Mr. Shmooze picked me up in front of our office at 5:30 sharp. We were on our way to Morton's, a classic steakhouse and one of several places where Mr. Shmooze had long established himself as the unofficial "mayor." When he pulled up, Mr. Shmooze, as usual, was on the phone—this time with the head maître d' at Morton's, attending to a dizzying variety of small details. He hung up and picked up right where we had left off earlier in the day.
"Client events are really at the heart of everything I do," Mr. Shmooze told me. "My overall goal is simple: I want everyone who attends to not only have a great time, but also to tell everyone else they had a great time. I want everyone to hope they get invited to the next party." He stopped and put the car in park, with the engine running. "Now, there are two keys to the success of any event: One, you need to break the event down to its component parts and make sure each part exceeds everyone's expectations."
"Elevation," I said.
"Bingo," said Shmooze.
"Two, you have to be an active director, like a movie director, choreographing the event and watching everyone like a hawk. It's okay to participate and have fun, but make no mistake about it—you are working the entire night.
"Take the dinner we will be having tonight. Keep an eye on the following components and tell me later what you have observed. Tell me whether you would grade each part 'average' or 'meets expectations' or 'excellent'—that is, 'exceeds expectations.' ...