Lunch with a Primatologist


The food we eat defines us; the way we eat it is equally telling. I just returned from the restaurant/takeaway shop in the ground floor of my building in midtown Manhattan. I am sitting at my desk preparing to eat a healthy and mostly balanced lunch (although I bet a bit salty as is typical). When I am not traveling and not eating at a restaurant with friends or colleagues, I get my food there and than head back upstairs to my office to eat.

For many in the U.S., unlike most of our colleagues in Europe, eating lunch at one’s desk is standard practice on at least a day or two during the week. What to do while one is eating lunch poised in front of a computer and telephone is important. Unless facing a must-meet deadline, I think a self-imposed working lunch is not particularly productive and generally too cumbersome and sloppy. (Eating at one’s desk and typing has led to a massive market in “canned air” used to blow crumbs from one’s keyboard, etc). Chatting on the phone is a bit coarse (for the person on the other end of the line listening to incisors tearing and molars grinding).

Really, a bit of relaxation goes a long way towards increased productivity and happiness in the long run.

Many people check sports statistics or the market…this is not for me. What I have been doing over the last few months in watching/listening to a speaker on Ted Talks (  If you have not seen this site, you should. It provides easy access to some of the smartest people working on some of the most interesting projects around (mostly outside of the financial industry). Find a presenter on a topic of interest, put the keyboard to the side, check the time for the presentation (20 minutes or so is pretty standard) and enjoy. I think of it as the opportunity to lunch with someone I would likely not have the opportunity to otherwise– though the conversation is a bit one sided.

Recently, I had a long lunch (37 minutes) and very interesting conversation with a primatologist (think monkeys)  on what makes a human a human. Highly recommended.