The 25-minute walk through brilliant Portland, Oregon late-May sunshine was refreshing, one of those “this is almost too nice to be real” moments. We’d agreed to meet for lunch at 1:30 at Jake’s Famous Crawfish and I arrived a few minutes early. To my great delight, Jake’s reminded me of the late-19th Century feel of Tadich Grill on California Street in San Francisco, one of my favorite dining spots on the planet.
My lunch companion, a friend’s 29-year old son recently moved to Portland, arrived and we slid into one of the wood booths along the far wall. We chose our beverages and our lunches and I almost dove into the crisply blonde half-loaf of Portland French sourdough bread delivered, still warm, to our table accompanied by a cool, citrus-forward IPA. Nothing better.
While I’d met and talked to my friend’s son several times before our lunch, this was our first extended conversation. We talked for a good 90 minutes. I was curious to learn more about his college experiences, his work in an internet services company, and his recent arrival in Portland. He’s been around the block a few times and he tells some eye-popping stories. What a pleasure to sit for a meal with someone I don’t know well, without agenda or angle to play, and listen freely.
As we said our goodbyes, I thought: Do this, exactly this, when dining with prospects or clients. Sit for meals with people we don’t know well, without agenda or angle to play, and listen freely. Build comfort and trust. Delay deal discussions ’till dessert
[And, if we’re dining with business barons who broach barter before the bread is brought to board, chance favors those flexible enough to go with THAT flow and circle back to the personal side later.]
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