Make your own "luck"

Tina Haapala |

Written by Gary Silverman, CFP®

Roger Green taught me how to tie my shoes. No, Roger wasn’t an uncle of mine close to five decades ago; Roger is a shoe-shiner I met a few weeks ago.

Before you get the wrong idea, I have been tying my shoes for many years now. While Velcro was invented a few years before I was born, it was many decades later before someone thought about putting it on shoes, so I really didn’t have a choice. I remember my mom and me in our living room going over the looping and knotting until I got it right.

The problem is that the laces on my dress shoes, the ones I wore a few weeks ago, have the habit of coming undone. To correct this, I tend to double knot them. That then causes another problem…yes, they don’t come undone, but they also don’t come undone easily when I want to take them off.

Well, Roger noticed this and showed me a new knot to use that was as secure as a double knot when wearing my shoes, but can be released by a normal tug on one of the ends. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

The point of this has nothing to do with the knot. It has to do with Roger.You see, Roger didn’t aspire to be in the shoe-shining business. He’s a construction worker. The problem is that he was a construction worker in Las Vegas during the financial crisis. You may have heard about what happened to construction around that time—there wasn’t any.

Rather than sitting back and feeling sorry for himself, he acted on an advertisement he saw from a shoe-shine business. They needed an extra shiner to work in one of the hotels. Roger wasn’t too proud to clean up another man’s shoes, so he waxed his way into the business.

Well, waiting for someone needing a shoe-shine in a hotel rest room or lobby might only yield a shine or two an hour. But Roger noticed his business picking up when a conference was at the hotel. Men at conferences tendto avoid flip-flops and athletic shoes, instead they wear the kind of dress shoes that look better shined up. He got the idea that instead of waiting for the conferences to come to him, he’d go to them.

You see, most conferences have vendors who try to get attendees to come over and learn about the product of service they have to offer. They might have giveaways or some other marketing gimmick to get traffic at their booths. So Roger proposed that he set up shop in one of the booths and be paid with the money that otherwise would have gone into trinkets. That would attract folks to the booth and they’d be sitting in the chair for 5-10 minutes while the vendor could talk with them.

Business has been booming ever since. You can learn more about him at

Even though he’s in Vegas, Roger didn’t just get lucky. He saw an opportunity, applied a strong work-ethic, and made his own luck, tied up in a perfect knot.

This article was published under the title "Don't wait for luck; make it yourself" in the Times Record News on July 5, 2015.