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Make the best of the feet you’re dealt



Published: Sun, June 15, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Nick Mishko’s musician-management company is called 10 and 8 Management. It’s a name that always has people asking “what does 10 and 8 mean?”

The chatty Mishko, 28, of Niles is glad to oblige with the story.

“People will ask me ‘Is it the month and day?’ or ‘Is it your hands on the steering wheel?’ I just step back and point at my feet,” laughs Mishko.

When you stare at Mishko’s feet, you see a left size 10 and a right size 8.

Truth is — most of us have such a situation.

Go online and you’ll find hundreds of stories of fickle feet and sizes, and the truth about all of our feet. Most of our differences are just less pronounced than Mishko’s and thousands of others like him.

It’s online, too, that Mishko found his solemate.

That’s “solemate” ... not soulmate. The latter is Becky, his former Cedar Point colleague who, in 2008, embarked with Nick as his girlfriend to launch his ambitious music business career in NYC. They returned to Northeast Ohio in 2012 as husband and wife.

Mishko has great stories about their move; stories about the career; stories about the bands.

And he has good stories about his feet — obviously seeing that he named his company after the podiatric predicament.

“I tried hundreds and hundreds of business names. I played with my name and ‘Mish’ and ‘Co;’ I was figuring out numbers and such in the title. I couldn’t find one I liked.”

Then ...

“I looked down at my feet and said, ‘that’s it.’ I bounced it off others, and they all liked it,” Mishko said. “You cannot hear the title and not ask. And when you hear the story, you can’t not smirk, and I think that is great. People remember it, and they smile.”

Mishko has embraced 10 and 8 pretty much his whole life. The size difference has been with him since birth. In addition to the right foot, his right leg also is a tad shorter. He uses a lift for his shoes to even out his legs.

“I played most sports — football, baseball — my feet never became an issue. I walk normal. Was always able to do all that others were able to do. Our doctors would say — it’s not normal, but count your blessings. Some kids were born with more differential. So I counted my blessings for sure.”

The biggest burden was on the budget for his parents, Vicki and Edward.

They always had to buy two pairs of shoes for him — one pair always two sizes different than the other.

“There were always extra shoes at our house. My parents would donate the shoes to disaster responses, hospitals, amputee places and such. Some companies wouldn’t even take them.”

Think of the cost:

Two pairs of shoes for every season, sport and special event, that was in addition to the cost on a special lift for each shoe.

“So I didn’t always get new shoes when other kids would — like for the start of school.”

Around college age, when his shoe costs became his to bear, he appreciated the budget impact his parents endured.

“And I learned how to take care of my shoes better,” he laughed. “That — or I was going broke.”

Living in a small NYC apartment; living with a closet full of split shoes was a headache.

“I did not want to throw them away because they are brand new. ‘There must be something I could do,’ I thought. My friends would say ‘There are billions of people in this world. You can’t be the only one.’”

A world of people with two-size feet?

Sure.

But a world where an enterprising man exists with a life in business and recreation with a foot quandary exactly opposite of Mishko’s left size 10 and right size 8?

Yep.

Four of them in fact — in Wisconsin, and in Illinois, and in Texas, and in Oklahoma.

Sure, they have names. But more importantly to Mishko, they are “Left, size 8 and right, size 10.”

“I just Googled ‘two different size feet,” and I found oddshoefinder.com,” he said.

The connections are great, he said.

“With Oklahoma, it’s a college kid, and his mom was so grateful. Hearing her, it sounded just like my mom all those years ago,” he said.

His partner in Wisconsin is Mishko’s best match in age and style of shoe. Mishko has more shoes now than he’s ever had. His family makes shoe jokes about him now.

“When I connected with the Wisconsin guy, I felt bad because I only had like two pair ready to send. He had like six. He said ‘no problem; I’m just glad it’s helping someone.’ When his box came, I had boots, flip-flops, sneakers.”

Late this winter, Mishko got an email from Wisconsin with a simple subject line: “You got any shoes?”

Mishko has this “zest for life tone” about him.

How he got into the music business is a cool story:

He grew up on music, read a book in high school about the business and was stunned that a career in music could be had even if you don’t play a note.

He went to Youngstown State University for communications. He needed an internship to graduate. One day, sprawled out on his parents’ floor were all their CDs — Springsteen, Seger and more — with him flipping though them.

“My parents were like ‘What the hell are you doing? I said, ‘I need to get an internship somewhere.’ I read every single liner notes on their CDs and sent out 10 million resumes.”

An outfit in New York gave him an internship. With a degree in hand and no job in 2008, he stayed in New York. Again — hundreds of resumes.

“One company said to call them back in three months, and I did so exactly at three months.”

That was his first job. With that job, he talked to everyone he could and learned every number and figure the industry could provide.

It afforded him the chance to manage bands on his own, move back home, launch 10 and 8 Management and start a family with Becky.

The foot issue has hints of past family occurrences, but doctors are not sure what exactly causes it. But if his children end up with the same distinction, he’s ready.

“I tried to take something I was born with and use it for something positive. That’s what I did and what I would encourage for anyone else.”

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.


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