Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why everyone needs a personal assistant

Nothing has quite so captured the imagination of my public than my recent hiring of a personal assistant. “How very Hollywood!” people think. “How indulgent!” and of course, “Is Michael pioneering the next big thing? With his finger constantly on the pulse, as it were? Do I need to get in on this before it’s too late?”

The correct answer is, of course, the last one. Personal assistanthood is not new to me; it’s just that I was usually on the other end of the pay-stub. With the hoary benefit of hindsight, I realize now that I have been a personal assistant numerous times in my life, such as my college “research assistant” job working for Prof. Catherine Clinton, where I spent a fair number of delightful hours picking up photos from the film store and reselling complimentary publishers’ copies of books to used bookstores for big bucks. And certainly, being a first- or second-year corporate attorney at an elite, white-shoe law firm is much like being a personal assistant.

Why is there so much personal assistanthood in the world? Well, because hiring a personal assistant can really change your life. Everyone imagines how freeing it would be to have someone go to the post-office on your behalf or pick up the dry-cleaning, but those are merely the most pedestrian, unimaginative value-adds.

Here are some of the things that my personal-assistant-to-the-Star, Jennifer Tuttle, has recently done for me:

--Gone to the bank to pick up two rolls of quarters (laundry money)
--Made FedEx refund me $132 for a package sent to Tasmania that arrived five days late
--Helped me figure out my 2006 corporate workshop pricing (“Go higher!” she insisted.)
--Updated my contacts and filed my filing (n.b. this takes several hours a week, which explains why for years I put off and dreaded these tasks. Now my business SINGS with efficiency!)
--Did secret competitive research into how much other coaches charge, by posing as a PriceWaterhouseCoopers consultant with an MBA and CPA
--Had a lively discussion with me on the merits--nay, the necessity!--of my purchasing a Hugo Boss suit
--Discussed with me the merits--nay, the necessity!--of creating a “reel” of me in action to share with agents, television bookers and high-end speakers bureaux, which—conveniently—she and her talented boyfriend Ryan can put together for a reasonable fee.

It is no surprise that Jennifer herself has an extremely busy, productive life as an actor, singer, film producer and now reel-creator-for-self-employed-people. She needs a personal assistant herself.

I would go so far as to say that personal-assistantness is a core economic principle for our age, much like the Keynesian “money multiplier” that I learned about in college. Forget your Razr V3 phones and accounts—this is the hot new thing!