How to Fit 8 Pairs of Shoes in a Carry-On

This was one of those weeks where there was no such thing as a “weekend”…as I spent last Friday evening preparing for a Saturday morning flight, I saved one of my most daunting projects for last (not necessarily advisable): Packing. Now I’m not one of those women who allow myself the luxury of that checked-bag – mostly for fear that I’ll one-day repeat my Milwaukee experience from years ago when my luggage never showed up. I figure since I’d have to carry all of my shoes in my carry-on anyway (to avoid separation anxiety), I might as well just shove everything in (besides, your carry-on bag can’t be “overweight”). Needless to say, packing is always a very strategic yet often a very stressful operation in the Hogan house.

So what’s my solution? The Brigg’s & Riley Baseline 21” upright rolling bag (with built-in garment bag). Yes, surprise, surprise, I’ve found myself the largest legal carry-on approved by TSA. And believe me, I use every inch of it!

As I left home this weekend, I knew I was going to be in at least three, but most likely four different cities over the following five to seven days (that’s right, I hadn’t even booked my final flight home). Of course, as any other normal person in the accounting industry, I live and die by the rule that I am only allowed to wear a pair of shoes once during a trip, so do the math – I’m traveling with eight pairs (make that nine, counting the ones I flew in).

Packing my bag is a bit like Tetris – somehow trying to wedge every stitch of clothing in between those heels. I’m actually considering a patent for my genius stuffing skills, but for now, I’ll share the love with a few trade secrets:

  1. Don’t be a stacker – you’ll waste valuable space! I admit that there was a day when I would neatly organize shirts, pants, socks, etc. each in their own “stack” – and simply place them in the suitcase. This technique simply doesn’t work when attempting to include five pairs of 4” heels in a bag. You’ll be out of room before you can say stiletto!
  2. Double stuff! If I can roll it, squish it, fold it, or squeeze it – it’s most likely going to be stuffed inside shoes. All those little things add up, so when you can repurpose the empty space inside all those heels, you’ll find that you can make 21” go a lot further! Just beware, this enables you to pack small, but I assure you it won’t be packing light.
  3. Think outside the bag! Believe it or not, I don’t clean my house, go to the gym, or like flying in high heels (a few trips running through SFO in 5” platforms has cured me of that desire). Unfortunately, that means that all the heels need to be packed. Never fear, just be creative – I’ll often pack some of my small-but-heavy items that I don’t need immediate access to while en-route (my laptop power cord, phone charger, & ScanSnap), which frees up space in my infamous Orange Bag for that extra fragile pair of glass slippers.

 Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ve included a shot of my bag packed for a 7-day trip. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I wore every pair!

Why Did I Buy That?

Having spent the past few years with Fujitsu in more of a partner-centric/ business development capacity, I’ve been dusting off my sales shoes getting up and running with my new role here at XCM. One of the things that bubbled up to the surface very quickly is the importance of understanding a client’s needs, and helping them understand how my solution or service can either fix their problem, or open doors to opportunities that they might not otherwise be able to explore.

A few weeks ago, I spent some time with my boss, Bob Locke, in Kansas City during the Boomer Technology Circle Summit (which, BTW, is an event that I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t been before). During our chat we laid out the four main reasons why a firm would implement XCM Solutions Workflow:

  • Time Savings/ Increased Efficiencies
  • Compliance
  • Client Satisfaction
  • Personnel/ Recruitment Tool

As we discussed these four areas, Bob used examples of firms who had recently purchased XCM in order to avoid fines that they had incurred the previous year for being out of compliance. Now, these firms will certainly appreciate the other benefits as added value from the new solution, but it became clear that had we tried to sell them on client satisfaction, or using new technology as a way to recruit young hungry talent, we most likely wouldn’t have uncovered their true pain point – and might not have earned their business.

Of course, since I tend to live my life seeing everything through 4” high heels, I couldn’t help but think of the example of walking into my local Nordstrom shoe department, being greeted by the friendliest of salesmen, and being asked “What are you looking for today?”. See, Freddie (yes, my shoe guy’s name is Freddie) knows me well enough to ask. If he were to see me coming and immediately fetch the perfect pair of orange python Miu Miu pumps from the back room, regardless of how much I love or want (need) them, when I’ve come in for a new pair of Nike Frees for my travels, then he’s missed the opportunity. I’ll likely go down the way to the Nike store to make my purchase.

Now, if instead, after asking me why I’m there, he returns from the back room with a great pair of Frees and happens to also bring the amazing orange heels (ok, they were on sale anyway), then I will be much more likely to try on both, and knowing me, return home with a much bigger smile on my face (and a little more motivation to sell some software).

Now I realize that shoes and software don’t have all that much in common – but the situation is really similar: in both cases, understanding the client’s needs and motivation for a purchase is what should drive any sales cycle. Sales professionals who make this part of the discovery process will be much more likely to be successful – and, as a by-product, will build stronger relationships with their clients because they have shown that they truly care about what their clients need vs. just making a sale.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’m about to run into Saks…wish me luck!

Whose Bright Idea was this Anyway?

It’s amusing to me how things tend to fall into place sometimes. You can write a script all you want, and things never seem to turn out the way you plan them in your head (please tell me I’m not the only one who deals with this). Then when you least expect it somehow the stars all align and everything fits together perfectly.

In a world where it seems everyone strives to make a name for themselves, most of us can relate to the feeling of trying to force things to work. As the only girl in a family with four children, I’ve somehow managed to pick up the stubborn gene to go with my over-achiever personality. I know I tend to get stuck in a rut where I’m determined to make something work, just so I don’t have to deal with the feeling of “giving up”. The thing I never seem to remember is that so often while I’m trying to fit that square peg into the round hole, there’s a perfect circle waiting just down another road.

If you asked me six weeks ago if I’d be going by any name other than ScanSnapKim right now, I would have laughed…I mean, it wasn’t just my Twitter handle, this is what people called me in person. I was at least a wee bit committed to that identity. But here I am, digging into a new role with XCM – not to mention building a new name for myself and proudly representing the company I serve. It’s at a time or crossroad such as this where I tend to take a step back & look at things with a different perspective. As I did just that, I realized that while “ScanSnapKim” is (was) definitely a big part of who I am in the industry, it wasn’t (isn’t) necessarily what will leave a lasting impression.

I was recently given the opportunity to present at an Ignite! session during the Spring ITA meeting. When I pondered as to what my topic should be for my six-minute talk on something I’m passionate about, it really wasn’t too hard to decide: Business Development and Personal Branding. Now I know what you’re thinking, but rest assured that my 2nd slide that day was comprised of one word, that has come to be my personal brand: SHOES. As that slide flashed on the screen while I was presenting, I was completely overwhelmed by the audience’s reaction…I had to really concentrate on continuing on (you only have 15 seconds per slide, I couldn’t let cheers from the group get me off track!)…

There’s no one person I can blame for my love affair with fancy footwear, although some of you (you know who you are, Dub-Dot) sure don’t help the cause. I assure you I never imagined (honestly, I didn’t) it would spiral this far out of control…but of course, had I written that into my master plan, perhaps it never would have happened. What started as a mere need to add a little color into my trade show wardrobe (and you too know who you are, Mr. Publicist), fast turned into my trademark  – what people have come to expect from me, and have come to associate me with both in and outside of work. It dawned on me at that moment that this is what will leave that lasting mark, regardless of what my Twitter handle says. So while I didn’t plan it, or script it out – why argue?

A few people have asked me what my purpose is with this blog – who is my target audience, what am I trying to tell people, etc. While my first reaction is to come up with some type of “workish” response, that sounds very premeditated & thoroughly thought out, in reality, It’s a lot like the whole shoe situation – something that just sort of came about all of a sudden, but why not run with it? I figure there are plenty of blogs out there (in addition to the mainstream media sites) where we can all go to get a Ron Baker headache, so I do promise we’ll never get that deep here. I also promise not to inundate you with endless photos and banter about Mr. Louboutin’s upcoming Fall line (ok, yes, there might me some shoe talk & even a few photos). Bottom line, I think every now & then we all need a light-hearted reality check, so at least for now, that’s what I’m doing here. In so many words, I guess I figured it would only be fitting to take my ignite presentation one step (pun intended) further and share some of my random thoughts, glorious travel experiences, personal victories, and professional lessons (some already learned and others still around the next corner) with everyone. So as I said in my first entry, I hope you’ll follow along with me as I give a glimpse into my world as I use my personal brand to make a difference every day…and hopefully one day leave a stiletto print in this industry.