The Sneaker Principles

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Before there was Nike there was Converse. And before there was Michael Jordan there was Chuck Taylor.

I should have said, “way before” in both cases. Converse was already making a basketball shoe in 1917.  That’s when a high school basketball player named Chuck Taylor started wearing them.

By 1923 he was working for Converse. He sold the shoes and conducted clinics around the country. Converse put his name on the shoe and his signature on the patch on the ankle.

When I was a young man, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars were the sneaker of choice for basketball. I also had sneakers made by Keds. So, I know something about sneakers, and I know that sneakers and people are alike in many ways.

Sneaker Principle 1: Sneakers are sneakers. Sneakers are not dress shoes. Sneakers are not ballet slippers. They are sneakers. They are what they are.

The people who show up wanting to work with you are what they are, too. People emerge from young adulthood with their basic personality set. They rarely change after that. What you hire is what you’ll probably have for the duration.

Sneaker Principle 2: You can’t polish a sneaker. It will be frustrating and all you’ll wind up with is a messy looking sneaker.

Polishing a sneaker will not turn it into a dress shoe. Training will not change the basic personality of someone who works for you.

So, be careful how you hire. If you hire a sneaker, it will remain a sneaker, no matter what. Training will not help. Counseling will not help. Off-site personal improvement will not help. But if you want a sneaker on your team, that won’t be a problem.

Sneaker Principle 3: You can’t polish a sneaker, but you can treat it special. While we were working on this post, my Fabulous Virtual Assistant, Brenda, shared a story about her daughter Jasmine.  Here it is.

“You can’t polish a sneaker, but you can bedazzle it!

The first pair of real sneakers Jasmine got were a glittery red fabric with some rhinestones on them. She was 9 and hadn’t cared to learn to tie her shoes, but she wanted those sneakers when she saw them in the store. I told her she couldn’t have them until she learned to tie her shoes, so she sat in the floor and asked me to show her how to tie shoes. She learned fast and got those sneakers!”

Bottom Line

Sneakers are sneakers. They will never be anything else. You can’t polish a sneaker and expect it to look like a dress shoe. If you need a sneaker on your team, then sneakers are your best choice. Remember to treat them special, because they are.

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