#13: Gabe Jaffe: Fresh Starts In New Geographies NYC to AMS

I know Gabe as a curator of cool. I don’t think he’d even be embarrassed if I told you that he was the first person to introduce me to Pinterest. Yeah, Gabe, a guy, in love with Pinterest, but that was 2010 so he’s since moved onto new forms of cool, like mixcloud (but he won’t tell us his snapchat!).

Gabe has been one to live a varied life with his hands in many projects at once. In college he was the guy at every music show, on street teams, hustling for FADER Magazine, DJing on his college radio station and that’s after his full-time job as a barista and full class load.

I met Gabe when he lived in Brooklyn and we were Producers working on the same team for Nike. When he told me he was moving to Amsterdam to work at Adidas, I felt excited more than anything. Sure, I was losing my right-hand producer, but I was thrilled for him. What an exhilarating life change that was going to be! I remember taking him for (veggie) burgers on his last day and asking him so many questions, “How did they find you?” “What’s the visa process?” “What happens if you don’t love it?” His move felt so right, I couldn’t help but want to fully picture what it would be like.
Today Gabe is the Cultural Director at an ad agency, Anomaly, in Amsterdam. He is also the head chef and owner of a a pop-up Mexican Taqueria restaurant called Orale! Gabe describes it, “we take over restaurants around Amsterdam once a month for one-night only. We make great food, people get drunk on tequila (and) it’s super fun and gezellig.” 

How do you decide which opportunities to pursue?

Personal passions, cooking, music, and being a connector. (I love) if I can give someone a big-up or a unique platform to show their creativity on. That rules. In general, it’s never about money, but when that happens it is nice too.

180 changes can be in career, lifestyle, relationships, etc. What's been the 180 you've made that's given you the most satisfaction?

Moving. First to NYC from Boston and then later (when) leaving the US for Amsterdam. When I moved to Brooklyn I was SO EPICLY HAPPY to drive to my new apartment, I was bouncing in my seat. I had met my new roommates once (and) the room I was renting for a small fortune each month was closet-sized. It didn’t matter: I was beyond excited.

When my wife and I moved to Amsterdam it was the same. A fresh start that was super exciting, scary and inspiring but what was needed. (I think) if you stay too long doing the same thing or in the same place you get complacent. Changing everything up is what gives you life. I have now lived in Amsterdam for the longest of any place except for growing up in Virginia.

When you moved from NYC to Amsterdam, what were some of the things you considered leading up to that change? Did the opportunity come first or the desire for the International opportunity?

The opportunity was a surprise but I knew I wanted to do it. I think I considered it for like five minutes before “fuck yes’ rang clear in my mind.

What's the dream life? How have your 180s gotten you there?

I think in many ways I am living it, but I don’t want ever to feel like I made it or hit my dream because then what would I do? Everyone has shit days - but “achieving” this mythical goal line is just crap. I enjoy the moments along the way instead of trying to find a fairy tale. If you need to make a 180, do it. CUT-THE-CORD.

Is there anything you learned or skills you developed early on that were key to your success in your 180s?

I count myself massively lucky in life. Every opportunity and experience has taught me a new skill or a way to be better even if the experience that got me there was awful. I once worked in a call center for a miserable company that serviced bored, wealthy bohos. Getting torn down on the phone over someone’s dog sweater not arriving in the mail “on time” is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Despite that, I gained a huge life skill by remaining calm through these wacky phone calls.

Is there a saying that keeps you going through tough times?

Haha...The hook from this…Raekwon - Incarcerated Scarfaces


If you could go back and give advice to a younger version of you, how old would you be and what would you say to the younger you?

Oh man. So many ages, so many things. Mostly at any age I would stand in the distance and whisper…”You got this bro."