November 2022

When’s The Last Time You Shined Your Shoes

A couple of weekends ago, we were getting ready to attend a good friend’s wedding. While getting dressed, I pulled out my shoes. They looked presentable but I sat there and asked myself, when was the last time I shined these shoes?

I started my advertising career right out of college at Grey Advertising in New York City. Back in those days, the standard dress was suit and tie. The look was not complete without a good pair of leather shoes and they needed to be shined. I used to take the subway from Brooklyn into the city and then walk a few blocks to the office. There was no shortage of shoe shine stands along the route.

Shoe shine chairs used to be everywhere; Grand Central Station, airports, hotels, building lobbies and even chairs out on the street. The incoming newbies at the office, in an attempt to keep pace, we’d go out and get a shine. The problem was, we weren’t getting the paycheck to fund this weekly endeavor like all the big execs.

One Christmas I received an Executive Valet Shine Kit (shoe shine box) as a present. It had all the accoutrements; Kiwi Wax, brushes, cloths, creams, buffers, liquid black, everything I needed to give a great shine. Every couple of weeks, I’d line up all my shoes and give them all a good spit polish. 

Ever since the pandemic, we have stayed home a lot. We weren’t getting dressed up and casual became the norm in business. We were getting lax about things and one of those things was our dress and how we looked. I would occasionally go out to functions but wasn’t looking down to see if my shoes were shined. They looked OK and OK was good enough. That’s the problem. When mediocrity sets in, OK is good enough.

I wasn’t paying attention to the details and folks, the details matter. It’s what differentiates you from the rest of the sheep. The Old Guard is a regiment of soldiers (Sentinels) who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. They know all about details. They spend hours preparing their dress for their tour. These soldiers have high standards and take enormous pride in their uniforms and how they present themselves on the plaza. Look at their shoes and you’ll always see a high polish shine.

I pulled out my shoes and gave them all a shine that was long overdue. We have to pay attention to the details because if we don’t, we give others the opportunity to take the business from us. When was the last time you shined your shoes? Need some help getting your team motivated to pay attention to the details, please reach out.


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