As I watched them move around our dining room, each perfectly complementing the other, I sighed in contentment, knowing that no matter what happened outside these walls, my mother and father would be inside, keeping it together.
Brunch continued, plans were discussed for the upcoming week, and other than an occasional look from my mother that told me she definitely knew something was up but was biding her time, I managed to keep my dairy fantasies to myself until I got home.
When I got in bed that night, however, I let them fly.
“Okay, team, did everyone bring their agenda with them?” Dan asked the assembled group, and was greeted with the usual acknowledgments. Monday-morning meetings were early, they were efficient, and they were murder without coffee.
One of the reasons I chose Manhattan Creative to begin my career was their fine reputation, their wide network of colleagues across the country—the globe, really—and their barista-like coffee bar on the forty-fourth floor.
The president of MCG worked his way through college at a tiny old-fashioned coffee shop, and prided himself on having only the finest coffee products for his hardworking team. It was a perk, pardon the pun, to an already incredible job.
Over the weekend, a burst water pipe on the forty-fifth floor meant the coffee bar was no longer. They’d found beans down on twenty-seven, or at least that was the word on the street. Intern Rob had been sent down to bring back Starbucks for everyone, but until he arrived, those not smart enough to bring their own brew from home were struggling this morning.
Not Dan. Dan was one of those herbal-tea people. He brought his own bags with him to work, even had a teakettle in his corner office, and therefore felt none of our pain this morning.
“Let’s have another round of applause for Natalie’s team. Ms. Grayson managed to bring in the T&T Sanitation business with an . . . let’s say interesting . . . presentation late Friday evening. For those of you who didn’t check their email over the weekend, it was a success; we are now officially peddling shit!”
“Hear! Hear!” a voice called out, and I stood to curtsy and wave à la prom queen.
“Also, for those of you who didn’t check their email over the weekend, I’ll need your resignation on my desk by 5 p.m. today,” he finished, the twinkle in his eye missed by the very green and very young Edward, a junior copywriter who wore a look of panic and was slinking lower in his chair by the minute.
“Easy, Eddie, he’s teasing,” I whispered, nudging him back up higher into his chair. “But way to call yourself out. Nice poker face.”
I shook my head at him, motioning for him to keep his eyes on Dan.
“So, page one as always is new business. Let’s go through what’s in the hopper this week,” Dan continued, and we all read along with him as he outlined potential jobs on the horizon. A cat food brand, not too exciting but lucrative and great visibility potential. A small chain of boutique hotels was looking to go global next year, and wanted to raise some green quickly to look more favorable to investors. To raise the funds they needed, they were willing to spend some money to strengthen their brand. I immediately thought of Clara, and wondered if this might be an opportunity to work together. I put a checkmark next to that section, waiting until he finished going through every item on the agenda to formally put in for the job.
Dan ran a very tight ship, with an impeccably tight team. If you brought a client to the firm, then that was your client. But when someone solicited us on their own? It was up for grabs. Each account executive made a case for how they would be the best point person on each project, and then he and the partners would select who got what gig.
Due to my recent success, and the fact that I’d closed more accounts than any other account exec over the past eighteen months, I could essentially pick and choose the jobs I wanted. Like T&T Sanitation. Now, most didn’t want it, thinking it would just end up as a joke campaign. But I saw the potential to go out on a limb with new clients and really make something out of nothing. And, more often than not, the gamble paid off, and I made the partners and myself a nice signing bonus.
I half listened to the rest of the agenda, waiting until it was time to officially throw my hat into the ring on the hotel chain. Might get some nice travel out of it, might get to work with one of my best friends if I could swing bringing in a consultant on this job, and, most important, it could be what finally made me a partner.
A partner before thirty. That had always been the goal.
My father ran his own real estate developing company. My mother was a famous artist. I needed this feather in my cap to keep the name Grayson held with the same distinction that my parents had, and I needed to do it on my own. I could have gone into business with my father; he’d have been thrilled. But other than taking him up on his offer to live in one of his fabulous brownstones, I managed my life on my own.
I scanned ahead on the agenda and realized that Dan was almost through with the new business, and it would be time to formally ask to be considered for the hotel chain pitch. I began to rehearse in my head exactly what strategy to use when I heard him say, very clearly, Bailey Falls.
“Wait, Bailey Falls?” I asked, interrupting Dan and causing the entire room to look at me strangely. “Did I hear you say Bailey Falls?”
“Bailey Falls, yes you did. Looks like someone better hope Rob gets back with coffee soon,” Dan chuckled, and light laughter rang out through the group. “The Bailey Falls tourism pitch, it’s on your agenda there, almost at the bottom.”