How your lunch break can change your life

This post was originally posted on, a website I help manage about women in business. Below is a picture of me in New York right before meeting one of my heroes. 

As an ambitious junior in college I had heard the stories about how networking and creating personal relationships could make or break my future career. However, I also knew how intimidating it could be to ask a professional to spend some of their precious time to just sit and chat with you. But, I had an opportunity thrown into my lap and decided to put my bravery and this networking thing to the test. I worked as an editor at my college newspaper and was able to attend a student editor’s workshop at the New York Times. I had never been to the Big Apple and I was giddy with excitement. I also knew that one of my heroes resided in this city. So, I sent this particular journalist an email asking if he would have just 30 minutes to meet up and talk with me. I didn’t expect a yes, and I didn’t even expect a response. So you can imagine how my heart jumped into my throat when he responded with a “Sure!” and gave me a date and time to meet up at a coffee shop. I’ll tell you, that weekend and that meeting was life changing. If not just for my ambitions, but for my realization that I could network with cool people and create these beautiful connections that would continue to inspire me to this day.

The following summer I was working in D.C. and decided to take my findings a step further. I challenged myself to ask professionals and executives to lunch. I wanted to be able to sit down with them, ask them questions about their careers, and create a personal relationship that is deeper than emails or a “Hi” in the hallway. I had several talks with my supervisor over lunches about how to improve my work and how his journey brought him to where he was now. I was able to connect with documentary filmmakers and people from all over the world. I started to build a network of people who I could go to for advise, help, or keep up with for future endeavors. Here is what I discovered about why lunch breaks can be so successful:

  1. Everyone takes lunch breaks. We all have to eat lunch at some point during the day, plus it’s nice to have a short break from all of the emails and meetings. Lunch breaks are a great time for you to ask people to meet up because they will normally be taking a lunch break anyways.
  2. You don’t cut into their schedule. By asking them to go to lunch, you aren’t taking away from time they have scheduled out for other things. People will usually set aside at least 30 minutes to eat, so if you can join them during that time it is perfect.
  3. It gives you something to talk about. Sometimes meeting with someone one on one can be intimidating and awkward. I’ve found that choosing somewhere to eat can break the ice. Pick somewhere unique, ethnic, or just plain interesting. This will give you something to talk about upon meeting up and can allow you to then gracefully steer the conversation however you wish.
  4. This makes you memorable. By choosing a fun place to eat, the person you are meeting with will associate that place with you. They will remember the time you asked them to go to lunch and you chatted over curry, pho, or the food truck tacos that you swear are ‘unreal’.

So what I want you to take from this is don’t by shy. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to lunch. I mean, the worst that can happen is they say no and then you both go about your day as your normally would.

On living in the mountains

I grew up in the Ozarks, a little gem of geography right on the Mason-Dixon line in Arkansas. I know, you think only hillbilly’s live there. Turns out so do the daughters of Wal-mart headquarter employees. And now you hate me because Wal-Mart funded my childhood. It’s ok, my Dad doesn’t work there anymore so feel free to bash (but try not to let my corporate grocery past deter you from reading on).

Growing up, I thought the rolling hills that are the Ozarks were the most majestic things I’d ever seen. Even to this day driving through them is one of the most beautiful things I’ve done. However, compared to where I live now, those are just anthills. They are gorgeous, tree covered ant hills. Now, I live at the foothills of the Wasatch Front. I stare at giant mountain faces etched with canyons and glaciers and pines and waterfalls. I drive 10 minutes away and I’m in the mouth of a huge canyon ready to get swallowed up. I find my way around this place only because I know the mountains are due East. If they are on my right, I’m headed North, and in the winter I can only hope they are on my left so as to know I’m headed to warmer climates.

So I guess the point of this post was to just notice how lucky I am to live in the mountains. While there are things I’m still learning to get used to (like the bipolar weather and snow in October), I can’t help but feel safe with the mountains standing guard everyday. And to grace us all with their most beautiful outfits in fall (if only for a few weeks). I will never get bored of exploring the lakes, waterfalls, peaks, caves, and trails that they offer. And I hope I never take for granted that perfect time of day when the mountains turn gold with the sun.

On making your first “grown-up” purchase

We had talked about it for months, we had saved up the money, and we were excited. A new “scoot scoot” would be the perfect end-of-summer purchase. I saw us going on drives into the mountains, down to the lake, and hitting the town in style. Plus, it would save us money in the long run. We scoured Craigslist and KSL for months, waiting for the perfect one to show up, and that it did. Michael went to check it out and assured me this was the one. However, when the day came for us to go pick her up, I was the worst. I wouldn’t talk to Michael and was just generally pissed and I didn’t know why. And as we drove into the trailer park and I met Terry as he lovingly wiped down the scoot, I could barely even hold a conversation. I handed over the wad of cash, faked a smile, and got in the car to drive away as Michael took the scoot home. She was beautiful. There were bald eagle stickers tearing their way through the plastic surface, flames lining the sides, and a makeshift visor. Perfectly American. But I didn’t love her that day because she made me feel insecure and scared. I was terrified of making a “big purchase” and living with it. If I felt like this after buying a scooter how am I going to handle buying a car or a house? Baby steps.

However, in the months following the purchase, I’ve realized what a good investment it has been. Both for my bank account and my happiness. When I feel claustrophobic in my apartment, I just take Lady Liberty out for a ride and the world is good again.

Our first “grown-up” purchases are different for everyone. For some it might be a car, others a house, and those of us with commitment issues stick to less impactful purchases, such as scooters. Whatever it may be, I think we can all agree there is something terrifyingly satisfying about that first purchase.