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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gum Shoeing Your Way to Success – Rules of Engagement


In years gone by, detectives were referred to as “gum shoes.” The nickname stuck because they wore rubber or crepe soled shoes as they stealthily crept into dark shadows to pursue a suspect.

Gum shoe cops were thorough and diligent. Their persistence didn’t let up until “they had their man.” Failure was not an option. Their stick-to-itiveness led to their success.

When I first stumbled onto the term “gum shoe,” I thought of the time I’d stepped on a glob of bubble gum in a parking lot. Try as I may, that hunk of pink refused to come off of my shoe and followed me in florescent strings across the hot asphalt.

Much like a trail of toilet paper that sticks to your shoe and betrays where you’ve been, the things we do in life, the places we go and the choices we make leave a trail of evidence behind us. Some might call that trail character; others may refer to it as reputation. Our chances for success get better and better as our trail of credits and experience become stronger and more reliable.

Sometimes even with our best efforts we “stick our foot in it.” After all, we’re only human. When I was a kid, I remember how smart and independent I felt at times. A real “know it all,” my mom would say.


One summer I was playing with my older cousins in my aunt’s pasture. They were showing off, stomping on crusty cow pies. They were fearless daredevils, or so I thought. Their secret was to choose only those pies that were “seasoned” or dry.

Well, I wasn’t going to let them out do me. Although I was only five, I began stomping with the best of them. Unfortunately, I was wearing a shiny pair of black patent leather shoes with white stockings and lace cuffs.

My first cow pie, crumbled successfully so I tried another. On the second thrust, my foot sank into warm, mushy green poop right up to and over my pristine lace stockings. Shock and awe crushed my confidence and sent me running to mother for help.

"Puppy Mill discovered" (illustration from Madison Morgan, when Dog's Blog
We all get in over our heads (or our socks) at times. Here’s how to avoid it:

    • Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
    • Know beforehand what your client expects
    • Never assume anything; be specific, and ask questions
    • Plot realistic deadlines and timelines
    • Keep your client updated on progress
    • Evaluate your time and money expenditures carefully
    • Make your aim “customer satisfaction,” your target “repeat business”