I have met a few important people in my life. Every one of them had a different approach to communicating their self-importance to the world. Some fared very well; others could do with a bit of coaching in that department. My easy solutions for the less successful would be taking on a few simple elements of behaviour and leave the audience doubtless about who’s truly important. Only a handful of tips are listed below.
First, make sure to have your fancy, latest-edition BlackBerry always handy. Feel free to interrupt the mortals whenever you have to make a phone call – or send a message to the babysitter minding your children while your wife is polishing her toe nails at some exclusive salon. I would even recommend arranging for TWO BlackBerries and showing some class juggling them simultaneously. Do tell the person on one line to hold while you are handling the other and vice versa. BlackBerries are particularly useful at meetings. Rushing out to answer a call is more than encouraged. Forget about politeness. Your time is worth a million more than anybody else’s.
Secondly, do hire a cool secretary who will belong to you and no-one else but you. There are two options here, depending on your personal preference. One would be to go for a supermodel blondie barely able to read and teach her a few basic phrases. The alternative would really be the opposite – a loud-voiced monster with over 20 years of secretarial experience and clout possibly as inflated as your own. Both would impress with their very different strong sides and shout from the rooftops about your good taste, selectiveness and importance. By no means forget to equip your assistant with a personal BlackBerry and make her answer all calls with “Good afternoon, you’ve reached the office of XXX, how can I help?” – regardless of whether the call is being picked up on a London commuter train at 5am or the actual office. Have all your calls automatically redirected to your secretary; by all means have her call up the people you are willing to speak to first before transferring to you.
To continue on the office subject, I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone to go for a corner arrangement. A nice view onto a high-profile London location – or indeed that of any other major megalopolis – would come in very desirable, too. Get some expert advice on the sleekest wooden furniture and decorate the walls with pictures of yourself playing golf with Tiger Woods or shaking hands with Barack Obama. You don’t have to have actually met with them; Photoshop does wonders these days. Make sure to show your visitors who’s boss – I would especially recommend one of those HUGE leather thrones every self-respecting world leader surely owns in great numbers. Seat your visitors in some scaled-down versions and throw a few Parker pens around. Even better, use an actual feather and dip it into actual ink every now and then.
Snack-wise, having a fruit basket delivered to you daily at a specified hour is an absolute must. Have your secretary order a diversified selection of exotic fruit, get them peeled, cut, arranged in a Chinese character, covered with cling wrap and placed in the middle of your visitor table. The sad part is that you are too important and busy for mundane activities like snacking. Just leave the fruit standing there untouched all day. The secretary may help herself after you have left; sharing with visitors is a big no. Albeit fruitless by definition, they should instead focus on dreaming of becoming as important as you are one day.
At meetings, either appear ten minutes late (mortals can wait) or be there one hour before to prevent any conspiracy. You never know if there are microphones smuggled into the room to steal your glorious words of wisdom. As discussed, make unlimited use of your BlackBerry(-ies). Alternate between interrupting others in a loud voice and silently staring at the speaker, arms pressed together and dissatisfaction spilt all over your face. I mean, do those people have any idea what nonsense is coming out of their mouths? Adjourn the meeting abruptly because you have a massage appointment. Don’t forget to announce it loudly to others.
In conversations, never condescend to the level of your counterpart. After all, nobody’s personal affairs are important enough for a conversation involving yourself. Certainly be polite and ask the speaker about their family; listening, however, is totally unnecessary. Your time is precious. Nod off in a distracted fashion and check out that BlackBerry once again. Or email your masseur for another appointment.
Having said all of the above, I would personally love to try out this “Look How Important I Am” game and – for once – feel really empowered. The problem here is that merely playing the game does not make one important; you’d have to be important already to play. Which means that, if I really wanted to have a shot at that fruit basket, I could either become some big shot or their secretary. Somehow the latter seems more appealing – if only I had the looks.