One of the reasons I decided to have lunch with 500 strangers in five years was because I sensed it would open up opportunities for me – even if I had no idea what they’d be.

I’ve just enjoyed an opportunity I never would’ve predicted – the chance to share my story with the inmates of the Macquarie Correctional Centre, a maximum security prison in regional New South Wales.

Speaking before an audience of prisoners dressed head to toe in green – and some of their guards – I explained why I was having lunch with all these strangers, the kinds of people I’d been meeting and the lessons I’d learned along the way. They included:

  • How to build a network (and why it’s important)
  • Why we need to force ourselves to ask for more things in life
  • The secret to being a good conversationalist
  • How to position yourself as a leader
  • Why it’s vital to step out of your comfort zone

I’m pleased to report the day went very well – the prisoners responded positively to my message … and the guards released me afterwards.

So how did this opportunity fall into my lap? Well, I’m a member of Toastmasters, and Macquarie Correctional Centre has a Toastmasters club. I was part of a group of Toastmasters who visited the prison. We were treated to breakfast in the cafeteria (cooked by the prisoners) and a tour of the facility (led by the leaders of the local Toastmasters club).

Image source: The Macleay Argus