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Pique N Your Interest

Revelations from the mayor's office

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In a stuffy basement room at the Holiday Inn in San Francisco I’m trying desperately to keep my eyes open at a work conference while sitting next to my boss.

There’s no fresh air. I’ve just eaten a big lunch. My head is nipping with too much wine from the night before and I’ve had seven hours sleep in the past two days. I want my hotel bed.

The guest speaker asks us all to close our eyes – finally, I thought, a speaker talking my language.

Now, asks this award-winning investigative journalist, what colour is my tie and what’s the pattern on it?

Hmmm, a challenge. Immediately I’m awake, mind on overdrive, trying to remember.

In a room of more than 50 journalists only two raised their hands with the answer, one of those a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter.

Tip number one, said the lecturer: "Shut the f**&$^% up."

Stop talking and start paying attention. Notice the world around you. He added that he had walked around the room with a hand out, personally making eye contact with each reporter, and in the end only two had noticed the colour and the pattern of his tie.

Chagrined enough about not remembering I was ready to listen intently to the rest of the lecture.

A simple tie, a rumpled shirt, messy hair, scuffed shoes – all can speak volumes about a person before they ever open their mouth.

The devil is in the details.

Can we learn something, for example, by the way a person’s office space is arranged and organized?

As Pique Newsmagazine's municipal hall reporter for the past three and a half years I’ve had my fair share of interviews in the mayor’s office, first with Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, and for the past two months with Mayor Ken Melamed.

As any of you who follow local politics knows, the two on the surface appear fairly similar – both engaging and likeable, both passionate about the community, both committed environmentalists.

But they are very different.

And that is never more so apparent than in the way they arranged the mayor’s office. What does the décor, the furniture choices, the mood in the office tell us about these two mayors?

O’Reilly’s office worked around a dark mahogany desk. Don’t get any illusions of grandeur – it was mahogany veneer. Facing the door, he could see who was coming into the room from that vantage point. The desk was littered with work. It was tidy but cluttered at the same time. Behind him file folders bulged with paper and an old computer was tucked into the corner.

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