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Stranger 69, Day 69 - Meet TK

Stranger 69, Day 69 – Meet TK, the “Interactive”

First, Happy Thanksgiving!

Next, I sort of ventured off my beaten path today as I made my way towards my sister’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I stopped into the local Starbucks in this area. That’s different, right? I still have stuff to do, after all. As I walked in, I scouted the scene for a possible Stranger. I asked one gentleman who was sitting in front of me who had code on his screen. (My eyes are drawn towards MacBook screens with black backgrounds and multicolored text (green, white, yellow, red largely). They tend to be programmers on some code editor.) He was packing up to leave, and did not have time to be today’s Stranger.

As I looked around later, there was one gentleman I noticed when I came in. He had an air of confidence about him as he was sitting with someone (later left). He was a big guy. He looked pretty strong, and reminded me of a scene of an adult sitting at his kid’s play table as they played “tea party”. Except he was sitting at a normal-size Starbucks table — he’s big. I walked up to this gentleman as he, too, was packing up to leave.

His eyes met mine as I walked up, and I could see him preparing to say hello in a friendly way. There are times when I walk up to people where people are on the defensive. Some are curious. Some are open. He was one of the “open” types. He happily reached his hand out to meet as I shared with him this journey. He excitedly accepted to be today’s Stranger, and boy was I happy he did…

Meet TK, 35

Who are you?

“Umm, wow, that’s a good question.”

TK tells me how he has Trinidad and New York City origins — “Originally from Trinidad and Tobago. I came here to the States when I was 10. Went to New York City.” TK came to live with his mother after being separated for years.

“My mom was living here in the U.S. My dad was in Trinidad. After that was amazing. My mom was an incredible woman. Great entrepreneur. She raised me really. I just live in her memory everyday.”

“I’m also a business man/ entrepreneur myself. I have a business development company. Actually, I love working and helping other people realize their dreams and their passions and get to where they want to be. Yeah, that’s me.”

Who are you not? Thinking about the stuff you do today, is there something that you’re NOT by what you do today?

“I’m not quiet. I’m not settling. I’m not the fly-on-the-wall, you know? I’m interactive. I love communicating and networking with people. I guess… I’m not an introvert! I’m outgoing. I love talking to people. I just love being in the mix.”

What’s the fascinating part about helping people follow their passions?

“It’s just seeing them develop… knowing that you helped just make that much more happiness in their life. By helping them with knowledge or resources or whatever actual services are. Not everybody I talk to I help directly. Sometimes, it’s indirectly. It still benefits them — benefits their lives. Honestly, that’s the greatest thing.”

Why do you do this?

“It’s a passion. It’s a definite passion. I love people. I love business. And I think once you combine the two with the human factor in the middle, of course. You have to care about the people. It’s not just about the numbers. You’ve gotta care about the actual people. That’s why I do it.”

“It’s about caring about people. Having that passion for seeing people grow, develop, and succeed.”

I’m sure you’ve helped someone who was in a not-so-great-place and you helped him/ her get to a better place. Can you describe that process, and what was that outcome? What was that like to feel it from the outside?

“Oh yeah, absolutely!” He smiles.

“A big part of what I do is actually train and develop people. When you take someone from what they’re doing whether that’s sales, marketing, consulting, construction… whatever they’ve done before, and you can add to that… and you train them and develop them, and watch them literally change and grow — make more money, become more successful, be happier, meet more people — just seeing their whole world expand!” He’s practically glowing as he talks about his passion.

TK continues, “It’s almost like you have a baby, and you nurture that baby until it grows up to be an adult. It’s amazing!”

Think about how your mom was an incredible woman and how you nurture these people. She’s obviously nurtured you to be this person. Today’s Thanksgiving. How do you want to thank her right now?

“Man… if there are words that could… there are no words I could put together to express the thanks that I feel for her, and the love I feel for her. She’s no longer with us. She passed away in ’98 from breast cancer.”

“She was just such a phenomenal woman. She left such a mark on me. I don’t know.”

“Just say, ‘I love you and thank you. I’m always thinking about you every day. Thank you for everything you’ve given me. Thank you for everything you’ve bestowed on me.'”

“The heart she’s given me, you know, and the passion because she’s really a driving force in my life every single day.”

How do you continue to impart her impression on you onto others?

“I talk to everybody about her!” TK laughs.

“It’s really that inspiring! It really does drive me. It really does. It just makes me connect more with people. She did so much. She helped so many people. What she was doing… the person she was. Everybody loved her. Just really inspiring. Very inspiring. I just hope to be a small part of what she was. Just create that kind of legacy for my children and my family in the future.”

Anyone play that role for you today?

“There are. I have mentors in business. I have my sister. She’s absolutely amazing. She’s such a fighter. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s going through chemo right now. She’s strong. She’s fighting it. She’s also a really great inspiration. She took care of me when my mom passed away. Definitely my sister.”

“And my brother also. They’ve always been really great supporters for me. Kicked me in the butt when I needed to be kicked in the butt. Stepping in and supporting me and helping me when I needed help. They’re absolutely great.”

Any other thanks you’d like to give today?

“There are a TON of people I want to give thanks to. My brother and sister… My brother-in-law, Xavier… his brother, Toya… forgetting a lot of people. My coaches and mentors, Ron and Tammy. Chris K. Man… there’s so many people. Michael and Tammy. My best friend, Shannol. His mom and dad. They’ve been great. Great supports. Just everybody else who comes in my life, and my circle of friends. Definitely want to thank someone really special in my life — her name his Toni F. She’s been a great inspiration for me also.”

“And, you know, just everybody… all my friends… colleagues… mentors… just a great thanks to everyone. Really, it’s the people around you who help build you. Make you who you are. You have to be willing to listen if you want to take it to that next level.”

(I’m probably misspelling a few of these. Sorry!)

This may be a harder one to answer, but what is that one quality you want to be able to exude or impress onto others that encapsulates this gratitude for everyone who has supported you?

“Strength. It’s strength.”

“That sounds like a really broad term.” Nah, I asked a broad question!

“Really, it’s so finite, you know, because strength in a sense is not just physical strength. It’s mental strength. When you have a great support base, and you have good people around you, it’s easy to find that strength to continue to take you through those times when it might not be so easy. You know, when things aren’t always going right. A lot of my coaches and mentors taught me and coached me on mental toughness. Mental toughness is built around support. It’s up to us as the individual, but it’s also the people that support you, around you to help build you up and give you that positive push on a daily basis. That’s why it’s always good to give good energy to people, and also that energy will be reciprocated, too. You know there are a lot of people out there who don’t have it so easy. Just a little bit of strength given to them and energy and encouragement from someone else can make such a difference in their life. Yeah, I’d say definitely strength.”

Are you working, if you’re not 100% happy, to become 100% happy with your life? (Thanks to Aiden, Stranger 69) But first, rewinding it, are you 100% happy with your life?

“Umm…” he thinks and smiles. “No, I’m not. But that’s not a bad thing.”

“Because I think life is a progression. You make the life that you want to live. So I’m not unhappy. I’m just not happy with my life, but it will be better. Absolutely.” He is spending his days working towards that.

What’s a question you’d like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger (or anyone)?

“That is a really, really good question. So tomorrow’s Stranger, I would ask, what would you do? When you were a kid, you would dream about everything you could have, possibly do — big house, cars, families, and all this great stuff. What would you do to attain that? How far will you go? What steps would you take to make that dream to absolutely happen and they didn’t get lost? What would you do to make sure all those dreams you had as a kid happened?”

“That’s my question.”

After the handshake.

TK and I actually sat and talked for another 20 or so minutes. We had so much to talk about as he was so fascinated with the “hidden connections” we all tend to have. He shared with me stories of meeting people in very different circumstances only to realize they were siblings. He shared how he had walked up to Strangers, too, when he would overhear some story that interested him.

Throughout our talk, and surprisingly even more amplified after our talk, he was effervescent. Perhaps because there was more dialogue between us after our talk that he got to hear more and more of my motivations for this journey and what fascinating insights I’ve learned. He was so interested in everything. He even used the words, “my mind’s blown!”, “my head’s just thinking”, and “this just made my day”. He continued to listen and connect so many dots as I relayed the foundations of this journey. It’s early to tell, but I feel that this will be a truly meaningful interaction for his life. I could see it in his eyes as they had that shine to them as his mind turned with how he was going to use this experience in his everyday and professional life.

We talked a lot about how the smallest interactions can sometimes make the biggest interactions. We prepare so much for big events that we forget to honor the little moments and the impacts they make. And to the point about connections that we don’t know exist, we revel together in how sometimes, the most obvious connections are hidden in plain sight. People need only peel back a few layers and ask a few questions and realize how common a thread we have.

(Side note: He thought I looked familiar. When I asked him where he thought he had seen me before, he said I looked like someone from the movies. I just shaved my head, so it’s possible he thought was a villain (I call the bald cut the “villain cut”). Or, maybe I’m getting bigger, and I look like The Rock. Not bad given he was voted Sexiest Man Alive. One can play it up.)

Meet TK. No longer a Stranger.