100 Ways to Succeed #103:

Friends/Network Several Levels "Down"

Among the 33 ideas-tactics just presented, this one, after careful examination, comes in #1 on the importance list.

Remember Gust Avrakotos from Charlie Wilson's War: "He had become something of a legend with these people who manned the underbelly of the Agency [CIA]." (Gust helped these unempowered folk with many problems way beyond their typical reach.) When I was a junior in the Pentagon, I discovered a link to the E-3 (very junior enlisted rank) English major from Brown University who was the letter-speech writer for The Secretary of the Navy, John Chafee (from Rhode Island, home to Brown). I shamelessly used my own Ivy League/Cornell link to him, which he got a kick out of—and was able to get a few favors (not too many or too extreme!) which allowed me to do some stuff that made no sense for a junior officer (O-3) to pull off.

Hence: Invest heavily and continuously in those several levels down in the organization, particularly executive assistants, who hold the keys to access and working with ease through convoluted processes.

Remember another piece of advice: C(I) > C(E). Internal customers are perhaps more important than the "bottom line" external customers; engaged internal customers will help you get an unfair share of internal attention which in turn allows you to perform miracles of implementation for your external customers.