Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chairman - Part 2

Written by Ven Sorkin

I woke up to the sound of Ave Maria playing on the Penthouse sound system. With considerable effort, I opened my eyes. Sunlight was streaming through the window. Keeping my eyes open for longer than 10 seconds was painful. Nonetheless, I stumbled over to the window and pressed the button for the tints to activate. Within a few seconds, it was night again. Mondays are tough, but when you own a very large corporation and have a considerable amount of people working for you, you are afforded a certain degree of flexibility in your working hours. Simply put, I got back into bed and did not wake until noon.

When I finally did wake up, however, it was time for work. Tanya, the maid, had already prepared breakfast; judging from the warmth of the waffles, she was more in tune to my sleeping patterns than even I was. When I was younger, I relished having a routine to follow every morning – I enjoyed cooking my own breakfast and picking out my clothes. However, as I got older I gradually realized that having other people do things for me is, simply put, easier. I cannot concentrate on multi-million dollar transactions if I also have to cook myself an omelet at the same time. Besides, who doesn’t have a maid on the Upper East Side?

Today, however, I was not going to think about multi-million transactions – I have highly overpaid analysts to do that. The task I have before me today is much less dull.

I crack open the leather bound binder on my desk. Inside are four folders, each with a name and a number typed on the top right corner. The name was important, but it is the number that was the real distinguishing factor between the folders. Let me initiate you into the co-op process of my board. I have been chair for ten years, and for nine of those years I have been implementing a rating procedure. After the initial review of their finances and letters of recommendation, each candidate is given a number. The number is broken down as follows: finances (6 possible points), workplace position (6 possible points), letters of recommendation (5 possible points), and the x-factor (3 possible points). While most of those are quite self-explanatory, I am going to go into the last one a little bit. The x-fact, a term coined by a younger member of the board, is a factor that makes a candidate particularly appealing. Every candidate starts off with 0 points in that category. If everything else checks out, the maximum number they can get is 17. Usually candidates lose a point or two for less than desirable debt to income ratio, or an inadequate time on the job, or any other number of factors. Thus, the typical candidate must have at least 13 or 14 points out of 20 to get invited to an interview.

The x-factor, however, can add up to a substantial three points. Assuming a candidate is financially qualified, but only has a 10/20, an x-factor of 3/3 can bump him into interview-zone. The x-factor itself can result from any number of qualities. As I said before, it is a measure of desirability. The 26-year old stock broker from 3G only has his apartment because of his x-factor – someone on the board did some research into him and found out the broker’s parents were oil magnates down south. In another case, a younger woman had an initial number of 22/20 - she is a celebrity journalist and having a connection with the local newspaper is always a good idea.

The four files in front of me were rated as follows: a 12, a 15, a 23 and an 8. I put the two extreme files aside – those were probably the fun ones. I was left with two files. The numbers were subject to change, and were simply preliminary ratings assigned during the initial review of the files.

I opened up the 12. Man, early 30s, works as an agent at a talent agency. Income is $230,000 a year, probably with a $50,000 bonus if previous years are anything to judge by. He attached a list of his clients to the file – some actors even I have heard of, a few burnt-out B-listers and two young upstarts. He was applying to rent a $5,500/month apartment, a nice 2bed/1.5bath on the fourth floor. The guys that went over his file gave him a 4 on the finances, which surprised me. A $5,500/mo rent necessitated a yearly income of $220,000. He barely met the requirement. Additionally, as far as I knew the entertainment industry, jobs were always in danger. I was about to cross out the 4 and replace it with a three when I saw his bank statement. The kid had over 30 million in a bank account, accruing interest at .5%. Additionally, he had another 40 million sitting in CD’s and equities. A brief glance assured me of my suspicions – his father was a giant in the industry, with a client list much more impressive than his son’s.

When he died in the late 90s, he left the son everything. I did cross out the 4 but replaced it not with a 3 but with a 6. I read through the letters of recommendations from his current boss and his former roommate. Both letters were… well… unique. In fact, his boss wrote, and I quote “Nathaniel’s face displays considerable displeasure when asked to do even the simplest of tasks. He is condescending to his colleagues and I am quite sure he does not have an ounce of respect for any of them. Unfortunately, he is the most sociable and gregarious agents I have – his people skills are absolutely unparalleled. He has worked at the company for 2 years now, and has consistently been the highest earner. I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree.” Nathaniel’s roommate was even more cryptic; “Nathaniel is a reliable, trustworthy person. He does have a habit of disappearing, weeks at a time, but when he is home, he is a model roommate.” I could not help but laugh. The kid was obviously talented, and I saw in him something that even his boss missed – Nathaniel was bored of his job and, I suspect, of his lifestyle. I was sure that neither his boss nor his roommate was aware of Nathaniel’s veritable fortune stashed away in the best financial institutions. His attempts to lead a more-or less normal lifestyle were admirable. I closed the folder, crossed out the 12 on the front cover and replaced it with a 20. Then I called Linda, my assistant and told her to schedule an interview with Nathaniel at his convenience, I also told her to inform Nathaniel that he was approved and that the interview was merely a formality.

More files to be reviewed next week…

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