An elegant, well behaving, rebel (with cow hide shoes)

by Martin

An elegant, well behaving, rebel (with cow hide shoes)

I used to simply follow my gut

Back in 1997 life seemed so simple. I’ve been twentyfour and I wanted that job. This company was so ‘cool’ back in the days. A super young and dynamic team. All in their twenties, this team was very different from the one I worked for at the time. Despite the fact that I made some great friends there, it was a quite ‘old’ organization – at least in the eyes of a twentyfour old.


Following my gut, I took action. What would I need in order to be considered for a job in this company, when something would open up:

  • somebody trustworth recommending me
  • a stunning application representing my personality
  • an amazing photo highlighting my sense for fashion
  • some patience (that’s my least favorite part, to be honest with you)


Said, done (still to today, I love writing attack plans and executing them fast).


It all starts with a strong network

First things first, my network. That was long before Linkedin, Xing & Co. Believe it or not, there wasn’t even Facebook around at that time. Yes, there have been times like that.

At least back in Germany where I lived at the time, the first real internet access was made available around 1999 with the introduction of AOL. And yes, I’ve been an early adopter, but that’s a different story.

Back in the days, research consisted of picking up your Filofax, punching the number of a contact into your phone, and actually talking to them. No prior messenger “Hey, you there?”, no, simply calling a person. If she or he is available, great. If not, leaving a message and they would call back. As simple as that.

My Filofax

 As a side note: I just got my first mobile phone a couple of months ago, but we used to use landlines as these were much cheaper.


It’s something positive to be different

It’s fun how labels change over the years, but the underlying truth doesn’t. Back in the days, we called it ‘being different’, in today’s world, we would refer to it as ‘niching down’. However you want to label it, it is a good thing, as long as it represents your true personality.

So to be prepared for when my dream company would have a job opening, it was crystal clear to me that I had to have a very ‘different’ application, at least when compared to the ‘normal’ way of doing it at the time.

At the time, it didn’t even occur to me that I should do such an important thing as a job application ‘my way’, and not the ‘normal’ way.

I had no doubt that ‘my way’ would be the ‘only way’ to do this, as it is the way I am. Period.

That weekend my girlfriend at the time, who studied fashion design in Hamburg, was due to come and stay at my place over the weekend. I briefed her over the phone about my plans for the weekend. I wanted her to help me take some amazing photos, go buy great stationery, and help me formulate the actual application letter.

Said done. On Saturday, we went down to the harbor of Duisburg (that area wasn’t the nicest one back in the late nineties, very different to today). I wanted full body photos of me, wearing my favorite outfit, while having a rough, industrial background. I actually like this kind of contrast up to today.

The cow hide shoe guy


How I became know famous for this

My favorite outfit at the time consisted of blue stretch pants, a white/blue/brown checked shirt, a caramel slip-over, and yes, my very special shoes, which I would be known for everywhere  very soon.

Men’s shoes in the late nineties were, how can I say that, super boring. You had the choice between classic business leather shoes in black or brown, sandals that would be best combined with white socks, and trainers that predominantly looked like you just came off the tennis court, as the only color you could get was white. 

Ok, there were also rubber boots and hiking shoes available, but in your twenties, these were totally ruled out back then.

Working in the clothing industry, having a strong interest in fashion, combined with being young without any sense of guilt when it came to taste, I’ve been constantly on the hunt for some very different shoes, complementing my fashionable outfits, and ‘rock the boat’ mentality.

At the time, the only places to find fashionable mens shoes at the time were in the larger cities like Cologne or Dusseldorf. Also Venlo (in the Netherlands), which was only about an hour away from where I lived back then, was a great place for shopping.

Given the nature of my job at that time as a sales representative, I was very mobile, and had the ability to check out shoe shops in between visiting existing and prospective clients.

I remember it as it was yesterday. The day I discovered that small shoe shop in Duesseldorf. Believe me. For the time, they had pretty crazy stuff, some of which I called my own, but that’s for another time.

Because I wanted some crazy but business suitable shoes, I opted for the least spectacular shoes, at least in my eyes: The cow hide ones.Ankle boots made of cow hair. They had a wide sole, with like a cut off front. In size 45. All black. They looked massive, especially when combined with the tight stretch pants. I loved them. That was exactly me. An elegant, well behaving, rebel.


Preparation is everything

One day I got a call from a friend out of the blue: “Hey, what’s up? You asked me to let you know in case this company is hiring again, right?”

“Absolutely!” I said.

“Great. They have an opening, and you would fit perfectly. Will SMS you the details. When contacting their HR Director, refer to me, as I have informed him already.” she said, before hanging up.

I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about this opportunity. Even more, I felt relieved that I prepared everything ahead of time. 

All I had to do was to add the name of the HR Director into the application letter and print it on that fancy stationery I bought in advance, add one of the amazing photos we took (which I got developed about a month ago), and send everything off in that fancy envelope.

My whole application had my personality all over it: An elegant, well behaving, rebel (with cow hide shoes).

Application letter

What can I say. I got invited to the interview the next day. When arriving at the company’s office, I was advised to the HR Director by the front desk lady, as: “The cow hide shoe guy is here for you.”


How you make the difference when being authentic

When I entered the office of the HR Director, I immediately noticed his eyes wandering towards the floor. He wanted to check on me. Is he wearing the cow hide shoes or not?

Take a guess.

Of course I did.


Long story short, I got the job and signed the contract right away. While handing over the contract to the HR Director, he looked at me and said something I will never forget: “You know why I invited you as one of the first? I wanted to meet the cow hide shoe guy. Your application was so different, while authentic, I simply had to meet you. As you lived up to it, I wanted you to be part of the team.”


Why am I telling you all of this, you might ask?


Two things:

  • I want to encourage you to be brave again, to be authentic 
  • I want you to do more of what you love by automatic the rest


I landed my dream job because I had these things. I automated my processes by planning ahead and preparing what could be prepared ahead of time. Plus, I had that fire in me, the one that lights up fully when you do what you love doing. If in your zone of genius.

I don’t know when it happened, but I totally forgot about how simple it can be to trust your gut, be authentic, and do what you love for living.

I love to help you automate your business, so you can turn your dreams into reality. Tailoring all the tech in your online business to your needs. Designing and implementing your process automations in a way that the tech supports your personality. 


Tech and fashion are my two passions. What are yours?

Reach out today and start to automate yourself!




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