We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Jaye and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephen, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
To get to where we want to go in life involves some form of risk taking, however it needs to be both balanced and smart. It’s comforting to avoid all risks and it is fairly easy to decide to suddenly start taking every risk possible. We need a balance and need to be smart about it. Also, every individual has a natural level of risk tolerance. I’ve heard plenty of examples of people who are naturally averse to risk, but still found a way to develop a successful enterprise. That being said, I do think our culture, in this current phase, naturally defaults to a low-risk state. Let’s say there is a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is taking absolutely no risk at all… ever, and 100 is taking crazy risks at all times. If there is an optimal position of 50 in this scale, our current societal structure, expected behavior, etc. defaults to something like 25 or 30. I consider this whenever I hear about prevailing wisdom or common advice on anything from careers, investing or how to organize our days and social calendars.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In my career I have transitioned from Meteorologist to Data Scientist to Product Leader. I have entrepreneurial aspirations for the future around improving our work culture, opening up possibilities for others and helping more people achieve an authentic and prosperous life. The main challenge I have had throughout my career has been being in jobs and organizations that were not exactly good fits for my personality. I’m happy to be where I am now, at EDUCAUSE, where I can help higher education institutions plan resources and plan for the future while also being a part of determining the progression of products. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned along the way is the importance of personality fit and organizational culture when deciding on a career path. I feel like from a young age we often focus on what interests us, starting with selecting a major. It’s baked into the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and the adulthood version of it “what do you do?” However, surveys have shown that the top predictors of employee satisfaction are an employee’s relationship with their supervisor and whether or not they have a best friend at work. Having found myself in places I did not want to be and thinking about the daunting task of finding another job got me into a place where I felt stuck. Overcoming those challenges required becoming re-acquainted with who I really am. One of my favorite quotes is “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” In 2018 I realized that I should stop trying to be the perfect person for a specific job posting and instead go back to who I am, a curious minded extrovert who loves exploring new ideas and thinking big picture. From there I built social capital by getting involved in various groups. I title my Podcast “Action’s Antidotes” because “Action” is an old nickname I had in college and represents who I am and who I am proud of being; a person that always wants to be on the move.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A trip to Denver would never be complete without going to the mountains. As us Coloradans sit in traffic on I-70 trying to get to and from ski resorts, we often take for granted the natural beauty around us. However, I love the amazed look out of towners get when they take a ride up I-70 and first hit that point, at Genessee, right at the Buffalo Herd Overlook, where the full extent of the Rocky Mountains suddenly appears in front of them. It’s incredible! After some seasonally dependent mountain activities (skiing December through April, rafting in May-July, hiking August-October), I’d being them to Red Rocks on the way back to Denver. Within the city, I love South Broadway, particularly the DJ and dancing at the Irish Rover on Friday or Saturday night, the restaurants and breweries in RiNo and Blue Pan Pizza. Oh, and it would be good to use the bike trails all over the metro area!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are two organizations in Denver that really inspire me; TEDxMileHigh and Denver Start-Up Week. I have had a great deal of help with starting Action’s Antidotes, but two people in particular have been instrumental in getting me moving on my idea. First, Christoper Huynh, who helped me work out the specifics on how to record, edit and post Podcasts and Umadevi Gopaldass who introduced me to other encouraging people and great guests for my show.