10-point guide to social climbing
With the revelation he is to work for luxury goods firm LVMH, Tony Blair shares the secrets of success (as imagined by the IoS)
Sunday 10 January 2010
1. Get yourself on several property ladders
You need to have a place in London, as well as one in the country. Having been out of the London market during the Chancellor's irresponsible boom, Cherie and I bought a decent house virtually in Mayfair for £3.65m. It's worth more now. We bought a nice place in Bucks after I took early retirement, but the neighbours are a nightmare. Objected to a tennis court, guest cottage, exercise pool and now the sports pavilion.
2. Keep it upmarket
We managed to sell our place in Trimdon, up north, last month. Quite close to the asking price of £300,000.
3. Make time for several jobs
It is a good idea to balance high-paid consultancy work with even better paid speech-making. I am an adviser to JP Morgan and Zurich Financial, and I have agreed, in principle, to advise LVMH, the Louis Vuitton luxury goods company run by my friend Bernard Arnault. It is best to set up a private partnership to handle the more discreet stuff. I have Tony Blair Associates for my work in Kuwait, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. So long as it pays enough, just say "yes" and worry about fitting it all in later. Amazing how one trip can serve several purposes.
4. Keep up the "good works"
It is important to do some pro bono stuff as well, so that people don't think you are greedy. Anything to do with the church is pretty safe.
5. Travel in style... because you're worth it
Unfortunately, because of my old job I have to have police protection. You feel a bit guilty about the carbon footprint, but the plus side is that the convoy style and the tinted windows give you a bit of impact and presence – and you need that if you are to create a sense of purpose. This is especially important for not-for-profit work: I do charitable stuff in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, for example, and I usually borrow the Rwandan President's private jet for that.
6. Don't be afraid to ask
I'm constantly surprised by friends who have properties around the world that they don't use much.
7. Holidays are a great time to network
Bernard has a yacht, and there are always people there, you know, Bono, for example.
8. Do not be embarrassed to do the best for your kids
Unfortunately, there is a bit more to it these days than hiring a private tutor for their A-levels. Unpaid work experience is the way to get a middle-class starter job these days, so be ruthless about calling in favours from friends. Euan did an internship with two members of Congress in Washington, and before that he did a couple of months at a Paris radio station owned by Bernard (lovely guy – seriously, he'd be a mate even if he weren't worth £10bn). Nicky did work experience at Krug the year before that, which happens to be another part of Bernard's empire.
9. That includes providing nice places to live
We have places in Bristol and London that we bought for Euan and Nicky – and they double as investments. And Kathryn stayed at one of Bernard's places when she was doing a course at the Sorbonne.
10. Envy is a terrible thing
Never worry too much about those neighbours or former colleagues who might resent your success and choose to spend their time devising petty ways of trying to do you down.
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