saxophone. If there were a door, there’d be a sign on it that
said “Ivan Juan Johann”—that’s me. I’m a scribbler by training
and a talker by temperament. Which works out OK, as the particular
side of the street I’m working these days is called Communications.
In this biz, opportunity don’t knock. It just strolls in,
talking a mile a minute, itself, and plops down in your spare
Aeron—usually crushing your fedora in the process. So, if
you’ve got anything good on your shoulders above your neck,
you can do OK just by keeping your eyes and ears open near
equal to the time that other hole is busy keeping your tongue
neighborly with your Florsheims.
Trick is in telling what’s opportunity and what’s a one-way
ticket to an outpost minding someone else’s Outlook calendar.
It’s well and good to assist, but “assistant”? Please, friend,
the only thing in my life I want preceded by “executive” is
So, when she spun—believe me, pal, you couldn’t get that many
curves to travel straight without welding ‘em to rails—into
my 9-to-5, I had to think fast. I saw a flash of manila in
her hand, and I don’t mean a travel brochure for Southeast
the rumpus, doll?”
Mr. Ivan Juan Johann . . . “
now, lollipop. Mr. Ivan Juan Johann is my father. Please,
just Ivan Juan Johann.”
The look she gave me would have had Al Gore securing funds
for a sequel, and three Republican strategists working round
the clock to prove that every Eskimo word for snow is a curse.
Juan Johann, I’ve been trying to e-mail you this file. I’ve
been getting an out-of-office notice since last Wednesday.”
back from the tropics, sweetheart.” I hadn’t been anywhere
more tropical than a Scorpion Bowl since last—or any other—Wednesday,
but the sunburn from her earlier glance went some ways towards
building my case.
I hope you had a nice time. But he’s hounding me about the
status of the Kleiner report.”
She raised her arm toward my desktop, the folder—stuffed with
every scrap of paper printed from Guttenberg to Google—inches
from my inbox.
I took her by the wrist, gently, using a little Aikido move
I picked up at an OfficeMax night course, and spun her on
one of her more attractive axes.
in great shape, jellybean. We’re teeing some things up for
Kleiner, trying to get buy-in. Just refining the elevator
pitch, you know? We don’t need him drinking from the fire
hose. We don’t need to get that granular. We’re working this
one in modules. We can dial it up, dial it down, as needed.
No pushback, so far. And, at the end of the day, it’s about
the low-hanging fruit.”
She was almost back to the hallway. I was nearly there.
Ivan Juan Johann . . . ” I had to wrap it up fast or I was
going to lose her and gain another half a yard of dead tree.
I went for broke: “You know, cupcake, I think you and me should
take this offline. I’m not trying to get you to drink the
Kool-Aid, but I think we could really leverage your skill
set on this one. I’d really like to empower you to own this.”
Ivan Juan Johann, I couldn’t . . . ”
you could, cookie, with your core competencies, with what
you bring to the table . . . ”
I bring anything else to the table, sir?” Two hours later,
the manila folder had found itself a new home in the surprisingly
rectilinear attaché of my curvaceous companion, never to be
seen again. In exchange, I provided for her a virtual tour
of the tropics.
I love a deliverable with a paper umbrella.
marshmallow, how’s Executive Assistant sound to you?”
Outro sax, and fade.