One way to appreciate the incredible fLorence Cotel, the 254th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is to look at the distinctive way she spells her first name.

fLorence adopted this spelling after completing her first iron man event (a race that involves a 3.9km swim, 180km cycle and 42km marathon), as a daily reminder that it’s possible to challenge the status quo.

That’s not fLorence’s only athletic achievement – she runs marathons, she once cycled from the top of South America to the bottom and she’s about to cycle from Darwin to Adelaide.

But fLorence is far from being a natural athlete. She shunned sport when she was growing up in Paris; instead, she immersed herself in education. It was only when she moved to Copenhagen to complete her PhD that she took up running and cycling, partly to fill the time and partly to challenge herself.

You don’t have to spend long with fLorence to realise she has an incredible intellect and an ambition to make the world a better place. She’s also very charming and an excellent conversationalist.

So fLorence excels intellectually, athletically and socially.

Another thing you quickly learn about fLorence is that she’s a very busy person, because there’s so much she wants to achieve. 

Aside from her work as a clinical project manager at the Nucleus Network, a clinical research organisation for the conduct of early phase clinical trials, fLorence is the president and founder of BLiSS Science and Innovation Inc., a non-profit organisation that organises cross-boundary collaborations that have the potential to solve global complex problems. She’s also a keynote speaker and is writing a book.

My lunch with fLorence was absorbing: we got on so well and explored so many topics. We were shocked when I glanced at my phone and discovered it was after 4pm; it felt like we’d only just sat down to lunch.