The following is an excerpt from a book I wrote with and for Brandon Wade, Connecting With the In Crowd: How to Network, Hang Out & Play With Millionaires Online. Wade is an online entrepreneur who owns and operates three matchmaking websites, and whose previous books include Seeking Arrangement: The Definitive Guide to Sugar Daddy and Mutually Beneficial Arrangements. Connecting With the In Crowd shows people how they can meet super wealthy people online to find investors or mentors, to involve them in charities or political campaigns, or just to hang out with and party in style. Chapter 3, below (with some minor edits), tells how to find work with millionaires.
You’re Hired: How to Find Employment With Millionaires
Marta began her work life at the age of 21 in the kitchen of a city diner, where she discovered she had a flair and affinity for cooking. The diner let her experiment, and she improved their menu and increased business significantly. After honing her skills there, she landed a job as sous chef in an upscale restaurant. A few years later she started up a high-end catering business; now in her forties, she travels the globe, expenses paid by her wealthy clients, to fulfill their entertainment needs. On a typical assignment she’ll fly first-class to some ritzy vacation home on Lake Como, assemble a staff from locals she’s met over the years, and supervise a formal dinner for 20 or a party for 300 of her client’s celebrity pals. She usually stays wherever she lands for R&R time, until another client calls with a party “emergency,” summoning her to the Hamptons or Madrid. She wouldn’t trade her lifestyle, not even for love or money.
Millionaires and celebrities frequently employ a full staff, or hire people on an as-needed basis, and they can afford to pay their employees very well. Some of the services the rich pay handsomely for are:
- Estate Manager
- Personal Shopper
- Chef and/or Nutritionist
- Fitness Trainer
- Personal Assistant
These are the most common positions, but for any personal service you can dream up there’s probably a wealthy person who needs it and an expert to provide it. You can research these careers online or in books geared specifically to each one, so, with the exception of the Personal Assistant, I won’t go into all the details of each job. Personal Assistant (PA) is by far the person that almost every millionaire and celebrity needs, and is therefore the most frequently hired. It’s also a challenging career choice; we’ll explore it in depth later in this chapter.
Rich people can, of course, afford to hire someone for almost any necessity, desire, or luxury they might conjure. Most of us would probably love waking up to a professional in-home massage every morning, but we can’t afford it. Millionaires can.
What does this mean for you as a working person? Briefly, it means you can increase your income substantially by doing much the same work you’re doing now, with just one change: the person or people for whom you do it. That’s one of the best reasons to network with millionaires: for lucrative employment.
Maybe you’re that morning masseuse – but you work your magic on clients at a neighborhood health spa. It’s a decent living, but nothing to write home about. What if you had one or two wealthy clients you visited a few mornings a week before going to your regular job? Those clients will refer you to friends, and eventually you’ll amass a client list long enough for you to leave the spa, substantially increasing your income while working fewer hours….
How Do You Get There From Here?
You’re probably wondering how to graduate from wage-slave worker bee to highly-paid professional running a billionaire’s life. It takes work – mostly of the mental kind – but trust me, it isn’t that difficult.
Think outside the box! Employment opportunities in the upper stratosphere are limited only by your imagination – so shake off those limitations and expand your imagination! It rarely occurs to ordinary people to seek employment among the wealthy demographic; they assume a job is a job is a job, and look for work in obvious and mundane places. But every job is not just a job, as you’ll discover once you start looking beyond traditional venues.
Hang out online where rich people go….Include your expertise in every profile, and mention it as frequently as you possibly can without being obnoxious.
People who get ahead in this world know how to socialize, how to network, and how to increase their contacts with every new person or situation they encounter. They learn subtle, natural ways to let people know who they are and what they do. If socializing isn’t your forte, then you need to work on it. It’s a skill, but, unfortunately, in this area of life, experience is the best, if not the only, teacher. You simply have to force yourself to get out and practice.
Never bypass an opportunity to speak, to groups large and small, or one-on-one. If you attend a lecture with a Q&A session afterwards, for instance, get off your duff and ask a question, every single time. If you’re at a party and someone starts a conversation with you, pursue it. If you’re standing around awkwardly, go find someone who appears non-threatening and start a conversation with him or her. Further down the road, deliberately choose someone you find intimidating.
Believe me, this stuff works! You can pick up handy tips and advice from self-help books or bombastic teachers, but you still have to practice. And then you have to practice some more! You will get over any shyness or awkwardness eventually, and one day socializing will feel natural to you. You might even enjoy it!
Earlier I said that most people tend to seek employment in obvious places. Take teaching, for instance: most college grads take the easiest route and apply at the public school district closest to home. Some might be daring and try a private school or two, or expand their job search geographically. Not only will this lack of imagination result in an ordinary, possibly dull, job, but this strategy just won’t cut it in a tough economy. Even if the economy improves, every job in every field is becoming more and more competitive, so it’s essential to try new job search methods. For instance, a teacher might look for a position as private tutor for students in wealthy families, by looking in the wealthiest neighborhoods, which are fairly easy to identify.
What if you don’t want to be a private tutor? There are certainly valid reasons why a teacher might prefer to work in a school with a large student body, and where he or she can fraternize with colleagues. Money isn’t the only or even the main consideration when it comes to career choices. But that doesn’t preclude tutoring one student a week — which will provide entry into the millionaire’s world, should you want to pursue a relationship for reasons besides employment. Other possibilities are tutoring during summer months in the employer’s vacation home, or during winter break in their Aspen chalet…No matter what you do, no matter what your skill set and area of expertise, you can parlay them into upscale employment – but you have to recognize opportunity. Again, you have to think outside the box!
Ask yourself what services you have to offer. What value can you bring into a millionaire’s life? Can you write and edit for someone whose work involves producing white papers or op-ed pieces? Are you an interior designer? (If so, you already know something about wealthy clients.) A gardener? A photographer? Whether you’re an artist or financial consultant, a mechanic or a nanny, I guarantee you’ll have a more lucrative career simply by changing the group of people for whom you’ve worked up until now.
In the all-important area of salary, most wealthy people know “you get what you pay for,” and will pay higher than average for someone who’s good at what they do. Even more important, rich people will pay whatever it takes for someone they can trust. I repeat: someone they can trust. I cannot overstate the importance of this: when hiring someone even as fleeting as an appliance repairman, the millionaire’s first priority – and this is especially true if they’re famous – is knowing they can trust the people who work for them.
First of all, they’re granting you access, like most employers, to their home and possessions. The people who work in their homes know where they are and what they’re doing at any given time. The chauffeur picks their kids up from school and takes them to other appointments. The head cook knows who’s coming over for dinner. The housekeeper knows which racy video they watched last night.
More than the average person, the rich and famous have to be careful when opening their lives to strangers. Did you know that almost anyone who works for a celebrity can pick up a hefty chunk of change by dropping a dime on the boss? They simply alert the paparazzi when their employer is out in public, and the vultures hijack the celebrity with their cameras. This happens – and every celebrity knows it. I once went to the wedding of the son of a famous musician, and, along with every guest, I had to check my camera at the door.
The millionaire’s worst nightmare is of opening a newspaper or magazine and seeing “Rock Star Into Leather” scrawled beneath an unflattering photo of him or herself furtively snapped by a hack. That’s bad enough – but think about this: when the kids are late for dinner, the celebrity doesn’t worry about who the kids are hanging out with; he worries that the kid might’ve been taken for ransom. Most people don’t realize the pitfalls of being famous, but they’re numerous and scary.
Thus, if a millionaire feels the least little twinge of distrust towards someone, they won’t be hired. It’s up to you to cultivate an air of confidentiality. You need to understand the situations celebrities face…and if you work for one, know that protecting his or her privacy is part of your job. They want to feel they can trust you with their lives. Literally. The good thing is, once a millionaire or celebrity finds someone who is that trustworthy, they’re likely to pay top dollar to hold onto them.
It’s Not Just The Money…But it Ain’t Chicken Feed Either
Every job has its perks, but there’s a difference between the benefits of, say, managing a literary magazine and managing the affairs of a big publishing magnate. The magazine will promise publication or free publicity for your book; the magnate, by contrast, might pay your child’s pre-school tuition. The caterer I spoke of earlier has two cars – one on the East Coast and one out West – as well as a desktop computer, a laptop, and an iPhone, all bought and paid for by her clients. It’s not unusual for a wealthy employer to take care of their employee’s needs beyond the paycheck – by investing in their education, perhaps, or otherwise helping them reach their goals.
…Celebrities are always making over their homes and re-inventing their style, so they’re forever giving away nearly new furniture, jewelry, designer clothes, or other possessions. Carol Burnett gave her assistant a Land Rover. If you don’t like getting hand-me-downs, even expensive ones, rest assured that millionaires buy new gifts as well – they have personal shoppers for just that purpose (another job you might consider).
The Personal Assistant
We now come to the most common, lucrative and demanding job in the millionaire’s orbit: the Personal Assistant. Nearly every millionaire or celebrity needs one, sometimes even more than one: the Personal Assistant might have her own Assistant – or two! A career as Personal Assistant is one you can stay with all your working years – or it can be a stepping-stone to another career. It’s not uncommon for a celebrity’s assistant to move on to a career in the film industry. One of Madonna’s assistants eventually became her manager.
As a Personal Assistant you can work for a variety of professionals: actors, best-selling authors, athletes, business executives, rock stars, politicians, and wealthy families. This last, families, might not be famous or even connected to a high-powered industry, but are rich simply through parents or grandparents. Perhaps they manage a family foundation, in which case they need a sizeable staff. Managing a household with several children in it is a specific challenge, one you shouldn’t take on unless you genuinely like kids.
Do You Have The Right Stuff?
More than having certain skills, a Personal Assistant to a celebrity or millionaire must have a set of non-negotiable personality traits. He or she must be loyal to the point of placing the employer’s needs before his or her own, and be able to anticipate those needs whenever possible.
A PA also needs, or should develop, a tough hide. When you work for the rich and/or famous, you cannot be quick to take offense at brusque or even insulting behavior once in a while – or more than once in a while. (Think George Steinbrenner; Donald Trump; Joan “Mommy Dearest” Crawford). Not every rich person is The Boss from Hell, but you should be prepared for that possibility. You will be expected to remain unflappable under all circumstances, no matter how stressful: that’s why you get the big bucks. If this is beyond your capabilities, then you’re not cut out to be a Personal Assistant. End of story.
That is not a personal flaw or failing. If you faint at the sight of blood, you wouldn’t work in an Emergency Room. And if you cry when someone yells at you, you shouldn’t be a Personal Assistant to a demanding millionaire.
While there are no minimum qualifications for becoming a Personal Assistant, you should be Internet-savvy and comfortable with technology. Event planning and time management are also essential, as well as an ability to communicate professionally and tactfully with people from every background and from across the globe — the millionaire circuit is international. Fluency in more than one language is invaluable, so if you are, you’re a cut above the competition.
Some of the skills you need most, however, are innate or common-sense, the kind of know-how that’s picked up in the course of everyday life: shopping, organizing, scheduling appointments – in fact, if you used to be a stay-at-home housewife/mother, you have most of the experience you need! You might require a bit of training in some areas, such as some computer programs – but you probably already know how to do projects like party planning.
Additionally, a few tasks unique to your employer might take some training; in the case of an actor, you might be asked to review incoming scripts, or help them memorize their lines. A financial trader might want a PA to handle his or her investment portfolios. While some of this work is fun, even glamorous, no job is all high-powered excitement. You also have to schlep dirty clothes to the dry cleaner, or clean dog poop on occasion. It might be your job to interview, hire, and fire the chauffeur, the nanny, and the swimming pool cleaner. You could be asked to take the car in for an oil change. Some of these are downright boring. Furthermore, you might have to give up a significant chunk of your own life, or even have to live with your employer and be available on a 24-hour basis. There will certainly be weekends involved—most millionaires, especially celebrities, conduct business seven days a week. Most PA’s tend to be single.
On the other hand, a valued PA will sometimes travel with his or her employer, flying first-class, staying in four-star hotels, and dining at some of the finest restaurants in the world. Celebrity PA’s get to know famous and talented people. You might get to go behind the scenes at film shoots. When your employer can’t attend a sold-out sports event, concert, or movie premiere, chances are you’ll be the one who gets the VIP tickets.
In order to determine if you’re suited to be a PA for someone living a millionaire’s life, you have to know yourself. If you decide after all that this is the right thing for you, welcome to an interesting and lucrative career and a genuinely exciting life.
Where The Jobs Are
Most job hunting happens online now, which explains the Strange Case of the Shrinking Classifieds in your local paper. It doesn’t hurt to scan that section, since it will take you all of three minutes, but your primary job search should be online, and in the face-to-face networking that results from it.
Find your targeted population by Googling words and phrases like “Job Sites + Personal Assistants” or “Millionaire Employers,” or anything that’s right for your purposes. Watch out for scams: many PA sites are just hawking books and workshops that might not be all that useful. Use your judgment before buying or signing up for anything online, and remember, the point is to make money, not to spend it!
Use job search engines. One of the advantages of these is they allow you to narrow your search by filtering out irrelevant information. New jobs are added daily or even hourly, so your results will change from one visit to the next, even if they’re only a few hours apart. At the end of this chapter I’ve included some useful websites to get you started. These are neither recommended nor endorsed, but provide doorways into the topics under consideration.
Interviewing For Millionaire Employment
Almost everyone gets somewhat nervous before a job interview. After all, it’s a form of public speaking, even if it’s for an audience of just one (and sometimes as many as six people might conduct the interview). As polls prove year in and year out, public speaking is the Number One fear of most human beings, outpacing even death! Rather than panic over this, just bear it in mind as reassurance that pre-interview jitters are perfectly natural. As far as I know, nobody ever died of interview related illness. In fact, anxiety is the fuel that makes for a great performance. Think of the interview as a performance.
Following is a somewhat embarrassing personal story I haven’t shared very often; I offer it here as a lesson in how not to interview for a celebrity PA job.
When I was in my 20s I worked in Manhattan as a secretary: I was a crackerjack typist, an ace stenographer, and a natural organizer. While I genuinely loved the actual tasks that comprise the secretarial workload, I was supremely bored working for corporations and lawyers, and lived in a state of perpetual job searching. This was in the late 1960’s, when the office environment was stifling, especially for women (Mad Men is so dead-on it’s too painful for me to watch). Being a secretary was a menial, dead-end job where creativity and independent thought were actively discouraged.
I’d been temping, going on a different assignment every week, when one day my friend Judy called, shrieking so excitedly her words were indistinguishable. When she finally calmed down, it turned out she’d found “a great job for you!” She’d seen a classified ad in the Village Voice for Personal Assistant to the actress Ruth Gordon. At the time Gordon was in her late 70’s, still making movies, traveling, and living a more exciting life than most youngsters. She was a cougar before they were called that, married to the much younger Garson Kanin, anaward-winning scriptwriter whose films included several Hepburn-Tracy movies. Gordon was considered a real character, played eccentric roles, and once said, “In our family we don’t divorce our men – we bury them.” Did I want to work for her? You bet your sweet boopie I did!
I knew nothing about being a Personal Assistant, but I figured it was just a secretarial gig for a more interesting client, and that the key to landing it was to show I was creative and super hip. My cover letter highlighted these qualities; unfortunately I no longer recall what it said, but it must have been clever, since Garson Kanin called me to set up an interview. (Hundreds of people surely must have applied, so this is not an empty boast.)
Were I preparing for an interview today for a position with a world-famous actress, I would worry less about being clever and more about making an impression as confident and composed. I would role-play beforehand, with a friend standing in for Mr. Kanin, and while I’d be careful to appear intelligent, I would emphasize my secretarial skills and what I could contribute to Ruth Gordon’s life.
Back then, however, I walked into Mr. Kanin’s office, a bundle of jittery nerves, without having thought through my approach, treating it like any other job interview…and, of course, I blew it. Again, I remember very little – except that I made at least two blunders. The first was when he asked if I’d be willing to spend long stretches of time on the West Coast, I stammered an obviously reluctant yes, but I was thinking about what I’d do with my kids. Since their father and I shared custody, arrangements could have been made, and anyhow, this was something one should work out after being hired. I should not have shown any ambivalence about my ability to travel.
My second mistake was being openly embarrassed by my current employment. Temping was fairly low-level, but it wasn’t shameful. Again I stammered; I think I even blushed!
I knew the minute I left Kanin’s office that I was toast. Now, looking back from the vantage point of age, wisdom, and dozens of job interviews, I see it wasn’t nerves or embarrassment that made me act as I did: it was a feeling, buried so deep I didn’t even know it was there, that I did not deserve that job. My self-esteem in those days was such that I simply could not imagine myself in the position. I saw myself as neither competent nor worthy enough. Furthermore, it must have frightened me – I subconsciously feared that the job was beyond my capabilities. I remember trying to fantasize myself with Ruth Gordon in California, but a picture just wouldn’t materialize. Now I can see myself in that position – when I’m nearly the age Ms. Gordon (who died in 1986) was back then.
Learn from the mistakes of others; you don’t have time to make them all yourself. From my mistakes, then, here are some things to be aware of, and how to prepare for, a job interview with a celebrity or millionaire:
- Forget everything you’ve ever heard or learned about interviews. Securing a position with the rich and famous is a breed apart.
- Prepare well.
- Role play with a friend who acts the part of employer, wearing the clothes you plan to wear on the interview. Besides the usual questions, tell your friend to throw a few curves your way. Do this as many times as you have to until you feel confident and relaxed.
- Practice Affirmations. Write down a few affirmations on post-its and put them all over the house, phrases such as “I am capable,” or “I deserve this job,” or anything else that feels relevant to you.
- Considering the nature of the PA beast, the character traits you’ll most need are the 3C’s: composure, confidence, and competence. Do everything you can to be 3C on your interview. Meditate, visualize, or pray – whatever form of quiet practice you usually do to calm yourself – prior to the interview.
- Take a taxi to the interview rather than driving or using public transportation. You’ll be more 3C upon arrival.
- Unless you’re asked to accompany the interviewer to China the next day, demonstrate enthusiasm for anything that’s part of the job (such as travel). Later will be time enough to figure things out. Even if you have to decline or lose the job, you must actually be offered it before you can turn it down! And getting it will increase your 3C-ness for the next interview.
- By the way, every agency and millionaire runs a background check on potential applicants that includes a financial, personal, and professional review of your life, as well as an investigation into your online activities, profiles, and friends. If you have strong principles against this, now is the time to re-evaluate!
Online Strategy for Finding Employment
Research. The time you put into research here will really pay off.
When you write online profiles, always include your profession, unique skills or services, and contact information. Mention your work during chats whenever there’s a natural segue.
Turn your online contacts into face-to-face meetings.
Learn how to increase the size of your network in every situation.
Don’t be shy: let people know who you are, what you do, and how well you do it.
If your work is posted on a literary site, in print, or exhibited in a gallery, or anywhere else in public, tweet the details. Post it on Facebook, Myspace, in chat groups, and anywhere else you have an online presence.
The Celebrity Personal Assistant Network specializes in providing celebrities, executives, and high net worth families with world-class Personal Assistants and Estate Managers in major U.S. markets.
Brian Daniel, founder of the Celebrity Personal Assistant Network, spent years as a Personal Assistant to wealthy people, from Saudi royalty to founders of major corporations. He took everything he learned from his experience to start a business that trains and places PA’s and estate managers. The years he spent working for others have paid off handsomely for him. According to Daniel, the wealthier the individual, the more needs they have, and PA positions exist in every state of the nation. Future job outlook is bright: Daniel says that there are more jobs available than suitable applicants to fill them – so he’s always looking for qualified personnel.
Wise Geek: This site lists exactly the kinds of employment we’re talking about – not just Personal Assistant, but also chef, nanny and other positions that millionaires typically hire for.
Forbes Richest People in America—This site is useful in finding out exactly where the money is. It’s also full of interesting trivia and anecdotes.
The Celebrity Personal Assistant Survival Guide: Tips for Finding and Keeping VIP Jobs (Digital) by Brian Daniel
FabJob Guide to Become a Celebrity Personal Assistant by John C. Havens
The Assistants, directed by Steve Morris. With Stacy Keach, Joe Montegna and Jane Seymour
Although it’s fictional, this movie is based on true experiences of Personal Assistants in Hollywood that Morris’s friends and associates had.