Two things jumped out to me when I met John Elder, the 186th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers.

First, I quickly discovered that John has great people skills. He’s warm, attentive and genuinely interested in listening to the other person.

Second, John also has a broad range of business skills, which he’s accumulated by being hungry to learn and pursuing several different career paths.

John began his career as an engineer, switched to procurement and has recently taken on an operations role at CashD, a start-up that helps employees get paid immediately for work they’ve already done (instead of being forced to wait until the end of the month).

Along the way, John has launched not one but two businesses.

A decade ago, during his university days, John spent time studying in Korea, where he discovered that textbooks were much cheaper. So when he returned to Australia, he started importing textbooks that he sold at a discount to other university students. Very shrewd.

Six months ago, John launched a consultancy, The Business Blocks, which shows businesses how to implement the ultra-efficient processes he was forced to master while managing an enormous workload earlier in his career. Again – very shrewd.

John’s people skills and business skills are a great combination … and make him a valuable asset for any organisation lucky enough to hire or employ him.