It’s a lot of pressure, working in long-term care. People are becoming much more process-conscious and data-driven, more aware of competitors and more responsive to market research. Perhaps that’s why my colleagues recently demanded I create a QAPI plan for my personal life.

Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement. That’s what they said I had to do, particularly in the area of fashion, if I intended to remain a viable prospective partner within the female referral network. And they weren’t willing to wait until Nov. 28, 2017, for me to get my QAPI in order. They requested action now, and I sensed there wasn’t going to be a lot of patience.  

Here’s how one of them tactfully explained it. “Gary,” she said, with a hint of exasperation, “look at yourself — just look at yourself! — and then at your competition. What are they wearing? How are they positioning themselves for success, and how will your respond?”

“QAPI SCHMAPI!” I interrupted vehemently. “I don’t care what everyone else is doing. True happiness is within and I refuse to embrace the superficiality of the culture.”

 “Okay,” she said with remarkable patience. “But time marches on, and like it or not, your networks of spousal opportunity are definitely narrowing. If you want to survive in this rapidly changing social climate, you need to learn and embrace wardrobe best practices now, and also be able to show impromptu QAPI fashion regulators how you intend to look better in the future.”

That’s when she took me by the hand (in a purely professional manner) and led me to my computer, where she gently encouraged me to type the characters The site marketed itself as providing “Your own personal stylist” and offered to choose clothes for me and send them discreetly in a box every month or so. Since the most decisive style move I had made in some time had involved buying pants at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, I was a prime candidate.

Needless to say, under significant peer pressure, I immediately signed up. When the first package arrived, my colleagues gathered around as I opened it with the excitement of Christmas morning, instantly loving everything inside. My Stitchfix stylist, whose name sadly was not provided, was clearly a QAPI fashion genius and psychic who seemed to know me intimately, and had channeled my every insecurity and foible.

Blown away and made giddy by the power of an obvious interpersonal connection that transcended time or space, my first instinct was to somehow find out if she was available and willing to relocate to my house on a more permanent basis. But fortunately, a co-worker quickly intervened, reminding me she was probably 23, perhaps not a she, and living in Nepal.

Fast forwarding to today, I’m incredibly grateful for what this Stitchfix “QAPI in a Box” solution is doing for my personal quality measures, confidence and success. I finally feel viable in the marketplace again — with limitless potential and infinitely expanding networks on every side.

I have no doubt that this advance preparation means that when the opportunity comes to demonstrate my social prowess to vital referral sources, I’ll be seen as a Preferred Partner.