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!

Not Just Another Dry Cleaner

I’m not an accountant…in fact, the one and only test I ever failed in my entire educational career was an accounting test (not that I’m still traumatized from that or anything). These days, the only accounting I’m qualified to do is numbering my high heels collection. I am, however, the ultimate accounting groupie – I love all my CPA friends like Adrian, Kara, & Dub-Dot. One of the things I most like hearing from them are stories about their clients, and what they do to deliver a great customer experience. When Shayna Chapman talks about one of the small business owners in her small Ohio town, it quickly becomes obvious that she is committed to delivering an amazing customer experience to these folks – and more importantly, that she truly cares about each and every one of them personally as well as professionally.

While I find this impressive, some might say that making her clients feel special is part of her job as the business owner’s accountant and trusted business advisor – but is it really? I mean, doing a tax return and keeping track of a balance sheet is not too different than many of the other services that each and every one of us utilize on a daily basis – for example a dry cleaner – but how often does our dry cleaner make us feel special?

When I bought my house five years ago, I spent a while exploring different neighborhood businesses; the hardware store, the coffee shop, of course the shoe-repair man, and several different dry cleaners. While I tend to be much more particular about where I get my morning cup of coffee than I’ve ever been about dry cleaning, I wound up returning to the shop around the corner that always sent coupons for 40% off services…hey, a penny saved is a penny earned!

Well as unconcerned as I am with who handles my laundry, I’m equally insistent that I should receive superior customer service wherever I go, but especially at a business where I’m a “regular”. So over the past few years, as my wardrobe has gotten a bit more colorful (and a lot more high-maintenance), I’m making more frequent trips to the cleaners. What I started to realize, is that my dry cleaner didn’t really value me as a client – she often made me uncomfortable by asking me to pay in cash vs. using my debit card and wouldn’t give me the discount if I happened to walk out of my house without the coupon that morning. The final straw came when she recently closed the shop unannounced by posting a sign on the door – not very helpful when you need your clothes for a business trip. My dry cleaning honeymoon was over.

As I tried to figure out where to take my next load of laundry, I happened to remember one shop in particular – they were a bit expensive I recalled, but boy, those people were friendly! I decided to try that first, and see what I thought. Much to my surprise, as I walked into Heritage Dry Cleaners in Irvine, I was greeted with a wonderful smile and a “Hello Ms. Hogan! Long time we don’t see you…” Whoa. Really? I hadn’t been there for four years, he remembered my name? Now that is what I call customer service. I’ll have you know, their prices haven’t gone down, but I’ve not gone anywhere else ever since that day.

Sure, any of us can go to the local H&R block for a tax return, or can take our clothes to any local cleaner – but I guarantee that the ones who treat their clients like MY dry cleaner (and like Shayna), are the ones that will become invaluable to everyone that receives that superior customer service. So my challenge to you is to think about what you do to make sure that your clients feel valued. What do you do to let them know you care about them? That and $3.95 will get you a clean skirt to wear!