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Happy Labor Day! September 7, 2009

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
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No great insight today (or any other day, I hear some of you muttering).  Instead, here is a quick to-do list for this Labor Day:

  • Pack up your white shoes.  That’s right; it’s time to put away those white pumps and bucks, saving them for a glorious return next Easter Sunday.  Winter’s almost here, and you’ll need to shift to drab, dark footwear more befitting the season.
  • Think of three great memories of this summer, and share them with someone.  Mine are
    • A wonderful family trip to New York City
    • Seeing my daughter start her freshman year in college
    • Helping my son begin his Boy Scout Eagle Project
  • Go outside and enjoy the last moments of summer
  • Grill something and eat it

Happy Labor Day!  See you on Wednesday!

Big Decisions June 16, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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Being a CIO has lots of benefits but carries big responsibilities as well.  For better or worse, the really big decisions get pushed up to you, forcing you to make difficult and sometimes divisive rulings on critical issues facing your organization.

Like, for example, women’s casual footwear.

We have a dress code in my organization that is designed to let people be comfortable while maintaining a professional work environment. This includes wearing “appropriate footwear.”  As warmer weather approaches, people start wondering what that means, exactly.

For the men, it’s pretty easy: almost any reasonably-maintained shoe except sneakers is acceptable.  For women, it gets harder.  Open-toe shoes have prompted great debate in my group.  Are flip-flops allowed?  If not, what about “dressy sandals?”  What about “strappy sandals?”  What about open-toe flats that aren’t actually sandals?  Open-toe, with or without a heel strap?  Slingback as opposed to buckled? Sandals, but without a toe thong? What about those new gladiator sandals? Leather or plastic?  What about plastic that looks like leather?

Big decisions like this cannot be delegated to lower levels of your management team.  Only you possess the Solomonic wisdom to define a single standard by which all sandals, strappy or otherwise, will be judged.  You must meet this challenge head on and appease everyone at once.

Thus we have another Profile In Courage: What constitutes appropriate women’s sandals for professional wear?

My answer: if you can submerge the sandal in a bucket of water without upsetting the owner, it is not appropriate.  If the owner would be greatly annoyed by having her sandal submerged and ruined, it is appropriate for our workplace.

This test instantly rules out most everything you would typically wear to the beach or the pool, but leaves in everything you’d wear to dinner or an evening out on the town.  Amazingly, most of the women in my group who consider this solution find it acceptable.  While there are exceptions to both sides of this test, they are small enough that the vast majority of footwear can be easily and unambiguously judged.

Notice that this solution does not apply to the men.  Most men would barely flinch at soaking-wet shoes since our shoes, wet or dry, look and feel about the same.

With another big issue resolved, I can return to less pressing matters.  What a relief!

Dressing For Success January 11, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
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Obviously inspired by my recent posting on tying your tie, the Wall Street Journal has a good article on dressing correctly for job interviews and for work in general. Among the advice that they share, and with which I agree:

  • Iron your shirts. Better yet, have then dry-cleaned and starched.
  • Press your pants.
  • Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

And my personal favorite:

  • Wear good shoes.

Amen. For men, especially, who only need six or so pairs of dress shoes, invest in very good shoes (I like Johnston & Murphy) and maintain them. That means getting them shined regularly, and having them resoled as needed.

I like to get my shoes shined whenever I have a layover in an airport. Airport shine stands give better, longer-lasting shines than almost anywhere else. Plus, it is fun to sit in the big chair, high above the streaming masses, and watch the people go by. The best shine stand in the US is in the St Louis airport. Second best was a guy who was giving free shines at the Microsoft CIO Summit last May. Never miss an opportunity to shine your shoes, and tip well. You’ll look better and feel better.

Update: more than a year later, the Journal is still reporting on shoes, this time focusing on how the recession is helping cobblers.  Buy good shoes and keep them shined!