Terry Brown, the 242nd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has a job that makes people very, very happy.

Terry is the co-owner of Tax Assure, a specialist taxation debt advisory business that helps companies, directors and business owners manage tax debt problems with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Often, when clients approach Terry, they’re in despair – their tax debt appears to be insurmountable, and they’re worried they might lose their business or even go to jail.

Terry really cares about people and is very open. So he explains to his clients that he knows what they’re going through, because he’s dealt with his own share of problems. He then speaks to the ATO on their behalf, to negotiate a repayment plan.

In other words, Terry provides a lifeline to clients who feel like they’re drowning in debt – and makes them very, very happy in the process.

Terry is one of Australia’s leading tax debt negotiation experts, with decades of experience. But he fell into the niche by accident. He started as a generalist lawyer, serving clients in a wide variety of disciplines but not standing out in any of them. One day, someone asked him to handle a tax debt matter and he discovered, to his surprise, that negotiating outcomes with the ATO came naturally to him. Slowly, that part of his business grew, until, eventually, he realised he’d acquired more specialist knowledge than any of his peers, and that he should’ve been a tax debt specialist all along.

At other points in Terry’s career, he’s also been a founding director of Belle Property and a co-founder of the McGrath Foundation.

Terry is obviously smart, but the thing that most impressed me is his people skills. He’s a natural relationship-builder. For example, when we arrived at the restaurant (one of his favourite haunts), he went to the kitchen to say hello to the head chef. Or when he speaks to ATO staff by phone or email, he tries to get to know them.

Taking a genuine interest in other people is another way to make them very, very happy.