Jeff Miller | Director

All of us are looking for a return on the investment of our time and resources. The business world is awash with productivity hacks and many of us try whatever we can to gain an edge.

Image: Lunch
I have once again discovered what I think is one of the best investments we can make with our time in business.

I had lunch with someone from an industry I love who I have admired since the early 1980s.

In which I learned several important things over my two and a half-hour lunch. And these principles will apply almost universally:



First, the person I admired cares deeply about people.

Even though this man has enjoyed significant success over more than 40 years in the same industry, he always talked about it being a team effort.

I noticed when he discussed people he had worked with, in some cases even more than three decades ago, he spoke about each person with genuine warmth and affection. He remembered details about people as only someone deeply interested in humanity would. He was interested in and motivated by helping others to succeed.

Second, he relied on research and not instinct.

This surprised me because if I was asked to name the person who I thought had the best instincts in this particular industry, I would have named my lunch guest hands down every single time.

However, it turns out whilst he concedes he has well-tuned instincts, he has not relied on what he thinks he knows or allowed himself to be swayed by his own preferences. He has always been data-backed when making key decisions.

Finally, he kept things simple

and managed even high levels of detail in the places in his business that really mattered most. He said a few times during lunch how too many people over-complicate the wrong things and leave glaring omissions in the most important places.

He had a refreshing, and compelling, way of describing how to discern what matters most and what doesn’t.

I reflected on just how valuable this time was and why we may avoid meeting the people we admire. It’s said that we should be careful when we decide to meet our heroes, in case they somehow don’t live up to our expectations. But for me, that is a poor excuse.

Here is my hunch. If a person has been in an industry for more than say 15 years and is still universally admired, then I think they are the real deal. No one can fake it for that long.

And in my experience, if you ask for a short meeting, they will accommodate you (you might have to wait a little while or travel to meet them). Almost always, they will give you more time than you ask for.

The real reason most of us don’t is we are probably too afraid to ask.

As I have rediscovered, we shouldn’t be. I walked away from lunch and it struck me that I could not have possibly made a better investment of my time.

I was inspired.

As I listened, it occurred to me that the wisdom imparted will save me months and even years of my time. From a purely financial point of view thousands of dollars. I literally had over four decades of experience to call on.

It was that valuable.

And what did it cost me?

Lunch was well under $100. My time commitment was just over three hours door to door.

Name a training course, a consultant, or any other activity that can give a return on investment like that.

And it is all there for the asking.

This article was originally published on Jeff Miller’s LinkedIn as How Lunch (or Coffee) Could be the Best Business Investment You Make

Jeff Miller is an experienced Chief Executive Officer, business strategist and communications specialist. Jeff has led organisations for over 20 years and enjoys writing about his experiences, both good and bad.  He loves helping people, and organisations, achieve their full potential.