Over the years as I've worked for various Fortune 500 companies or C-Level executives, I've noticed a pattern of a skill set that is never written in job descriptions, but is vital. To put it succinctly, being a "tastemaker" and very aware is a very helpful skill. To be a tastemaker is to be able to spot trends and be an "early adopter" and having very good, refined taste. It comes in handy when you are setting up catered lunch meetings, giving gifts, event planning, and being a well-informed assistant. If you can't be a tastemaker, try to know a little about everything with regard to the below. If you can't do that, at least know where to find the answer, fast!
1) Know good food.
Food is everywhere when you work for a CEO or anyone that is senior management. You're setting up lunches, giving restaurant recommendations to visiting executives, and sending gift baskets of fruit, baked goods, and other edibles. When surrounded by high net-worth individuals, they know good food. This is not to say they only eat at the most expensive places, but they also know good food that is inexpensive. It's helpful to know a range of foods and cuisines and at different prices points all over town. Who delivers, who caters, who is nearby? This will all come into play almost every week. If you already eat out and like to try new restaurants, you're already a leg up. Keep in mind that around holidays certain types of food will go well as a theme.
2) Know great venues.
When it comes to party planning and events, there are only so many restaurants, hotels, and event spaces in any given city. Try to know which ones those are and who has private rooms, a lounge feel, or is better for a business meeting. Keep in mind fun activities for team building day or social hour after work. As you go out yourself, keep in mind which places had great service, maintained their bathrooms, valet, and spaces well or made you feel like family.
3) Know good alcohol.
Not only is it important to know your wines, but know your beers, tequilas, and other liquors. This will come in handy as you plan your events and give gifts. In college, I was interning at a prominent company and was asked to unpack a box. It was just a box of assorted office items, gifts, and random stuff. Inside was a bottle of red wine. Not knowing anything about wine since I was underage, I had no idea that red wine should not be chilled. I put it in the fridge and hours later, my boss pointed out my error. One is never too smart to learn more!
4) Know your city's layout and freeways.
If you live in a big city like Los Angeles, people will ask you for directions as they make their way to your office or to their next meeting. It’s helpful to know little tid bits like in LA, whenever you get directions via Google maps, whatever time estimate they give you, always double it because traffic is horrendous. Know surface streets and shortcuts. Check when Obama will be in town, when the Lakers or Kings are playing, or which freeways are under construction. All of this is important information that everyone will thank you for.
5) Stay on top of world news and geography.
Many executives travel a lot so keep in mind which countries are at war, have bad weather, or anything else happening in the world that in unexpected ways could affect your role. One night I came home from a busy day at work and just went to bed early. The next morning my boss asked me if I had heard what had happened. Thinking someone died or there was a horrible natural disaster I was really worried. Luckily, the good news was his boss was just promoted to run the entire worldwide company and it made headlines everywhere.
Overall, develop good taste and know the trends. Keep your eyes and ears peeled and seek out information.