How My Shoe Salesman at Nordstrom Helped Me

Get unstuck at work.

Posted Sep 08, 2019

I had submitted a very rough draft of my book manuscript to my editor. 

It was in a rougher state than might be typical, but I knew I needed official feedback. I was operating in prototype mode, as I call it in the book. To maximize creative outcomes, early feedback is important. Early, but not too early. It’s a balancing act. 

Conversations with my editor were invigorating. She asked questions and pushed me to think differently. I wrote a new introduction. Then another, and another. None of them was right. 

I felt stuck and completely frustrated. 

Then I went shopping. 

Source: Pexels

The shopping was actually because I needed shoes that didn’t hurt when giving keynotes. But in this story, it sounds like I was seeking retail therapy. Maybe I was, just a little. The creativity lesson here is to change things up when you’re stuck. Take a break. See new views. 

As it turns out, I had an incredible experience at my nearby Nordstrom. As I was interacting with shoe salesman, André-Paul Chin, I realized that we were co-creating my book’s introduction in real time. He embodied the very principles The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative espouses. He had a possibility mindset, he looked at problems differently, he provided unexpected solutions.

I played my part, too, by staying open to the seemingly crazy shoe ideas that he put forward. 

My initial intuition that day proved correct. In fact, my shoe-shopping story does frame the introduction to The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative. The story perfectly illustrates the everyday nature of creativity and how we need it to improve the day-to-day aspects of our work–and our bottom line. 

André-Paul was an employee operating at peak creative capacity, benefiting his customers with fresh and valuable solutions that resulted in more sales for him. As you’ll discover, he had already used creative thinking to solve his own problem and was therefore primed to help me solve mine. Creativity helped him increase sales. 

You, too, can apply creative thinking principles to even the most seemingly un-creative aspects of your job: 

How might we cut our budget this month? 

How might we increase sales? 

How might we make work more engaging for new hires? 

All of these questions are fair game, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative provides the tools to answer them strategically, resulting in new possibilities. When we are more creative at work, we can do our jobs more effectively, we provide more value, and we increase our personal fulfillment. It’s a win-win-win for ourselves, our customers, and our employers.  

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