Everyone has some free time during the holidays. Recently, I have not been traveling which has opened up my schedule to share food with friends from my past. Folks from my MBA, previous work, and neighbors (hat tip: DB, CC, CO, PB, KL, JK, SL, PD, RJ, DW, SB, JP, RD). When you don’t travel M-TH, it opens up a completely new social world of breakfast, coffee, and lunches. The key is to use your time wisely and invest in people. Never eat alone.

take-you-to-coffee-and-pick-your-brain

Note – when you travel with consulting teams, you have a very social world too. Lots of good food and good times, but they are all fired-up consultants – talking a lot about work – which has its own drawbacks.

Now more than ever – I am focused on really connecting with people, finding common ground, and investing in people, experiences, memories and assets. For real friends . . .we talk about all the things you should not – politics, religion, money, relationships, and happiness.  If we are just acquaintances, those topics might be taboo for now. . . but trust me, I will probably bring them up in the next few meetings.

For those who I look to get to know better, or want to influence. . . no topic is really off-the-table. The same is true with family – parents and siblings – we should talk about things that matter: goals, dreams, frustrations, relationships. Talk about #^$t that matters. As Tony Robbins says, it’s all about growth and generosity. If we are talking about the weather, traffic, sports, or workplace politics – honestly, we are wasting each other’s time.

All these lunches remind me of a book by the same title: Never Eat Alone.  It was written by the ex-chief marketing officer of Deloitte named Keith Ferrazzi (affiliate link) and he argues a super simple point. Spend your (valuable) time with people.  Yes, people.

As my brother-in-law often complains, business books should all be 20 pages because they needlessly give 30 examples of the same thing. This book definitely meets that stereotype. It could be 20 pages, instead of 400.  That said, his point is important and perhaps deserves 20x repetition. Life is about people. Once you get past the analyst-level, individual-contributor level in an organization, you will find that success/progress entirely depends on people – not skills, knowledge, and education. People. People.

Step 1: Go through your linkedin and find people you would like to get to know better, who you would like to invest in, who you believe could be a good influence on you.

Step 2: Email, phone, text and get a meal set up. (honestly, coffee, lunch, breakfast, who does not want to “break bread with you?”)

Step 3: Have fun, be available, be human. Ask the question, “how can I help you with what you are doing,”  Be useful to someone.

PS.There many ways to help someone .  . .

  • Listen to their situation – see if you can add insight, wisdom, knowledge
  • Connect them with key people in your linkedin network
  • Proof read their deliverables, proposals or resumes
  • Forward them key analyst reports, research, best practices
  • Encourage them – send them cool podcasts, or buy them a book
  • Give constructive feedback on their ideas or plans
  • Outsource work to them (no matter how trivial or small)
  • Write them a recommendation or forward their resume to a recruiter
  • Be yourself, be present. Pay for lunch.

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