Hustle

hustleDo not be deceived by the theatrical bluster – albeit woefully dangerous and misguided – that is currently emanating from the oval office; it is but an obfuscation of leadership wrought with ineptitude, ignorance, and arrogance. Unabashed and shameless for all to bear witness, policy and nominations have been clumsily introduced, and not with the much-needed objective of improving the nation’s stature, rather the current direction is to monetarily expand and solidify a family legacy – country first be damned. And what remains is a wholesale rejection of basic decency, critical intelligence, and any semblance of reality.

Thus far, the political sleight of hand is seamless, executed with guile and purposeful duplicity. The goal is to pacify and placate a constituency – comfortable with ambivalence, content with apathy, or desperate for a return of days past  – with promises barren of commitment, truth, and logic. And so, a varying class of individuals, indoctrinated with privilege and inalienable rights, have been seduced by showmanship devoid of substance. However, time will eventually become the bearer of truth, and when thundering rhetoric does not equal tangible results, the puppet strings will be laid bare for all to see. And when the realization of how badly the nation has been played is apparent, the biggest and longest con game will have been successfully executed by history’s foremost confidence man – Donald J. Trump.

Black Thought

frederick_douglass“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

-Frederick Douglass

As a parent, it is absolutely paramount that you ensure your child’s maturation is nurtured and cultivated for maximal, positive growth. To be certain, there are a myriad of unfortunate realities that work tirelessly to undermine and hinder your child’s development. Harsh realities such as poverty, crime, low self-esteem, bullying, and poor academic performance can lead to self-destructive behavior that regretfully transitions into adulthood. Moreover, if that adult decides to have children, there is a high risk that self-destructive behavior will be consciously or subconsciously transferred to the subsequent generation.

Truth: Some of the biggest bullies, critics, and abusers live right in the household. And that is a reality that we cannot tacitly accept. We have to do better. We must become increasingly more active by protecting and educating our youth, ensuring that they are intelligently prepared for the life that awaits them. We have to encourage. We have to impart meaningful wisdom. We have to enlighten them. We must unconditionally love them. We must fortify the integrity of their spirit and reinforce the foundation of their character. They deserve our parenting best – let’s get to work.

The Road

supervisorTo be absolutely certain, the year 2016 presented quite the series of challenges that taxed me both mentally and emotionally. If a gentleman is so fortunate to live long enough, he will undoubtedly realize that life is lived through adversity and attrition. And so, I discovered myself during such a season, fighting against a torrent of unfortunate and distressing circumstances. Sure, I attained personal triumphs that varied in significance and impact, however, I registered a monumental disappointment that reduced me to tears of defeat as I sat on my couch – September 2, 2016. I remember that date very well because it was a day prior to my birthday. And it was also the day I received a rejection notice regarding a position I applied for at work.

Now, I am not a stranger to receiving bad news in my employment history. I have had certain benefits suspended. I have lived under the specter of unemployment and I have been terminated. I have received the unfortunate news that I was not selected for employment. Nevertheless, this moment of rejection resonated in a fashion that was tinged with hopelessness and defeat. The strain of fatherhood and being a husband was tremendous, and I was in the midst of collapsing under the weight. The position I sought was intended to help alleviate the burden and start correcting the course with a strong finish for the year.

Preparing for the position, I took all the necessary steps – or at least I thought – to be successful in my bid to secure the promotion. I identified the position a year before a vacancy would present itself. I periodically followed up with a team member to learn more about the position. I continued to work diligently in my role at the time; I even earned a promotion within my own department. So when an opening unexpectedly became available, I sought out to take advantage of the opportunity. I met with the director (the position was in another department), increased my research regarding the new role, and earnestly prepped myself for the impending interview for nearly a month. My performance during the interview was executed to perfection. Nonetheless, it was deemed that I was not the best candidate for the position. I was devastated.

As I opened my e-mail and read through the generic reasoning for not being selected, I sat in disbelief as if suspended in time. In my mind, this was my last gasp gambit at turning around a less than stellar year and beginning anew. I was lost. I was shrouded in uncertainty and I was terrified. And so, I sat in solemnity and solitude in tears. Later on that week, detailing my intense job preparation, my pastor told me the Lord was simply arranging something better for me and my family. Honestly, the conversation did not leave me hopeful; I was dealing with the immediate reality of confusion and doubt. Wallowing in misery is certainly not productive, so I was back on my work grind within the same week. Soon I was seeking other opportunities and networking throughout the organization. And then something amazing happened – a supervisor in my department surprisingly decided to leave the company.

And then something else amazing happened – my own supervisor encouraged me to apply for the position. Even though I have been referred to as a leader and many individuals have solicited my advice both on professional and personal levels; I never fancied myself a supervisor. When I hired into the company on an entry-level, I firmly dismissed the notion of pursuing upper management despite others urging me to do otherwise. Yet here was an opportunity that suddenly materialized in the wake of my previous disappointment. Fortuitously, I was already in grind mode from the previous job prep, so transitioning my mindset toward a new job goal was seamless. Subsequently, I earned a promotion to supervisor. I was being prepared for something greater after all. A gentleman’s failures are but a crucible, a laborious journey designed to forge character and strength. Because, even when times appear to be their most dire, failure can be success that has yet witnessed fruition.

Style & Substance – Drake’s – Donegal Lambswool Beanie

drakes-beanie-greyYes, dear gentlemen, the time has finally arrived, cooler temperatures are upon us and no head is safe from the nippy elements outdoors. And especially true for gentlemen dealing with the circumstance of barren scalp follicles, it is paramount that some form of protection be employed to negate the cold as much as possible. Options are plentiful, however, a gentleman must display caution and intelligence when choosing a hat. Trust my word, athletic caps fail to deliver the level of sophistication required for a gentleman of your stature. A felt fedora may regretfully boast a grandfatherly feel to it. And a beanie embellished with a playful pom-pom on top – maybe best worn during one’s middle school years. Now, an investment in a fine knit beanie will lend a touch of elegance without hindering your presentation with a dull, boring feeling. This particular beanie, delicately woven with lambswool, showcases an array of fanciful, colored wool flecks that infuse visual character and uniqueness. Whether married to a formal, navy double-breasted overcoat or ruggedly handsome shearling bomber jacket; the selection of a luxurious woolen beanie is but a natural choice to a measure of warmth and style to your cold season wardrobe.

Black Thought

paul-robesonSometimes, when sequestered within moments of quiet solitude, thoughtful ruminations reveal how incredibly fortunate I am. Fortunate, not in regards to monetary value, rather, fortunate in regards to the many blessings I have reaped tremendous benefit. Yes, I have been given much. Now, I understand that some individuals hold fast to the belief that they earn everything with no, if not minimal, assistance required. Well, sometimes success acts as a vanity whose reflection never grows tiresome to the person looking at it. Look, one cannot be merciless, yet expect mercy. One cannot embrace avarice, yet expect generosity. One cannot espouse hate, yet expect love.

Only speaking for myself, I have been granted favor and opportunity. I have been afforded mercy and forgiveness. I have been given love and grace. And because of those realities, it is of the utmost importance that I give back. Giving back – it could arrive in the form of your time, an inspirational word, a much needed hug, or an important professional opportunity. No one ever truly does it on their own. Someone, right now, needs you. And you may need someone. Go ahead, give of yourself and surely you will be given.

Style & Substance – Cole Haan – GrandRevolution

cole-haan-grand-revTo be quite certain, if ever falsely charged with creating boring or lackluster designs, Cole Haan would fully exonerated because the venerable shoe brand is lacking neither innovation or creativity. Actually, the brand could be rightly accused of producing shoes that push the boundaries of aesthetics too forward for some gentlemen. And although they have long parted ways from Nike, the shoe brand is still producing hybrid footwear that fuses the traditional cosmetics of classic office sensibilities with urban street flair. The latest offering, a compilation of shoes from their GrandRevolution series, delivers a contemporary revision of a traditional oxford with the comfort and styling of a sneaker.

Embellished with laser-cut perforations along the quarters and vamp, the GrandRevolution series is equipped with Cole Haan’s now signature Grand.OS technology. The Washington Grand Laser Wingtip (pictured above) is listed at a retail price of $400.00. Now, innovation and comfort can certainly deliver some style points in the present, but gentleman might be a little hesitant to commit to a look that may be dated within 1-2 years. And while I appreciate a shoe that affords flexibility, support, and comfort; I am afraid the presentation is too bold to be paired with a conservative pair of trousers and will inevitably reveal its age in a year or so. So, I am curious, will Cole Haan’s latest offering simple become a hot trend of the moment or enjoy stylish longevity in the office?

Review – Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue – Beauty of Capri

D&G Beauty of CapriDo not be mislead by the day on the calendar. Do not be mislead by the gradual proliferation of woolen and textured fabrics at your favorite men’s store. Do not be mislead by the steady progression of lessening sunlight and shorter days. True, the calendar might indicate that autumn commences September 22, 2016, however, summer is far from over gentlemen. Without a doubt, his summer has featured some scorching temperatures. The life and death struggle my grass has been experiencing these past few months is proof positive. Therefore, with summer positioned for an extended run into early October, I am examining a cologne I was introduced to in late May. General hardships associated with life have not eased for me, and a few unexpected curve balls have resulted in some blogging downtime. Nevertheless, Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue Beauty of Capri resonates beautifully today just as it did months ago. Adding it to your rotation of fragrances will yield not only immediate benefits, but it can also be placed on standby for Spring 2017 – yes, I am thinking ahead. Until then, let’s get down to business.

Observations

Top Notes: Cedrat, Sicilian Bergamot, Bitter Orange

Middle Notes: Neroli, Marine Accord, Sichuan Pepper

Base Notes: Cedar Wood, Vetiver, Myrrh, Musk

  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Beauty of Capri begins with a light introduction, but it does retain an energetic feel so it would be wise to exhibit restraint with applications. It is not terribly aggressive, but there is a definite presence of citrus notes that dominate the beginning. It will draw attention for all the right reasons.
  • The transition toward the middle notes is a seamless gravitation featuring a fresh, aromatic tone that compliments the top portion very well. Its presence is still very subtle and cool as it begins to deepen and settle into its base notes. Unsurprisingly, even the base notes are relatively sedate. Sometimes the base portion leans heavy and strong, but Light Blue Beauty of Capri keeps things moderately weighted with citrus notes of vetiver rounding out the overall fragrance, tempered by spicy touches of cedar. It’s a nice blend, as neither overpowers the other.
  • The presentation is clean and unremarkable. The curved bottle is standard-fare; a transparent light blue flacon houses the selected scent topped by an ivory cap.
  • Strictly a casual daytime cologne, I humbly suggest 5-6 applications, as this scent has a moderate lifespan before it begins to dissipate.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Beauty of Capri is intended for the gentleman that prefers relaxed, mellow environments that complement a quiet, smooth demeanor. Inconspicuous in its delivery, however, able to be distinguished amongst a crowd; Beauty of Capri works well during the summer and early fall. And as the temperatures begin to decline, don’t forget to put this scent on standby to be unearthed in the springtime.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Beauty of Capri 40 ml $55.00, 75 ml $68.00, 125 ml $78.00 – Available at Dolce & Gabbana, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and other fine men’s department stores
Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

The Standard #41

wordsThe distinguished gentleman fully recognizes the weight and gravity of verbal communication. He thoroughly understands that his words should be well-formed and well-thought before delivering them to an audience. Tone is absolutely paramount. Be not mistaken, the incorrect tone may very well increase the probability of his words being dismissed and/or misconstrued. And a harsh, abrasive tone could certainly lead to a combative environment that renders a conversation unproductive and moot. The well-spoken gentleman utilizes the power of eloquence, understanding, and persuasion to communicate effectively with an individual or group of individuals. Productive communication requires both listening and speaking; so devoting the required, concentrated attention to someone’s words is utterly important before forming your own statement. The articulate gentleman abstains from communication steeped in inflammatory rhetoric wrought with condescension and arrogance. It may be easy to deem as insignificant or forget, but trust that words carry deep meaning, and said words have the undeniable power to evoke an emotional response. Because, as words gradually dissipate from memory, what is left is that indelible mark of emotion etched into someone’s feelings, and that could either positive or negative. The choice is your own – choose your words wisely.

Face Time – Natural Skincare – Brickell Men’s Grooming Products

BrickellContinuing our coverage of skincare products specifically targeted toward the gentleman concerned with Father Time ravaging his skin wrinkle by wrinkle, today we explore Brickell Men’s Products. Offering a full array of products formulated to pamper a gentleman’s face and body, Brickell was kind enough to extend samples of their products that address the gentleman’s face. Touted as organic and all-natural, this is my second experience with such a product line. And truthfully, given the company’s mission to offer an organic alternative to its chemical brethren – why would I want to slather toxins on my mug? My skin needs all the help it can get. I’ve never been dedicated to organic products, but I am starting to change my stance on the matter. That being said, let’s examine how Brickell performs.

Observations

Beard Oil – Presented as an oil, but the feel is not greasy at all. Its fragrance is rather robust, definitely masculine, but not too overwhelming. The scent does not linger when applied to one’s beard – and that is a great benefit because the after shave has a scent all of its own. I don’t think both combined scents would be a problem, but if you use another after shave, the fact that the oil’s smell dissipates is nice. Application requires 3-4 drops into your palm as very little is needed to fully address your beard. Of course amounts will vary depending on the thickness of one’s growth. To fully benefit from the oil’s conditioning and hydrating capabilities, I humbly recommend utilizing it in the morning and in the evening.

Instant Relief After Shave – Light and masculine, the faint hints of coconut present itself with a warm welcome when applied to the skin. Once again, a little will take a gentleman a long way in terms of usage. Actually, I would really suggest that you monitor the amount you dispense, as I poured too much on one occasion and it required a good deal of rubbing before it was absorbed into my skin. Other than that, the after shave really is soothing to the skin, and will leave it very soft and pliable.

Renewing Face Scrub – Now, the face scrub is truly interesting. It is gelatinous in form and has a very strong, robust fragrance – almost woodsy in tone. The promise to energize your senses is a promise kept as the coffee extract and green tea have a very pronounced scent. It is a little too strong for my taste, but fortunately it does not linger once washed again. This particular scrub is also very granular, so if you have sensitive skin, the exfoliating grains may be bothersome. However, I know people who don’t feel as if they are really cleaning unless they can feel the product working. If you are this type of person, then this product is definitely for you. It should also be added that despite its extremely granular texture, Brickell promises that its scrub is still be suitable for sensitive skin.

Smooth Brushless Shave Cream – The interesting thing about the shave cream is it has a very light lather – it’s almost nonexistent. That may surprise a gentleman that is accustomed to shave creams that produce large, rich lathers. With the lack of lather, I was really concerned that my skin wouldn’t have the protection needed during shaving. Surprisingly, my skin was fully protected and my wasn’t left irritated at all. It seemed a little strange, but I surmise I have been psychologically conditioned to feel the need for big lathers. Brickell has succeeded in dispelling that notion.

Product Specifications

  • Aloe Vera is one of the best things you can put on your skin. It penetrates the skin to supply moisture to the tissue. Countless studies show how it does everything from fighting skin aging, treating acne, to healing irritated skin.
  • Jojoba naturally softens, moisturizes, and protects skin by creating a protective cushion on your skin. It reduces skin water loss, allow the skin to naturally heal itself after a shave or a long duration in the sun.
  • Shea Butter is a 100% natural cream chock full of vitamins A, E, & F. It’s a natural fat with moisturizing properties to help alleviate dry skin.
  • Fresh coconuts due to it’s amazing deep moisturizing abilities. It also strengthens your underlying skin tissue, in addition to removing excess deal cells on your skin’s surface (which make your skin look flaky in texture).
  • Vitamin E is one of the most critical antioxidants and free-radical killers known to man. It helps to heal and protect cellular membranes from free-radical damage.
  • Green Tea is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown in studies to slow down and potentially reverse some of the signs of aging.
  • Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally produced substance by the body which gives skin its volume and fullness. It’s the ultimate moisturizer capable of binding 1,800 times its own weight in water.
  • Olive Oil is a natural fat which gives skin a fuller appearance with a combination of Vitamin E and A. Studies have also shown it’s a powerful anti-aging agent, helping to fight free-radicals.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is found naturally in sugar cane. A large amount of research has shown AHA helps fight skin aging by facilitating the removal of dead skin cells.

I recommend Brickell grooming products for the gentleman that appreciates a sophisticated grooming regimen with a natural, rugged appeal. Brickell offers either a direct one-time purchase or a subscription service. I cannot speak to their subscription service, but I like the fact that you don’t have to lock yourself into a subscription service if it is not desired. There are a few products that I will be purchasing on my own accord to trial, more specifically – the purifying charcoal men’s soap. Yes – a charcoal bar of soap. Check back to read how that experience unfolds.

For more information please visit Brickell’s Men’s Products for further details.

Review – Kent & Bond – Beard Oil & Body Salve

Kent & BondRegarding a product’s ingredients, my method of selection is most likely absent the nuance required when scrutinizing skin care products – that distinction is deserving of my wife. Now, my wife leans toward items that are composed of all-natural, organic components. And if she cannot locate a product that satisfies all of her requirements, she will undertake the mission of duplicating a product using natural ingredients procured by her own hand. In comparison, I lack the patience and skill needed to accomplish such a task. And then an e-mail arrived from grooming company Kent & Bond. Touted as chemical free and organic, Kent & Bond strives to connect the gentleman that cares about his grooming practices to products that are rustic and natural in origin.

Well, needless to say, Kent & Bond certainly grabbed my attention with their pitch. Of particular interest, their beard oil presented an option unlike anything I have ever stocked in my Dopp kit. Being the proud owner of a full beard, I embarrassingly admit that I have never employed any product beyond a good moisturizer on my beard and face. And so, when presented with the opportunity to trial a few samples from their inventory, I leaped at the chance to not only test their beard oil, but also their body salve. Another facet of Kent & Bond’s mission that piqued my interest is their commitment to community service. For every product purchased, Kent & Bond will donate 1 bar of soap for someone in need – very cool. Now, let’s dive into performance.

 

Kent & Bond IngredientsStarting with the beard oil, it has the color and feel of olive oil, but with a far sweeter smell. The instructions recommend 3-8 drops into the palm of your hand before application, but 3-4 drops would be my suggestion given the strong fragrance. Of course, this is dependent upon the length of one’s facial hair. Just keep this factor in yours thoughts if you are gentleman that regularly wears cologne. Regarding skin care, I don’t have any issues with dandruff, however, the oil should be sufficient enough to remedy flaky skin if necessary. Even though it is oil, it does not leave behind a greasy residue on your skin. It absorbs quickly and will leave your beard feeling soft. Some gentlemen may have a different experience, but the beard oil didn’t leave my beard with a noticeable shine – which is perfectly acceptable to me.

The body salve arrives in a small glass jar containing 2 ounces of the product. The body salve has a pleasant peppermint scent, but it is not too strong. Soft and solid in composition, the body salve absorbs into the skin when applied topically. There is a momentary greasy feel as it is applied, but it quickly disappears. The body salve properly addressed my skin, leaving it soft and pliable. Given the amount in the jar, I am not sure how much service a gentleman can extract if he tried to apply the salve to his entire body. It’s really not “body” lotion in that respect. The body salve would probably be best utilized for dry problem areas that require hydration. We’re talking elbows, hands, knees, heels, and any other small area that needs attention. Reapplication does not seem necessary as a small amount goes far.

Specifications – All Organic Ingredients – Beard Oil $16.00 1 oz.

  • Jojoba oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Aloe vera oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Essential oil

Specifications – All Organic Ingredients – Body Salve $15.00 2 oz.

  • Mango seed butter
  • Shea butter
  • Kokrum butter
  • Beeswax
  • Aloe vera oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Coconut oil
  • Essential oil blend

If you are a gentleman that is serious about his skin care game and you prefer the added bonus using organic materials, Kent & Bond could be a brand for you. The company offers an auto-replenishment program, but goods are also offered for one time purchases if you want to trial their inventory first. I feel you won’t be disappointed.

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.
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