#WeAreArity Wednesday: Jordan Williamson
What do your family and friends think you do all day at work?
My friends and family think I talk – talk and talk and talk. I go to a separate room and shut the door because my wife occasionally works from home, and across my meetings I cover a lot of different topics. It’s meetings, it’s product, it’s strategy, it’s guidance, it’s feedback.
And if it’s not that, they see a block of code on my screen, and I don’t know if they think I’m hacking – but it doesn’t even compute.
How do you set up good boundaries between working from home and your life outside of work?
I’m a big “separation of spaces” person. I have a place where I work, and then I have the rest of the house. I try to be intentional and mindful. When I’m in this place, it’s this headspace. And when I step out of it, I really want to pivot my focus on something else.
The other way that I do that is to regularly go for a walk. I’ll log off and we’ll go on a 15-minute stroll, enjoy just a little bit of fresh air, and then come back into the house.
I think some sort of specific and intentional transition time can be really helpful to shift gears from work – even if my physical location hasn’t changed that much.
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
I would say tacos because they’re versatile. If I want breakfast, there are breakfast tacos. If I want spicy, there are spicy tacos. If I want some sort of fusion, like barbeque or Asian flavors, I can.
Do you have a favorite taco?
Just a nice, classic steak taco. Love it. Cilantro, lime, onions, fresh.
What is your favorite part of working from home?
My favorite part of working from home is more time to invest in myself and in my family – and to enjoy the outdoors. I have a little one-year-old, so I get to see him when I log off.
I used to commute to the Allstate building back in the day, and I’d spend hours and hours in the car. I’m thrilled to go for a bike ride and get some fall leaves and fresh air instead of some fumes and white-knuckle driving. So, there’s a lot to appreciate from that.
Tell us a little bit about your one-year-old.
Elliot is our first. He is one and is super energetic. He’s really close to walking. I go to pick him up from daycare, and he has that huge smile on his face and furiously crawls to the door. It’s awesome every time.
Because of my flexible work, I can cruise on over, pick him up, play with him, and hang out with him a lot more than I otherwise would. That’s for sure.
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
I’m really dating myself as a core millennial here, but to this day, I quote SpongeBob on a daily basis. And I find myself saying SpongeBob references in inopportune places like work meetings. Occasionally, I’ll get someone roughly my age that messages me on the side and is like, “yeah!” But other times I’m like, oh wow, I probably shouldn’t make a SpongeBob reference in this meeting.
Most of my references come from the first few seasons when I was younger. It’s just very applicable to adult life. There are a lot of references about work that made more sense to me as I got older, and it gets funnier with age.
What is the worst job you ever had?
The worst job I ever had was my first job. I was working in a call center for a tech support company. I was really young, and I basically had angry people yell at me on the phone all day for minimum wage.
I learned how to handle pressure, learned how to speak diplomatically and professionally on the phone. But I mean, I was 16 years old and people were yelling at me because their internet was broken, and it was stressful.
It’s really hard to talk someone down from that level of emotional activation, particularly when you suspect the issue is self-inflicted by the person on the call. Something’s not turned on, something was never plugged in to begin with, they’re flat out typing their password wrong – that kind of thing.
Beach holiday or ski trip?
I have to say ski trip. I snowboard. And don’t get me wrong, I love beach vacations, but I live in Chicagoland. It is flat as a pancake.
I’ve been out to Colorado a good handful of times, and the lodge is warm and cozy. You get a hot chocolate or a beer, you visit the spa, or sit by the fireplace. The experience can be as fancy, or as rustic as you want it to be. When you go outside – you’ve got incredible views, you’ve and tons of outdoor activities. I mean, skiing on a mountain like that is just unbelievable and puts anything that you could do in the Midwest or East Coast to shame. It’s incredible.
I feel like I just spend the whole time just looking around me while I ride. It’s like a picture book. There’s nothing like it. I love the beach, but I can drive nearby in the summer and go to the beach. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Hawaii – but there’s no way to scratch the ski itch here.
How did you get into snowboarding?
In college, I went to school around the Chicagoland area, and one of my roommates loved to ride. So, he got me into it. Every weekend we would load up the car, and we’d drive up to a local resort. We would pack lunches, get a bunch of Gatorade, and just go and ride all day – pretty much every weekend throughout the winter. It was one of the most fun things that we did in college. I always enjoyed it a lot.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Folks that I know really think about giving back as either a lot of your money, a lot of your time, or doing something laborious or task intensive. And I think there’s a lot of great local organizations that are so happy for small contributions or just 30 minutes of your time.
Realizing that I didn’t have to set the barrier so high made it easier to get involved and to start getting connected with the community. And once you do, you find yourself wanting to do it more. There are so many great community resources and places that would love to have you, even if just for a little bit.