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Doing a little ‘housekeeping’ on a rainy Friday afternoon, I came across a gem of a story, hidden in a (very) old email. I had obviously meant to share it at the time, and got side-tracked.

A workshop participant pointed me in the direction of an episode of BBC Radio 4’s business programme, The Bottom Line, in which Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycles, the pioneering folding bicycle, explains how he joined the company – because of a chance conversation on a coach from Henley to London.

Seriously. Will got chatting to the man sitting next to him, and told him that he was an engineer. The man replied that he was chairman of a company called Brompton, and was looking for someone like him.

It’s not that Will wasn’t qualified for the job – he had a master’s degree in engineering and Spanish from Newcastle University, and had previously worked for chemical giant ICI. But his appointment as MD of Brompton at the age of just 28 wouldn’t have happened without that chance conversation on a coach trip.

“I wasn’t some hardcore keen cyclist, and I had never heard of Brompton. But out of politeness I said I would go and meet the inventor.” Will says. But – he grasped the opportunity offered to him with both hands, so to speak.

A wonderful example of the power of serendipity and proof, if you need convincing, of what can happen when you talk to strangers. How often, I wonder, have you rebuffed friendly attempts at conversation on planes, trains and buses?

You can listen to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011vhdm and read a little more here: https://web.archive.org/web/20160308210218/http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23239764