It was a miserable January evening. I’d been working with my first important client and, after a hard week, I was anxious to get home. Boarding the train, my head full of the week’s events, I scarcely noticed the only other passenger in the compartment. But three hours later, when we were halted by freezing fog, the stranger and I got into one of those soul-baring conversations which happen between stranded travellers. I explained that I’d recently left a university research fellowship in order to found my own research consultancy. ‘How is it going?’ he asked. ‘Much tougher than I’d expected’, I confessed. ‘The trouble with research is that it’s much harder to sell than something tangible like a product.’ ‘I’m in selling’, he told me. ‘Like you, I’ve just changed jobs and I’m finding it hard. I used to be a top performer for my last company, but now … well, I just can’t seem to do anything right.’