Many of us long to have a career whose every single moment is enjoyable. After all, making it in life is not really about just making tons of money, but about having a job that doesn’t feel like a job. Based on our research, it’s safe to say entrepreneur Steve Sims’ job fits in this category.
Steve Sims is the founder of Bluefish, an exclusive luxury concierge service for the elite. His daily life includes helping clients craft experiences the have included: a live underwater tour of the Titanic, a flight to space, red carpet events and supersonic military jet flights in Russia.
Anyone who wants to use Steve Sims’ service needs to go through a strict application process, and once they’re approved, the annual fee to stay active is $5,000. While Steve never names his clients, he’s been spotted with celebrities like Sting and Andrea Bocelli and business moguls like Elon Musk, Donald Trump and Richard Branson.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Steve Sims to talk about how he founded his company and tell us stories on his clients’ adventures.
Editors note: Text interview has been edited for easier reading.
How did you get your start leading up to this awesome job?
“Well, I made it up. It’s a complete made-up job. I was an East London guy from a construction family … and I didn’t want that for my life. It was the time of the 80s, and I wanted better for me … so talked my way into getting a job in London in a stockbroking firm and I worked there for about six months. And then there was an opening in Hong Kong and I talked my way into getting transferred, and basically I’d survived on a bunch of fluff and crap up until that point, ‘cause I landed in Hong Kong on a Saturday and I was fired on a Tuesday, so that was my total banking career, very short.
I started hanging around nightclubs in Hong Kong ‘cause I just didn’t know what to do with my life. I started working on the door, I was a doorman. Then suddenly, I started noticing the people were changing. Money didn’t look like money. It looked 10, 20 years earlier than that. People were making money and wearing black T-shirts and jeans and not really caring … So I started throwing some little parties and then getting people into other parties and then getting people into parties and events in other countries, and before I knew it I was actually the go-to guy to get something done. I just started travelling to do more promotions. And I did it with the misconception and the delusional aspect that if I have a rolodex of really wealthy clients, I could take that to a bank and that bank would employ me.”
Tell us how Bluefish the company came to be.
“I first started to develop these parties and make these events happen and tried to go to the banks with these clients, tried to get a job at the bank. The banks actually started sponsoring some of these events. I was still delusional that I would become a banker, and this actually went up to about 2000. Eventually, the banks started paying me these consulting fees, but I’ve realized I have a bank account for Bluefish and I had a bank account for my consulting fees. This one was doing quite well and bankers don’t make a lot of money. But I was working like five to seven days a week on this, I’m making squat, and I was throwing two parties a month and killing it, so eventually I just realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I started looking for a job, and at that time the clients were like, ‘Well, are you still doing this for Monaco?’ and I’d be like, ‘Well yeah.’ ‘Are you still doing this with the awards season in Hollywood?’ and ‘Can you get me into Fashion Week?’ So through them asking me the questions, it developed to what Bluefish was …”
How do you weed out people on your applications?
“They’ve seen us in the media. They’ve seen us in the press and have some kind of inclination of who we are, but most importantly the tone of voice that we carry. So they step into the application process, they put it through there and we write on there very simply, ‘Not everyone who applies is getting in’ … We say on there, ‘Don’t contact us to pick up your laundry and walk your dog. We are not that kind of concierge firm’ … So we don’t take everyone that comes on board, but if you’re going to apply via our website then we’re gonna interview every single time.”
Have you had to kick anyone out before?
“We have a Bluefish clause and that just basically just captures in every way that if we don’t like the client they’re gone. It says it there very easily. For any reason whatsoever we can kick you out. If we send the clients, say, backstage at the Milan Fashion Week and they are being stupid, they can potentially harm the relationship that we have with the person that got us in there, so we don’t wanna damage that for future people. So we grill our clients; we really get to know them before we let them get into that standard of stuffs. So we’re very protective about our clients, but we are more protective about our access.”
What’s your secret to building such a quality network?
“For starters, I have no secrets. I think that’s been my secret — solely been my magic sauce. I am who I am, I say what I think. You’ll know exactly where you stand with me every single moment. I think that simplicity — that clean, fresh attitude — is what’s made us who we are. We’re not there for the money. We run a business — I employ people to take care of the money and make sure the lights are on and everyone gets paid — but I have no idea how much money we have. Because I tend to find out that if you have a lot of money, you get lazy. When you have a little bit of money, you hustle, and neither of those two extremes are good for your system, so I have other people to look after the money and I focus on what I’m good at. Just be able to speak to someone, find out if it works for you. If it’s something you want to do, if it’s of interest to you, then I’m willing to get on board and make your bucket list item come true.”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for a client recently?
“… We’ve done the New York Fashion Week where our client actually walked the runway. We’ve sent people down to the Titanic. We’ve sent people up into space. We turned a mogul into James Bond in Monaco where he literally was chased to the streets by spies with a sexy vixen. So we’ve done all of those kind of things.
To give you something we’re planning now which is pretty wild: We have this client that actually wants to get married in the Vatican. So the client is flying me into Rome tomorrow. I’ve got people in the Vatican who have arranged for him to marry his beautiful fiancé in the Vatican. While I’m doing that, he wants to surprise her by taking her down to Venice on Tuesday, then on Wednesday they’re have a private dinner for two over the canals of Venice, and we’ve got Seal, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Toni Braxton going in to perform at different times for this single night …”
What’s the least superficial request you’ve ever gotten?
“So, it’s not always expensive. We’ve got a client that has actually contacted us because he and his wife have been following this upcoming country western stuff and they’re going over to Tennessee. And they actually said to us, ‘You know, we’d really like to meet this guy.’ So we made that arrangement and we said, ‘You’ve got this loyal following and we’ve got these people that are actually traveling around trying to watch you and they want to meet you.’ Now with that amount of passion involved in putting something together, of course the agent is dead happy that he’s building up a loyal following. The talent is really excited he’s actually getting somewhere where people travel. It was $900, where they got two tickets going backstage and they signed one of his guitars for them. So it’s not expensive. It’s the way you go about getting it …”
What is something you personally haven’t done yet, but would like to?
“So I’m always asked what have I wanted to do or what’s on my bucket list or something like that. Well, I live vicariously through the request of my clients. I get a piggybacked-out experience by planning them and managing them or overseeing them and watching them from the sidelines, but I’m actually probably one of the dullest people that you’ll meet. I make a mean barbeque, I work on my motorbikes and that’s it. I really don’t roll around with big jewelry and have Rolls Royces lined up. I don’t have any interest in any of that. I think that’s probably one of the things that helped in my business, the fact that I’m not caught up in it. I don’t suppose you’d want an addict selling drug, so the fact that I’m the complete opposite to the lifestyle that I provide I think it allows me to be a lot more grounded. I have three kids; I met my wife when she was 16 so we’ve been together forever. We adopt dogs and we still keep doing it, so we’re just dull. So, no, I don’t have anything. As I say, I just live vicariously through the request of my clients.”
Have you always been so humble and not focused on the money?
“… We all wanna be rich. Being the construction boy in East London, I wanted to be rich. I worked for Ferrari so I had Ferraris, and I did some work for Bentleys so I had Bentleys. I had the Bentley; they gave me one of the GT Bentleys for a year when I was in Palm Beach. That’s a pretty damn cool perk! At the end of the year when I gave it back, I had 188 miles on it because every time I’d go anywhere I’d open up the garage and jump in one of my motorbikes and leave the Bentley there. So I never actually used the Bentley at all, so it just wasn’t my kind of thing. I think I’m lucky that I got to see what other people see value in and I got to just kinda taste it. A lot of the times you yearn for these riches because you don’t know what they’re like. You want to be in a penthouse in Monaco, you wanna taste foie gras, you want to eat the aged Kobe steaks, and you wanna drink the 58 Dom Perignons. Then when you do, you just go, “Alright, I’d much prefer this or I’d prefer the Corona. I prefer a burger.” So you’re able to kind of visualize and know what you’re talking about, and I think when you’ve actually done those things for so many times and lived in that kind of world and also seen all the cynical side of it where people put so much importance into what car you drive, what handbag you have, what watch you have, you just kinda look past it in the end. So I think I was very lucky from a young age to just go, ‘Nah, that’s not for me.’
Now you asked a question about wanting to be rich. I’m the wealthiest guy in the planet, hands down. I got kids, dogs, beautiful home, enough whiskey in the house and food to feed everyone — what more can I want? So I think it’s your perception of how rich you are that really matters.”
What separates you from everyone else who isn’t successful?
“People put too much emphasis on money. People say you have to value the dollar — you have to value the work! You have to know what it takes to get some work. If someone does something really easy and they make a million dollars, well good luck to him. But you’ve got to value the guy that’s slugging away, cleaning that hill or cleaning up those bins or washing those tanks, or just whatever it is getting his hands dirty. You’ve got to value hard work. I think that’s the downside, when people don’t realize it’s hard work and it’s only easy ‘cause the hard work was done before. I’m here 18 years later, I can make a phone call and get a meeting with the Vatican because of all that hard work for 18 years which has allowed me to have the credibility to make that phone call. So it looks easy only because it’s been ugly earlier.”
From hanging out with all these successful people, what’s one thing they all have in common?
“If you look at the round-up of my clients, 99 percent of my clients are actually self-made. They were entrepreneurs. Even though some of them came from rich families, they’ve gone out and made their own businesses. As entrepreneurs, you share the common and same trait. They are constantly looking for other things, they’re are constantly intrigued, interested, they wanna know what’s in that door, how does that work? Like the kids open up the back of the electrical thing and go, ‘How does that work?’ All entrepreneurs have that. So they’re always interested in, if I go to Monaco, where does the celebrities go and what are these after-parties, what is it like to actually walk the red carpet and have a sea of cameras go off? So there’s this constant, nosy little child aspect of an entrepreneur that they’re never satisfied.”
What advice on success would you give to a young success-seeker?
“Keep your word. Then keep your word. And then keep your word, because without your word you are nothing. Finally, keep it simple. That’s it. If you say you’re gonna do something, do it. There you go, it’s done. Just simple. You’d be surprised how far you can go from there. “
Do you plan on doing this the rest of your life?
“(Sarcastically) Yeah, I hate flying around the world and meeting interesting people, it’s terrible. I don’t have a job. I wake up in the morning and I put the coffee on and I pat the dogs and I go outside towards my computer, and as I walk towards my computer every single day I’m thinking, ‘What the hell has someone thought about last night that we’re now gonna be engaged with this morning?’ It’s like Christmas, isn’t it? Being an addict from that side, why would you wanna give that up?”
Photography by Melly Lee