The Power Behind the Throne

Those with the ear of the king are much more powerful than you realize. (Excerpt from Have Fun, Get Paid: How to Make a Living With Your Creativity)

Anyone who’s been around understands that it’s the assistants who rule the world. They decide what calls get through. They have countless contacts. They handle all the daily details. Simply put, if you want to get something done, chances are good that at some point in the process you’ll have to go through an assistant.

Many people dream of being discovered, that magical event that will transport them to a life of fame and fortune. Others have a dream that’s less unrealistic, if only by a small degree. Rather than waiting passively for some important person to walk through the door, notice their work, and sign them to a gazillion-dollar deal, they go big-game hunting.

Promotional materials and demos in hand, they make the rounds trying to get in front of top executives in their industry. As you might suspect, they meet with very few high-level players. They do, however, encounter a lot of assistants. If you’ve ever heard any of these tales from your friends, the people at the front desk are rarely referred to as anything but an obstruction, a roadblock to success that they were unable to pass.

While it’s doubtless a frustration to pin your hopes on meeting someone powerful enough to grant your wishes only to be denied, the people between you and this exalted figure get an unfairly bad rap. They’re not the enemy. In fact, they’re some of the best friends you could possibly have.

"Gatekeeper" is usually used as an insult. In truth, the person standing at the gate can be a boon to your career, swinging the gate open at just the right time. But only if you’re nice.

Learn to recognize them wherever you go and take the time to get to know them. By cultivating relationships, you’ll build a powerful network of secret allies, not to mention a formidable knowledge base. It’s also worth remembering that people rise through the ranks. Today’s assistant may be running the farm and doing the hiring tomorrow.

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