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Beware of the shoe shine scam!

Kevin Kelly

Are you taking yourself too seriously? Don’t! Sooner or later it will land you in the –it!.
I have always prided myself on my awareness of what’s happening around me while travelling through unknown territories. Nobody could pickpocket, ambush or deceive me. No way. I would see them coming before they considered it, or so I thought.
India, however, has a special knack of humbling a confident traveller in so many ways.
“Sir, sir, sir, look at your shoes,” this young Indian boy shouted as I walked around Delhi’s main shopping area. I looked down. There, perfectly placed on the middle of my shoe, was a piece of sh . . . sorry . . . portion of excrement!. I was flabbergasted. How did it land so perfectly on my shoe? How did it avoid my head on the way down? What species of animal did it come from?
“Sir, sir, sir, I will clean, I will clean,” the boy continued, all in one breath.
“No, no, leave it alone. I’ll do it myself,” I grunted.
“No, sir, I shine. I shine!” he insisted. So he shined. Assiduously. When the work was completed, he demanded a huge ransom for my feet without as much as a blush! I resisted tenaciously. I was being had and I knew it. Remember, this Delhi kid was dealing with an experienced traveller, a businessman, writer and speaker who knew all the dodges. Within a few minutes, the shoeshine management team of five young teenagers had surrounded me. There was only one of me and six of them, including the trainee shoeshine capitalist. After much discussion, I paid the boy the fee he and his ‘heavies’ demanded, made my excuses and left.
Later that evening, I was leafing through the Lonely Planet Guide, and one of its revelations was the catalyst for an extended marathon of laughing. On page two-hundred-and-five the guide warns travellers about the shoeshine scam. The author noted that the kids had designed a “shitgun”. They wait for an unsuspecting tourist and fire the perfect shot from their designer firearm. Then, shitgun to the head, they hold you to ransom!.
This was a memorable experience on many levels – you couldn’t but admire the entrepreneurial flair of the shoe shiners; most definitely one way to predict the market is to create it!. But one thing stuck in my mind – I failed to see what was happening. My lack of self awareness had put me in the –IT! This ability to rise above the circumstances and see the situation as it truly is, is a necessity for the modern day entrepreneur. To develop an Xceptional mindset as highlighted in my new book “DO! the thinking behind exceptional execution”, you must begin the journey by developing self awareness.