Next week I am having lunch with a friend, nothing unusual about that you might think, but although it is his turn to pay, I feel it’s my turn to come up with a brilliant new idea for him to take back to the office afterwards.

I like my lunches with Philippe, our conversations have a habit of spinning off in almost any direction. One minute we might be discussing the survival chances of the Euro, the next we might be talking about Renaissance poetry or the French presidential elections. However, one of our most reoccurring themes is company arrogance in the form of appalling customer service. I can hardly think of a single occasion where the subject has not come up.  It’s almost as if we feel the need to always outdo each other in our shared misery.

Because of the intensity of our lunchtime conversations, the best restaurant for a meal with Philippe is one where; the waiters are happy to accept that the food is not the center of attention but an important accompaniment, where service is impeccable and the ambient noise level is loud enough to not be over heard but not too loud where one has to raise one’s voice. The food should be, high quality, fresh and not pretentious.

Philippe is a person who can entertain, stretch your imagination and at the end of the meal, feed you with a new business idea that just might be potentially far more valuable than the price of the meal itself, including the value of the business hours lost in getting there and the time eating it! In fact, looking back I can think of a number of potentially great business ideas that have emerged from meals with Philippe. The problem is, that both he and I are always far too busy to follow most of them up!

I believe everyone should know someone like Philippe, someone that can stretch one’s imagination and mirror life from another view point. And if your companion has the same opinion of you, then there’s a healthy balance worth preserving.

All I need now is another example of truly atrocious customer service and a great business idea!

Have a good week,