Thomas Cho, the 136th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is building his business one rejection at a time.

Thomas is the general manager of Alkalife, a company that sells naturally alkaline bottled water. 

As the GM, one of Thomas’s main roles is to generate sales; right now, Alkalife is sold in about 400 supermarkets, pharmacies and health food stores around Australia.

There was a time when Thomas used to worry about what other people thought of him. But he made a conscious decision to release that anxiety. That’s produced a double benefit: Thomas is more willing to ask for business and more confident in his approach – resulting in more sales.

Indeed, before our lunch, Thomas popped into a nearby supermarket to pitch his product. The manager responded by placing an order.

Alkalife was started in 2002, by Thomas’s father. At the time, he owned two youth hostels, but he felt bottled water was a growth market, so he bought a source in the Blue Mountains. It was only a couple of years after that he discovered the water was naturally alkaline, giving it health benefits and a key point of difference from other waters.