Spokes Goodman and Basin was new money on the Street. They didn’t have a one hundred year-old history of being investors for the Rockefellers and Rothschilds of the financial world. They didn’t have any sense of history or tradition. They didn’t have any scruples nor any sense of honor. They were baptized in the heyday of junk bonds and vile corporate takeovers. They slept with anybody to make a buck and they didn’t look at themselves in the mirror when they left in the morning. There was one philosophy, Anything goes… just don’t get caught.
Mark Basin had gone to prison for price fixing but when he got out, the firm gave him a $100,000,000 retro-bonus.
Now, Spokes Goodman and Basin was attempting to acquire an air of sophistication and respectability. When other firms were becoming more lax and allowing their employees to dress casually, Spokes was more Brooks than Brooks Brothers. Even employees in the mailroom and messengers dressed in suits.
It made a big impression. Clients, competitors, the media, and the world saw Spokes through the lens of their formal motto, Serious Business.
They knew they weren’t about old world elegance and muted statements, and their corporate headquarters on Park Avenue, known as The Hub, reflected that. They went way over the top... in your face wealth. The lobby was a nonchalant art museum with million dollar twentieth century artworks suspended from the ceiling by wires and encased in bulletproof glass. Modern sculptures in similar glass cases rested on top of maroon marble Doric columns of varying heights. A continuous supply of tourists and art aficionado tours kept the lobby busy and unsettling. It was designed to intimidate.
If you were a client, potential employee, the paparazzi, or the Security and Exchange Commission, you were intimidated. You were too distracted to focus. On the onyx wall that was two and a half stories high, behind the endlessly long, gray marble reception desk, were twenty rows of electronic ticker tape displaying stock market quotes from around the globe, interwoven with newsflashes in as many languages. Most of the data was flowing from left to right with the exception of stock quotes and news from the Arabic and Israeli sources which flowed from right to left.
On both sides of the reception desk, were thirty foot tall columns with huge, ProStar large screen video displays showing promos from the various lines of business Spokes Goodman and Basin either represented or owned being publishing houses, consumer electronics, sporting goods, computer manufacturers, clothing chains, and entertainment syndicates.
Behind the desk was an assortment of beautiful, young women from at least five different ethnic persuasions dressed in black dresses, almost bordering on formal. They each wore a thin crystal headset that appeared to be wireless, as they walked freely behind the desk working at PC’s and servicing people who needed information or wanted to gain access. They smiled but there was no warmth. They were cordial but not friendly. Look but you can’t touch. Lust but you can’t have... it was all about business.
To the left and right of the reception desk were turnstiles that employees used to swipe in, manned by security guards dressed in dark suits, not sport jackets with corny emblems on them. They were all identifiable by the trademark headsets otherwise, they might have been mistaken for regular employees. They had the same professional demeanor as the receptionists; fit, alert, and impersonal.
There were never any incidents of indignation on the part of anyone confronting security. There were no bums standing outside the building harassing and begging people for money. Employees felt protected and empowered when they swiped in with their ID cards. They knew they were part of something very special.
Every employee seemed to have that air about them; a little swagger when they walked. It showed up in their vocabulary and conversation. On sports teams, they were Hubbies and Hubtones. When they worked late at night, they were Hubbin’ it. When they studied for their broker’s licenses or structuring deals, they Hubbed up. And when employees at all levels throughout the corporation were rewarded for their hard work and invited to the executive dining room, they were Hub-knobbing it.
All of this reinforced the idea that this was indeed The Hub. lt wasn’t gaudy or showy, just busy... business... Serious Business.
Logan looked at his watch and realized he had been staring at the techno display in the lobby for almost ten minutes and he still had butterflies in his stomach. Thank God he was early.
He walked over to reception, politely showed his DealNet id and explained where he was going. In thirty seconds the pretty Latino receptionist smiled then patted an id on his lapel that she generated. She held her hand on his chest longer than needed for making sure the digital photograph of himself was firmly attached. He was impressed. He did feel special... if only for the duration of the meeting.