My first pair of tassel loafers

There are time in our lives when we have take the leap, the plunge into the unknown, to be bold (or as Sir Humphrey Appleby would say in ‘Yes Minister’ to be courageous). This week for me, at the age of 56, I purchased (and wore in public) a pair of shoes with tassels on them. I accept this is perhaps not such a big issue for many readers with a General Election only a few weeks away, but for a middle aged man known for his love of the 1920s and 1930s its as big as it can get!
I cannot even explain, in any rational sense, why tassels have been such a problem for me. I’m sure at some point in my orderly, conservative and structured past (most likely at RAF College Cranwell during officer training – that haven of early adult life sartorial correctness) I had been informed such shoes ‘too casual’, ‘American’ or even flippant for a gentleman.
And why now? Why at this point in middle life have I decided to become ‘courageous’?
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There is in fact no science to it at all! It happened by chance as I began planning for a forthcoming trip to Lisbon. I am due to speak at the end of May at the Horasis Global Leaders’ Summit in Cascais Portugal and then spend a few days relaxing and exploring Lisbon. As my packing list (using one of my favourite apps TripList) grew I began to look at my shoe collection and realised as I had not spent anytime in Mediterranean countries in the summer months since the mid 1990s I had no suitable ‘smart’ casual shoes. G. Bruce Boyer once wrote a loafer has “the comfort of the moccasin while adding the fashion and elegance of a dressy shoe” – I therefore began to look for loafers to fill this sartorial gap. It was during my initial search I spotted, on the various online forums I regularly follow, a consistent level of support of tasseled loafers, especially in a mid-tan tone.
Not knowing whether I would ultimate develop a long term fondness for them I decided to make a purchase in what I would describe as the mid-price point (not the Office version for £45 nor the Loake version for £240). I eventually found a pair at Charles Tyrwhitt. They have a Blake welt, where the upper is wrapped around the insole and attached between it and the outsole. A single stitch attaches everything together.
Because it is a simpler construction than a goodyear welt, it is also less expensive. It is a process that allows for resoling once the outsole is worn. Apparently Blake welting is also superior when seeking a close-cut sole and, because there are no exterior stitches, the body of the outsole can be cut very close to the upper. Lastly, because it has fewer layers than a Goodyear welt, a Blake-welted sole is more flexible – ideal for a loafer.

I ordered them online and they were delivered within 5 days. I can honestly state that when I opened the box the sight of them (and the beautiful leather aroma) took my breath away (and that does not often happen!). They are wide enough to be a comfortable fit, yet retain a slim and elongated look. I am delighted with them. They even came with individual soft shoe bags.

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I treated them with my Mink Oil Renovator (from Justin at the Shoe Snob Blog) and have recently worn them for the first time for a somewhat casual working Friday in London. Rarely is it possible for me to wear new shoes for a day without some form of discomfort, but not with these – they have been superb.
And what about the tassels? They certainly add a sense of rakishness to the shoes and to my overall look – added to the glorious tan colour they are a much welcome addition to my wardrobe, both in my capacity as a CEO and more casually. There is, even in my CEO role, an opportunity here for these shoes to be both smart (perhaps with my blue blazer) and casual (with chinos and a lightweight linen jacket). They certainly will see more UK time and not just be saved for trips to the Mediterranean! I would recommend them to anyone looking for multi-functional smart yet casual shoe.

Thoughts on achieving more by working less

Whilst preparing my annual report to the board of trustees and referring back to my previous year’s report my first reaction is that I seem to have achieved more in 2016 than I managed in 2015. In some respects this would be a logical outcome based on 2016 being my second full year in this CEO role, and a direct result of becoming more familiar with my tasks. However, my diary tends to tell a different story in that the number of hours I seem to be committing to the task of being CEO has significantly declined.

Always looking for an opportunity to research and learn from experiences I noted the following comparisons:

2015:

A typical working week, with no out-of-office appointments:

07:30 am – 8:45 am. Commute on the train, working on papers and emails.

08:50 am – 09:30 am. Commute Underground train, reading working papers.

09:30 am – 4:40 pm. Typical working day, no lunch break

4:35 pm – 5:20 pm. Commute Underground train, reading working papers.

5:30 pm – 6:40 pm. Commute on the train, working on papers and emails.

Five days a week results in 55 hours a week.

2016:

A typical working week, with no out-of-office appointments:

07:30 am – 8:45 am. Commute on the train, planning and thinking

08:50 am – 09:30 am. Commute Underground train, private reading (books, magazines)

09:30 am – 4:20 pm. Typical working day, one hour for lunch at the gym or walking

4:30 pm – 5:10 pm. Commute Underground train, private reading (books, magazines)

5:30 pm – 6:40 pm. Commute on the train, working on papers and emails.

Four days a week results in 34 hours a week. Fridays I now work from home and usually work for 7 hours, allowing time for a swim at lunchtime and two dog walks at the beginning and end of the working day. Total of 41 hours – a saving of 14 hours a week.

Where and how have I saved those 14 hours? It could be improved plans, the new strategy, method, order, technology, spending more time mentoring my staff, indeed there are many ideas I have embraced over the past year. What I do know is I am achieving a lot more in less hours per week. Moreover, I am using those saved hours for reading, writing, exercising, relaxing and volunteer activities – despite spending 4 1/2 hours a day commuting my quality of life has never been better.

Over the coming weeks I will explore in this blog some of the ideas I have embraced which has directly resulted in significant time savings and efficiencies.