William Scholl was born in 1882 as one of 13 children. Growing up, he spent hours repairing shoes for his family. He developed such a skill that he was apprenticed to a local shoemaker. He discovered from fitting shoes, the bad condition that many people had with their feet.
He continued working in the shoe store but attended medical school at night. The same year he graduated from medical school, he received his first patent for a foot care product. Using the earnings from his patent, he created a business: Dr. Scholl’s.
One challenge that Dr. Scholl faced was shoe store clerks were not educated in foot care. He set up a correspondence course for shoe clerks. He also hired staff, which traveled across the country to teach proper foot care.
Dr. Scholl was also a pioneer in advertising. His slogan was: “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.” He sponsored the Cinderella Foot Contest to determine the woman in America with the perfect foot.
Americans bought into foot care and Dr. Scholl’s became the dominant foot care product. It remains that status today.
Dr. Scholl never married nor had children. He left most of his estate to the Dr. Scholl Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, “The Dr. Scholl Foundation is dedicated to providing financial assistance to organizations committed to improving the world.
Solutions to the problems of today’s world lie in the values of innovation, practicality, hard work, and compassion.”
Think about how many shoe salesmen fitted shoes for people with foot maladies and never thought about addressing the problems they saw. Beginnings often come from those who see a problem and work to resolve it. But beginnings also require the ability to gain acceptance that change is needed.
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“When your feet hurt, you hurt all over.” – Dr. Scholl