I recently joined Letslunch.com, a service that randomly matches me with interesting individuals within a pre-determined mile radius. And while getting lunch out of the office can often be a treat joining and sticking to letslunch.com has been a huge lesson in discipline and honesty for me.
I am naturally open to sharing ideas, asking questions, and meeting people with passion and experience in a wide range of areas. But as an entrepreneur I honestly hate having to drop everything that I am doing and trekking out to a new restaurant to meet a complete and absolute stranger. Yet it is this forced extraction from what I believe is a priority that makes spontaneous business lunches beneficial. Not only do I have to re-asses the importance of what I am working on, I need to be honest with my new acquaintance about where I really am in my business. And while no business secrets (there are few, if any!) are shared there is something therapeutic in explaining to someone new where your company is. It is fertilizer for an aha moment. A time to see the obvious by letting someone who is not intimately involved re-iterate it.
In one lunch in particular I was sharing with my fellow entrepreneur how I was sensing that we had spent too much time on an important, but not ultimately critical, product at our company. Had I spoken to myself in the mirror I still would have concluded that we were 100% on the right track, yet sharing the same facts with someone outside of the decision making bubble really helped synthesize the correct and undeniable answer which was right under my nose the whole time.
Letslunch is not for everyone, and I suspect the value derived from it is highly influenced by the type of industry that your locale is focused on. But if you want to be taken out of your safe zone in less than an hour, try it out.
PS: Yes, I know, “learnings” may not be a dictionary approved word. It soon will be though!