Twenty Someone: Jason Hafford

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Hometown: Atlanta, GA

College: The University of Georgia

Age: 25

Occupation: Corporate Strategy & International Development Assistant at a large talent agency in Los Angeles

1. Describe your job in three words: Professional problem solver

2. Describe it in more words. We have such a diverse range of clients-actors, directors, producers, athletes, musicians, film financiers, etc. They each pose a different and unique set of goals and aspirations. Our job is to put them in the right position to achieve their dreams. Most of the time that entails us doing some major problem solving to get them from A to B on their career path.

3. I’ve never asked this before- probably because it reminds me of every scary interview I’ve ever had. I do see value in it though so I’ll ask. Tell me about yourself. Please let the record show that I hate this question. Instead of answering here is one of my favorite quotes/life mottoes:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayals of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. You have a goal of visiting 30 countries before you turn 30. What sparked this desire and how close are you to reaching this goal? I’ve always had a travel bug. I think I got it from my mom who spent her childhood everywhere from Japan to Panama to Tennessee as an army brat. The 30 Before 30 goal was inspired by a close friend who was in the Peace Corps and recently completed a similar mission.

I have about five years left on my quest and I just crossed off my 20th country. Notable favorites: South Africa, Cuba, India and Greece.There is something magical about traveling. It inspires me to meet new people, stretch out of my comfort zone and seize every opportunity in life.

5. How do you choose where to go? Where will you go next and why? My goal is to go to as many exotic, far out, different and, adventurous places as possible. I love to travel off the beaten path. The museums and monuments in Europe will still be there years from now when I’m old and need a walker. I want to see the world outside of those places. That said, there isn’t really a rhyme or reason to where I’ve travelled. I really just pick places that fascinate me. I always wanted to go to Africa, so I studied abroad in Cape Town before the World Cup in 2010. I worked for a non-profit in Greece for a summer and I chose to go to India because I eventually want to work out of our offices there. Next up is Central or South America because I’ve haven’t scratched the surface there yet. Also I love movie, The Motorcycle Diaries, and I’ve wanted to do a trip there ever since I watched it!

6. I like that movie too. Who or what do you admire? Richard Branson is an inspiration. He started his first business at 16 and turned it into an empire. He is someone that never settles and is constantly pushing the status quo as an innovator.  As a real estate junky I’m also slightly obsessed with Necker Island, his little slice of heaven in the British Virgin Islands.

One of the people I admire most has to be Nelson Mandela though. While in South Africa I was able to visit Robben Island, where Madiba was held captive for most of his time as a political prisoner. Looking at the tiny cell where he was held captive for decades is something that will stay with me forever. You can’t help but admire any man that can endure something like that and then fight for the forgiveness of his captors. The South African Ubuntu philosophy of togetherness is something I try to incorporate as much as possible in my daily life. If we can actually find ways to coexist and help each other in this crazy world then everyone ends up better off than we started.

7. You just posted a video on YouTube. It got millions of hits. What did you just post? A Travel Channel video. My absolute dream job would be hosting a TV show on the Travel Channel! I would love to have a show that was a mix somewhere between Anthony Bourdain and Samantha Brown.

8.
The last few 20someones were UGA grads. I guess I like Dawgs more than I thought, but will never like them like you. Tell me about this UGA obsession. Can I call it that? “There’s a saying in Georgia: If you lead a good life and say your prayers, when you die you’ll go to Athens.” -Princeton Review

The University of Georgia is a special place for so many reasons. For starters, UGA was the birthplace of public higher education in the United States. Established in 1785 (before the US even had its Constitution) the founders of UGA led the way for higher education to be more accessible to a greater portion of the population.

Now, 230 years later, Athens still shines as the home to a phenomenal institution. There are too many accolades to name, but for me as a journalism student I could not have received a better education. My professors were senior executives, producers, and anchors at places like CNN and NBC Nightly News. We were taught to get our hands dirty in the field to find the best stories then bring them back to the studio for our live, daily newscast that reached over 1 million households. The Grady College of Journalism even gives out the Peabody Awards each year.

Outside of the classroom UGA students live by the work hard, play harder mentality. Football is king in Athens. It dominates the town for four glorious months in the fall. On game day the small town with a population of about 100,000 people triples to become the second largest city in the state of Georgia. UGA fans are going to get out early and tailgate hard no matter what type of season the team is having. That’s part of the reason the tailgate for the annual game against the University of Florida earned the (infamous) title as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”

Then there’s downtown Athens. With almost 100 bars in a few block radius there is quite literally something for everyone. My senior year the Princeton Review named UGA as the nation’s top party school and the downtown scene definitely played a major role in earning that “honor.” Athens is also known as a music town. It’s home to R.E.M., Widespread Panic and the B-52’s. John Mayer and Bubba Sparxxx also both got their first big breaks there. Imagine that…One little town gave the world “Love Shack”, “Your Body Is A Wonderland” and “Ms. New Booty”!

As you can clearly tell I love the University of Georgia and Athens probably more than anyone should. It will always have a special place in my heart. For future reference: don’t ask a former campus tour guide about his favorite place in the world or you will get a very long winded answer.

9. How do you look back on your year? I like to look back at big milestones more than doing a year in review type of thought process. I just hit my three year anniversary in Los Angeles and I spent a lot of time looking at how far I’ve come since moving here and what I want to accomplish over the next 3-5 years.

10. In ten years you will be…I have absolutely no clue what I’ll be doing in 10 years. If you asked me three years ago what I’d be doing today I would’ve been way off! The only real absolute I have as far as long term (10 year+) goals is to be in a position to empower storytellers. What gets me out of bed every day is knowing how many incredible people are out there who deserve to have a voice and an outlet for their story and their life. That’s the ultimate goal. I would also love to help create a big internationally focused business or nonprofit.

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