Over lunch more than a year ago my friend (a biggish cheese in fund management in the City) explained to me the first thing he used to evaluate the people who made presentations to him. I waited to hear his criteria… would it be the person’s sincerity? their ability to answer questions? their grasp of the subject? Well, yes, all these things were important. But the first thing? No. The first thing was… their shoes. And specifically, were they shiny?
This shiny shoes thing has never quite settled back into the sponge like mass of my brain. Those shiny shoes are still sticking out, making me laugh and making me think.
First off, ten points to my mate for his candour. You might think shiny shoes are a rather old fashioned way to evaluate a person or a business pitch… but then I suspect that all of us make non-rational decisions quite a lot of the time, we just post-rationalise them as something more sensible. At least he was aware of what he was doing.
Second off, I keep laughing as I imagine all the presentation trainings and rehearsals and agonising all those sellers go through before pitching to my friend. Do any of them know that they need to shine their shoes. Probably not.
And of course, they could shine their shoes for my friend, but how would they know the non-rational criteria of the next mark? Windsor knot in the tie? Single-breasted suit? Length of dress? Scottishness (or not) of accent?
The moral of all this? Not much point in being perfectionist. Nor in obsessing with to second-guessing the other guy’s needs and expectations. Better just to say what you think and do stuff you believe in…