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Stranger 60, Day 60 - Meet Kathleen

Stranger 60, Day 60 – Meet Kathleen, the “Mentor for Women”

I met today’s Stranger by wandering the rooms around Atlanta Tech Village again. In the large community room on the first floor, I happened to find a woman working pretty hard on her computer. In fact, when I interrupted her for this project, she asked me to come back as she was wrapping up something pretty difficult. She seemed like a strong person who was going to share something interesting, so I sat around outside waiting till she was finished. When I approached later, she was open to speaking, and thus, be today’s Stranger.

Meet Kathleen, “older than me”

Who are you?

“I’m a businesswoman. I’m a mentor at ATV. I mentor women. I’m passionate about mentoring women. That’s where I’m heading with my next step at this point. I’m shifting from an old step to a new step — a previous step to a new step.”

“I have been in business for all of my career — 30+ years. I’ve lived all over the world. I’ve worked with startups, and I’ve worked with more organized companies. MBA from Berkeley in Accounting. Undergraduate in French. I speak French, and I have studied Italian. I’ve lived in 17 states, at least. I’ve lived in India. I’ve lived in France. I’ve lived in Canada.” She thinks some more.”

“… that’s me!”

So you’re transferring from a previous step to a new step. Is there a reason for this?

“About a year and a half ago, I went to a venture capital forum. I was invited by a friend of mine who’s a VC. It was an introduction of startup companies who were presenting to this VC forum to get funding. I was stunned — truthfully stunned — and then very upset there were no women in the room. There was not one woman in any presenting software companies. Not one!”

“And in the audience of buyers, there were three women and the rest were men. I looked around, and I thought, ‘what the hell happened? What the hell happened for women?’ And I didn’t use the word ‘hell’. I just was so… it made me so upset. Out of that came a determination to work with women to improve their careers and be more successful in their careers. Help them address the issues that women face in the business world in a way that is very proactive and positive, and help them be more successful.”

“I view the business world as kind of a football field. There are a lot of different rules. A lot of different ways to dress. And a lot of ways to be, and that we just have to learn how to play the game and be more successful, and use the tools that we have… help the mentees create a better team.”

“Now, I just finished offering a course that is a follow-on to one I offered last year called, ‘Getting the Career You Want’. It’s four sessions. The sessions address the art of negotiation, owning your own power, the difference between the male brain and the female brain, and the particular gates that women have to check over in order to be successful. So it’s been actually quite exciting! And now I’m looking to doing that 100%!”

So many questions and thoughts running through my head at this point with Kathleen. I find what she’s doing fascinating. I wanted to ask a broad question — what are the top 2 or 3 or 5 things that you say to women right off the bat?

“It depends, but let’s say if I’m just meeting you and I shake your hand and you have a lousy handshake, if I can draw the woman aside and I tell the women she’s got a lousy handshake. The handshake and the first two seconds are the moments when most judgments are made. The handshake is very, very important. Many women do not know how to shake hands.”

Do you think that’s more true with women and men?

“Mostly women. Men tend to know better. But it doesn’t make any difference if men know better. I’m happy to teach a man how to shake hands, but my commitment is to teach women how to shake hands. So, I teach them how to shake hands. A lot of people pull their hands back. A lot of it’s got to do with being afraid of being crushed. Women tend to have smaller hands, and men sometimes don’t know their strength.”

“I actually did it the other day. Every single woman I meet who does not shake hands in a powerful fashion, I try to draw them aside and teach them how to shake hands. First thing I say.”

“Women apologize too much. Women are always saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ Cut the ‘I’m sorry’-ies out. So that’s the next thing. If I meet a woman who says, ‘I’m sorry’ too many times, I draw her aside, and say, ‘don’t say I’m sorry. It just weakens you. It weakens you in the conversation.’ I’m about teaching women how to be powerful in business. So that’s my second thing I say to women.”

“So one, shake hands. Two, I’m sorry. And…” She thinks about this one for a while. “It’s a corollary to ‘I’m sorry’. It’s over-explaining who we are.”

“There are lots of little things — how to stand powerfully. How to speak powerfully. How to accept praise. How to not diminish what it is you have — that’s called the imposter syndrome. There’s a lot of things that women do unconsciously. Truthfully, there’s a lot of things men do unconsciously as well. So the game really is to educate men as well as women. I’ve chosen my market to help women, but I think that if the women are helped, the men will be helped, too.”

That was a great segue for me. What can I do as a man to make sure that I respect women? There’s things unconscious that I don’t know that I do.

“Implicit bias is an issue for all of us. In a business, never interrupt women. Men are great interrupters. Men interrupt a lot, and women will defer to an interruption. So to be mindful of your conversational techniques with women would be probably be a really great thing to start to adopt.” Good feedback.

“And the other thing, and my favorite second topic is the male brain and female brain — that’s a fascinating topic! That’s a topic I would like to speak to men and women about. So much of what it is that’s going on with us in this… our modern times are one gazillionth of our history as human beings. Our history of human beings has determined the development of our brains. The development of our brain targets certain types of drives and behaviors that are unique to men vs. unique to women — these are broad statements. Every brain is different, but in general. You know how they say women are better communicators. Women are better multi-taskers. Men think they’re good multi-taskers, but they’re not. And it’s because they’re genetics are about going out and killing the thing and bringing it home. So they do that in business, but we’re in a modern culture now. Cultures change, but the genetics haven’t changed. I think it’s a useful conversation for men to understand that when women want to plan deeply, it’s kind of the way their brains are organized. It’s like that ‘ready, aim, fire’ — men, it’s ‘fire, aim, ready’. Women are ‘ready’, ‘aim, fire’. Men are not that. It’s a really interesting thing to think about. The more we understand that in our business interactions, then I think we have a higher percentage of things going well.”

“The other thing you can do if you’re in a sales organization, make sure you’ve got a lot of women there. If you have more women, the odds are — well, it’s proven. The statistics show that your company’s going to be more successful by having more women in positions of power, not just women there just for the sake of having women.”

If you lost all the people closest to you, what would you have? What would you still have? (Thanks to Mark, Stranger 59)

“What’s inside me.”

She continues, “I’d be devastated and sad, but I would be enough for me. I’d be sad, but I’d be enough for me. I wouldn’t lose me.”

“Good question, actually… really good question.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

She initially asked, “What is one thing you’re doing to change the world?” However, she amended that to ask, “What are you doing to pay it forward?”

Kathleen then shares, “My mission and intention is to forever change the trajectory of the career of every person I work with. That is my commitment to the person — to forever change their trajectory in their career. That’s my intention. That’s my mission, and that’s my purpose. Intention drives everything. You have to have an intention before you do anything. It’s really important for me to have that set.” She shares how she’s been 100% successful in that regard with everyone she’s worked with — women and men.

After the handshake.

Speaking to Kathleen was great. I appreciated learning about how she helps women. I am an Advisor/ have advised several woman entrepreneurs/ women-led startups. In fact, the “I’m sorry” notice was something I have spoken to several women (and men) about. What else was enlightening for me was hearing her advice to me as a man. Interruptions is actually something I’ve heard about from someone, too. I’m not sure if I read it in a book or in a blog post or what, but I remember this very clearly. I also remember and know that I do interrupt people today. Though, I think I do it with men and women all the same… which is not good, period.

I did comment earlier to her that at my company, presently, we do not have any women. It’s not that we haven’t had women in the past (marketers, product management, developer intern). We just don’t have any at the moment, but we’re still a young startup. And honestly, I also have not seen a women’s sales resume cross my desk. She did pick up on this — “no female resume cross my desk”, and perhaps it was my miscommunication to say it like I did because it’s not that I was only looking for resumes that had “male” checked. Instead, resumes just come to my inbox or via LinkedIn, and they’re all men for sales. We talked about this, and she pointed the dearth of female sales professionals (and indeed, those in tech) to marketing campaigns 40 years ago when Apple introduced the personal computer — all marketed at men, and thus, the female technical jobs declined. So now, women are 40 years behind, as she points out.

There’s a lot to this, and I was so curious about her thoughts between men and women brains, and how to be more conscious of implicit biases. However, I had to run, and this was not going to be a 60 Minutes interview. However, it was a great beginning to, hopefully, many fruitful conversations down the road.

Meet Kathleen. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 37, Day 37 - Meet Giovanni

Stranger 37, Day 37 – Meet Giovanni, the “Mentor and Father”

This morning, I had to go back to my office to do some work. I had yet another extremely busy weekend day — I wonder when this will stop? Anyways, knowing I was going to be busy, I was curious who was around the coffee shop, and if I could meet my Stranger for the day. I was outside when I noticed a gentleman sitting at a table. He just put down his phone and a little pad of paper. “Well, here goes nothing,” I sigh as tend to do when I make my pitch to a complete stranger. Happily, he accepted and was excited about connecting as strangers.

Meet Giovanni, 42

Who are you?

“Who am I, man…? I’m a former Marine. After giving to the Marine Corps, I ended up in Atlanta doing real estate. That’s what brought me here in 2003, and that’s what I continue to do. So it’s kind of similar thing that you’re doing because you know, being in real estate, if you do it properly, it’s a relationship business. I don’t think I’ve been as bold as what you’re doing right now. But it’s definitely… the last couple minutes have opened my eyes into maybe something I should be doing because I think it’s relatively interesting. Being in the relationship business, that I’m willing to take that step you just took to go ahead and connect with a total Stranger. But in any case, that’s what I do.”

What are your passions? Do you have any Dreams? If so, what are they?

“So definitely have passion. Obviously, you catch me here on a Sunday, one of the things I really enjoy doing is working with middle school students here at Buckhead Church. I’m half-way through a three-year commitment with 6, 7, and 8th graders. So this year, I’ve got my boys are in 7th grade. So I spend a couple hours each Sunday here just working with them, and showing up randomly in their lives outside of church here — just to be that one person in their life that is not paid to be in their life. Just help them, you know, walk the path towards a relationship with Jesus Christ, but ultimately to help them find a faith of their own that’s away from their parents who are obviously bringing them here every week. Their parents have their own faith. We believe we help them develop their own faith, and not just vision of Jesus and God that is along the lines of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, so to speak. That’s been really rewarding. That’s been a huge passion. You know, helping people. Every real estate scenario is different. That’s definitely a passion.”

“As far as dreams, having a newborn son has changed a lot. Changed a lot of my focus. A lot of my focus recently has been what’s my legacy. What am I going to leave for him? What do I leave for him if I were to die tomorrow? What is there? It’s a rather emotional journey because when you really start to think about those things, you can’t…” He laughs. “We might think like we’re all the way… like we’ve accomplished a bunch of stuff so far in our life. But man, it kind of hits you hard when you really think about ‘what am I really leaving behind?’ Financially, spiritually… just your imprint on the world. And then you just come to the realization that we’re all going to die, and we probably don’t know when that’s going to happen, but we’re running out of time. You gotta get going. It’s been somethings I’ve been in deep thought about — a few weeks actually.”

“So obviously my passion, my one thing, is to leave behind a legacy that he would be proud of, and he can choose to run with it if he wants to.”

What inspired you to work with middle schoolers?

“Being a part of this church community, one of the things that they encourage us to do is to serve in some capacity. I took a while to figure out where I want to be, but I felt like my life growing up, that stage in my life, that middle school stage, was… I really had a choice to make where I could go the path of being in a not-so-desirable position. I grew up without having a father, not having a mother, so I had a lot of freedom to make choices – either good or bad. That was a stage in my life where I decided to get into sports, and it was only because there was a mentor there. Wasn’t really a mentor, but a next door neighbor who just kind of pushed me in the right direction. I looked at all the different things at the church where we could be more effective at or where not only give us the opportunity to pour into them, but pour back into us. My wife and I do it together. She’s got 7th grade girls. It’s an amazing program.”

What’s a challenge that you learned working with middle schoolers?

“I mean, just understanding that they’re growing up in a completely different world we grew up in. Learning how to relate or just connect… technologically, they’re different. I wasn’t even really interested in Snapchat until I started learning about middle schoolers and seeing how they communicate with each other, and that’s a big part of it. Just understanding how they communicate with each other and how they’re going to want to be communicated to. They’re not so much talking on the phone, or necessarily, writing letters to each other. That’s a been a challenge. Then, just trying to find out how you can show up in their life randomly, and just be that person that they can trust. It’s a process which is why I think the leadership asked us to commit to three years. Last year what kind of like… a big cluster. They were kind of all over the place and unruly, and over time, they’re starting to trust you, and they’re starting to lean on you a little bit more.”

“I think another challenge, I think to answer your question, is patience. To just trust in the process. The process of a 3-year commitment that’s laid out for is going to turn into a life-long relationship with some of these kids. You’ve got to be patient and trust.”

We talked about how to leverage technology to better connections with our audience. We also talk about how commitment underlines the importance of appreciating a process of change. It’s not just a simple switch. Change and connecting is a constant practice.

“You’re walking down the street, and you’re just saying, ‘hi, how are you doing?’ It’s just a standard greeting, but nobody really cares. I thought about it this week, what if I just started stopping everytime somebody said that, and I started engaging with them in conversation. They’d probably be like, ‘how are you doing? why are you talking to me because I don’t really want to know.’ Then why did you just say, ‘how are you doing?’ It’s just a weird part of our culture as Americans that we do this.”

What’s a Life Lesson you’ve learned working with these middle schoolers that you really want to impart on your infant son?

“One of the things that I learned is just watching them, more or less. I guess that they have parents that are comfortable and confident enough to let them go through this process on their own instead of constantly wanting to protect them. For me, I’ll just have to remind myself and remember that when he gets to that age that hey, it’s going to be important for him to connect with other middle schoolers and kids of his age and start to get away from the foundation that we’re laying. Start to learn about himself. There are parents, not necessarily in our group, that are just so protective. They’re so concerned about what language is being used in certain areas. At some point, you have to understand reality that if you attempt to let your child grow up in a bubble, I just feel that it… in itself is holding him back. Things that they’ll eventually be introduced to whether in high school or college or the military or something. Just to keep an open mind and understand that this time we have with them now, we’re just protecting them, and he’s everywhere with us… enjoy it because there’s going to be a time we’re going to have to let go… and we’re going to want to let go.”

We talk briefly about what “normal” means for kids these days. Instead of “normal”, we should inspire for kids to be authentic to themselves.

“To be prepared to have a broad range of experiences. The biggest thing for us, as we see other children who are going through… what things can we pick up that would help us as parents along the way. Be better parents… You’re not going to be perfect, but just to learn things because they’re all sorts of books out there, manuals, people who give you all kinds of advice. Till you do it, you’re just doing what you feel is right and hope that you’re doing the right thing, and not destroying them. I think having a strong foundation with a good community of folks who love God and love each other… it’s really not much more you can ask for. We’re all designed to be in community with each other, and that’s now in this day and age, you really have to seek it. Because we can totally get tunnel vision and stay engrossed in our phones, and everything now obtained at home through the internet. We don’t have to go to the movies because we can download it. We can have groceries delivered to us. We can have food delivered to us. So it’s an interesting paradigm shift that we’re going through as a society.”

“When you travel over seas, you don’t see that. They’re so excited about having a Bible because they’re just like, ‘this is the greatest thing ever’. They have nothing else in the community. They might not even have running water. They see you coming with a Bible and they’re like that’s the greatest thing ever because they’ve got that connection now to God. We could sit here and see 15 different things we can go and consume. Whereas in some other countries, the only thing they can consume is what they can get out of the river that’s a mile away. It’s crazy to think that we have that on this Earth. But this is one of the reasons why we’re perceived to be such a great country, and I love it. But it can catch you by surprise. I think it leads to complacency. Leads to laziness. That’s some things we’ll have to constantly battle and to overcome.”

Giovanni actually answered Jeff’s question (Stranger 36) about what impact to leave behind — the legacy. So I asked him what Mike, Stranger 35, asked from the day before — what would it take for your to talk to 100 strangers in 100 days?

I would likely need an accountability partner to help me… to hold me accountable. In a way, I do talk to a 100 strangers a day, but not at the level you do it. It’s usually about business.” We talk about talking to someone without the motivation of selling.

“I already do it… probably do it in a week, but it’s always in the context of ‘how can I help you with your real estate question’. Yeah, accountability! I think accountability is what a lot of us need. It helps me. Not that I need somebody to hammer me, hammer me. But anytime you’re going on a journey with somebody else whether it’s working out with someone at the gym or learning a new skill or hobby, it’s always having the leverage of having 3 or 4 people together is more powerful then staying it alone. Accountability is the one thing that would help me do that.

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I’m always a big fan of ‘who two or three people you know that I should know?'”

Giovanni also provided a second question — “The greatest book that you’ve read this last year?”

After the handshake.

I kinda lied at the beginning when I said he was excited to connect as Strangers. Listening to Giovanni talk, we weren’t really Strangers at all. Instead, we were connected as people living in the community.

It was great to talk to Giovanni about all that he’s passionate about — especially how religion has shaped his life and continues to influence him and those he interacts with. The lessons he’s learned, too, working with middle schoolers really resonated with me. His thoughts about learning Snapchat and how to use it is key as he wants to connect with those he mentors. It’s not about him and what he’s engrained with if he’s trying to help shape these kids’ lives. Instead, it’s learning how best to leverage technology to speak to the kids. It’s about knowing his audience to deliver his message and influence them.

The second point about patience and the process is also very important. In an age of “we need this now!” or rather, “we want this now!”, patience and trust in the process is important to appreciate. Rarely are things ever a quick-fix or a quick-influence. Instead, there’s a process that comes with transformation… especially meaningful ones. It’s about how to sustain those changes so influences can take hold, and to make change requires consistent effort/ practice.

Pleasure to meet Giovanni this morning, and hope you got/ get a chance to meet him, too.

Meet Giovanni. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 33, Day 33 - Meet Jarvis

Stranger 33, Day 33 – Meet Jarvis, the “Humble”

I met today’s Stranger just out of the blue as he was working on his laptop. He had earbuds in and connected to his phone. He had been on the phone off and on from what I noticed on the patio of Starbucks. It was clear he was making several business calls, so I was curious if not only would he talk to me, but would he devote time to share with me his story knowing he likely had several more calls to make.

Turns out, the Stranger was quite open and friendly. He was skeptical about the picture at first, but as I continued to share why I started on this project, he totally got it, and was happy to talk.

Meet Jarvis, 31

Who are you?

Jarvis laughs.

“31. 10-year-old daughter. I’m a merchandising manager for Dr. Pepper. Been doing that for a while. True passions are eating healthy, working out, or racing. That’s one of the biggest things. I love sports. Just giving back. If I’m ever in position to where I can help somebody, then I try my best to. I’ve been able to bless people with jobs. Help them in financial situations. Whenever I can try to mentor somebody or give them education, I do my best to do that. That’s pretty much my everyday scheme. I manage over 60-something people. That’s on a daily basis, so that’s my life right now. Just trying to raise my little girl in this crazy world.”

I mentioned to Jarvis about Ed, Stranger 26. Jarvis found Ed’s Cannonball record run very interesting. These serendipitous Stranger connections.

Jarvis mentions how he’s “always wanted to race the Le Mans.” In fact, that’s what he wants to do in life. He’s also a big fan of Ferraris. Who isn’t? Ha

So you touched on your passions. What are your dreams?

“I want to design and have my own car. I would want to come out with my own car.”

Jarvis shares his interest in Tesla. “If I could take what they have, and take what Ferrari have, I would probably put those two together, and create my own thing. I know eventually, we’re going to run out of our own natural resources. We have 20, 30 years from now… we’ll have to move to another direction. They’re already there with the types of cars they have. Right now, I like antique stuff, too. Right now, I have a 1980 Trans Am that I’m bringing back to life. Going to fully restore it. It’s like taking ‘one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure’. There’s always something in something.”

“If I could have a dream, that’d be it — I’d love to have my own car. I’d probably freak out.” Jarvis laughs.

“If I could just travel and race!”

You love to give back. You love mentoring. And you have a 10-year-old daughter. What are some of the life lessons you’ve learned along the way, that you advise and impart on others?

“I think the biggest thing is that we’re very, very outspoken. But at the same time, I think we need to fall back to listening, too. Like one advice… even if it’s something you know, there are more than one way to learn something — ‘more than one way to skin a cat’. The biggest thing I tell people is to just be patient. For everything you’re itching for, you’re wanting to do… it’s gonna come. Keep that ambition, and keep fighting. No matter how many obstacles get thrown at you. No matter how many hurdles. It’s just preparing you to enjoy what you’re wanting to do at the end of the road… even better. You’re going to have more of a high passion. You’ll be so much more humble for it.”

“You might have made that quick million, but two years later, he’s like, ‘wow, he had 2 million dollars and now he’s broke!’ Those are people who had time to think about it. He either had the money, and I wouldn’t even say that he went broke.” Jarvis explains how people learn from mistakes, like over-spending, and how through humbling experiences do people recognize the value of holding onto what you have and being smarter.

“If anything, just be humble. Remain humble, and passionate about what you want. If you really want it, you’re going to get it.”

You have a daughter. You’re mentoring younger individuals. You also manage 60-plus people. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned to effectively manage/ help/ raise these individuals?

“I think the biggest thing is to have sat on that high horse, and have fell off at the same time. I was at another company in another position. Good money. Everything seemed to be going good. Moving fast. Not caring about anything. Not saving a dime. Blowing it, having fun, going out and getting drunk… it seemed like what to do at the time. But after awhile, it was just taken. You look up, and ‘why did I do this? why did I do that?’ You can ask yourself so many questions why, but at the same time, there’s a learning lesson. After you go through the whys, you can see why that happened. I’m kind of glad. It goes back… it made me more passionate. It made me more humble.”

“It goes back to my situation… growing up, my mom had me at 15. So I had to learn fast, and it matured me. I wouldn’t want to see that same thing go on with my daughter. Hopefully she doesn’t have a child at a young age. Hopefully, she goes through the right process — get married, fall in love, have that career, and be able to take care of her kids, and provide for them. It’s just about the whole experience that I’ve dealt with, and that I constantly tell her — ‘slow down, make sure you get a good education. Make sure you’re doing something that your heart’s really in that can drive your passion, and you can really get to where you want to be because if you’re doing something that you love, you’ll make money’. I definitely believe happiness is the key thing. Money isn’t everything. It just helps us get to where we need to go. It makes things easier. I’m use money.”

Jarvis explains how he doesn’t necessarily spend money, as much as he uses money — as an investment.

What did yesterday teach you?

“Wow… wow…” Jarvis laughs, and thinks.

“Yesterday probably taught me to be better prepared for tomorrow. I would say, for instance, if I had $10 today, I’ll only spend $5 today, so I’ll have $5 tomorrow. I won’t spend the whole $10!”

“That’d probably be the biggest thing — just being better prepared for tomorrow.”

Jarvis goes onto explaining how he would effectively split his resources today to invest in tomorrow, and “just be better prepared for life.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“To be honest, and it might seem a little weird, but just networking.” I was curious what he meant, and Jarvis talked about how he’s lived here his whole life, but he still doesn’t know many of the buildings around him. Similarly, he wants to be able expand his network to “gain better opportunities” and “bridge points to other points”.

I asked him how would he put this into a question. He responded, “how do I get your job?”

Jarvis explains that the reason behind the question is to know how the Stranger prepared him/ herself and networked or interviewed or just came across the opportunity to which the Stranger now works at.

After the handshake.

I thought Jarvis might actually turn me down after initially rebuffing the picture part of the project. However, just like this meet went, he opened up more and more as we went along. It was clear early on that some of his story around mentoring and giving back was rooted in some earlier event — being raised by a young mother. Through that experience and through the “high horse” experience, Jarvis has come out more humble as well as more opportunistic. He sees opportunities, weighs what he has today, and finds ways to continue to grow… more specifically grow professionally. He also seemed like he wanted to set a good example for his daughter by finding opportunities and continuing to grind to always improve.

Happy to Jarvis opened up for this opportunity to meet, and it was nice to share with him Ed’s story as the Cannonball Race’s World Record holder.

Meet Jarvis. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 30, Day 30 - Meet Margaret

Stranger 30, Day 30 – Meet Margaret, the “Role Model”

I ventured to the Brookhaven Arts Festival today for a moment to check out the local art scene. It was vibrant with artists, vendors, live music, and general community. I ran into a friend at one of the tents, and she introduced me to today’s Stranger. Perhaps because of the festival, she was a little skeptical of my project. Okay, probably not just the festival as most Strangers tend to be a little skeptical at first.

In any case, today’s Stranger was young, energetic, and very happy. In fact, “happy” is probably the best word for her, and I got the sense she could light up a room at anytime.

Meet Margaret, 23

Who are you?

“I’m a Margaret! I moved to Atlanta about a year and a half ago after graduating from school. I went to school in Florida. So moved up here without a job, without friends… just needed new. I fell in love. I’m never leaving!”

What made you move to Atlanta?

“I grew up in Orlando, and went to Florida Grove Coast University — they’re known for their basketball team. I just wanted something new, and I had a bunch of cities in mind. Atlanta just happened first.”

Margaret shared with me how she was looking for roommates and two roommates happened to be in Atlanta. Let’s call that serendipity.

What helped you develop friends and your network now?

“It was really hard when I first came because I wasn’t in class with people anymore so I had to go out. I tried joining a church, and met a couple friends through that. I then got involved with something called Young Life — ministry for high schoolers. I met my best friends through that — they’re all leaders like me.”

She mentioned how she’s also met great friends from her work in the real estate industry.

What’s a Life Lesson you’d like to share with someone who moves some place new?

“It’s going to be hard at first and you’re not going to have friends, and you’re going to cry when you can’t find Publix because it’s hard!” She smiles as she describes this.

“But you’ll find where you fit, and don’t give up because you moved there for a reason.”

What’s your favorite part of Atlanta?

“I live around the Highlands area, so really close. I love it. I love how I can walk everywhere — parks, restaurants, bars, everything. Everyone here’s just welcoming and friendly, so it’s been good.”

What are your passions? Do you have any Dreams? If so, what are they?

“I love people, and since I’ve been involved in Young Life, I’ve come to love girls younger than me. I just want to be a great role model for others because I had that growing up. I’ve seen what it looks like when you don’t have that growing up. I think my passion is to encourage young women to go out and do their best and fight for what they deserve.”

What’s another piece of advice to give to young women?

She mentions how she feels she’s echoing herself, but I feel that it just aligns to what she believes in. “Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, even if someone’s better or you think someone is a better fit for it. If you want, you can get it.”

What wakes you up? (Thanks to Tunde, Stranger 29)

She’s wondering if Tunde was asking more explicitly — I can see, “alarm clock?” running in her head.

“Well, literally, coffee gets me up,” she laughs.

“Hmm… I think I’m just excited for what I’m doing now permanently in Atlanta. I’m excited to go to work which I feel like for a lot it’s not normal. Just knowing I have exciting things happening during mid-day gets me out of bed.” She’s laughing and smiling big thinking about this.

I ask her a side question. As she’s in real estate, I ask her what her favorite part of a home.

Though she’s more in marketing of homes, she mentions, “the humongous white tubs — they’re just sitting there on the floor. The pretty tiles I just love. I feel like the master bedroom is where I go to first, and then after that is the closest. I’m dreaming! Dreaming one day…!”

If you were superhero, what would your power be? (Thanks to Tabitha, Stranger 29)

“I think I’d like to read people’s minds. I think I would like to know what people are thinking instantly. Get past all the kind of fluff and know exactly what’s going on.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“When was the last time you were truly happy? What was it that made you happy?”

After the handshake.

Like I said before, Margaret is an extremely happy person. As we talked, she was all smiles, all the time. I admit I was a little more curious about the comments about cutting through the fluff with mind-reading super powers. Perhaps she’s like me — wanting to get to the truth of things/ people.

In any case, she was full of life as we talked even amidst a busy festival. The picture posted of her was actually a candid that she didn’t know I took until later. She posed for a couple, but she was happy to use this one, and I like this, too, because it’s… well, a candid, and it showcases her exuberant personality.

I’m happy our mutual friend introduced as Margaret was indeed a fantastic Stranger to meet. Plus, she loves Atlanta a little like I do. 🙂

Meet Margaret. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 13, Day 13 - Meet Chandler

Stranger 13, Day 13 – Meet Chandler, the “Wu-Tang Mentor”

Everyday, you probably walk by a security guard at the office. Do you know his name? Do you know much about him? Well, I do. Okay, I know at least one of them. There’s a new security guard at Atlanta Tech Village, and today, my Stranger project was going to be how I was going to get know him.

Meet Chandler, 27

Who are you?

“Tall black guy… Taurus… like pina coladas… love beautiful women.” Hahaha, I laugh at this. “Gotta put that in.”

The pina coladas threw me off, and the beautiful women was just pure honest.

Chandler goes on to tell me how he likes “nice” features like cute noses, smiles, and (he stresses this) “OF COURSE THE CURVES!”

What are your passions? Dreams?

“Be successful… not have to struggle through life… to have a big family.”

I asked Chandler to elaborate on what “success” meant to which he responded, “when your yes means yes, and your no means no. To be able to run your own life.”

To this, he stresses the ability to be able to work so that his family doesn’t have to.

What is your biggest regret?

“Should’ve never went to that military college!” Chandler shares as he smiles and shakes his head.

He shares how he had to be a cadet in order to play football. This means Chandler had to take on the many responsibilities as a cadet like community service, classes, and the military instructions in addition to the responsibilities of being a football player like “muscle failure at 5:45AM then weights at 645AM until 815AM.” He laughs at this as he reflects on this.

“I wasn’t always this big… I used to be chiseled.”

But as he looks back at the military school, Chandler also shares how he met some of his best friends from the school. Not all is bad!

What is a Life Lesson you’d like to share?

“Go with your first instinct… your gut feeling. Do what it is you want to do. If you have the power to change things, then change things. If you don’t have the power, then stay determined and persevere.”

Chandler continues sharing the importance of perseverance recalling the time when he was severely injured tearing up his AC joint and MCL and was out for 20 months. But he trained and stuck to it, and was able to play semi-pro football.

What was your Life-Defining Moment?

At first, he didn’t think of a big “hallelujah” moment, but maybe his biggest moment… “When I got invited to the Indianapolis Colts training session… it was a big moment, ‘you know, I could really do this’.”

Since that experience, Chandler felt that he could mentor others if they wanted to pursue professional athletes recalling his up-and-down moments in athletics. Today, he primarily mentors his “little cousin… 21 in school, runs track.” He stresses how he encourages him with positive talk.

What’s your purpose in life?

“To motivate others. There’s so much to help others that we don’t even realize.” He stresses how he’s always looked at ways to help others.

For Chandler, he recognizes his uncle as someone who was big in his life. During Chandler injuries, his uncle was the figure in his life who consistently encouraged him and motivated him to get back into the game.

“Favorite quote: Sweat is pain, leaving the body… as long as you’re working towards something, you’ll be alright.”

What is their strongest motivating factor in life? What is it that not necessarily is a life goal, but when times get tough, what is it that you try to remember and say to yourself to keep you going? (Thanks to Joe, Stranger 12)

“Always say to myself, ‘it can always be worse.’”

Chandler laughs and continues, “usually monologue for 15 minutes after that quote.”

Then adds, “… and a little bit of Wu-Tang Clan always helps.”

So what would you like tomorrow’s Stranger?

“How do you feel about the Presidential debate? Who piques more interest?”

… laughs and adds, “if Trump, WHY?!”

After the handshake.

Great to finally meet Chandler and get to know him. He’s certainly an imposing figure in size, but he’s very open and friendly. I appreciated his candor in sharing his thoughts on beautiful women at the beginning as well as his curiosity about the Presidential race. I’m not sure how that’ll go for tomorrow, but hey, let’s find out!

So meet Chandler. No longer a Stranger.