WITH MY BOSS
book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are
products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not
to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual
events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
© 2016 Claire Adams
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I glanced at myself in the mirror to see the image of
a young man dressed in a subdued business suit reflecting back at me. He sat in
silence on the sofa in the seating area, studying the artwork hanging on the
wall next to the mirror.
It was a large piece, perhaps five feet across and
four feet high. It consisted of a small, red square in the top left hand corner
against a white background. Countering the geometric, ordered simplicity were
splashes of bold color sprayed across the entirety of the right hand side in a
chaos of strokes. It was as though all of the artist's pent-up rage and
frustration had been poured out onto that canvas. It was a work of genius,
really. In a way, that red square represented everyone, trying to play our roles
and keep the madness, the chaos, contained and controlled.
A young man approached and looked up at the artwork,
following the same pattern with his own eyes. He looked at the painting for a
few seconds, shrugged, and then turned his attention to me.
“Hi,” he said, somewhat nervously. “Do you mind?” He
motioned to the empty seat next to me on the sofa. “I have a meeting in this
boardroom in a few minutes,” he added as he nodded toward the closed door to
“Don’t mind at all,” I said, smiling warmly as I
shifted to make more space for the newcomer. “Have a seat.”
“Thanks,” the young man replied, looking a bit
flustered. His ill-fitting suit appeared to be uncomfortable, which only added
to the somewhat flustered air he exuded. He pulled a handkerchief from his
pocket to dab at his forehead and the sides of his neck.
“I'm Jason, by the way,” he said to me as he put down
his briefcase and took a seat.
“Nice to meet you, Jason,” I said, extending a hand to
the man. “I'm A-, er, Andrew…Andrew,” I replied as we shook hands. I caught
myself before I gave away my true identity. “I'm with the Sinclair Agency,” I
“Nice to meet ya, Andrew.”
“Are you with Winston?”
“No. I'm also with Sinclair. You been at the agency
long?” Jason questioned.
I smiled strangely and nodded. “You could say that.”
“It's my first month here,” Jason said. “I was just
assigned to the PR project for the Harry Winston Watch Company like three days
ago. Now, here I am presenting at a brainstorming meeting. I’m a bit of a
nervous wreck. Word is the CEO of the agency Asher Sinclair isn't too happy
about the performance of the latest line of athletic watches in the first
quarter of the year.”
I nodded. “I heard the same. Say, what's the word on Mr.
Sinclair these days? What do your coworkers in the marketing department think
Jason raised an eyebrow. “Uh, don't you already know a
bunch about Asher Sinclair? I mean, you did say you've been working here a
while. What department did you say you were with again? I didn't catch it the
“I'm with finance. We don't chat too much about the
boss in finance. I think there are too many people who have to answer to him
“Oh. Well, this might help. Check this out,” Jason said
as he opened his briefcase and took out the latest issue of
magazine. “There's a feature
piece on Asher Sinclair in here.”
“Is there, now?”
“Oh, yeah. I've read it like three times already. The
guy's like, man, I dunno, Bruce Wayne or something. I can't help wondering if
he's got a Batcave and a Batsuit up in some old family mansion in the hills.”
I chuckled. “Maybe he
have a Batsuit.”
“He's an odd dude. It’s a little strange that almost
nobody knows what he looks like. There aren't even any photos of him on social
media or anything like that. I don’t know how he keeps such a low profile. But,
I guess I would, too, if I were in his shoes. It couldn’t have been easy for
him, the way he grew up.”
“And, how was that?”
Jason raised an eyebrow. “You really don't know? Are
you sure you've been at this firm for a while, man?”
“I just like to cross reference the stories I hear. It’s
interesting how different they can be. So, what is it that you think you know
about how Asher Sinclair grew up?”
“Well, rumors are that his family situation was, you
know, kind of
I mean, being a millionaire by age eighteen can
make for an average
childhood or normal teenage years. And then the big kicker: when his
grandfather, founder of the Sinclair Agency, passed away, he left the majority
shares and control of the company to Asher instead of Asher's father. Now come
on; how many twenty-year-olds do you know who not only get to become sudden
billionaires, but also the head of one of the most powerful PR firms in North
America? That sort of stuff has
mess with your head a little.”
“It might, I suppose. Although, for someone with the
right resolve, the right constitution, with an insatiable urge to achieve and
succeed, it could be the perfect trial by fire.”
Jason nodded. “Yeah, you could be right. And by all
accounts, the kid pulled through that fiery trial like a
to everything I’ve heard or read, everyone was expecting the corporation to
crash and burn after being thrust like that into the hands of a kid. And, I’m
sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but shares did initially
“But, man, I don’t know what's in Asher Sinclair's
blood, but there must be something superhuman mixed in. After all, here it is
twelve years after he became CEO and those shares are worth three times what
they were before. Three freakin' times, man! The guy's a bonafide genius. Someone
even told me he's got his own personal racetrack and Formula One car he drives
I grinned. “I've heard he's a decent driver, but
doesn't race formally because it would put him in the spotlight, and you
already said he keeps a low profile. A genius, huh? Maybe he was just lucky and
made a few really good decisions at just the right time.”
“Or maybe he really
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
Jason checked his watch and dabbed at his forehead
again with his handkerchief, looking decidedly nervous. “Oh boy, the meeting's
about to start. You know, they say Mr. Sinclair often drops in on these
meetings incognito. Because so few people actually know what he looks like,
he's able to do that. Man, I sure hope he's not gonna be there today.”
“Relax, Jason. I'm sure he'll be receptive to your
ideas if he is.”
“I'm new here. This is one of the most prestigious
agencies in the country. I do not want to mess this up. This is my dream job!
And, if Asher Sinclair is in there and I mess up or something… Oh God, I don't
even want to think about it. I think I'm gonna throw up.”
I placed a reassuring hand on Jason's shoulder and
gave it a squeeze.
“Relax, kid, relax. I'm sure you've got some good
ideas. Present them with conviction and passion, and chances are you'll impress
the team, and maybe even the boss himself if he's in there.”
“I actually hope he isn't.”
“Just relax, Jason. Take a few breaths.”
“All right, I'm trying, I'm trying. I really shouldn't
have had that third coffee before this.”
I laughed warmly. “No, you probably shouldn't have,” I
agreed with a chuckle. “Come on, I think the meeting's about to get started.
Let's go find a seat.”
I was sitting at the back of the boardroom keeping as
low of a profile as I could. To that point, I'd been pretty unimpressed with
anything that had been presented. The line of athletic outdoors watches from
the Harry Winston Company had been performing, quite frankly, abysmally in the
market. I needed to know why, and I needed to correct it.
Jason, the kid I'd met out in the hall, had presented
a few pretty decent ideas considering they’d only given him a couple days of
notice, but none of them struck me as being revolutionary or bold enough to
tackle the issue of poor sales.
The problem was, as I saw it, everyone was continuing
to run with the same theme we already had running—a theme I had originally
conceived, but also one that had not performed as hoped. Hey, we all fall a
little short sometimes. I’m not immune to it. However, this particular
shortcoming was proving to be costly—not just financially, but also to the
reputation of my PR firm.
I was about to quietly leave via the door to my left,
feeling frustrated with the lack of creative ideas, when the next presenter
stood and made her way to the front of the boardroom. I couldn't help but stare.
There was something about this woman that hit me like a punch to the gut.
She was beautiful–that much was obvious–but not in a traditional
sense. I didn't particularly care for “conventional” women and this woman was
anything but conventional. My eyes traced her petite frame, admiring the
generous curves she had in all the right places.
When she turned and looked up, her striking, blue eyes
mesmerized me. They captivated from beneath finely-arched eyebrows and a mane
of jet-black hair, which was tied up impeccably for this occasion—very
businesslike, but still begging to be untied and let loose. Her sense of style
was unquestionable. This was a woman who knew just what to wear to grab
everyone's attention, but not in a revealing way. Everything about her was just
the right mix of formal and bold with a splash of sexy. I was intrigued from
the moment I laid eyes on her. Very intrigued.
I leaned back in my chair and grinned, aiming the
smile at her even though I was fully aware she wasn’t looking in my direction
and probably couldn't even see me while the projector shone in her eyes—which,
might I add, gave them an almost ethereal sparkle.
She brought up the main image of the poster and
billboard campaign we'd been running for the Harry Winston watches—the campaign
I had created. There was a photograph of a rugged male model, who looked like a
cross between Indiana Jones and the Marlboro Man, driving a jeep through a
desert with a beautiful woman draped under his arm and a hunting rifle situated
just so on the backseat.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she began as she pointed at
the image on the projector screen with a laser pointer, “I would like to
present to you a great, revolutionary advertising campaign.”
I raised my eyebrows, as I'm sure everyone else in the
room did. Then she delivered the punchline.
“Revolutionary and great
the year was 1982.”
A few uncomfortable chuckles rippled around the room.
“Allow me to be blunt here,” she said flatly. “The
watches aren't selling because this campaign
. It feels tired, it
feels worn-out, it feels like it's been done a million times before. How many
times have you seen images exactly like this one trying to sell products like
this one, only repackaged?
“And, that's what we're doing here, aren't we? There's
nothing particularly revolutionary about the Harry Winston athletic watches, is
there? Granted, they're beautiful and well made, but the bottom line is an
athletic watch is an athletic watch. There's only so much variety one can have
when it comes to selling products like this.
“And, as you all know, it's all about marketing. It’s
about the image that both the product and the company that produces that
customer is buying. They are not buying a watch; they are buying a
. And to be perfectly upfront, right now the
image and the lifestyle we're selling is the same old image that countless
other advertising campaigns have sold before.
“What sets this line of watches apart from those of
the competitors? At the moment, not very much. That's why the Harry Winston Company
pays us—the best damn PR firm in the United States—to handle this for them. And
what have we done? We've let them down.”