As I was chatting to Adem Manderovic, I realised that if you have an indomitable spirit and a creative mind, you can achieve great things in life.

Adem, the 76th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, suffered a devastating accident in 2006 when he broke almost every bone in his body. He was told he would be unlikely to walk again – but after three years of excruciating rehab, he succeeded. This long, painful process turned Adem into a more resilient person.

Adem had to draw upon this mental strength in November, when his house burned to the ground. It was gut-wrenching, he said, but he had to force himself to get on with life.

Adem has built a successful sales career, partly because of his mental strength and partly because he’s a creative thinker.

These days, Adem lives near Christchurch, and coaches an Australian rules football club. People at the club said it would be impossible to get corporate sponsorship, because Kiwi businesses wouldn’t support a non-rugby club. But Adem succeeded. How? Because instead of asking businesses for money, he approached them with ideas for how they could generate extra profits through sponsoring his club.