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What about Lunches, Dinners, and All That? Taking clients to lunch used to be part of my routine. From The Four Seasons to Asia de Cuba, sushi bars to Indian buffets, I was out at least twice a week with clients and prospective clients. Not any more. No one has time. Me included. Expensive lunches might seem almost decadent in this environment. Before I decided to move my office out of New York City, I kept a diary of how I spent my days: At my computer ten hours a day, five days a week. Six of the ten talking on the phone and e-mailing stuff back and forth. A few client meetings a week—at their offices. A quick bite at a salad bar, sandwich place, or my desk. (Could do that from anywhere and save all that commuting time—and rent.) Is there a place in business today for wining and dining? Some designers and clients say yes. Others no. “I might be more successful if I did more of that,” muses Drew Hodges. “But it seems like nobody wants me to take them to lunch. Everyone’s too busy.” Michael Mabry, identified in a 1997 national survey as “the most influential graphic designer in the United States,” says he wouldn’t even want to have lunch with most clients he’s met over the years. “Clients should be people you want to go to dinner with. But it’s very, very rare.” Mabry, who moved his office from San Francisco to Emeryville, California, to be closer to home and his young daughter, has been somewhat pessimistic on the subject of clients for years. “Companies that I thought I liked disappointed me too much,” he confesses. “Once you get into the inner workings, you see arrogance, lack of vision, fear of the CEO, unwillingness to try new things.” He’s recently found happiness, though, working for children’s furnishings retailer and cataloguer The Land of Nod. He even likes to have lunch with the principals. “The company was founded by two friends,” he explains. “It’s a joy to work with them and go out with them. This has never happened before, but it’s a real natural thing to spend time with them, to share a meal, to watch TV with their kids. In a perfect world that’s what all client relationships would be like.”