Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Business Lessons Learned From Shoes

Several years ago, my family and I spent our winter break in Los Angeles. We did the traditional touristy things, plus, lots of shopping!

Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica all offered what my wife and daughters call “retail relaxation!” That’s a euphemism for “smokin’ credit cards!”

My son, Chad, and I were seldom active participants in this shopping frenzy. Instead, we’d politely and patiently observe these “trained professionals” flawlessly execute their artistry and craft.

Each store seemingly offered non-stop opportunities with their endless racks and infinite shelves of clothes and shoes. One night, while shopping on Melrose Avenue, the girls were immersed in shopping bliss. Their focus was impenetrable.

Chad and I looked at each other and knowingly nodded. We knew, this was our chance for a quick, undetected escape. We bolted for the door. We made it.


Once on the sidewalk, Chad declared, “Daddy, let’s just walk!” Excellent. A perfect game plan. A father and son united.

We were “team testosterone,” committed to survival without falling prey to the seductive allure of the next store window.


And then, with the calm of a dispassionate fifteen year-old, (since enthusiasm wasn’t cool at that age), Chad said, “In here.” He motioned us to enter Advantis Ride.

Advantis Ride was a GUY store. Nuthin’ frilly or fancy. It was for guys who meant business, especially on their bike, skateboard, snowboard or blades.

Shoes, belts, buckles, pants and shirts hung from the walls, rafters and shelves in mostly dark, masculine colors.

This wasn’t some “mall store.” It was a street store with street credibility and a street reputation. And it was cool!

The walls were adorned with T-shirts and pictures autographed by celebrities who were also customers. Who?  If you didn’t watch MTV, VH1 or the Xtreme Games, you’d exclaim, “Huh?”

In one word, the store’s merchandising, products and tattooed employees were brilliant!

Advantis Ride knew their target market (young males), and it went after and appealed to them with a vengeance.

Chad was finally in his own retail heaven.

He headed straight for the “shoe wall” and quickly found a pair of black leather beauties. These were eye-catchers. Cool, sleek, albeit somewhat menacing. (The logo was a white-stitched skull and cross-bones!)  I calmly asked, “Chad, how do you think your Mom will react to the logo?”  He replied, “Yeah, that’s a problem.” He removed them and kept looking.

Patrick, (a salesman), overheard our conversation and smiled. As he approached us, he asked Chad, “Hey dude, whatta ya looking for?” Chad answered, “Something to hang in.” Patrick knowingly shook his head and made three suggestions.

Chad reached for the first pair and said, “Cool!” As Chad stared at his feet in the floor mirror, he gave me a “thumbs-up.” I agreed.

The shoes looked great and were devoid of logos that would induce his mother’s panic! Chad was happy. I was satisfied. Patrick was thrilled. He made a sale.

As Chad admired his selection, his Mom and sisters entered the store.  Despite being “weighed down” by bags filled with their new acquisitions, they masterfully weaved past and through clothing displays to reach us.

Chad looked up and asked, “Well?” His sisters said, “They look good.”  He smiled.

And then, he patiently waited for my wife’s response. Sheryl’s reply took Chad and I by surprise. I stood in disbelief. Chad’s smile morphed into a frown, plus anguish. For Sheryl uttered the unthinkable. The incomprehensible. The inconceivable. She exclaimed, “They’re adorable!”

NO! That’s the last thing Chad wanted to hear! Two words, “That’s adorable!” transformed “cool” into “nerdy.” Patrick also stood in shock. He just lost a sale!

But Patrick was good. He knew how to quickly recapture his customer and decision-influencers. Patrick said, “Dude, no worries. There’s lots of other cool stuff. You want a pair to hang-in, right?” Chad nodded.

Patrick then turned to Sheryl and said, “When else might Chad wear these shoes?” She replied, “In marching band, he’s a drummer.”

Patrick said, “Cool Chad, I was in marching band when I was in high school. Here’s a really cool pair for hanging and marching. I wish they had these when I was in band. They’re brand new and really special.”

I turned to my wife and kiddingly urged her not to say, that these too are, “Adorable, Cute or Lovely!”

This time Sheryl, the girls and I simply said, in unison, “Cool!” Then Patrick added, “Chad, the shoes really bring out the color in your eyes!”  We all cracked up!

Jeff Blackman

Jeff Blackman is a Hall of Fame speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” If you hire speakers, for in-person or virtual programs, please contact Jeff at: 847.998.0688 or And visit to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s FREE e-letter, The Results Report. Jeff’s books include Amazon bestsellers Stop Whining! Start Selling! and the new, upgraded 5th edition of Peak Your Profits. You can also stay connected with Jeff via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.