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Favorite Zalloween Moments #260

In Blog # 259 I Talked about Zalloween Events over the years. In this blog I want to talk about Favorite Zalloween Moments.


This month kind of got away from me, I’ve been so busy with interviewing for jobs and running an Etsy and eBay store it seems like I’m working much harder these days. I love it though.  This transition has been really tough for me. You find out who your true friends are for sure. I’m happy to say most people have touched me in a positive way, sure appreciate those people.


Going forward This will most likely be my last Zappos mention. I had some great years there, especially the “Tony” years. But it’s time for me to move on. So what a great way to end that piece by talking about one of the craziest events ever Zalloween. I attended all but one because of my China travels from 2004 – 2009. I think I did the following over the years:


2010 – Samurai warrior with 9 west group Jodi

2011 – Super Mario Brothers Havianas Andrea

2012 – Devil Centaur Birkenstock Stephanie, Vicki, Scott Jeffries

2013 – Scooby Doo Gang Dansko Steve

2014 – Gladiator Birkenstock Stephanie, Vicki

2015 – Old School golfers Birkenstock, Stephanie, Vicki,

2016 –  Pokémon Greg Devey & Jeanette

2017 – Bloody Referees Birkenstock Stephanie, Vicki, Peter

2018 – Dino’s Naot Mark

2019 – Circus Big Top Naot Mark, Stephanie Cuen


Linda and I have had fun over the years dressing up for Zalloween. All I can say is she’s a good sport lol.


In 2010  we dressed as a Samurai warrior and Geisha Girl. I think for both of us it was one of our all-time favorite outfits. Kristin Colbert (Newell) wore her famous Mad Hatter outfit and Scott did his incredible Cheshire Cat. We got paired up with the 9 west gang and Jodi was the rep. She is just an amazing person, so it was fun hanging out with her. Her costume was “not” so amazing but clever. It was a t-shirt that said, “This is my costume”. By the 5th hole I was so hot in my wig and costume it was all taken off. We did 18 holes at this time, 18 holes of drinking and eating it was crazy. There were always injuries and wrecked golf carts I think someone even drove one in a lake one year. Probably why Bears Best didn’t invite us back lol. This year was also the year that Chris wore his Sheepboy costume. At least that’s what linda called it. Nothing makes you laugh more than watching a drunk sheep drive a golf cart. It was hilarious.


Myra and her Rep from Havianas shared the fun the following year in 2011, this was the year that made me appreciate my wife the most. Somehow, I talked her into wearing a “Princess Peach” outfit from Super Mario’s brothers. I was a Toadstool guy and Myra, and Andrea were the Super Mario brothers. I have to admit seeing Linda in the outfit was pretty funny, especially when she was golfing. God, I love this woman. Scott Julian dressed up as Sean Connery and nailed it. Mica’s husband Ben had an outfit that was a tribute to Al Davis the Raiders Owner. Tom Austin showed up as a “Bee”, Tom was a good sport too.


2012 had a host of clever outfits as well. Linda and I were teamed up with the Birkenstock team of Stephanie, Vicki and Scott. This year I was the devil and the group were priests and nuns. Steve from Dansko wore an amazing prince outfit. I think there’s a video of him somewhere on the golf course dressed as prince. I still have a picture of me with my legs crossed wearing my hairy centaur legs pants drinking some coffee, it’s priceless. The insider thing that most people don’t always hear is the personal side of the day. It’s amazing to connect with these amazing vendors as friends and really just have a great day together. I can honestly say every year I had that experience with my reps.


2013 we decided to hang out with Steve and the Dansko crew. We decided to do a Scooby Doo theme. Linda was Velma and I was Shaggy. Steve did Scooby and he was hilarious once again. Kitty was Daphne and her husband portrayed Fred flawlessly. It was such a great time, doing the Scooby imitations throughout the day of all the characters. Tony brought his Llama to the event so everyone could take pictures too! The Birkenstock team did a Flintstone theme and whenever Linda couldn’t remember Scott’s name she called him Barney. Too funny. Tom Austin was the incredible Hulk and Mike Balzer was Clark Kent. The team from Rockport did a Wizard of Oz theme and to see our buyer Eddie who is over 6’6’’ play Dorothy was a sight to see. Tony drove around in a golf cart wearing black and white prison stripes to make sure everyone was having a good time. And if they looked questionable, they did a shot with him.


2014 I finally did something I’ve always wanted to do, play a gladiator. I found a cool outfit which was a cross between 300 and Gladiator the movie. I had to show my skinny legs which I don’t like to do, but after a few drinks I didn’t care. Linda and Stephanie from Birkenstock found some sexy gladiator type outfits and Vicki, Kathy and Devin were maidens. Myra and Angela were Taco Bell hot sauce packs. Tom Austin wore a monk outfit with a fake cigarette along with Mike Forstadt and Heather. Scott Julian did a clever ET outfit and Dee and company did a gangster theme. Kristen was the star with her money outfit. There was a hole that had cards against humanity sayings and some they made up like “What is Mike Normart’s guilty pleasure. I pointed at Linda. This was also a year of phenomenal make-up. The creepy clown and woman at one of the holes was the best I’ve ever seen. Mercedes and Candace also were notable with their Skeleton girls make-up. I also want to remind everyone this was a charity event for Two-Ten which helps shoe people in need and raises money for scholarships, so for a good cause as well.


2015 we weren’t that creative so we dressed as vintage golfers, we hung out with the Birkenstock gang again. Tom Austin was dressed as the devil in red face and all. Heaven, Kristen did the troll doll thing with the bright pink hair that stood straight up. There were also some guys from Chippendales on hand to take pictures with, I let the girls have the fun in that one.


2016 we teamed up with Greg Devey and his wife and did Pokémon. Jeanette even tweaked out our golf cart with Pokémon paraphernalia, turned out really cool. Maui Jim sunglass company had a surfboard that moved and if you tee offed and hit a target you won some sunglasses. I came close but no cigar. This year we also had designated drivers so people wouldn’t crash the golf carts. Injuries went down this year. Our driver was Frankie from CLT, we hit it off pretty good, she was fun to be around.


2017 we did Bloodied up refs. The Birkenstock team was joined by Peter the CFO. He had the idea to add the blood for spice. We golfed with Kathy this year. Dee was “where’s waldo?” which was classic, and she did it well. There were very dangerous Jell-O shots at a lot of the holes which crept up on you. Robert was comical with his Papa Smurf outfit, especially when he was at the hole where they spun you around then you teed off. Wasn’t pretty, lol. This year there was a Big Raiders tent since the Raiders were coming to town which was pretty cool being a big Raider fan. Lots of beer pong holes too, so you had to pace yourself even though it was only 9 holes this year. There were a few holes with karaoke and Kathy got up and did her “Love Shack” interpretation. I have that video in the archives somewhere too.


2018  our Naot rep wanted to join in on the fun this year so Linda and I decided to hangout with him. Dee and her husband Chris joined us this year. So in planning the costumes,, Mark kept saying he wanted to dress up as a dinosaur, so that’s what we did. He was the big dino and Chris and I were Dino Riders which were comical. We had the Dinos that blew up and little legs dangling from the side. Dee and Linda were Jurassic park employees to keep us in line. We had the best time especially when we had the dino race which I died laughing, and watching Mark go down the water slide in his costume was priceless.There was a group that did a great job at Gilligans Island too, I wish I knew what company they were from but it was a vendor that did it. Bill Johnson had a good costume with a hanging eyeball thing, he was with Terry Imus who used to work at Zappos earlier.This was a great one though, everyone had a good time and things were more in control than previous years


For 2019, Little did we know that Covid would halt the Zalloween in 2020 so this was the last year for me. Stephanie Matteucci wanted to do a big Top Circus theme, so I did a Strongman and Linda dressed as a sexy circus performer. Stephanie was the ringmaster and mark from Naot did the bearded Lady which was hilarious. We actually went to a hole with a circus theme, so it was funny to compete with another strong man and bearded Lady. I think we had the edge quite honestly. There was also a mechanical bull which Mark did in his bearded Lady costume. You can’t “un-see” that. All in all another successful Zalloween.


Funny to think it all started off a vendor sponsorship we did in Southern California. Funny how ideas come to fruition sometimes.


I talked a lot about Zalloween but some other notable events that happened were when Steve and Fred left to start their own Shoe company.

Then recently Tony stepping down then Tragically passed away which was a shock to all of us. I remember that night very vividly even today. I was stunned. He did so much for me and many others. Most people will never experience the career at I had at Zappos. It was very unique and just like one of the core values “Embrace and drive change” you had to expect change. It was such an amazing experience for me and helped me become the person I am today. With all the relationships I built over the years with fellow employees and the vendor community. The contributions I was able to make that made a huge impact on the growth and development of the brand no one can ever take that away from me.


All good things come to an end at a certain point however and it happened to me in February of this year. It doesn’t matter why; it just was part of my reality now. I no longer got to see my team everyday even though with Covid it was over Zoom most of the time. I decided to take some time off and spend more time with my daughter and son, my Brother and my Mom and even better more quality time with the love of my life. It was amazing. I feel so happy now and have little to no stress in my life. Sometimes things can be a blessing. But I need the challenge still. The challenge to build a business and mentor young retail professionals to reach their potential. That’s why I started this blog to share my experiences. I also need to close a chapter in my life that was so meaningful so I can move forward in a positive way.


I am ending the Zappos Chapter here and will talk about my ongoing experiences and how my experience thus far has helped me. In starting my Etsy site, it is so amazing how all my retail experience helps in developing product and how to market it in the right way. It’s a slow process, but I love the challenge. This is more of a side gig for me to keep me busy and am actively looking for my next career. I figure I still have a lot to give and am proud of the fact that the people that are high up in merchandising currently at Zappos, I helped mentor and coach them. I am proud of them for that fact as well.


Tony used to say “people will forget what you’ve done, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” I only hope that I made a difference for most people, I want people to think back about our time together and feel good about it. I tried to make people feel good about themselves and thier career opportunities. That is why I got so involved in the Career Path. I wanted to make a difference and help people feel good about thier path.That is what I want my legacy to be, I hope I accomplished that for the people I cared about.


Stay tuned more adventures await…



…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Zalloween Events over the years #259

Zalloween Events over the years

In Blog # 258 I Talked about don’t take moments for granted. In this blog I want to talk about Zalloween Events over the years.


Back in 2008 Two Ten approached me to have Zappos sponsor a Golf tournament in Southern California in which the proceeds would go to Shoe people in need.  I approached Tony and Fred, and they thought it would be a great idea. A group of us went down there and had a great time. There were banners letting everyone know we were one of the main sponsors of the tournament. When we got back Fred thought it would be an even better idea if we did our own tournament in Vegas. So next year “Zalloween” was born. Zappos was famous for putting the “Z” in front of words like  hotdogs to make it “Zotdogs” happy to make it “Zappy” and so on, so “Zalloween” made perfect sense to all of us.


I wasn’t involved in the down and dirty planning of the event, but I was the voice to Two Ten at the time, so I communicated to them what we were planning. From there the “Zalloween” event squad took over. Each of the Merch team had goals to hit to contribute to Two Ten. We asked our vendors to sponsor a hole and it would place a foursome in the tournament by doing so. They would also have a hole with thier name on it as a sponsor. We ended up raising a decent amount of money for Two Ten this year.


The event would be held at Bears Best and people were to dress in their “Halloween”or “Zalloween” costumes while they golfed. Each hole was sponsored by a vendor as I said earlier and there were activities and drinking games at each hole. An example of an activity would be to be spun around several times then hit the ball. Some holes were just drinking games or beer pong. And we did this for 18 holes!


Needless to say by the end of the tournament people were flat out wasted. There were rumors of a few golf carts being dunked and a few injuries as well. Tony was in rare form driving a golf cart around and having a shot with the vendors at the holes. I also think this was the first and last time Bears Best let us do the event there.


Scott is famous for his costumes. Specifically the make-up. He had a friend that was an amazing make-up artist and she would hook him up each year. Of course, this being the first Zalloween he wasn’t famous yet but his makeup was amazing. Each year he would try to outdo the last years attempt. Always did an amazing job. Matt, who would eventually take over on the planning of the events years later, dressed in a vintage golf attire. He too was always someone to always watch, Zalloween was always a good time. Then there’s Tom Austin and Jerry the Mayor. Jerry had his banana thing going on which would show up  from time to time and Tom was a hippy (I think). Most of all this was hearsay because sadly I had to represent Zappos at a golf tournament in China in which we were a sponsor there too. The reason why I have such a great memory on all this stuff is I usually collect tons of pictures. I had some from this year but i’ll have more to share in the weeks to come.


Meanwhile, back in China, Charles and I were representing Zappos at the Face tournament in between our factory trips we did every 6 weeks. It was quite the event as well except no costumes. I was sad I missed the first one but there were lots of pictures and chatter to fill us in. Linda went with us on this trip and while we were working in the factories she went shopping and had a massage from a blind masseuse. It was quite the experience for her. She also got to see some “cupping” performed on someone close by. Cupping is a form of alternative medicine in which suction is created on the skin with the application of heated cups. It’s a very controversial therapy and the theory is that it removes toxins from the body. The American Cancer Society  went as far as making a statement to the effect that available scientific evidence does not support claims that cupping has any health benefits.


Charles and I found some great Men’s shoes sources and were excited for the deliveries. We worked the day at the factory and laid out our buys by deliveries. The next day we would travel to the city in which the tournament would be held. 


We woke up bright and early and had an amazing breakfast at the cafe downstairs. They had just about everything you could want there for breakfast. I went to the omelet station where they made the omelet in front of you. We arrived at the tournament and it was Richard, Charles, Myself, Linda and Megan. They let us have a five-some since we were a sponsor. They started the tournament off by a row of golfers driving the balls in front of them and the balls exploding with pink and blue clouds, It was pretty cool. It was really humid so our shirts were quickly getting wetter by the minute. We had our own caddies which was nice and as we drove I noticed many signs near the bushes that said “Beware of the snake”. I let the bushes keep my stray balls this tournament. We ended the evening with a fabulous dinner and massages. It was such a great time.


I’ll write and share some more pics and stories of our events throughout this month since I have so many many. I even put a book together one year since I have so many and still have it today. I’ll end this blog with a shameless link to my etsy site, just click on the blue etsy 


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Don’t take moments for granted #258

Don't take moments for granted

In Blog # 257 I Talked about having fun with product again. In this blog I want to talk about don’t take moments for granted.


If you know me well, It wouldn’t come to you as a surprise that I’m a little obsessive about things. When I get into something I don’t test the temperature of the water first, I just jump in. I’ve been so busy with my two stores lately, the one on eBay and now the new one on Etsy, that I didn’t write a blog on Saturday night like I usually do.


I was sitting in my office making new designs for some shoedog pint glasses for Etsy site and I started daydreaming about my grandmother Si. Grandma passed away in 2008. It’s been 14 years now. There were so many great moments I had with her I thought it would be a good topic to write about. We get wrapped up in our daily lives sometimes and we forget to really enjoy the moments as they are happening. So you have to reflect on those moments. I was trying to be better at this when I left Zappos and found I had a lot of time on my hands. I tried to be mindful to smell the coffee aroma when I opened a new can or really marvel at the beauty of nature. Flowers blooming, bees pollinating them, it’s fascinating to take it all in at the beauty of this world we live in.


So, I was daydreaming about a dance I had with grandma at my cousin Kathy’s wedding. Every summer when I was a young guy, I would spend a lot of time with her and my grandfather at her cabin located in Huntington Lake California. And we would go fishing or, hike around or play cards. The air was fresh and crisp in the mountains, so I loved being up there. Some evenings grandpa would be engrossed in a book, so grandma would put on some music and teach me to dance. Basic box step first 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. Years later at the wedding she complimented me on my slow dance, I reminded her I had a good teacher. I wouldn’t say I took this moment for granted but at the time I didn’t appreciate it as I do now. Especially since she isn’t around to talk about it with me, I sure do miss her.


I remember the birth of both my kids very vividly, with James I ran over a cat trying to get to the hospital while his mom was in labor. I didn’t dare stop to see if the cat was ok, but I thought about it. My second child Jennifer was born in 1992, She was so cute and I remember so many wonderful moments of both them growing up. Next thing you know I’m walking her down the aisle to marry a wonderful guy named Jon. The wedding was incredible though being at Disneyland, it was truly magical. She arrived in the Cinderella glass carriage. I was fortunate enough to share that ride, then I walked her down the aisle. It was such a surreal moment. I cut the umbilical cord of both my kids and felt like I was doing it again on this day. But we have remained super close as I have with my son James too.


When I got divorced in 2005 it was a weird 3 years before I met Linda. Dating was a trip. I had a few dates that were set up by friends of mine and they went pretty well but still weird after being faithfully married for almost 20 years. I decided to try the dating sites. In some ways they are great and others not so much.  I guess i’m a old fashion type of guy so I was always honest and first dates were always at a nice place and I would be respectful to the person I met. 


Those of you who have done this know that a-lot of times it doesn’t go that way lol. So many times the person would look different from the picture. I met someone on a date and she showed up ten years older than the picture on line. Funny thing was at the end she gave me her card and it had the same picture. I guess I’m kind of a what you see is what you get type of guy. The other thing was if you date too many people at the same time, it’s hard to keep track of everyone, so I kept to one or two people and only for a few dates. I like low stress and an uncomplicated life. 


So in this instance the moments were that great lol but a learning experience. I did meet a few great people along the way but in some instances I was the one not ready for a serious relationship. Then I met Linda…


I was about to give up on finding my life partner. I was dating one girl in Vegas and she was nice enough but there just wasn’t the “it” factor. I had been talking to Linda for about a week and decided to go to LA and meet her in person. In the back of my mind I was thinking after this I’m going to focus on my job and kid’s more and take a break from dating.


She suggested staying at the Standard hotel, which I did. It was a hip place with a cool bar by the pool and music. I decided to get my hair cut and at the time I colored my hair to hide the gray hairs that were over taking my head. The guy was nice enough but it turned out a reddish brown color lol. I was going to meet my future wife and not look like my picture. 


We met at a place called the little door, I arrived about an hour early so I went to the bar to get a drink and decided to go with an Arnold Palmer so I wouldn’t be intoxicated when she arrived. Ok maybe I had one glass of wine. She arrived on time and looked fabulous, just like her picture! I told her about the Hair story and we had a good laugh about that. 


We had an amazing dinner together, she was so accomplished being an Interior designer and a Professional Figure skater earlier in her life. She had such a welcoming personality and we had a-lot in common. In fact we both ordered the same meal so I changed mine at the last minute to something else.


We decided to bar hop because there were multiple places to check out and at the end of the evening we kissed. We have an on going disagreement on who wanted to kiss who the most first but I’ll concede I wanted to kiss her. It was an amazing kiss too, one that doesn’t leave you. We often say “do you still feel it?” and the answer is yes I do, everyday. I talked her into coming to my hotel room because I bought her flowers and the vase was quite large so I didn’t take it to the restaurant. My intentions were pure and I assured her of that. She took a picture of the vase in her home that also sticks with me. The first of many dozen roses.


The next day we met at Geoffreys of Malibu, great breakfast spot over looking the ocean. The food, the atmosphere and of course the company was just spectacular. It was quite the moment. This whole experience was also magical for me without the Cinderella carriage. A moment I will never forget and certainly didn’t take for granted. In fact I absorbed it all the way back to Vegas.


We have had so many great times in the last 14 years we have known each other and certainly the 10 years we’ve been married. There have been some regrets though on exactly what this blog is about. The moments that you share with loved ones as a couple but don’t truly appreciate them until it’s too late. One that sticks out, is every other Sunday when Linda and I had a long distance relationship, we would go to a movie with her father Edgar. I wouldn’t say we took it for granted but again, didn’t appreciate it as much especially since he passed away in 2012. We had so many great times together, having dinner and a movie. He would meet us at the movie house and always say in a very distinctive “Edgar” voice “How you doing Michael” and “How’s my little girl?”. we would usually go to his favorite Italian place, “Louisa’s” afterwards and every so often “El Cholo Spanish Cafe”


Those were great moments.The other moments would be with my dad as well. We would go to Idaho and visit with Him and Tamara. Usually play tennis and go vintage shopping. Then my dad and I would go fishing. We would end the evenings with good wine I would bring with me. My favorite story I usually tell everyone is I brought a bottle of Grey Goose vodka and some really nice bottles of wine. I told him I brought a premium bottle of vodka for him to try out. He replied “I’ve been drinking Premium Vodka for years”. He didn’t usually drink the good stuff so I asked him what brand he was talking about. He brought out a plastic jug of vodka that simply said “Premium vodka”. Always the joker and another moment I wont every forget.


It’s crazy that ten years have passed so fast since we tied the knot. I cherish all out moments though and many of them are very vivid still either in pictures or memory. 


It also seems like yesterday I was working at Zappos. I left in February 2022 and have so many fond memories. Traveled all over the world, Italy, Germany, England, Amsterdam, Brazil, China (too many times lol) Vietnam and Hong Kong. So many stories and I’ve written about many of those moments in Blogs #203 through #251. I look back now and appreciate all those adventures, some were normal and a few pretty crazy. 


Most of all it was the people I had surrounding me. My teams were all top notch. What makes me so happy is many of them still keep in contact. Even some that aren’t with Zappos any more. I am so proud of so many people like Kristin, Dee, Kathy, Scott, Steve P, Andrea, Heaven, Bill, Heather, Pam and Jerry, Eileen, Aaron, Eddie, Myra, Dave, Stephanie, Angela, Avneet. It’s funny I didn’t want to miss anyone so I just went down my text history and all were there. There are so many more people to list as well, that I haven’t talked to in awhile, maybe another blog. 


Now I’m creating new moments, with my amazing grandson and other family members, watching Lindas business take off and having fun with my two shops I’m running. I definitely want to work in my next career soon and all I can say id I’ll enjoy every moment and appreciate  the people I work with even more.


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Having Fun With Product Again #257

Having Fun With Product Again #257

In blog #256 I talked about Creating my eBay store. In this blog I want to talk about Having fun with product again.


I talked in the last blog about how two amazing careers were a blessing. I learned so much from both of those companies. The people part was the true blessing though. In the old days (Pre-Covid) you would go to work and talk with people all day long. Customers, salespeople, vendors were all part of the day. At Zappos it was more office oriented, but you would still have interactions with a lot of the 1500 plus employees in the office. The day would consist of multiple meetings throughout the day, one on one interactions and vendors coming in to the office to  show product or strategize our business.


Then Covid hit…At first we were still in the office, but the company restricted vendors coming into the office for safety reasons. Then we were allowed to work from home and had Zoom calls all day long. I think as an industry it hurt retail a bit. We lost the human interaction. It’s getting better now but it’s been a slow roll.


I went to the Magic show in August and saw a few people I knew but it was so much smaller that I Walked the show in one day instead of the usual three. Granted I didn’t have appointments lined up all day long but the fact that it was so much smaller maybe it would be a day and a half being generous.  It was nice to see product though.


With setting up an eBay store I had three different ways of doing business. One was using a print on demand company. I had a blast designing t-Shirts, Hoodies, Hats and even things for the home. I set up a store with categories to put them in thinking retail. Problem was hard to get traffic to my store and the eBay site is massive so trying to stand out in a sea of product is challenging. I know now what the smaller vendors must have felt on the Zappos site. I’m currently trying different things with social media, advertising, and product assortment. Thanks to Pam & Jerry and my brother I’ve made a few sales to see how the process goes so I’m good there at least.


The second business is putting stuff up from around the house and selling them as pre-owned. These items have a brand name and at considerably lower prices than brand new in the stores. Surprisingly enough I’ve done quite well with this model selling about 8 items so far. It has paid for my samples in model one so far. For both models it also has a strategic value of knowing what your competition is doing. The third model is making product through a supplier and selling and shipping from a storage facility. I have some ideas but want to get the first two models going first. I also want to bring more traffic to the Soleman site when I convert the first couple of pages to retail. All of this is a learning process even being in the industry for so long. But I love it. At least until I land a job somewhere.


I have had fun doing product though, it reminds me of my private label days. I saw a void in the market for Footwear themed items and made a “Shoe dog” T-shirt. What I’ve found so far is there is a reason for this, no one wants one lol, at least so far. Maybe it’ll catch on. I even Made them from the Hanes Beefy t’s which is what we used for our Zappos T-Shirts so they are really nice. I’m using a different company for some of the other shirts because they print the graphics really well. I found a source that supplies Champion Hoodies, so I opted for a better-quality hoodie for that part of the business.


Over the years I’ve experienced some tough situations with people I care about. I decided to take a few shirts and donate the proceeds to each Charity. Because my margins are so low I can break even donating 20% and if there is more left over after all the fees and shipping I’ll donate the rest too. Makes me feel good having this part of the business giving back. I was going to do 4 charities but decided it was too many to start with. Hard part was figuring out which one to cut but as fate would have it became quite clear what path to take.


I’m even having fun making BBQ stuff in Tees and aprons, Dog stuff and even gaming ideas. I appreciate all the product content people I’ve worked with over the years since I’m doing that myself too and I’ve worked with some of the best. If you are reading this, I truly appreciate you.


I still have many more experiences from the old days to share but wanted people to know what I’m up too. Looks like I have an offer on a Robert Graham shirt for a really good price so I better get ready to negotiate. Bye for now!


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Creating my eBay store #256

Creating my eBay store

In blog #255 I talked about how to be the expert in your field. In this blog I want to talk about Creating my ebay store.


I have been blessed with two amazing careers. There were many other jobs before these careers that helped me get there as well.


I was employed at Nordstrom for 11 years. I started in 1989 and in 1990/1991 I was promoted to my first buyer job. It was in the kid’s shoes area. I learned the basics of being a shoe buyer and had great results in my numbers. After about a year Rob Shields called me about an opportunity in Brass Plum Shoes which is the Juniors shoe area. I made a name for myself by having stellar results and building an amazing team. I transferred to two other stores and had similar results. I left Nordstrom after 11 years not because I didn’t like the company, but the RMM and I didn’t see eye to eye. People leave managers not companies…


I had a brief three-year stint at Target, in which I learned logistics and running a mainline store as an Asst. Store manager, which they called Executive Team Leaders. Again, leaving a bad manager vs. the company. I landed at Zappos and made it my home for 19 years. It was an amazing time in my life. I worked with so many great people and made so many friends in the industry. I learned so much in this time about manufacturing with heading up the private label team until 2010 where I moved back to the branded side. We had fun filling the voids with both of those jobs trying to offer the best product to our customers. I also built some great teams here and will always be bonded to these people. I had fun turning around one of the larger divisions in the company and creating the progression plan for the Merchandising area. 


When I left Zappos, I was worried about losing touch with people I have created great friendships over the years with. I always used to say to my teams that “Once the pen goes away, so do the phone calls”. By this I meant since people work on commissions or bonus structures its hard to determine your true friends. I found out quickly where I stood and must say it brings a tear to my eye. In the best possible way in my case.


I have had so much positive feedback from people I have worked with over the years that it is truly heartwarming. My shoe dogs in my Fantasy Football league have all been great, Rob Shields, Rob McEwan, Dan Butler, Mike Kerr, Tom Sowards, Kenny Lyng, Steve Reinhart, Tom Kicker, Greg Devey, Tim Joyce and Mike Balzer. Thanks guys, your friendships mean a lot to me. And no one made fun of my D+ draft results, yet anyways lol.


David Kahan and Stephanie Militello (Now Berg, congrats again!) from Birkenstock, have also reached out to me, checking up on me a few times a month. We had so many great times over the years and built a great Birkenstock business over the years. With both of thier busy schedules They have made an effort. Thank you!


Countless people from Zappos and others that have left the company like Pam & Jerry Tidmore have also stayed in touch. There are so many others that have made me feel good even walking the Magic show that I’m grateful. The three people that called me from when I left nordstrom have also stayed in touch. Tom Austin, Steve Rutledge and Steve Reinhart again. 


I decided to take some time off and chill for a few months. I went to Hawaii and celebrated my grandsons birthday in March. My Daughter Jen and her husband Jon honored me by naming him Michael so I felt I needed to be there.  Soon after, I started getting antsy. I took to LinkedIn and updated my resume, applied at a bunch of places with a few good interviews here and there. Nothing materialized, so I updated my resume with a professional resume builder, and it turned out looking really good.  I had a few more great conversations with different companies but no offers. I decided to take up gardening and planted a veggie garden an herb garden and a rose garden. I was proud of the results.


Something was missing though so I decided to have some fun with an eBay store. I found a supplier and built a store. I decided to have products with a footwear inspired theme but will also carry other products as well in the future. I’m now learning about marketing strategies and other things to bring customers to the site. I feel this will round out my knowledge base and it is something I can have fun with. It by no means is my “New” career. I’m still looking for that position. It will have to be something I am passionate about, because that is so important to me.


One great bonus through all of this is it has allowed me to be closer to my brother David. He makes sure my mom is okay in my hometown of Fresno and is someone I really admire. He was such a great dad to his kids over the years and he’s been a great son to our mom. He makes me laugh (everyone knows the youngest child is the funniest he keeps reminding me) and we generally have great conversations on a daily basis.


My wife Linda has been amazing throughout all this. I’ll be honest I’ve had good days and bad days. She’s here for both. Very supportive and always knows just the right things to say to make me smile. She recently went to a design function and they all created flower arrangements there. She brought home something with me in mind so it definately put a smile on my face. 


There are always positives in life. Things can have curves and feel overwhelming at times but it’s how you pick yourself up and who you surround yourself with. Friendships are so important in a healthy lifestyle and I feel fortunate I have so many people in my life that make me happy. I am blessed…





…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Be the Expert in your field #255

Be the Expert in your field

In blog #254 I talked about building a great team. In this blog I want to talk about how to be the expert in your field.


It’s funny, when you are in it, you don’t always see it. I learned so much at Nordstrom from 1989 to 2000. I have re-occurring dreams about my Nordstrom experiences many times and do not have them for anywhere else I’ve worked. I attribute this to how it has influenced my life.  In many ways it shaped me into who I am today. At the time, I didn’t realize how important the things I was learning from many amazing mentors I had were to my growth. Each of them taught me different things and being the sponge I am, I soaked it all in and made it work for me in my own way. One particular lesson, and I honestly can’t remember who said this was, “Be the expert in your field”. Simple right? But how do you get to be an expert?


As Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his bestseller, “Outliers“, to become an expert it takes 10,000 hours (or approximately 10 years) of deliberate practice. To be considered deliberate practice, the individual should be engaging in full concentration, authorities and coaches are giving feedback, the individual is analyzing the feedback, and then the individual repeats the skill and practice over and over. During the repetition, the individual is making refinements to what they need to correct, according to their feedback. Someone could drive a car for 10 years and still be a horrible driver, this is the difference.


When my son was a young boy, he was participating in many sports. Football, Baseball, Wrestling to name a few. He would get frustrated early on because he wasn’t the best person on the team. Before I even read “Outliers” I knew that practice is what it takes. We would go out on my days off and throw the ball to practice fielding and techniques, but he would soon get distracted. Each sport he’d do for a few years then try a different one not doing any extra practice other than what the team would do. Sometimes he’d really do well but other times he wouldn’t and this frustrated him.


Many years later he started going to the gym frequently and got in with a group of people who liked powerlifting. He soon became passionate about the sport and was in the gym practicing techniques. At home he’d read about it and looked online for more tutorials on the subject. In a few short years he became quite good. It wasn’t ten years of practice but nor was he an expert yet. He was still quite good. I went to a meet with him and he was to perform bench press and deadlift. He had the techniques down to excel. He did his first few lifts with ease, then he had to deadlift 619 lbs. Did it. Next lift was for the state record 239, went up half way but couldn’t take it home. I was really proud of him for the effort. 619 lbs! damn!


Breaking it down he listened to his coaches, analyzed the feedback, repeated the lifts and made refinements along the way. He was on his way to being an expert.


My dad loved to grill. As a young boy we would often have grilled chicken, steaks, ribs you name it. He had a passion for it. When I left home, one of the things I bought first, was a Weber bbq. I figured I didn’t really know how to cook in the kitchen but I knew enough about grilling to survive. I grilled for years and became pretty good at it. It wasn’t until my 50’s though when I began to use the tool of deliberate practice. I started reading up on grill times and how to cook different types of meat. How the thickness plays a part in it. You Tube videos, Tik Tok were my friends.


After a while I decided to invest in better equipment. I would talk to my dad and uncle who were my idols at the grill. I learned something new each time I had a conversation. I tried different techniques and tweaked them a little to suit my style of grilling. Then one day I realized “I was pretty consistent now”. I analyzed the why.


Grilling Korean short ribs, I learned “slow and steady”. I marinate the ribs the night before so the sauce would cause flare ups. If the grill isn’t so hot, less flare ups. I recognized the hot spots of the grill, every grill has them. I would compensate for the hot spots by moving the meat around to suit them.  On my steaks I learned keeping a thickness as a constant was key. Usually 1” – 1 ½” works best for me. Watching You Tube videos, I adapted a technique I use all the time now. Sear each side of the steak for a minute or two first at extreme high heat then move over to medium heat. 5 minutes first side, then 4 minutes the second side usually gives you medium rare to medium consistently. Key thing here too was I was passionate about it.


Being in the footwear business for 42 years should make me an expert right? There are so many different areas though, it depends on what your focus is. In 2004 I was asked to head up a Private label division that was struggling. I knew very little about this area of the footwear industry. So what did I do? I read up on manufacturing, called my friends in the business to take me on factory tours. Learned about the process and why different lasts can affect the fit. It was a lot. I looked at the branded side and figured out the steps of making a brand marketable. Details, as Rob Shields use to say. What kind of box are they going is? Tissue paper, leather components. I remember Harry Holmes who was a big influence of the success Nordstrom had in their Private label program. He would always say we want to make the best 70 dollar shoe a customer could buy without over charging them. Quality… I took on that practice too. After a few seasons I knew the process, the components and how important it was when the customer opened the box, what they would experience. All this because I bought into deliberate practice.


Breaking it down, I listened to people who were in the business doing it for years, analyzed the feedback, repeated the wins in popular lasts and made refinements along the way. I was on my way to being an expert in manufacturing private label product in 4 short years. We increased our Private label business from 1% of the companies volume to 8%. Out of the 10 brands we created 3 that  were in the top 10 from a pool of thousands of brands and the others were creeping up to top 30 status.


My wife Linda was a professional figure skater as teenager. There are a few things she has said over the years that have stuck out to me. These are lessons she learned from coaches who helped her get to Ice Capades. When you fall, get back up. When she was nervous about a jump her coach would tell her “you already made the jump, focus on entertaining the crowd”. I find that profound. Too many times we psych ourselves out whether it’s talking to a large group or performing a triple axle. You already made the jump, entertain…you can argue being a professional figure skater is the  definition of what deliberate practice is all about, it has all the elements there. But when you think about the simple phrase “entertain them” it puts everything in perspective.


 From Figure skating she went into Interior design. She got her degree with an emphasis on lighting design. With the 10,000 hours rule she definitely qualifies as an expert but it’s more than that. She is passionate about her work. She delights in the fact that she changes peoples lives with her design. She takes it personal, but in a good way. She puts her heart and soul into each project. I know, because for the last 14 years I’ve been with her ,I’ve seen it first-hand. The projects I’ve seen her create are something short of breathtaking. They are simply amazing. One project more beautiful than the next and all different. She has done mid-century modern, themed projects, beach inspired, modern and my favorite resort style living with a Zen twist. I am in awe of how she does it. It goes to show you if you practice your craft, and make adjustments or improvements each time, you will truly be an expert and maybe just maybe, be passionate about your work in the process.




…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Building a Great Team #254

Building a Great Team

In blog #253 I talked about Embrace and drive change. In this blog I want to talk about building a great team.


From my early management days, I always tried to groom great people. I have been guilty of just hiring anybody to fill the spot but quickly learned you just add more headaches. It’s best to wait until the right person comes along instead of hiring someone, training them, and then going through the disciplinary actions to term them because you didn’t hire the right person.


When I was a store manager in the 80’s I hired a friend because I thought they would work hard to make the store perform better. Instead, this person took advantage of our friendship and called in sick often causing other employees to disrupt their personal schedules. This caused drama in the store, and I eventually had to make the tough change. It’s ok to make mistakes along the way, if you learn from them.


When I worked at Nordstrom I learned from the best minds in retail. Blake Nordstrom would come to the stores, and everyone was on high alert on doing the right things. He used to say, “People are our best assets”. He would make appearances every so often and it was funny to see everyone fall all over themselves to make an impression. I made sure we had black polish on display because that was one of his hot buttons. “If a store doesn’t have a simple item like black polish, what else are we missing” he’d always tell me. This stuck out to me, details…so simple.


I got promoted from my first kids’ buyer job to the Women’s juniors dept. called “Brass Plum Shoes”. This department had been mismanaged for some time, so the numbers were tough. My first order from the store manager was to cut the amount of people in half. The only way to do this was by their performance so I looked at everyone’s numbers. I decided to take the time to talk to everyone during this process so the people who were staying understood the new expectations. The way the department was run was very unorganized too. The stock room was a mess and people were lazy. It was a brutal couple of days. From this experience I learned a few things:


  1. People should always know where they stand and what the expectations are. There should never be any surprises. In this case it was basically a lay-off since the business didn’t justify the amount of people we had, but still a good lesson to make sure people understand the expectations.


  1. Discipline is important to run a good operation. By this I mean setting the expectations and having processes that make things run smoothly. When you stray from good processes, things get sloppy. In the Nordstrom SF store, Martha had the processes dialed. You come in, sign in with the floor watcher, so you have your turn and do stock work while you are waiting to be called out. At the end of the day, you straighten your assigned section and leave. I planned to incorporate this system in our operation as well.


This department soon went from #20 in the company to #2. I had made some good buys and listened to Rob my RMM on how to drive the business. As business improved, I hired more people and weeded out the weak ones. We would have department meetings frequently to share the successes with the team. The road to achieving the number two spot was exciting for the entire team. I didn’t realize the key to the success was the people at the time as I got caught up in my own ego.


I started calling my dad for advice and we would talk strategy and people issues during those calls. He had been a Store Manager for Sears and worked there for 40 years. I learned a lot from him in those talks. He too, like Blake, would always emphasize the importance of a great team.


If you think about sports, its not that the leaders/coaches are superhuman and have special powers, it’s they surround themselves with great people. From the players to the asst. coaches, it all must gel, or they don’t make the playoffs.


I realized all this in my next position at Palo Alto. I hired a Larry from another store and made him my 1st Asst. We would talk occasionally when he would come to our store for special orders for customers. I thought he was a smart merchant and  I was right. Together we put a great team together and turned around a failing store. It was one of the biggest lessons I ever learned and hold it close even today.


I’ve been in situations where I’d take a department that the previous leader would rave about the team. The thing is everyone has different expectations, and they may not jive with the expectations you may have moving forward. It’s best to listen but let things play out with an open mind. It’s always exciting to see people when the “light bulb” turns on. In this case, I ended up working with some of the best merchants I ever worked with, and they made it easy.


It’s also best to evaluate people for their strengths and weaknesses. I worked with a buyer who was in my kid’s area at the time. I had Women’s, kid’s, and home areas. Her name was Dyansa and She was a very vibrant personality. You couldn’t help but like her. She’s the type of person that you instantly click with. She had great relations with everyone on the team and established strong vendor relations as well. “I need her in management” I thought to myself. I asked her one day if she liked what she was doing. She went home that day thinking I wasn’t pleased with her performance when it was just the opposite, so your delivery needs to be clear too. I moved her to the women’s area, and she quickly became one of my best people. Soon after she got into managing others and she is quite successful in her position today. I love it when I’m right.


I used an old tool I learned at Nordstrom and ranked everyone’s performance. People thought I was nuts at first but soon after, other Directors were doing the ranking too. I then sat down with every buyer and did a “Stock walk”. This was much like what Rob would do with me at Nordstrom in the stockroom but on the computer. We would look at each brand and all the styles. I would quickly calculate in my head how much inventory they would need to get the sales they desired based on turn. If it wasn’t where it should be, I would ask why.


We called it the 2-3-4 method. If your sales were 100 and you wanted to turn the inventory 3 times you would need 400 units. Annual sales divided by the turn gives you the optimal inventory level to achieve this. Of course, you must tweak for seasonal items. This worked well and the buyers soon focused on the 80/20 brands first. In my stock walks I would set an action plan for improving the inventory levels. I would follow up to make sure we had progress without being a micro manager. I felt you must let them take some chances and learn from their mistakes too. Sometimes you discover people just aren’t merchants and you need to guide them to other paths. I always tried to be sensitive to people in this area but still firm in my expectations. If they can rise to the level, you need them to be at, then awesome but others need to decide if this is for them.


Once the team gets it you just have touch base to make sure everything is going right and if they need any help. I always gave credit where it was due. Nothing is worse than a leader who takes credit from what their people are doing. Its ok to take credit for the team as a whole but if someone has a great idea then they should enjoy the positive feedback for the idea.


I’ve been blessed with working with great people over the years and credit it to what I’ve learned from amazing leaders. Let your people run with things and feel part of the solution and you will yield better results.



…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Embrace and Drive Change #253

Embrace and drive change

In blog #252 I talked about how the Journey continues. In this blog I want to talk about Embrace and drive change.


I’ve written 252 blogs so far about my career in the footwear industry. I’ve shared positive and negative experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. With all the experiences I have had, there is one core value that is how I got through it all. “Embrace and drive change”.


My first experience with a major change was when Koby’s shoes was acquired by Payless shoe source. I had been in store management for 3 years now and living in Southern California. I wasn’t too happy with all the traffic in Los Angeles and missed my family and friends.


I got the call that the company was being acquired by Payless shoe source and I would still maintain my position. I was offered a small severance package if I didn’t want to move forward. Since I didn’t like my current living situation, I opted for the severance that would basically pay for my move back to Fresno.


I quickly found another position at another company called Cincinnati Shoe company. They had leased shoe departments in Rodders, a fine apparel department store in Fresno. 2 years later they didn’t renew the lease and offered me a job in the Bay Area. I decided to take the position. Little did I know how expensive the cost of living was. It was so expensive we didnt have too much left over at the end of the month. We would put our coins in a big jar and every so often treat ourselves to a beer or two with the change.


You could argue this was a mistake, but I learned a lot from the experience and ended up getting a position at Nordstrom in 1989. The experience at Nordstrom was pivotal in my career and my life. I learned most of the basics that have made me successful throughout my career. I also learned how to treat people with respect and dignity. This piece is lost in so many companies today.


When Zappos was acquired by Amazon, many people thought that it would become a mini-Amazon. Thankfully Tony Hsieh was the CEO and he kept everything as “business as usual” for many years. I approached the change and embraced it as another learning experience. I continued to utilize the skills I learned from all my jobs and had a good run. It’s important for leaders to set the example. Since I strongly believe that people are the key to a strong team, and not just the leader, I feel it’s important to be positive and solution driven when experiencing change.


Change can take place in other ways too, like a completely different management model. I experienced “Holacracy”. Holacracy is like an operating system for your organization. It is a predefined set of rules and processes, checks and balances, and guidelines that an organization can use to help them become self-managed. The company becomes self-organized by giving every employee (instead of just management) the power to innovate, make changes, and have a voice.


The company put together training classes for all employees and Brian Robertson the developer of holacracy came out to help us through the learning process. I’ve always been of the mindset, if it’s safe enough to try, why not. It was straightforward enough, just the rules of engagement were the things we had to get use to. There were certain ways you had to voice your opinion and in typical Zappos fashion we tweaked some of them to suit our style of doing things.


Tony was passionate about this. Asked how holacracy works, Tony said that many people misunderstand the concept, thinking it means eliminating all hierarchies within the business. But as he described it, “instead of being a hierarchy of people, it’s a hierarchy of purpose.”

He said it starts with something called the general company circle, the purpose of which is the same as the business’s purpose statement. Within that circle are sub-circles and roles. “And then it cascades from there for each sub-circle.” Tony also addressed reports that holacracy doesn’t seem to work for a lot of businesses. In his view, what people misunderstand is that holacracy is not a pre-packaged solution but a platform. He compares it to an iPhone that has the latest operating system but no apps. “So what we’re doing is a lot of experimentation, which is the hard work of ‘building the apps.’ Some work out great and some don’t, and we just keep iterating.”


Having a positive attitude and solution driven mindset certainly helps you through the rough patches. Because of all the changes with the new holacracy model Steve asked me to re-vamp the progression to fall in line with our new direction. I picked people for the circle that I thought would be the drivers of change.


This didn’t mean that they had the same mindset as me, in fact I purposely picked people that would challenge the whole thought process. This made for some long meetings, but in the end we came up with a great progression plan for all the merchants. We started from where I left off in 2004 being involved with creating the first progression plan. We sorted out what worked well and the opportunities we had. We restructured all the positions and had a clear path for success. We called it “Career Path”.


The key to any change is having a positive mindset and ever evolve. If something doesn’t work, try something else. You must keep personal emotions out of it and try to decide what’s best for everyone since we are setting the policies. If only politicians did this lol.


Other changes can be technology as well. Growing up, I remember earning some money and going to Tower records to get the latest Boston album. They were vinyl back then, so you had to keep away from heat and try to avoid scratching the album. Living in Fresno was challenging in keeping the heat away from my precious albums. Compact discs came out in 1982 so the album era started having a slow death.  Finally, Tower records closed in 2006.


VHS tapes came out in the late 70’s. so videos were now easier to watch on Tv and you could tape shows to watch later. Later in the late 90’s DVD’s came out and slowly replaced the VHS tapes. In all these cases the changes were positive and technology much improved over the previous systems. Some people have a hard time with change, however. I’m sure there are still people listening to albums and watching VHS tapes even today.


Another big change we are experiencing today is working from home. This started about 2 years ago with the Covid-19 outbreak. Many people and companies had to shift their mindset and settle into this new way of working. In many cases companies saved thousands by having employees work from home and in most cases the employees were more productive. In the few cases where people weren’t more productive, these individuals most likely weren’t productive to begin with or weren’t good in accepting change. Again, it’s a mindset and you have to look at the positives and solutions to be successful.


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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The Journey continues #252

The Journey continues

In blog #251 I talked about the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. In this blog I want to talk about how the Journey continues.


After almost 19 years I am no longer a Zappos employee. I had many great adventures and experiences and with great people. If you have been following me for awhile you would know how important people are in any business. This was the formula for my success. Shhh…tell everyone, it works! I got to travel to many different corners of the Earth. I learned that people from all over have the same wants, emotions, desires, ambitions and I always had great interactions with people all over the world. Why? Because if you treat people with respect and show kindness it comes back to you. Trust me this works too.


I am going to miss my team and the daily interactions with Kathy, Dee, Scott and Paun but I still chat with them even today so it’s okay. We built a great business and friendships over the years and that will always be special to me. There are way too many other people to mention but hopefully I can thank you over a nice BBQ. Steak Night is alive and well and always on Friday nights.


Zappos started with an idea that Nick Swinmurn had back in 1998 and he made it come to life in 1999. Goes to show you what you can do if you set your mind to it. He had the good fortune to partner up with Tony Hsieh. Tony was brilliant. I still remember that interview like it was yesterday. I walked away thinking “Damn he’s smart, I need to take my leap of faith on this one. And I’m glad I did. Fred finally got me to take my leap. So many great memories.


A job does not define who I am though. One of my favorite quotes that Tony used to say from Maya Angelou was “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. I can only hope that my legacy is that I made people feel happy, content, satisfied, valued, appreciated, and loved. That makes me feel happy knowing I tried my best. This goes for all people I worked with and the Vendor community as well.


On a more personal note, I got a call in October of 2020 from my daughter and son in law. She asked me if I was sitting down. I started thinking “omg what is going on” as she was pregnant with her first child. “We are having a boy and he will be born end of February or first week in March. I was so happy for her and Jon. “We are naming him after you, his name will be Michael John Hoeksema.” I was stunned then overwhelmed with emotion. It was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. What an honor. My daughter and I have always been super close, but this took the cake. I composed myself after awhile and told her how much this meant to me. We visited them in April, one month after he was born as Diane went over early to help them out. It was such an amazing trip for me. I’m a grandpa now and have a namesake to boot, life is good…


Yes we got a Covid puppy. But that’s not really why. We had wanted a puppy for years and always said maybe later it’s not the right time. Truth is “when is the right time?” so we went to a local breeder in Las Vegas called Mystical Poodles and put our name in. Funny thing is later that month my friend Kristin and her husband Joey told me they were trying to get a poodle from them too but there was a waiting list now. I called Mystical Poodle s to see if they could get theirs shortly after we got ours so we could experience the puppy thing together. It all worked out fine. They decided to get a Standard poodle and name her Franki. Teddy was our new mini-chocolate poodle, and he would arrive to our house the end of January. He would be 8 weeks old. He has been such a joy for me and always makes me laugh. He’s a character. He favors Linda because she plays a lot with him and let’s be honest she’s way more awesome than me lol. I enjoy taking him for walks and teaching him tricks. He sleeps by my side of the bed too.


In 2008, I had been single for 3 years and was tired of the single life. I was trying different dating web-sites and met a lot of different people. I could probably write a blog about those adventures too lol. My favorite was when you would see the profile and a person would show up for the date that didn’t look anything like the profile. I met Linda in June and I was about to give it a break. One more I said to myself. I talked to her awhile over the phone and she asked me to come to LA and meet her in person. She too had stories of people who were interesting to say the least. We met at the “Little Door” in Hollywood. We hit it off immediately. I wouldn’t say “Love at first sight” for either of us but at least we looked like our profiles. We had a world-wind romance and she has been with me in my adventures every step of the way. I have to say she is the best part of me. I am so fortunate. I am a very wealthy man in the fact I have her love.


Since 2008 she has always been my rock, my biggest supporter. She is my biggest cheerleader when I am enjoying success and has the greatest hugs when I have had disappointments. I have had some of the greatest moments in this crazy last month with the outpouring of love and affection from all my friends, co-workers, partners in the footwear industry and others that have made me so happy, I thank you all. It means a lot to me.


With this being said, I am taking a break from writing my blog until I get my inspiration on how to move it forward. I have some ideas so it won’t be too long. My intention in the beginning was to share my experiences to help others in the industry deal with their own versions of this crazy retail world. Stay tuned…




…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square #251

The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

Blog #250  I talked about the Great Wall experience in Beijing. In this blog I want to talk about the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.


The Great Wall experience was pretty incredible. There was so much history there it was breathtaking. After a great breakfast at the hotel our plans for today was to check out the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.


We arrived at the Forbidden City early as we had plans to visit Tiananmen Square also today. It was massive. There was a place in front to take “Royalty” pictures so of course Linda and I put the robes on and took a few shots in chair fit for a king. Charles stood off to the side taking pictures for us and wearing his Zappos shirt.


As we approached the entrance I couldn’t help notice this older Chinese gentleman off to the side. He must have been 75 -80 yrs old. His face was weathered but in a good way. There was a lot of character with this guy. He had a smile that was warm and inviting. I automatically liked him even though I didn’t know him. He reminded me of my grandfather in a lot of ways and I couldn’t stop staring at him. Its hard to describe the true feeling I had but it was incredible.


We get inside the gates, and it was massive. The place was packed too. It was once a center of government but now a museum of sorts. Of course I barely fit through the doorways but made for good pictures.  Here is some history of the Forbidden City from Wikipedia


There were several palaces to check out and each one had a different purpose. We went into a gift store, and I asked the lady behind the counter what were some must see areas of the city. She kept saying “Concubines”, “Concubines”. What the heck is a concubine, so I had to look it up. My initial impression was a little off from who they really were. Basically, they were women owned by the Emperor for purposes of sex to produce heirs to the throne. And there were thousands of them over the years. In some cases, they were executed for not producing heirs and some would be buried alive with the emperor when he passed. These traditions were changed as it went along but still pretty brutal.


The quarters were nice just like other areas of the city. Here is some history of the Concubines of China


It was a lot to take in. Not only was it massive but beautifully done. The architecture was amazing and made you imagine ancient China in its glory. So we spent half the day there and needed to head over to Tiananmen Square while the light of day was still present. Luckily it was close to where we were.


The square itself was huge. And there were guards with Machine guns at attention. They were not allowed to talk so people would take pictures near them but not too close. I have to say it was quite intimidating but we took the picture anyways. I gestured to one of them with my camera if it was ok, but received nothing except a stare. I told Linda “Let’s get the picture and get out of here”.    The square is best known for the 1989 student protests where one student infamously stood in front of a tank. Here is some more history of Tiananmen Square: 


We walked around all the famous sites of the area and headed out to dinner around sunset. We had a very nice dinner and the waitress would always say “You’re welcome” in perfect English every time we thanked her for something.  The whole trip was one of the best I had in China. We got a lot done with the factories and knocked out a few bucket list type sites to enjoy. Plus I called my dad on the Great Wall. Something i’ll never forget and something we often talked about while he was still alive.


Tomorrow we would head back to the states.


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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