Entertaining The Rich and Powerful
Washington, DC March 30th, 2007 -- The world of influence and advancement depends on "Seeing and being seen". You can't, or don't help someone you don't know. High visibility is the key to success and as one Film Producer told me years ago "It isn't who you know that matters, but who knows you!" The Rich and Powerful are elusive, and avoid crowds. Despite what Bill Clinton's publicity may say, the chances of meeting him in a Burger King are remote. The Rich and Powerful like to frequent places, where they can mingle with............ you guessed it The Rich and Powerful!
Some of the most frequently asked questions I get from meeting with international executives are "Where are the best places in Washington, London or New York to take contacts, and meet contacts" and "How can I show I am a player." It is the modern day version of Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Except instead of being crafted for a ogling TV audience, it becomes a roadmap for upwardly mobile executives and professionals. That is why we created the Center for Corporate Diplomacy, to develop the skills to impress and close the deal. This whole subject has been studied again and again by the investment and financial community, and all the reports show the power, influence and money is being concentrated into a smaller and smaller group of lucky individuals. This is nowhere more obvious than in the political arena and at fundraisers around the country.
These "A List" individuals hold both the political power and the purse strings. They spawn a whole support industry, from investment consultants, publicists, and managers to the media they use to spread their beliefs. They are the group any young executive or political hopeful needs to understand.
But we have a problem with joining their parade.
Today corporate executives and political hopefuls hardly know how to interact with their peers, let alone the upper strata's of the successful. A whole generation has abandoned social skills for a virtual world of text messaging and email. The skills needed to navigate through the maze of culture and etiquette are either dismissed or ignored in today's America. By the time the young executives realize their shortcomings it's too late. You would hardly send an Officer to lead a group of combat soldiers without proper training and expect positive results, yet corporations send executives around the world to interface with the Rich and Powerful without any training, or briefings.
Meeting and influencing the right people needs a lot of advance knowledge and planning. You don't get off the plane at the Airport and tell the first taxi driver you see to take you to meet a decision maker who can influence being awarded a big order. He will take your money and drop you off at the right building, where you will probably be refused entry without an appointment. Yet I have seen again and again top executives from Europe expect to come to Washington and walk into see a high profile Senator, or office of a department head with no introduction, or advanced research. Same when I was in London, and I met them again and again in Tokyo, Paris, Rome, Beijing, Brussels and around the world.
In New York I have seen executives marched out of the UN building for violating Protocol and pitching products and services to irritated Ambassadors. You can get away with discussing with them how you can help their country, over lunch in the Delegates Dining Room, but don't try and bring in assistants with armfuls of charts, brochures and Powerpoint presentations. And don't like one executive tried, ask a devout high profile Islamic diplomat in front of his delegation if he wanted to "Find a Pub and have a Couple of Pints" to talk about kick backs to grease a bid.
Linda too knows what it takes to be on the "A" list from her experience in the White House, as well as years of representing governments, and managing tens of thousands of dinners, receptions, and banquets for royalty, major corporations and political candidates. Few can explain the inner workings of a Presidential Inauguration, the intrigue, challenges and celebrities, especially for President Reagan and his Hollywood friends. High profile corporate, political and diplomatic events are the playing field for demonstrating the social and diplomacy skills needed to advance, and be an effective leader.
Traveling around the world, working with Ambassadors, Diplomats and business leaders you realize that the Rich and Powerful tend to congregate at the right restaurants, hotels, vacation resorts, clubs and enjoy the right leisure activities. This fact led us to developing the upcoming TV series Entertaining the Rich and Powerful where we again visit these exclusive places where the savvy go to see, and be seen. The TV series is supported by a series of websites covering the world. A guidebook to social success.
TV commercials may show a young twenty-something scaling the ships funnel on the climbing wall, or weaving around the Cruise Ship on a jet ski, but you can bet none of them can help you in your quest for success. If you need to meet the right people, in the right places Billions and Billions Served in food and leisure pursuits will not help your career advancement. Telling your contacts that you went to Disney World will not bring gasps of envy, nor will your stories of staying at an economy hotel, and living on $40 a day thanks to watching Rachel Ray. Networking is far more than lining up to join in the Midnight Chocoholics Buffet.
If you want to be invited into the Boardroom you have to walk the walk, talk the talk, and look the part. It isn't for nothing that politicians and top decision makers look at a newcomer and ask "What can they do for me?" that's how they got to the top, and that's how they stay there. The newcomer likewise has to think "What can they do to help me, and how can I help them achieve their goals". That does not happen in a line to ride the Roller Coaster, or to order a No. 3 with extra Onion Rings.
As wealth and power continues to become more focused it is even more of a choice between being one of the Rich and Powerful, or being one of the Struggling to Pay the Escalating Bills.