In Appreciation of Chance Encounters

Friday, May 15, 2020

By: Lisa Renee Pomerantz

In his 2017 book entitled “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” Adam Grant observed that many innovative people had lived and worked abroad, experiences that allowed them to see problems and challenges from a different perspective. Similarly, in his 2019 book, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World,” David Epstein observed that many successful innovators had pursued multiple careers, developed several areas of expertise and excelled in applying what they learned in one field to others.

In my professional life, I have cherished and learned from chance encounters with people from all walks of life. Working as in-house counsel at NEC exposed me to colleagues in sales, product development, technical support, human resources, etc. and helped me look at business situations from a more interdisciplinary perspective. Now that I have my own law and dispute resolution practice, i enjoy interactions with and learn from clients, co-tenants, presenters and attendees at networking events and conferences, students and other faculty here and abroad, and interesting people I meet on airplanes, on the tennis court or golf course, or on LinkedIn.

For at least the short term, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted us to working from home and only attending planned meetings. Opportunities for those chance encounters are limited. Many commentators are predicting a permanent shift to remote workforces. Let us hope that any such shift leaves open the possibility of those fruitful chance encounters!

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