“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

I thought of that quote as I was having lunch with John Tancevski, the 55th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and president of the European Commission, was explaining why political leaders often fail to make the sort of big, bold reforms their countries need.

John was lamenting the lack of long-term thinking from Australia’s politicians, on both left and right. 

With interest rates at record-low levels, John wondered, why aren’t governments taking out ultra-cheap loans to fund nation-building infrastructure that could power decades of prosperity?

Maybe Juncker’s quip was the answer to John’s question.

John is very well qualified to talk about finances and leadership: for the past 15 years, he’s been CEO of Community First Credit Union, which has more than $1 billion in assets.

It’s a far cry from John’s first job. Back in 1980, two weeks after finishing school, he joined BHP as a trainee accountant, working alongside more than 25,000 people at the Port Kembla Steelworks.