. I can’t sing. I don’t feel trapped or clipped. So maybe we’re both free birds. I don’t know.”

Do you see crafting and making things evolving into anything else? Maybe something you want to tap into beyond? Do you want to make this your career?

“Dude! I would love to. I would love to. I am very well aware the fact that I have certain income requirements for myself and things that I want. And so, unless I hit something that was able to be a ‘cash cow’ type of thing, this is probably going to stay just on the side.”

“Over 10 years ago, now that I’m 39, my husband and I sold everything and moved to New Zealand for a year. That’s when I learned two things that was really fun, but we liked things. At the end of that, we decided to come home and go back to corporate-types of jobs and everything. I don’t know that I’ll ever make a leap like that. But if he does, which is what I kind of want to happen, if he does and his company has success or there are some risks we can take around that, I’m behind it 100%.”

To wrap this up, how do you deal with adversity? (Thanks to Tesh, Stranger 81)

“That’s a really good question. Tesh is super smart. I have two approaches that it depends. Most adversity that’s not for my immediate family, I take head-on. So, I’m pretty fearless when it comes to taking on challenges with Strangers in the street or with people I work with and stuff. In my family situation now, I usually just avoid it as best as I can. These are people I need to spend the rest of my life with in peace. And I make that alternate choice for my family.”

How do you still address those? Or do you just never address those?

“Pretty much never address, and just find the positive things to focus on and be a part of.”

So before you get your chance to ask your question, I’m also curious about this little piece. (As I point to her bracelet.)

“Oh yay! Okay. So this piece, my best cousin gave to me. She visited here in Atlanta. My mom’s first cousin’s daughter, and we’ve become friends probably over the last 15 years. We weren’t friends as children. We didn’t know each other well. She was here visiting, and we were in a shop over in Westside, and we bought each other these bracelets. They each have different quotes, and we picked our own out, and then gifted them to each other. We both have the same style of jewelry that we like, which is why I guess we picked out the same thing.”

“I think that everyone has the potential to be brilliant, and I think it’s an important thing to remind people of. You’ll see that it’s facing you. It’s not facing me. I put it on intentionally in that direction. It’s for you.” She points and shows me how the bracelet reads, “Be Brilliant”.

“It’s for you,” she tells me.

If I was to wear it, what do you think that you’re brilliant at?

She laughs. “These are hard questions!” haha

“I’m a really good wife. So, I’m brilliant with my husband. It’s my favorite thing to be.”

That’s awesome. I bet when you share with him this, he’ll tell you how much he loves you (and what he finds brilliant about you).

“Or, he’ll tell me how wrong I am, and what I can do to improve. So, we’ll find out.” She laughs again.

So you’re turn now. What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What makes you most happy?”

After the handshake.

I don’t think I said “smile” enough as I wrote up our interactions. Sure, I could sprinkle them in post-write-up, but just take it from me that she was smiling a lot. She was happy, and it was like she was really enjoying life.

Afterwards, we talked some more as she asked me questions about this journey. She found it interesting, and I think, she became more and more interested in the higher inspirations of this journey. It was great to see her continue to smile and be inquisitive. I told her, too, that I thought many readers (you) would/ could find inspiration in her story as she pursues her passion of being crafty not as a full-time job, but as a side-gig. I think that’s an important thing to think about as so many people think that’s it’s an “either/ or” dilemma. However, it’s not. This journey is proof that you can have a tough job + work out + go to yoga + see friends and family and STILL make time for a passion journey (“project”).

Sunshine was gracious to allow me to distract her and learn more about her, and I’m happy she did. I was in a happy mood before I spoke to her, but after speaking with her, I had a noticeable uptick just because of her energy. So great to meet her.

Meet Sunshine. No longer a Stranger.