The Value of a Good Qualification. A Blog by Pádraic Ó Maille. Creator of Smácht.


When I was growing up in the west of
Ireland you rarely heard tell of the existence
of a Professor or a Psychologist, or a
Performance Coach for that matter.

They would for the most part have been
rendered superfluous on account of the
wisdom and intuition and presence of a man
called Tim O’Shea.

Tim O’Shea ran a barbers emporium behind
Cahill’s drapery shop on Williamsgate Street
in Galway and was visited upon by the good
and the great. It was said that there never
was a time in Tim’s business that there
weren’t customers queuing up for a hair cut.
In addition to that, it was well known that he
earned more in tips than he actually did
from the fee for cutting hair.

What was the secret behind Tim’s irrefutable

Was it location? Hardly. You took your life in
your hands navigating the rickety stairs up
to the first floor salon.

Was it the signage and
merchandising? Would you believe it, he had
neither sign nor barbers pole outside the

Was it his hairdressing qualifications?

His one and only concession to corporate
image was a sober looking business card
affixed to the corner of the mirror. Written in
the solid black font favoured by many of the
professional elite of the time, it simply said:

‘Tim O’Shea. N.H.Q.W.’

Whilst it confounded many visiting
academics everyone on the street knew it
stood for:

Tim O’Shea. No Haircutting Qualification Whatsoever.

If Tim lacked a formal technical or business
qualification he more than compensated for
it with another qualification acquired in the
UOL – University of Life. You see, Tim had a
rare gift that could turn your business or
your career or your relationships
around in a nanosecond.

Even as a four year old kid, Tim’s gift was as
obvious to me as the nose on your face.

People came out from Tim feeling better
about themselves than when they entered.

And that, dear reader is the secret to a
thriving business, a flourishing career
and a passionate relationship.Remember this.
People only ever buy two things:

  1.    Solutions to problems and
  2.    Good feelings.

And Tim delivered them both in spades.

No one, irrespective of age, race or position,
ever entered Tim’s door without receiving a
personal greeting. As a kid I can still hear
him saying to me ‘P
ádraic, if you keep
playing football the way you’re playing you’ll
end up playing for the county!

I knew it was a complete exaggeration, and
I’d overheard him say the same thing to
Tony Doyle who wouldn’t tackle a hot
dinner, but you know something, I went
back out into Manifold’s yard and played
better than I had in yonks.

As a kid it always intrigued me to see him
play the ‘Stars Game’. On either side of the
mirror were four large framed black and
white photographs of from left to right Paul
Newman, John Wayne, Robert Redford and
George Best.

When a client was comfortably seated Tim
would ask them confidentially which star
they’d most like to look like. Many took an
age to decide yet Tim never hurried them.

What fascinated me always was that
irrespective of who they said they’d like to
look like, Tim always delivered the same
haircut – a short back and sides. It was the
only style he knew.

And, over the course of my childhood
although I’d seen the same man at various
times order a Paul Newman and a Robert
Redford, they always received a Tim O’Shea.
And what’s more, they went away feeling

Even though every customer came out of
Timo’s with the same haircut, us kids,
playing football out in Manifold’s yard could
predict with absolute certainty what they’d
ordered. Those that ordered a ‘George Best’
always tried to dribble a ball around you and
chip the goalie, whilst those that had
ordered a ‘John Wayne’ 
tried to shoot you.

Tim may not have had the most salubrious
salon in town or the most dexterous fingers
with a scissors and comb but he had a
wonderful process to generate profitable
business. His business was built upon one
qualification that isn’t always taught in
University curricula.

If I had the opportunity to rewrite Tim’s
business card I would make one addendum:

Tim O’Shea. N.H.Q.W. and M.O.F.I.

Tim O’Shea. No Haircutting Qualification
Whatsoever and Made Others Feel Important.

M.O.F.I. They should provide that
qualification in our Universities. It would
rank right up there with your M.B.A.s and
your MScs and your MBBS’.

Make Others Feel Important today and let
me know the results at the bottom of this blog.
‘Qui sait! It might change everything.

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