Friday, January 21, 2011
I was fresh out of college and working in my first job. Well, my second job technically but we're splitting hairs here. For the purposes of my resume today, that second was my first. I was an at the biggest ad agency in town, and I was in the group that generated the most revenue. So, in the eyes of the ad world and my relatives who cared, I was off to a good start.
The problem was I was the new guy on the team and I had the clients that generated the least amount of revenue. In terms of overall client rank, mine were at the bottom. Which meant that within this group, I was nobody. Though outside the group, I lived off the aura of said group, but everyone knew that I was the runt of the litter.
It came therefore almost as a decree from Zeus when I got the call. I was being tapped to work on our agency's largest account. And not only that I was still going to just report directly to my Group Account Director. And! I was going to be working on the client's most technologically advanced product. Praise to Mount Olympus, my chariot had come after all.
I was all of 22.
So I get to my first meeting with our clients. It was my boss, the Group Account Director, the client's Marketing Director and her Senior Brand Manager. There was also a technical manager there who started us off by explaining this new product. I thought it was relatively simple actually. But this was back in the 90's and tech was a foreign word still to most commoners.
I wanted to impress badly. I wanted to prove I belonged in that room. And as luck would have it, my previous first job (now forsworn but then acknowledged freely) had me working with this client's direct competition. It was not quite the same bells and whistles, but conceptually I had a very good grasp. Which meant I was going to open my mouth. I asked, I answered, I poked, I prodded, I espoused; just stopped short of proclaiming. I might have beamed a little. I was wise beyond my 22 years.
My boss had asked me to wait in the lobby while he finished some outstanding conversations with the marketing director. I think I had two cigarettes while waiting. It was a short car ride back.
We were walking in the office corridor. Past the receptionist, past the keycard entry door. Right after the door closed, he turned around to face me.
"So, I spoke to the clients after our meeting. Overall, they liked you, they thought you were smart and very enthusiastic"
I guess I didn't realize it was an audition but that I had passed so what did it matter.
"One thing though". His eyes sharpened.
"You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut. You talked too much and I don't want that to happen again. "
I was 22.
To this day, I can replay that scene in my mind like it just happened. That walk back to my desk never felt longer.
It's been the best lesson of my corporate career.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Teeth are clear. Hair is in place. Tie is straight. Hands are dry.
Steve took one last look at himself in the mirror, and he was ready. Well, as ready as he was going to be. He slowly unlatched the lock on the bathroom door, and walked out of the Starbucks – making sure to look both ways as he crossed the street and entered the building lobby. A quick show of identification to the security guard on duty, and he was ready to board the elevator. The ride to the thirty-fifth floor was a lot faster than he had anticipated. In a matter of seconds, the doors opened, and he was at the reception.
“Hi. My name is Steve Howard, and I have an appointment with Cindy Long at ten.”
“Have a seat and she’ll be right with you. “
Impressive office. Bright and airy, and all these modernist touches, he thought. The life-size Darth Vader sure didn’t do anything to detract from the cool factor. Who put a life-size Darth Vader figurine next to reception anyway? What kind of an office was this? Anyway, what did it matter? He was here for an interview, and he needed a job. Any job. Times are tough and this was the only interview he could get after six weeks of sending resumes non-stop. The bloodletting had to end, and it better end today.
"Steve? Hi, I'm Jen, Cindy's assistant. She's ready for you now. Would you follow me?"
"Great. Thanks. Impressive office by the way"
" Yeah, our CEO is a huge architecture buff and designed everything himself."
"Here we are. This is the CEO's office, but he's out this week. Have a seat and she will be right with you. Can I get you anything to drink?"
It was the most impressive office that Steve had ever laid eyes on. It was easily bigger than his apartment, and it was a true corner office with a view of Central Park. Central Park! Damn. Must be nice to walk in to this every morning. The opposite side of the office was dominated by floor to ceiling mirrors. It reflected that same magnificent view of Central Park, only it had a wood bar across the middle. That was odd, he thought. Wait a minute, those are ballet bars. What is going on here?
He took a quick look at the door. Well, there were two doors. One from each corner of the office. Two entrances. That was a first for him. Both had a sleek metal disc that looked like a giant stainless steel frisbee affixed on the mirrored wall. And in between those two doors was what appeared to be a hidden panel. I wonder what was behind that, he curiously wondered. Well, no one was around. Steve got up and two the three quick steps towards the panel and gave it a slight push. The hinge creaked a little, and with the small opening, a hidden secret was revealed. A bathroom. The guy has his own personal bathroom. Now that is cooler still. Of course, the ballet bar is still there, but hey, no one is perfect.
Quickly, he pulled the door shut, and sat back into the Wassily chair. Mental note. Make a point to mention that he likes the Wassily chair. That design history class really came in handy - who was the designer again? What else do I say other than the view and the chair? He started to make a list of all the points of interest in the room. View, mirrors - wait was that too obvious? Scratch the mirrors. Chair, the Noguchi coffee table. The awards. That was it really right? Right. Not too much. He was there to talk job not design.
More minutes passed. Still no interviewer. This is strange. Why hasn't anyone come in? Slowly he began to let his mind loose. Is there a camera in here? Are they watching me? His eyes darted around every corner of the room. No, protuding lenses. The computer? Screen's not pointed at him. Teddy Bear-cam? Hidden between the awards and the books? Not that he could tell from his seat five yards away. Ok. Now he was starting to sweat. He could feel the dams slowly opening and the deodorant was kicking in. His palms no longer dry. This was stupid. I'm here for an interview not Punk'd. Still more time was passing, and every second brought another morsel of panic.
A good twenty minutes later, he heard footsteps. Mercy.
It was Jen.
"Steve? I'm sorry but Cindy can't make it today."
"Oh, ok. Should I come back later today or should I reschedule for later in the week?" He really needed the job.
"Um. I don't think she'll be available any time soon. But let me check and see what is possible."
"I'm sorry. Wait. What do you mean what's possible? So, I'm not getting the interview?"
"Well, Cindy just went into labor, and she's going to be on maternity leave. I'm not sure what her plans are for the position, and I'm going to have to get back to you."
"I'm sorry, she's early."
"Here's my card. Why don't you e-mail me tomorrow, and I will see if I have an answer for you."
"Oh. Ok. I'll e-mail you tomorrow then." Repeating her instructions because fog had moved in.
"Let me walk you out"
"Thanks. I'll e-mail you tomorrow then."
"I'm so sorry"
"It's ok. I'll e-mail you tomorrow then. Thanks."
Friday, January 7, 2011
First the toes. They were encased in turquoise cowboy boots. The best part? Each had a prominent large white star with red outline debossed onto the the front of the boot. Her boot tips were distressed and dark, possibly from the first snow that was falling this morning, but given the salt stains on the sides, it was more likely that these were no snow virgins. On their own, these boots were already making a statement.
Of course, the hair was an essential part of her look as well. She had bangs and a shoulder length poofy style. Think Supremes and not Snooki. Her chestnut locks were quite voluminous, and just about overpowered and covered the blue hoodie.
Finally, her face? Cherubic. Very young. Innocent bordering on angelic.
The main question that lingered was? How old was she? High school? College? And did she consciously know she had a style? What did her friends think? What did her enemies think?