The Lunchtime Tech Amnesty

On the day of writing, I am in Zurich, Switzerland to attend a Hacking HR event this evening organised by the wonderful Nuria Rojo. I envision a significant experience as Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry Wehmiller, will be speaking alongside a range of other thoughtful humans as they discuss conscious leadership.

Conscious lunch

I have realised recently that despite a social media cull at the start of this year (closed my twitter account of > 4000 followers/following and now have max 200 of each) I still spend way too much time refreshing my social media pages.

But why?  That dopamine hit of engagement?  Maybe.  To connect with intentionally cool humans?  Definitely.

Positively, however, today my phone has been losing its charge much quicker than normal, so I made the conscious choice to leave my phone in the hotel room whilst I went out of lunch.  I would not always have seen this as positive (the power of our thinking about exactly the same topic!) In and of itself this could be a ‘so what’ moment, but, what emerged from me having lunch alone in the wonderful Korner restaurant in Zurich has served as a wonderful reminder to me the impact and genuine desire to connect and engage with one another on a human level, when we get out of our own way.


Yasmina Uhe was the lovely human that I had the pleasure to meet today, but initially, today’s lunch started like most. Pleasantries, eye contact, menu, still water.  I did not know her name or anything about her apart from that she worked at Korner.

As I looked through the menu, in the moment I was reminded of my first conversation with David Marquet, author of Turn This Ship Around,’ on the Value through Vulnerability podcast when he offered the experiment of giving away our power.  One way he recommended practicing this was to ask the server to pick which meal you will have.

Have you ever done this?  How did it feel compared to choosing for yourself?

Now I had never done this before speaking with David previously, but I have done it many times since, however, nowhere near as often as I should to practice this muscle.  So today was another experimental day.

Yasmina’s choice

Yasmina recommended two burgers that she really liked from the whole menu so I asked her if she would kindly choose one for me which she agreed to do. Now, this is the interesting part. When she brought her selection to me the energy and conversation between us completely shifted.

The separation of customer/server had gone. Any thinking about professionalism or etiquette as gone.

Over the next 30 minutes as I ate my food and we had periodic interchanges, I learned that:

  • Yasmina is an aspiring professional photographer and works at Korner with a good friend part-time so that she can have space to follow her dream, and keep money coming in
  • She used to work in a hotel where the restaurant manager today used to work for her and she now works for him – no issue at all (how many people would be ok in that scenario when the ego in full shouty mode? 😊)
  • She does not want to do wedding photography, but loves taking photos in nature and of children and does not want to limit herself to a particular track of photography – I love how she is going with the flow and letting her creativity emerge
  • Yasmina despite sounding very German in accent is actually a Spanish national and that is her mother tongue, yet she can speak fluent German and English as well (and a little French and Russian!)
  • She takes wonderful pictures as I found at her Instagram account

The richness of Yasmina’s humanity and her hopes to make a dent in the world would have been completely lost on me if I had brought my mobile phone and got stuck into Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and my experience would have been 30 mins alone, and not 60 mins in connection with Yasmina.

An invitation

My invitation if you are reading this is to leave the mobile phone at home or in the car when going out for a family meal, once in a while. If you are travelling on business, leave your phone in your room and engage with the people within the environment.

As Bob Chapman who will be speaking tonight says, “every person is somebody else’s precious child,” let’s be curious and engaging with all of those that we are privileged to support and serve and I believe they will offer the same for us.

We are wired to connect and operate from our place of innate belonging before our thinking (over) kicks in.

I look forward to my next lunchtime tech amnesty.


Garry Turner
Garry Turner
Combining a powerful mix of international sales and culture expertise, Garry is facilitating individual and team transformations as an interpersonal catalyst. With over 20 years of sales and relationship building experience and qualified in organisational design and development, learning & development and as a chartered member of the CIPD, he focuses on bringing intentional human-centred working to all walks of life, and has the evidence to validate this necessary paradigm shift. Whether through connection-centred workshops, keynote talks, live events or through Thinking Partnerships, Garry is driven by his two non-negotiable core values of growth and connection.

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  1. Garry, I really appreciated reading your piece. Often when I’m walking from my apartment to our elevator, I will pat myself down, not feeling for my wallet, but for my smart phone! On the occasion that I’ve left it on my desk, I panic and race back to the apartment. Panic! It’s the feeling an astronaut might have emerging weightlessly from a spacecraft to perform some extravehicular activity only to realize that they are not tethered to the mother ship. There they are, floating in space in perpetuity. And there I am, heading down in the elevator, disconnected. Yikes!

    That said, I will try your recommendation if only to leave my phone in my coat pocket and not on the restaurant’s table where it can stare back at me whispering “Look at me, look at me.”

    • Hi Jeff thank you so much for the kind feedback. I totally resonate with the ‘mobile phone is like a body part’ feeling. I would love to hear how you get on when with leaving your phone in your pocket. 🙂