Several years ago, I was trying to land a job in the training department of a large corporation. The economy at the time was not the greatest, so training gigs of any kind were hard to come by. I did manage to secure an interview with a company that sold financial products. They wanted someone who could conduct sales training sessions and asked if I would come in for an interview and give them a demonstration. I was excited to have the opportunity, so I put together a 15 minute demo for them and made plans to go to the interview.
My business look is always impeccable, so in keeping with my sense of style, I wore a beautiful black designer suit and a pair of Steve Madden platform shoes with ankle straps. I knew my outfit was “designer” because there were first and last names on the labels and none of them were mine. I looked smart. My hair and make-up were perfect, my nails were done, and I was fully prepared to conduct my training session and answer any questions thrown at me. I felt confident; like I had it all going on.
As I made my way from the parking garage toward their offices (a bit of a trek in heels) I noted that although the platform shoes looked great, they were a bit dicey to walk in. I made a mental note to reserve those shoes for special occasions and to stick to something more practical going forward. They were stunning shoes, though!
I was a bit early (I hate being late), so I had to wait a few minutes in the reception area. I took the time to go over my notes and make sure I was even more prepared to deliver my training. I was a great trainer. I knew that for sure. I was confident I would deliver a very dynamic training session and that they would be wowed, not only by my great shoes, but by my perfect delivery and relevant content.
After a few minutes, someone from Human Resources came to the reception area to greet me. I stood to shake her hand and began walking down a corridor toward the room where I would give my training. As I was walking, the ankle strap on my left shoe snapped. I nearly fell over and probably would have, except that I’ve got sturdy ankles (which is probably why the strap broke in the first place). I paused to inspect the damage and saw there was absolutely nothing I could do but keep walking. The HR person gave me a look of annoyance. Clop, clop, clop, down the hall I went. Clop, clop, clop, some more. My shoes and I greeted everyone as I entered the room. There were about six women sitting next to each other, all HR types, who I personally believe are made of the same fibre as nursery school teachers and librarians. I muttered some apologies for my shoe. I suddenly had seven women looking at me with minor contempt. They all had note pads. They would take turns asking me questions and would make notes, then look back up at me (sometimes a little smugly).
As I began the training, I found myself limited by my inability to walk around the room. This shoe business was cramping my style. I did what I could without having to clop around but as it turned out, the shoe was the least of my worries. Not long after I got into the training I was hit with the realization that their customer base was from the consumer market. I knew that, but perhaps because most of my experience was business to business, I didn’t think about it. I looked at them and they looked at me and we all knew that the training session I put together was completely wrong. I was mortified. They pierced their lips and made more notes. I remember feeling the sting of their judging looks.
The shoe was an omen. I didn’t even get to finish the session because it was not relevant to their customer base. I picked up my materials and left the interview. Clop, clop, clop, clop…
What a shit show that was. Thank God I can look back and laugh!
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