Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Miss Machiavellian Manners

Power Plays

Posted on

Whether you’re in the Borgia palace or the Beverly Hilton, you can make the corridors of power your own personal fast track. Here are seven ways to assume clout — or at least get people to assume you’ve got it:

* Never answer your own phone. Try to be like Irving Azoff, owner of Giant Records: ”Irving always had me say he was away,” says his former receptionist. ”He would return the calls between one day and one week later, depending on how powerful he wanted the person to think he thought they were.”

* Keep lunch dates waiting. When dining with business colleagues, take a page from at least one studio head — always be the last to arrive. The only powerful people who wait at a power lunch are the headwaiters.

* Order even your equals around. When Jeffrey Katzenberg wants to take a meeting, it doesn’t matter where you are. On Sept. 29 at 1:30 a.m. he was reportedly ready to finalize the plans for the studio he’d start with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Spielberg was with Katzenberg at a Washington hotel, but Geffen was occupying Lincoln’s bedroom at the White House, a guest of the President. Big deal. ”Come over here now,” Katzenberg told Geffen. ”Call a taxi!”

* Pull rank in imaginative ways. President Lyndon B. Johnson used to hold conferences with underlings while seated on the john. Pah! What did he know about power? According to one studio insider, when studio boss Jack Warner sat on his throne for a meeting with underling Darryl Zanuck, Zanuck flushed.

* Delegate. A prominent agent-turned-TV exec returned to work after maternity leave and presented her assistant with an expanded job description: ”From now on, I’ll need you to clean out my breast pump.”

* Let a fanged smile be your umbrella. Be breezy, upbeat, devil-may-care. And never be outgoing without knowing what you’re going out for (friendliness implies neediness — something a potentate can scent at 90 paces). Emulate the megapowerful Cliff in Carrie Fisher’s novel Delusions of Grandma, who is a composite of several moguls she has met: Be ”ruthless and warm and glad.”