What an Airport Shoe Shiner Taught Us about Success

The set upLast week, as our President made his way back from a fun-filled week at Dreamforce, he encountered a man named Hung Wong at the San Francisco airport. His short interaction with Mr. Wong managed to shed some light on the topic of success and what it takes to get there. Here’s a recount of the story as told by Mr. Scully:

It was 6 AM in the San Francisco Airport and, as you can imagine, the looks on the faces of most passersby weren’t ones of happiness. Thousands of individuals were preparing to head back to their lives after an amazing week at Dreamforce and the last place anyone wanted to be was the airport. Then came Hung Wong.

I had 3 hours until my flight – yes it was poor planning since I hate being in airports early, but I didn’t realize how quickly Uber would get me to the airport. As I was walking down the hallway I noticed Hung why did I meet HungWong. There he was, smiling and singing at the top of his lungs at 6 AM. Of all songs, it had to be – Don’t Worry Be Happy! I didn’t think too much of it, in fact I just walked on by. But as I passed him he just kept smiling and singing. I could hear him behind me, the music was blaring and his voice was terrible, but I couldn’t help but to think about how happy he was. So I decided I didn’t have anything else to do and my shoes needed shinning. The reality of the situation was that I just had to see if this guy’s shine was as good as his atttitude!

As I sat down at his station he introduced himself and told me to “sit back relax and enjoy the show,” it was then that I knew I was in for a wild ride. He lined up all of his shinning equipment and prepared to give the best shine of his life. I looked around and his station was spotless, he was dressed to the nines and I had no doubt that he was proud of what he what happened nextwas about to do. You may be wondering if he stopped singing once he had me in the chair; did he lure me over with a song and a smile? Was he going to follow through on “the show”? The answer was YES. Not only did he continue to sing, but he sang louder than before. He treated each step as if it was more important than the last; they were all building toward my shoes looking better than they ever have!

The next song to come on was Tina Turner’s “What’s love got to do with it.”  He proceeded to belt this out just as loudly. During the final stages, as if he planned it (and I’m quite certain he did) Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” blared through the speakers – this was his favorite by far. Now at this point, his partner was laughing and other airport patrons started to notice.  He was not only giving me the show, he had shined my shoes like they have never been shined before AND lined the resultup his next customers. Finally, I was ready for the ending – which he referred to as “The Matrix.”  You’ve all seen the movie where his feet are planted and his body rotates at the waist.  He did this as he painted the soles of the shoes.  This final step was VERY important and he took his time, laughing as he did “The Matrix.”

In the end the shine cost me $10 and I gave him $20. His demeanor and positive attitude changed my day and had a smile on my face at 6 AM, which was formerly known as an impossible feat. He provided me with a great service all while lining up more customers and he had fun while doing it. So why am I sharing this otherwise insignificant story with you? Because Hung Wong taught me a thing or two that morning, although he’ll never know it.

what did I learnThis experience reminded me that if you’re going to do something, do it well. If you have fun, smile and are engaging, people will be drawn to you. Who knows if he wanted to shine shoes for a living. If he did, then he was the best and having a blast while doing it. If he didn’t, he was still the best and having fun while doing it and will undoubtedly get the opportunities he deserves to move onto something better. The most we can do is live in the now. Be present and enjoy each moment, even if we haven’t reached our desired end goal. That extra effort is the difference between being where we are and getting to where we want to go.