Louise Mooney, the 244th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has a fascinating business.

Louise owns the Sutherland Shire franchise for The Alternative Board Australia, an organisation that brings non-competing business owners together in a group setting, to discuss the challenges and opportunities each of them are facing.

So every group member gets their own unofficial board of directors. And because none of the group members are rivals, everyone is free to speak openly.

Another interesting feature of The Alternative Board is that its ultimate goal is to help the owner rather than improve the business – although, of course, achieving the former generally involves doing the latter.

Louise facilitates the meetings. She’s got incredible business experience, having served as CEO of the Thorndale Foundation and general manager at Disability Services Australia.

More importantly, Louise has considerable emotional intelligence. She’s a good listener, she asks thoughtful questions and she has a genuine interest in other people.