A few weeks ago I attended a talk by Mike Lee (“World’s Toughest Programmer”) about entrepreneurship. One of his stories was such an eye opener that I asked him to write it down for me.

Mike told a story about the lessons you learn while doing actual work and interacting with real entrepreneurs. It is the stuff you won’t learn in business school or even read in books about entrepreneurship but more like the stuff you pick up along the way. Enjoy:

It was an example of something I got from my mentor that was not necessarily something he told me so much as something I learned. I call the lesson, “how to become a regular at a restaurant.” It’s pretty simple, you find a restaurant near you and try it. If you like it, you go there regularly and get to know the people who work there, and eventually the people who own the place.

This not only makes it more pleasant to go out, it’s also a shrewd business move. When you need to meet someone, you can recommend a place. You know exactly where it is, and how long it takes to get there. You arrive unflustered, ready to do business, ready to win.

If the person is meeting you there and ask the staff about you, it is quite impressive when they know you. When you get there, as a regular, you will receive great seating, priority service, and a tremendous amount of respect. It will put you in a positive context, and give you an advantage in your meeting.

There is another thing. When you make a restaurant your own, you have a tool you can use not just for taking people out but also for holding events, looking for a caterer, or asking for help.

You are learning to build a network. You are also learning to meet people, to establish connections, to maintain relationships. These are incredibly useful skills for an entrepreneur. Choosing partners, employees, and investors is the same process and the same skill set.

Indeed, all of life is this way. Eventually you come to see the world as your restaurant, as a place where you’ve spread around enough good karma that you are generally recognized and treated well. Wherever you go, you know how to establish yourself. Wherever you are, you are always at home.

That is how you become a regular at a restaurant.

Since he told me that story I noticed that a lot of entrepreneurs already practice this. They all have their favorite bars and restaurants that they use to conduct business. How about you? Sounds familiar?