Two things stand out when you chat with Ben Baker, the 94th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers.

Ben is a great thinker. And he’s a great communicator.

In some ways, Ben has taken a strange path to where he is now – president of Your Brand Marketing, podcast host and international keynote speaker. 

In other ways, though, it makes perfect sense, because his formative experiences forced him to hone his thinking and communication skills.

Ben grew up in a household where you were expected to debate political ideas at the dinner table. After school, he studied international relations and Middle Eastern terrorism at university. From there, he moved on to a job in high-tech sales. 

Those experiences opened Ben’s mind and made him comfortable discussing a wide range of subjects with a wide range of people. That, in turn, gave Ben the confidence to shift his career from sales to marketing and later move from employee to entrepreneur.

Ben had some great advice for connecting with people you’ve just met – ask open questions, listen closely to what they’re saying and give them the chance to discuss what they really want to talk about.