Today our lovely law firm building has had the signage and the flags out front changed to “The Sutton Club” as part of the filming of the movie Paranoia, starring Indiana Jones, Sirius Black, Mr. Holland, and That Guy Dating Miley Cyrus (Gale Hawthorne to all you young folks). I don’t know much about the movie (though now I’m obligated to see it), but the press release says:

In this high-stakes thriller, Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is an ambitious junior technologist trying to climb the ranks of telecom giant Wyatt Corporation. But after one costly mistake, Adam is blackmailed by ruthless CEO Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) to turn corporate spy by going to work for the firm’s top competitor, which is run by Wyatt’s old mentor, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Adam soon finds himself delivered into prepackaged success, living his fantasy life of old-world boardrooms, private clubs, exotic cars, and all the spoils of Manhattan bachelorhood. However, behind the scenes, he is merely a pawn in Wyatt’s power play, and must search for a way out from under his boss, who will stop at nothing, even murder, to gain a multi-billion dollar advantage.

Applying my impressive analytical reasoning skills, I believe that our dear “Sutton Club” is one of the aforementioned “private clubs.”

Given the context, let’s talk a moment about success. Do you know what the President of the United States and a struggling novelist have in common? They both need to schmooze more, if we’re to believe Jane Mayer’s article in The New Yorker about Obama rankling donors and Michael Bourne’s article at The Millions about connecting with literary agents (“If it sounds like I’m saying, ‘It’s all about who you know,’ that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying.”).

Then, you need some luck, according to Felix Salmon, or differentiation, according to Malcolm Gladwell. Both Salmon and Gladwell agree that excellence is not really correlated with popularity.

I know, this isn’t exactly the meritocracy we’ve all been promised, and of course being a slouch isn’t going to help things — “excellence is not an act, but a habit,” said Aristotle —  but you should always bear in mind that schmoozing, connections, deliberate differentiation, and pure luck all play a huge role in success.