Jan 8, 2020
How much attention do you pay to the small gestures you give? They can be vocalized or signed, body language or written on the page. Small gestures can cut through the din of our current digital onslaught and the power of a simple act like a handwritten card can keep your humanity from being over showered by technology.
Enter the company, Executive Shine. Based on its name alone, it isn't hard to guess that Executive Shine provides shoe-shines to discombobulated travelers hurrying from gate-to-gate. The way it goes about its business, however, is really quite exceptional. Just look at the signage around the business for your first clue into the transformative culture of this small business. Small gestures are everywhere. "Be grateful" one sign reads. "Do it with passion", reads another sign at Executive Shine. A third sign reads "Love lives here." When is the last time you saw messaging like that at any business, let alone a shoe-shine stand in the middle of the airport? The cherry on the top is the final sign which states the price as "whatever you think is right". Because of all these reasons and their quick, top-notch service, Executive Shine has built up a fan-base of sorts of business travelers. One traveling consultant typically packs a suitcase for of 40-pairs of shoes, just so he can patronize this business. Customers simply don't patronize the business, they actually enjoy it. Why?
Perhaps it's relevant to consider the innate wisdom of the owners of a company like Executive Shine. While much of the current cultural climate of business is strategically focused on disruption, digital reach, and high-concept venture-backed ideas, Executive Shine takes a smaller and simpler approach. They encourage us, harried travels, to act a little humbler, express gratitude, and treat day-to-day interactions as small moments of respite in our busy schedules. We need more of these small gestures.
I travel a lot of for business, and like most frequent flyers, I dread connecting flights. Except, that is, when those connections take me through Denver or Charlotte, where the prospect of an hour between planes brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step. Why the good cheer? Because I know I’ll be able to spend time with the men and women of Executive Shine, one of the most soulful (or is it soleful?) businesses I’ve ever encountered.
Based on the name, you can easily guess what kind of company Executive Shine is: it provides shoe-shine services to harried travelers racing between airport gates. But everything about how it does business is utterly surprising. On my last trip through Denver, I was so struck by the signage around the stands that I posted photos on social media. “Be grateful,” one read. “Do it with passion,” said another. “Love lives here,” exclaimed a third. The 12-step shine process is intricate, fast-paced, and ends with a dramatic flourish—a small blowtorch that heats up the shoe’s leather to let the polish sink in. The folks who do the shines always have an interesting question to ask or a fun story to tell; they bring a level of engagement that is truly memorable. And to top it off, the price is “whatever you think is right”—which means I happily pay more for an Executive Shine than the company would ever dream of charging.
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