Have You Ever Discounted Someone Not Wearing a Tie?

trex hates pushupsCause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man. – ZZ Top

Have you ever discounted or ignored great advice because the person giving it was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt?

Or a bathrobe?

Or jeans and t-shirt with a dinosaur trying to do pushups (one of the favorite shirts I own).

In certain parts of the business world, there’s a fetish for a suit and tie as the mark of someone “serious.”

I say that’s nucking futs.

Larry Levine’s post on LinkedIn this morning set me off a little:

I find this interesting… we all have opinions, we all have the ability to share what is on our mind but what I find fascinating are the people out there that are quick to critique a video, a post or a comment in a newsfeed. These are the same people who don’t engage back but are hyper critical of others posts. I get it as I am just sharing what is on my mind! I will stay true to who I am and deliver messages with video in business attire, golf shirts or gym attire. Why? The people who truly know me understand the value, commitment and true desire I have to help those in sales succeed.

Larry gives fantastic sales advice through a variety of mediums, including video. Sometimes he’s decked out. Sometimes he’s got a nice polo on. Sometimes – quelle horreur!! – he’s got gym cloths on (truth in advertising, we kinda work for the same company).

Same great guy.

Same great advice.

Yet, for some reason, I get the feeling that some folks feel compelled to complain when he wears his gym cloths during a video (and I assume his Dodgers cap, but I’m not a baseball fan so don’t care about that. He puts on a Falcons hat, and it’ll get nasty though!).

It’s not “serious” or “professional” or some bullshit.

This sparked one of my favorite dress code memories.

Some background first.

I started at AIIM as an intern in February of 1995 for two days each week. At the time, all the men wore the traditional uniform of khakis/nice pants, blazer of some sort, button up dress shirt, and tie.pexels-photo-325876.jpeg

So I asked: “I’m an intern. Do I really need to wear a tie?”

John Harney, the editor at the time, said, “Nope.”

After a few months I noticed the actual employees not walking around in their blazers as much. Ties slowly disappeared. This was too soon for jeans, so the button-downs and nice pants continued, but I did succeed in busting the dress code.

I remain oddly proud of this.

Fast forward a few years and I was the editor of the magazine. Someone brought over a guy from the UK who was supposed to be in charge of all content.

He talked real good.

He dressed real nice.

He was a good lookin’ fella.

He also knew fuck all about how to manage or produce content.

I had moved on to (or down depending on one’s sartorial opinion) polos and khakis for my work uniform for the most part by this time.

It was an error to hire the guy and he was often in error. 

I remember one day after a meeting in his office he said something to the effect of “If you dressed better, people would take you seriously.”

I can’t remember exactly what I replied, but I do remember thinking “You dress very well, but everyone thinks you’re a waste of salary.”

Over the years, I’ve thought about that as I’ve met people at conferences for interviews, briefings, and watched folks speak.

To my knowledge, there’s no connection between dressing well and knowing WTF you’re talking about. One of the smartest guys I ever met was Bert Sandie. He ran the community for EA – creating the culture, selecting the tools, etc. He was wearing Nike Frees, old jeans, and a t-shirt.

Later during the same conference I watched a guy in a suit deliver an utter mess of a presentation.

Over the years I’ve also noticed that I’ve done great work sitting in a pair of boxers and a hoodie. I’ve done equally great work while wearing a tie (even though I felt a python was killing me).

Some people feel like they work better when they dress better. It gives them confidence. Hey, if that’s you, more power to you. Rock the shit out of that suit and tie.

What’s the point?

We all know not to judge a book by it’s cover. Same same for your employee, consultant, or whoever. The business uniform gives an immediate veneer of respectability for some people (I do get that. I don’t subscribe to it, but I get it.).

I’d rather look and listen for competence and the knowledge that they know what they’re talking about.

I’ll take someone in flip-flops with that ability over some buzzword-spouting stuffed suit any day – no matter how well his ties matches his socks matches his shoes.

Tales of Marketing and Sales: Help Me, Help You

sad man kneeling on one knee, looking at young attractive woman
What talking to sales often feels like. 

All you marketers have been down this road before, a sales team that says you aren’t helping yet is a black hole when you ask “how can we help?”

It’s . . . frustrating, right?

We’re going through that with a few of our clients now.

Marketing essentially has two jobs:

  1. Bring people to the table to make a purchase (either directly or via a salesperson, depending on the product)
  2. Lay the groundwork of awareness and trust that you’re a company worth spending money with

Continue reading Tales of Marketing and Sales: Help Me, Help You

No One Cares About You #CGTCM

no one cares, red stamp on a grunge paper textureOne of the lessons I’m reminded of again and again when marketing is that

no one cares about you; it’s our job to make them.

This is the first in a series of posts I’m doing as I sort through (in my head) issues around inbound. I’ve called it The Cheeky Guide to Content Marketing (#CGTCM). I think I picked up “cheeky” from the MIL, who uses the word a lot.

I have had grand designs to even turn this into an ebook at some point. There are plenty of inbound ebooks on strategy and what you should do. Many of them aren’t very down and dirty though — or talk about the agony of creating something good that just doesn’t work.

Cuz that sucks.  Continue reading No One Cares About You #CGTCM

Thinking Boxes and Bleeding Ears

thinking cats backgroundFingernails on a blackboard.

That sound foam makes when it’s just creaking and on the edge of snapping.

Gum smackers.

And anytime someone says “Let’s think outside of the box.”

These are all things that make my ears want to bleed.

Continue reading Thinking Boxes and Bleeding Ears

Buzzwords Suck

Businessman running away from angry bees
Run, run as fast as you can from buzzwords — and those who use them to bullshit you.

I like words. A lot. Probably more than the next guy. But I like my words to add clarity, not confusion.

That’s one of the reasons why I HATE buzzwords.

I have to be careful here because not all buzzwords are bullshit. New stuff happens all the time. Sometimes we need a word or phrase to describe this new concept. I’m good with that. Take content/inbound marketing; not entirely a buzzword. However, it’s a concept I now make a living making reality for our clients so’s I could be slightly biased here. It’s not new, but “inbound” is a good enough phrase to describe a break – well, a shift – in marketing focus. Not a huge fan of the phrase, but it works.
Continue reading Buzzwords Suck

Marketing: Always Be Human

Human to human in inbound marketing
Marketing is about connecting and being a real, live human — not a droning corporate tool.

Marketing can become a self-consuming and navel-gazing perpetual motion machine. If you aren’t tying your marketing to achieve direct sales results, then I have a hard time figuring out why you’re marketing. Grabbing attention, engagement, personality, aren’t ends in and of themselves, they’re stepping stones to get to someone buying something from you.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole. Or sound like a lifeless corporate drone. Continue reading Marketing: Always Be Human