Q: I was recently at an industry do and bumped into a highly
recognisable face - only I couldn't remember who it was. It transpired
they were a client of my agency. Is there a way of remembering faces or
should I stop going out at night?
A: An old friend of mine solved this problem by calling everybody
Not Doings as in Boings but Doings as in Wooings. 'There's old Doings!'
he'd say excitedly. 'Haven't seen him since Doings's leaving party. Gone
to work for Doings now - must introduce you.' And he would. 'Doings -
this is Doings, an old mate of mine. We started at Doings together when
they first opened in London.'
Being an art director, he was a simple creature but he'd cottoned on to
an important truth. It's perfectly all right to forget people's names as
long as you forget everybody's. What's deeply corrosive to the
self-esteem is to be the only forgettable face in the room -
particularly for an important client, who's been hoping to impress a new
partner with his high standing among these glamorous media types.
In your case, by the sound of it, you're more of a suit than an art
director, so doing a Doings probably wouldn't work for you - in which
case I recommend the How's Nigel technique. You spot this highly
recognisable face and, instead of panicking, you shake it warmly by the
hand, your left hand supporting the other's right forearm, and say: 'How
are you? And how's Nigel?' Nine times out of ten, you'll have a Nigel in
common (we all do) and everything will fall neatly into place.
On the tenth occasion, when there is no shared Nigel to be identified,
the resulting confusion allows you plenty of recovery time. And Nigel,
being non-existent, is unlikely to be seriously miffed.
Another friend chose to go, as he thought, one better. Every time he saw
a faintly familiar face, he'd adopt his concerned expression and say:
'And how are sales?' This habit earned him many brownie points and was
only discontinued when, in a crowded agency lift, he put the question to
Q: I have recently returned from an all expenses paid jolly to an exotic
land hosted by a media owner. The media owner has now made it clear he
thinks we have a special relationship and that I won't mind bunging more
of my clients' money his way. What can I do?
A: Grow up.
Q: One of our top clients says we're pretty fortunate to have them on
board. She's particularly fond of saying this when I remind her she's 60
days overdue with our fee payment. We're in advertising, not banking -
what could you suggest?
A: How many times do I have to tell you? You're in a service industry.
You are not in partnership with your clients; you are their servants. If
you were 60 days late with a television commercial, they would fire you.
When they are 60 days late with your money, all you can do is chuckle
The more you mutter about not being a banker, the more she will despise
you and the later the payments will become.
So dismiss all thoughts of logic, legal action, coercion or appealing
over her head to some higher authority. Instead, become socially and
professionally indispensable. Become inventive and enchanting. Make her
brand and her life objects of envy and wonderment to all. In an unequal
relationship, talent is the only card you hold.
The money may still come in a bit late but there'll be a lot more of
Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director
of Guardian Media Group and of WPP, and the president of NABS. He writes
a monthly column for Management Today. A more serious look at problems
in the workplace, it both inspired and complements On the Campaign
Couch. Please address your problems to him at Campaign, 174 Hammersmith
Road, London W6 7JP. Or e-mail email@example.com.