Today I went to hear a talk on succession planning strategies. Melbourne is really the place to be if, like me, you are able to find enjoyment in turning up to an event specific to a topic that you know absolutely nothing about. Trust me – I’m no business honcho, nor am I a lawyer, yet nobody asked me to leave.

To be clear, this wasn’t exactly my idea of wild entertainment. I went into the centre where the talk was being held because it was raining. There, I quickly became ensnared in a conversation with one of the venue staff about the topic at hand. She was quite charismatic, and somehow managed to get me interested in hearing about concepts like trade sales and shareholder agreements. She wasn’t even trying to advertise the talk – she was just genuinely keen to talk about it. Pretty soon, I was bordering on being interested myself.

I’m quite amazed sometimes by the power of someone’s interest in a subject to draw others in. Admittedly, I’m an easy target – it doesn’t take much to get my ears to prick up. I guess I’m a general-purpose nerd (some might uncharitably use the term dilettante, but I’d beg to differ). Basically, it doesn’t matter how niche the field is; if someone’s excited about it, there may be something in it that I can put to use.

So, how did I fare with my afternoon of commercial-legal shop talk? Let’s just say that at least I was out of the rain. To put it another way, I didn’t deeply click into it. But I did come away with some keywords for sounding smart when my in-laws get to talking about Uncle Jake – the infamous property lawyer Melbourne didn’t see coming – and his impeccable exit strategy for the sale of his wholesale timber empire. In turn, I can apply information from said in-law conversation to my brother’s girlfriend’s emerging interest in ethical paper production… and so the chain goes on.

When it comes to interacting with humans, it seems to me, there’s no such thing as useless info.