Do Your Children Have Shoes?


Do Your Children Have Shoes?

Several years ago, while I was completing my master’s degree, I had a professor tell me a parable that didn’t mean much to me at the time. It was the story of a cobbler. No, not the pie type of cobbler. The shoe repair type of cobbler (sorry to disappoint).

This particular cobbler was exceptional at what he did. He could take even the most dilapidated of shoes and make them as good as new. Everyone and anyone who could afford his work brought their shoes to him to repair.

The cobbler was a hard worker. He worked tirelessly so he could provide a better life for himself and his family. His days often started before sunrise and ended after sunset, repairing shoe after shoe after shoe.

One morning, the cobbler’s oldest child told her father, “I haven’t any shoes to wear; they all have holes. My first day of school is only a few weeks away.” The cobbler, busy as usual, replied, “I will get to your shoes, right after I finish this pair.”

Just as he finished that pair of shoes, one of his best customers walked in with a pair
of shoes needing to be mended, so the cobbler put aside his daughter’s shoes for later. Then another customer came in, and another, and another.

When the day came for the child to go to school, her shoes were still full of holes. Knowing her father was busy, the daughter didn’t say anything, wrapped her feet in rags, and went off to school. Months went by, and the cobbler kept working his typical long hours, never noticing his daughter’s rags-covered feet.

Then, one day, he reached to grab a pair of shoes from his “to-do” pile, and there were no shoes left. He smiled and thought to himself, “I finally have time to mend my daughter’s shoes!” He riffled through his workshop, found her shoes, and patched them up expertly. When his daughter got home from school that day, he met her at the door and proudly showed her the patched-up shoes. She hurriedly unwrapped the rags covering her feet to put them on, but her feet had grown, and they didn’t fit.


The ‘Cobbler’s Children Syndrome’ is all too common in business.

This tale, of course, may be just a story to illustrate a point, but the point is relevant and valuable to all of us in many ways, but especially when it comes to tending to your professional growth and maintaining a personal brand.

Too many of us toil away for hours at end to perfect that proposal or finish that report. We burn ourselves out for the sake of someone else, be it our employers or clients. Yet, we neglect to take care of ourselves so that we may have a long and prosperous career.


Don’t let yourself
GO withouT a brand.

Today, one of the most surefire ways of guaranteeing a sustainable career is to develop a strong personal brand. Yes, it can even outweigh in importance your track record of hard work and success when it comes to creating professional opportunities (though I’m not suggesting in any way you become lazy and careless).

If your dedication to your job comes at the sacrifice of building your brand presence in your industry or field, you do so at great peril. This is especially pertinent when you are suddenly unemployed and fall into that “over-experienced” category.


Never fear, social media is here!

You see all the brands on it – from conglomerates to “mom-and-pop” shops, a social media presence is essential to any brand. A brand represents something greater than a single product or service; it conveys an attitude, a personality and most important, a differentiator. While it should encompass both online and offline components, social media can be the quickest, simplest and most effective tool to build your brand.

Strategy is key to
YOUR brand’s success.

Before you hop on LinkedIn or Twitter, have a method to your madness. Decide what you want to achieve out of your branding efforts. Assess the current state of your reputation, and how you would like to be known. Identify the channels you will use to communicate your brand. Establish a presence through optimizing your social media profiles in a consistent manner. Interact with your industry peers and thought-leaders through sharing articles, commenting on posts, and adding value to relevant conversations.

Using videos, blogs or graphics, tell your story of who you are, how you got there, your greatest successes and most meaningful lessons learned. Keep in mind that just as your career took years or decades to build and develop, your personal brand takes time to grow. Don’t fall into the trap of sprinting out of the gate, sharing every great idea that comes to mind, only to go “radio silent.”

Not only will all your momentum be lost, but an inconsistent social presence can reflect poorly on you and your ability to provide consistent results.


Lack of prioritization was the
cobbler’s downfall.

Many baby steps add up to achieving big goals. You don’t have to flake out on your work responsibilities. If you’re having a very busy week at your job, don’t beat yourself up. Even if you do just one thing, one little thing such as posting a quote or sharing an article, you will keep the momentum of growing a strong reputation and brand. This will keep you moving forward.

Article contributed by:
Kathleen Laney
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