And then a setback. One of the ideas she presented to her boss was that the company needed a coordinator for her department, someone who would gather all the relevant information about each of the agency's clients and then use it to position the right client with the right project no matter where the client or the project resided within the agency. This position didn't exist at the agency, and, in Anna's opinion, this meant many opportunities to find good work for their clients were missed. She told a couple of people about her idea and was waiting for the right moment to tell her boss, when an announcement was made that another assistant, a friend she'd shared her idea with, had been given the role. Apparently this "friend" had made an appointment with the powers-that-be, presented the idea as his, and soon thereafter been offered the position.

Anna was floored. She'd trusted this person, confided in him, and then he'd stolen her idea, and the position. How could she have been so naive? She was 30 years old. She should have known better. She kicked herself. Stomped around the apartment. Shouted her frustrations at David. Fantasized about creative methods of retribution.

And then she righted herself. She could have raised a stink about it and demanded a fair hearing, but, talking it through with David, she decided to take a different tack. She knew three things for sure: (1) the agency needed this coordinator role not just within her department but within other departments as well; (2) she was still the best person for this kind of "information junkie" role; and (3) if she just kept talking up the role and making others see how useful it could be, in the end, other opportunities would present themselves.

On all three counts, she was right. Six months after her "perfect" job was stolen from her, the agency created the same role for another department, the talent department (think movie stars) and offered her the job.

"Everyone in the talent department was shocked," she remembers with a smile. "They were like 'Who's this assistant from the literary department, and why did she get this job?' They didn't realize that I'd been laying the groundwork for the last nine months or more."

Fast-forward a year and a half, and Anna was excelling in the coordinator role. In fact, she was getting so good and feeling so confident in her abilities that she allowed herself to start wondering when she'd be promoted to the plum role of talent agent.

This role is the life-blood of the agency. Everything depends on the agent's ability both to sign quality clients and then to find them good work. And Anna was certain that she would excel at it. In fact, in her estimation she was already doing the work—she had studied the intricacies of every deal that came across her desk; she was known to have a wealth of information at her fingertips and so was regularly sought out by clients and agents alike; and, most importantly, people trusted her.

So she asked her boss when she was going to be promoted. "Soon," she was told.

Then she asked again.

And again. And again. Always politely. And always armed with an example or two about how she was already doing the job.

"Soon," she was told.

And so, finally, she gave the agency an ultimatum. It was done very professionally, but it was an ultimatum nonetheless: "I'm doing the agent job now; I just don't have the title. Give me the title by June, or I will go be an agent somewhere else."

Whether worn down by her persistence or persuaded by her obvious competence, or a combination of the two, when the June deadline hit—and not a week earlier—they made her a full agent.


Next Story