Mike Mortlock, the 232nd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, was meant to have a very different career path.

When Mike was a teenager, he planned to become a fighter pilot, but was forced to give up his dream due to medical complications.

Mike then decided to become a real estate agent, but concluded, less than a year into the job, that somebody with his introverted nature wasn’t suited to the profession.

After studying construction management, Mike became a quantity surveyor, which turned out to suit both his personality and his skillset. For the next few years, Mike was perfectly content in his job and assumed he’d work for somebody else forever. But after experiencing a few frustrations, he decided to join forces with a colleague and found his own business.

So the boy who was meant to be a fighter pilot ended up becoming the co-owner of MCG Quantity Surveyors. That was back in 2011. Seven years later, the Australian Financial Review named MCG one of the 100 fastest-growing companies in Australia. Clearly, Mike has done alright for himself.

There were a few things that struck me about Mike. First, he’s got a thirst for knowledge, which you need if you want to succeed in business. Second, he’s got a methodical mind, which also helps. Third, he’s got a warm personality and a dry sense of humour, which are perfectly suited to relationship-building.

In hindsight, Mike has probably turned out to be better as an entrepreneur than he would’ve been as a fighter pilot.