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Meet the Geeks: It’s Jamil Radney!

Published November 15, 2022

Shut the front door, we’re back with another installment of Meet the Geeks! This week, we’re talking to Jamil Radney, one of our Regional Client Managers. So keep reading, to learn about Jamil’s other gig as a coffee shop owner, about unexpected chess moves, and who you should’ve drafted for your Fantasy Football team. 

Let’s start with an easy one. Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Los Angeles, and now I live in the suburbs between LA and San Bernardino. 

And how did you hear about Geeks Who Drink? On 

Whoa, you’d never been to a Geeks quiz or anything? I’d played trivia, but not Geeks, no. 

So you just saw the gig on Indeed and thought it seemed cool or like a good fit for you? Basically, yes. One of my not-so-secret secrets is that I own a coffee shop in southern California called the Reverse Orangutan. After all of the COVID shortages and everything, I realized that the best way for me to save my business was for me to allow it to work itself a little bit. I was looking for remote work so I could balance between the two jobs and my [coffee] roasting responsibilities. 

Do you still put a lot of hours in at the shop? Yeah, we roast for other coffee shops, a couple of churches, and do coffee and beer collabs with local breweries, so I have to roast coffee and manage my team, but I don’t have the day-to-day operations of being a barista anymore. I’ve been a barista since I was 19 and I’m 32 years old now. 

Did you name the shop? 100%, yes. 

And where did that come from? In the 1920s, there was a chess game played at the Bronx Zoo, and one of the players consulted an orangutan about what the first move should be. It became known as the orangutan opening or the orangutan offensive, compared to the Polish opening. Our business philosophy is that the world already made its first move, so all we can do is play a counter-offensive — like the reverse orangutan. Also, when I wanted to open a coffee shop, the one thing I didn’t want was a business with an ampersand in the name. I didn’t want to be the standard hipster. 

Ha, brilliant. When it comes to Geeks, what’s your current role? I’m a regional client manager. I work with our Quizmasters to make sure they have everything they need for quizzes, whether that’s speakers and mixers to having an extension cord long enough to reach the outlet. I also get to have the not-so-fun conversations, like client frustrations, or if a Quizmaster isn’t performing so hot, then I’m the person who has to try to rein all that in and set things straight.

Has your experience as a business owner and a manager prepared you for this job? That, and the years of customer service. It’s easy for people to vent their frustrations, and it takes a certain kind of personality to be able to take that without being offended. People are laying their frustrations at your feet. And working in a public-facing industry really guides you toward being able to handle people in that respect. 

What does a typical day look like for you? On, like, an average Tuesday, I’ll wake up, look at our internal business portal to see if there’s anything I need to get to right at the beginning of the day, like if someone needs a substitute or someone’s not able to show up to quiz that day. My first job is to make sure that’s taken care of. After I finish that, I make sure I’ve done things like ordering new speakers, or calling venues to say ‘Hey, your credit card expired last month, so can I get an updated card?’ After I’ve taken care of all of our venues and clients, I might go over to my roasting facility, roast a couple of bags, and drop them off at the cafe, and see if anything else pops up. I do work from the cafe some days of the week, but I’m very able to stay locked into my peak responsibilities. 

What have you enjoyed the most about working here? I really enjoy the interactions with our Quizmasters. So many of them are really funny people, and really great folks. Like one time I asked a Quizmaster to sub an event, and they weren’t available to sub because they were doing their Fantasy Football draft with their friends. I love Fantasy Football, and it was their first year, so I told them to make sure they got Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes early on in the draft. The first time we talked after that, they were in first place [in their league], and I think they’re in third place now. 

Did they get Josh or Patrick? They got Patrick. But it’s cool to be able to have that type of interaction. I think we take for granted some of the smaller connections that we have with people. I don’t expect anybody at the coffee shop to be like “Oh man, you changed my life,” but a coffee shop that they go to regularly can become part of their life, and I feel like I can have a positive impact and make people enjoy their time there. So I love having all of these Quizmasters that I’m responsible for, because I get to share a little bit of me and my demeanor with them. I personally take a lot from that. And I couldn’t have picked a better organization to be a part of, where I feel like I fit in, and I feel like my humor and perspective is respected and embraced. I really do enjoy the opportunity, and the team that I’m part of.