March 2, 2005

Excerpts: Never Eat Alone - Part V

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:41 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Develop Conversational Currency
When meeting someone new, be prepared to have something to say. Keep up with current events. Cultivate some niche interest. A single narrow specialty (cooking, golf, stamps) for which you have passion will have surprising expansive powers.
After business school, I indulged my passion for food and took a few months off taking courses at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in London. Back then, I thought it was a frivolous expenditure of my time. But my knowledge and passion for cooking that came from that experience has come into play time and again in casual conversations. Even people who arent that interested in food enjoy hearing my funny and sometimes embarrassing stories about learning my way around a French kitchen in London. What you talk about is ultimately less important than how. Its edifying and interesting to hear someone talk about something they have a great interest in. Which means you can also talk about other peoples passions. My COO, James Clark, for example, climbed Mt. Everest while performing his duties virtually for all but the week he was summiting. The astounding stories he has told me about the experience are now excellent conversation fodder.
Just remember not to monopolize the conversation or go into long-winded stories. Share your passion, but dont preach it.
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About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.