In the Dog House – Snoop’s Toxic Response to Gayle King and the Enduring Gender Conflict Within the Black Community

Generally, I don’t venture out into the treacherous waters of controversial current events, but my social media outlets have exploded over the very public furor revolving around Gayle King and Snoop Dogg. If you are unaware of the situation, I will present to you the CliffsNotes version. During an interview, Gayle King delivered what many interpret as a disrespectful series of questions to Lisa Leslie regarding the legacy of the late Kobe Bryant and rape allegations from 2003. Much to the dismay of Ms. King, CBS released this salacious snippet to the public. Cue predictable fecal storm across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Snoop Dogg then lashed out at King via Instagram with some choice expletives and a thinly veiled threat. Gayle King proceeded to get dragged across all of social media, death threats followed, and close friend Oprah Winfrey offered an emotional defense of King. The Internet continued to blow up as everyone from Stephen Jackson to Susan Rice offered a viewpoint. Hell, even Bill Cosby weighed in via Twitter as Pro-Snoop. Wait – didn’t he write a book and go on a tour denouncing such disrespectful behavior from our black men. I guess that follows the mantra: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Misogyny loves Cue massive eye-roll.

First and foremost, I did not like Gayle King’s questions and follow-up questions. Now, King contends that the clip posted by CBS was aired without any context. And I believe that to be true. As a viewer, we do not possess any idea of what led to that moment during the interview. Nevertheless, Lisa Leslie was visibly uncomfortable with where the interview was going, and a stoic King continued with a soft-spoken badgering that felt cold and opportunistic. Displaying some emotional intelligence would have gone a long way. Now, if the 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant required a journalistic dissection regarding his legacy, a better time would have been during or shortly after his retirement. It has not even been two weeks since his death; his family and friends are still grieving the untimely deaths of Bryant AND his daughter. Simply, it was not the time or place for the line of questioning that Leslie respectfully and adroitly handled.

Now, that brings me to Snoop Dogg. Brother, you’re too damn old for these shenanigans. Now, before I offer my view regarding his response to King, allow me to preface my statement with a short story about myself. Approximately 20 years ago, I landed a job at a laboratory in Farmington Hills, Michigan – a suburb just outside of Detroit. I did not own a car at the time, so I woke up at 5 a.m. every day for my long commute by way of two buses. During that time, a coworker that also lived in Detroit offered to pick me up on his way to the lab. He was an older gentleman, and he appeared to be a nice guy. Soon, I learned he was very much angry and bitter. I am not exactly sure why he was angry, and I did not have the stomach to question him. Every morning, I listened to various diatribes regarding gender and race. Soon, I opted to return to my 2 bus commute until I procured a car. Much like those uncomfortable morning commutes, I cringed as I listened to Snoop Dogg’s profanity-laced rebuttal. I understand the reason behind the anger, but the violent expression of that anger, teeming with racial conspiracy theories wrapped in male chauvinism and misogyny, wasn’t constructive at all.

The progression of time and age should be accompanied by the procurement of wisdom, knowledge and a definitive level of maturity. To be perfectly clear, there is a dignified way to deliver fair and nuanced criticism, and Gayle King should not be immune to said criticism. However, the level of attacks on King by some prominent celebrities has lacked that intellectual nuance. Truth be told, I am not surprised by Snoop’s reaction, as he hasn’t exactly been a paragon of righteousness and virtue. Wait – didn’t he drop a gospel album? Nevertheless, I have not been too surprised by celebrity behavior so outlandish that I have been desensitized to the point of quiet complicity. Snoop Dogg’s juvenile response was profane, reckless, hateful, and brazenly disrespectful. Listen – we bemoan the dog-whistle politics of Donald Trump, as we rightfully fear his inflammatory rhetoric could agitate an unhinged individual toward violent action. Yet, when Snoop Dog barks, “Respect the family and back off, b*tch, before we come get you“, he is hypocritically granted a pass. If Trump employs a dog-whistle, then Snoop used a bullhorn. He has since issued a clarification, contending he wasn’t threatening King. Yeah…okay Snoop.

That proverbial bullhorn symbolized a problematic attitude toward black women by some black men here in America. Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Nothing appears to have changed since his death. Some individuals may argue that it has gotten worse. In the arenas of love, work, finances, marriage, parenthood, etc.; there has been an ongoing tension between black men and women that have been festering for decades. However, now with the omnipresent influence of social media, celebrity and common man alike have the platform to spew hate. And to be fair, the hate cuts both ways. Black women are conniving b*tches hell-bent on castrating black men emotionally, mentally, and financially. Black men are damaged beyond salvaging, forever avoiding life’s responsibilities while remaining perpetually toxic to everyone. And somewhere behind the curtain is a white man controlling it all and pitting us against one another. This madness has to end. Snoop Dogg’s response is just a symptom of a bigger problem.

Sometimes the resolution to a big problem boils down to a simple remedy – communication. Even when we vehemently disagree with one another, as black men, we cannot be reduced to visceral, debased conduct. We have to be accountable. And it starts in our homes. We have to identify and recognize our own toxic behavior and move with a purpose toward self-improvement. We have to do a better job of raising our children. We have to educate our daughters regarding how they should be treated as women. And we should definitely educate our sons regarding how they should treat women. That education should not come from media and entertainment. We need to correct and speak out against misogynistic and sexist behavior from our fellow men. Twenty years ago, I did not have the voice, nor the platform. But I do now. Black men – we have to do better. It starts with a meaningful and substantive conversation amongst us all.

Standard Recommendations – Uncle Jimmy Beard Growth Oil

Hello everyone, my extended holiday hiatus has come to a close, and I am ready to start writing again. Today, I wanted to spotlight an item I discovered in the men’s grooming aisle at Target – Uncle Jimmy Beard Growth Oil. Currently, as an owner of a full beard, it might be hard to imagine that many years ago, I was incapable of growing any facial hair at all. I actually started getting meaningful growth during my first year in college. Fast-forward to the current day;  I am able to grow a full beard without any issues. Now, a full beard requires the appropriate, required maintenance because a dry, scratchy beard can be quite problematic. I am always willing to experiment with a new product, so I decided to purchase Uncle Jimmy Beard Growth Oil while I was shopping. My wife noticed the bottle and wondered aloud why I needed help growing my beard. I explained it was more for maintenance, and if a fuller beard was also a consequence, then that would be an added benefit.

Observations

  • Uncle Jimmy Beard Growth Oil has a mildly aromatic, fruity fragrance. The scent is sensibly light, and it generally fades away within the first hour or so. Still, it smells great as it is applied to your face.
  • The product is moderately oily, but your facial hair and skin will definitely absorb the product quickly; leaving no greasy residue behind. A gentleman will definitely feel a difference in beard texture with consistent usage.
  • Depending on the thickness of your beard, I would estimate that 3-5 pumps should supply a sufficient amount of beard oil to satisfy a gentleman’s needs. I purchased a 2.0 ounce bottle, and with continuous usage everyday, I have nearly half a bottle left after three months.
  • I’ve never had a patchy beard, but there were a few small areas that required some reinforcement. I did notice some improvement in those areas. Generally, I never grow my beard beyond my jawline. However, I was able to achieve significant below my jawline and midway down my throat. My beard was always moisturized and soft.
  • Uncle Jimmy Beard Growth Oil retails for approximately $10.99 at local store chains such as Target. Overall, I think this is a great price with respect to the product. A bottle should render months of dedicated service, your beard with definitely be softer, and you should observe some good growth after a month or more.

The Standard #31

It is wise for a gentleman to avoid an ascension that leaves him amongst mountains of hubris; an ascension that betrays his remembrance of the ever distant valleys beneath his feet. Gentlemen, be not thoughtlessly mistaken, your climb towards success does not preclude the possibility of an agonizing fall. Depending upon the heights that one rises, arrogance may silently corrupt your character, and thus the descent could be resolutely sharp, steep and abrupt. This is not to say that a gentleman should not achieve or strive for the greatest heights of success or prosperity. To be certain, a gentleman can certainly ride amongst the highest clouds of accomplishment, and yet remain grounded in modesty and humility. It is the appreciation of the valleys that makes the view from above that much more beautiful. It is the appreciation of the valleys that assuage any fear of falling. Because, if a gentleman so finds himself in the midst of a certain plunge, his spirit is steeled with the knowledge that he will rise again. Conversely, a successful gentleman may never experience any affecting gravity upon his achievements. Nonetheless, the underlying message is consistent – never lose sight of your origins and appreciate the valleys of one’s life that have transformed into triumph. And if you are not there yet, don’t worry, you will be. See you at the top.

Gentlemanly Review – Mont Blanc – Explorer Eau de Parfum

Sometimes I like to stroll through the beauty department at a nearby shopping mall and sample various colognes on the market. On this particular day, my dedicated salesperson offered the latest offering from Mont Blanc – Explorer. She explained the scent was popular and was quite similar to Creed Aventus. I had not smelled Creed Aventus before, but the fragrance is insanely popular within the fragrance community. She also explained that Explorer could be purchased at a fraction of the cost of Aventus, as it retails for more than $300.00. So, I went home and performed some research. It appears that Creed enthusiasts, while not totally dismissing Explorer, labeled it a clone. Now, for the average gentleman that isn’t a fragrance aficionado, this opinion does not carry much weight. The average gentleman simply wants a scent that smells great, lasts long, and provides a great performance over the course of a day. And if his cologne is able to garner compliments from the general public or significant other, he will be rightly satisfied. Ironically, a fellow coworker was in the same spot one day, and she really liked Explorer. The choices were Mont Blanc Explorer Eau de Parfum and Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Toilette. She took samples of both to decide at home. We passed another colleague back at work, and she performed a blind smell test. She liked Mont Blanc Explorer as well. So, let’s jump into the details below, as this scent may be for you.

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Pink Pepper, Clary Sage

Middle Notes: Leather, Vetiver

Base Notes: Patchouli, Cacao Pod, Ambroxan, Akigalawood

  • The presentation of a cologne bottle may not hold value with some individuals. I, however, appreciate the aesthetics of a beautifully designed flask. If Paco Rabanne Invictus can be described as garish and flamboyant; Mont Blanc Explorer undertakes a sophisticated, minimalist approach with its appearance. The cylindrical grey bottle is encased by a leathery material with the Mont Blanc symbol slightly raised, displayed on the front. The burly top sits atop a wide circular surface with Mont Blanc Explorer inscribed along the curves on both sides. The top bears a striking resemblance to a barrel of a revolver (it’s actually the shape of the Mont Blac emblem). The top snaps tightly atop the atomizer so accidental spillage should not be an issue or incidents with mischievous toddlers as in a case with my son and bottle of Tommy Bahama. The glass bottle itself is heavy and dense. If an intruder gained entry into your home, I wager that a blow upside the head with this flask would render unconsciousness.
  • Mont Blanc Explorer Eau de Parfum is, of course, more concentrated than an eau de toilette. I would recommend approximately 3-4 sprays. As I was experimenting with its application, I laid it on too much one day and damn near asphyxiated myself and a coworker – sorry Nikki. It was an unusually warm December day in Michigan, and I swear the heaviness of my pea coat magnified the intensity of the scent. It was going strong late into the afternoon. So, gentlemen, proceed with caution and be mindful of its projection. Applied correctly, Explorer Eau de Parfum should last approximately 6-8 hours.
  • The fragrance opens with a light, aromatic tartness; slightly citrus and definitely masculine. The middle and base notes have a spicy, peppery vibe that transitions to an earthy, woody resting spot with subtle hints of leather. The scent is warm, moderately heavy, but not terribly overbearing.
  • Mont Blanc Explorer is for the gentleman that enjoys a clean, classy, and elegant fragrance. In my opinion, Mont Blanc Explorer is a serious scent that is best employed for formal environments. It is for the gentleman that prefers a simple approach to style and life. When I smell Mont Blanc Explorer; I visualize dark hues, understated attire, and sumptuous fabrics. This is a business or business casual fragrance that leans heavily toward business. Again, according to the general consensus online, Mont Blanc Explorer possesses a scent reminiscent of Creed Aventus – considered by many to be the king of men’s cologne. Honestly, I don’t have the type of disposable income to drop $300.00+ on a bottle of cologne. Therefore, until then, I will enjoy Explorer and take everyone’s word that this is a good variation of the more expensive fragrance.
  • Mont Blanc Explorer can be purchased in the following sizes: 2.0 ounces at $78.00 and 3.3 ounces at $98.00 – Available at Mont Blanc, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta, and other fine men’s department stores.

Daddy Diary – Ghosts of Christmas Past – How My Children Restored My Joy For the Holidays

I suspect that many family holiday gatherings – much like my own – center around a primary figure that shoulders the responsibility of bringing everyone together. My grandmother bore the responsibility for being that central, primary figure. And for the many years that encompassed my childhood and early adult years; 8882 Kimberly Court Detroit, Michigan 48204 was the hub for food, laughter, and overall joyous times. However, just a few months before I married my wife, that tradition ceased with the passing of our matriarch. She died, and in many respects so did my holiday spirit – especially during the Christmas season. Fractured; segments of my family splintered and celebrated the holidays with their own loved ones at various locales. We ceased to celebrate as one big family. And I fully understand what the real meaning of Christmas should be (as a matter of religious belief), but it is extremely difficult to divorce oneself from familial love and tradition. Sure, I participated in a superficial celebration of the holiday, nevertheless, I was helplessly ambivalent.

Approximately seven years after my grandmother’s passing, my daughter Ava was born. Two years thereafter my son Miles was born. As many parents can attest, the arrival of children marks a decided shift from yourself to little beings that are solely dependent upon you. And so, gradually throughout their young years, my attitude towards the holiday season began to positively change. In many ways, the death of my grandmother was the end of the first act of my young life. The second act was tough. The complexity of life will always offer varying degrees of adversity, but the struggle was about to get real. And life’s problems have a sly way of stripping happiness and joy.

I do not believe one simply moves on from the death of a loved one. No. The steady, deliberate passage time affords the necessary coping skills and rewarding life events to manage grief while building emotional and mental resiliency. The birth of my children was a blessing to both my mental and emotional state during the holidays. I am reminded of innocence. I am reminded of happiness absent preconditions. I am reminded of a wonderful ignorance of the grim realities of the world. And yes, my children love Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and even the Grinch. Undoubtedly, life awaits them, but for now, I will draw joy from the joy of their childhood. The second act (of my life) was a rough start but was eventually infused with hope. I wish my grandmother was still living to experience life with my children. Unfortunately, we don’t get everything we desire in life because, well, life is life. That part deeply saddens me. However, that sadness is balanced by the sheer joyous pandemonium that is going to ensue Christmas morning with gasps of excitement, flying wrapping paper, and screams of elation. I am a little compulsive, so tonight I will neatly arrange the gifts under the tree before that tornado touches down. I cannot wait. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families!

Licensed to Ill…Behavior – A Simple Request For a Return to Decency, Manners, & Common Sense

The knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. Now, the first few sentences of this post may sound familiar because I penned those words back in 2013 as I was creating my ongoing Standard posts. It amazes me as those words are still true today. Image does matter. Image is sometimes dictated by personal behavior and choices. Now, I wholeheartedly admit that although I identify mostly as a liberal, I still maintain moderate views. That being said, I believe that as a collective, we must champion a standard of self-respect, dignity, and class. This is not sanctimony. This is not respectability politics; it is just plain respectability for oneself. Now, it has been approximately 25 years since I graduated high school, and in just a little over two decades, the cultural shift in principles and decency has been dramatic.

Perhaps it feels dramatic because I am older and this generation’s views regarding manners differ from my own. And perhaps being a father now has aged my way of thinking. However, shouldn’t certain standards be timeless? Can we all agree – using some honest common sense – that all behavior is not created equal? Some conduct is simply ill-mannered and disagreeable. Carrying oneself as a gentleman or as a lady should transcend generations. Yet, some individuals in our more famous population are absolved of any unseemly conduct that a normal person would be roundly criticized. Nevertheless, it feels as if more credence has been afforded some celebrities that don’t represent the best behavior that society has to offer. I fully understand that a celebrity represents a brand not necessarily intended to be a role model. Nonetheless, especially in this day and age, brands are built off a devout following.

Perched upon a pedestal that is supported by unwavering, unbiased devotion; celebrity should not inoculate an individual against a critique of ill behavior. To be sure, power and purpose are pillars of a prominent person’s platform. So there has to be some level of responsibility. Because, when your favorite personality (actor, politician, singer, etc.) is promoting crude behavior, please understand said behavior does not translate seamlessly to every aspect of life. Work. School. Home. There are a lot of impressionable people that emulate what they mistakenly deem as acceptable. Sadly, I feel that my fellow people of color are so angry and determined for representation, they accept the unacceptable and don’t object to the objectionable. So my responsibility as a parent, mentor, and leader is separating fantasy from reality for those that may have challenges discerning between the two. Call me a square, but I would not condone my daughter describing herself as a bad b*tch and showing all her business. Nor would I condone my son sagging his pants and describing himself as a thug n*gga. And this would include any other behavior that would otherwise be considered unbecoming, untoward, unethical, and unnecessary. We have to do better. We have to do better together.

The Standard #48

With absolute certainty, the mantle of leadership demands fidelity to integrity, responsibility, wisdom, and truth. Leadership is an exhausting exercise in guiding others, often thankless, yet undoubtedly needed. It requires a steadfast commitment to exemplifying a righteous standard, a model for all to glean its best virtues. However, do not be mistaken, a person charged with the supervision of others may not necessarily retain the aforementioned leadership prerequisites. Trust, regardless of an individual’s station in life, or designation of a title, everyone is not suited to be a leader. Someone that disseminates disinformation and displays a craven hunger for chaos cannot be considered a true leader. A leader’s actions are dictated not by what is popular, rather, a gentleman’s actions are guided by what is just, reasonable, and logical. In the midst of tumult and tribulation, a leader exudes calm and steadiness. Typified by cohesive communication and unambiguous direction, the servant leader is driven not by emotion. Ideally, he embraces a pragmatic approach based on informed, selfless decision-making in the service of others. He recognizes personal faults; and exhibits a willingness to improve, learn, and mature. His mind is open to differing ideology and thought; always ready to compromise on points that are sensible and rational, as serving others is never lost in his actions.

Daddy Diary – Black Dads Matter, So With All Due Respect, I Am Not Your Average Stereotype

It is my solemn promise, as a self-professed introvert, I truly attempt to mind my own business. For instance, I don’t actively participate in idle conversation with total, complete strangers. It’s just not within my comfort level. Furthermore, I certainly don’t overshare aspects of my personal life with said total, complete strangers. Nevertheless, those self-imposed unofficial rules do not discourage random individuals from volunteering their preconceptions and presumptions regarding yours truly. The stereotypes that accompany the role of a black male in society – notably here in the United States – are numerous to list, but for the purpose of this particular post, I will document a few scenarios when my fatherhood was defined by an old, tired trope regarding black marital status and parenting. It is irritating. It is maddening. It is ridiculous.

  • Scenario 1: Now, this particular situation is perhaps open to interpretation – I suppose. Maybe my experiences as a black male have left me rightly guarded and defensive. Nevertheless, during a normal shopping trip at Von Maur, I was searching for some outfits for my children. A salesperson offered some assistance, so I explained I was shopping for my daughter and son. I found some cute outfits and proceeded to the sales counter. I requested separate boxes so I could have each one gift wrapped so identification would be simple. The salesperson asked if I needed 2 gift receipts. The request struck me as odd, so I asked why would I require 2 gift receipts. Her answer: A gift receipt for each mother. I informed the salesperson that only 1 gift receipt was required as my wife was the mother of both my children. I guess one can’t purchase multiple gifts for children without the assumption that multiple women are involved.
  • Scenario 2: Walking through the office, I spotted a work friend, so I stopped briefly to say hello. He was involved in a conversation with a lady I did not know; I stated my pleasantries and attempted to keep it moving. He jokingly asked if I could pick him up some dinner after work. I informed him that I was on my way to pick up my kids from school. Out of nowhere, the lady offered that if I opted to secure his dinner instead of getting my kids, there would be some baby momma drama for me. Once again, I had to correct the record. My wife was out of town, so I had to tend to my children. Undeterred, she hit me with another label and called me Mr. Mom. At that point, I excused myself and walked away. Why can’t I be a normal, married black man picking his kids up from school? Is it that far out of the realm of possibility?

I am fully aware that black fatherhood – at least in America – is stereotypically synonymous with absenteeism, toxicity, and overall just being a bum – devoid of responsibility, accountability, and love. However, perception doesn’t perfectly correlate to reality. Now, it is true that nearly 70 percent of births by black women are to unwed mothers. That statistic, unfortunately, and incorrectly translates to the aforementioned narrative I outlined at the beginning of this paragraph. According to a 2013 study by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, their findings belie the notion that black fatherhood is baby momma drama and fleeing from Friend of the Court. Surveying parental involvement of Hispanic, black, and white fathers; it appeared that black fathers performed their parental duties the best. The percentage of black fathers (aged 15-44 years) living with their children (aged 5 years and less) was higher than their Hispanic and white counterparts performing the following parental duties:

  • feeding or eating meals with their children
  • bathing, diapering, helping use the toilet and dressing their children
  • playing with their children
  • reading to their children

Now, I won’t pretend bad actors don’t exist. There is a sizable population of black men out there that do not represent the best of us. And to be sure, the fact that approximately 70 percent of births by black women are outside of marriage can be problematic. Nevertheless, as the study indicates, when the black male lives in the household, he is just as involved if not more than other fathers in different ethnic groups. I understand that film, television, music, news, and social media outlets are likely to continue the perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Black male brokenness appears to be more marketable than black male excellence. My daily rituals as a black father confound and surprise many individuals because I don’t adhere to historical, negative stereotypes. The data supports the reality – black fathers put in work. We have to change the narrative and fervently champion the virtues of being dedicated fathers to our children. We can no longer allow the unsavory sects of society to define our character and encourage us as black men to rise to low expectations. We have to set and maintain a standard of virtuous fatherhood by leading by example. I really would like this article to become a living post, as fathers chime in with advice and testimony, as you are living your best life as a black father and smashing age-old stereotypes. I hope to hear from you.

Gent Hints – Extending the Shelf Life of Your Cologne

I would not necessarily describe myself as the sentimental type, but I do appreciate the value that an event or object can hold. During an exercise of identifying and discarding old grooming & hygiene products, I discovered an old bottle of Vera Wang for Men. Launched in 2004, I received this fragrance as a birthday gift from my girlfriend (destined to be my wife) Stephanie. I forget the exact details, but Vera Wang herself was in town signing the box of her newly launched cologne for men. And so, I made sure that my autographed box was never damaged or compromised. I did not who Vera Wang was at the time, but I recognized her celebrity, and I appreciated Stephanie securing the fragrance with Wang’s autograph as a special touch. That was 2004. It is now 2019, soon to be 2020. As the scent had fallen out of my rotation, it was now tucked away in a quiet spot, perhaps begging for a return to the lineup. However, we are now approximately 15 years past the original unboxing. Surely the scent had gone bad. My curiosity coaxed me to investigate.

To my astonishment, the fragrance was still strong and healthy. Sure, the atomizer was a little stiff, and it took a few compressions to get the cologne flowing, but the contents were perfectly fine. Conventional wisdom dictates that quality cologne can last upwards to 10 years. Honestly, that was not my original intent. How did my Vera Wang for Men make it to 15 years without any noticeable degradation? Since this batch was launched during its first run, perhaps the quality was top shelf. If you think about – who wants their first cologne launch to flop? And then perhaps, its life had been extended due to the care (or neglect if you ask my wife) that I afforded it. Now, I can’t promise that your cologne can last 15-20 years after unboxing; but follow these simple rules and you will enjoy your cologne longer than perhaps expected.

Gent Hints

  • Store your fragrance in a location with a stable temperature, preferably cool and dry. Severe temperature fluctuations can degrade the chemical makeup of your cologne. Closets and dresser drawers are good locations.
  • Do not subject your cologne to high temperatures. And please do not expose your cologne to direct sunlight. Again, your cologne will begin to degrade.
  • If possible, keep your cologne in the original container, or any container for that matter, affording protection from all forms of light.
  • Do not store in locations with heat and humidity – that means your bathroom sir.

What I’m Wearing – Cole Haan – ZeroGrand Stitchlite Oxford

It should not be a well-guarded secret – if you have been diligently reading this blog space – that I am an ardent admirer of the Cole Haan ZeroGrand collection. As I outlined in a previous post, these business casual oxfords are insanely comfortable and incredibly stylish. Lightweight and flexible, the ZeroGrand collection is very forgiving on the feet. True story: Recently I received my flu shot at a nearby CVS, and the pharmacist was rocking a pair of ZeroGrand. I complimented his choice of shoes and he stated it was his preferred footwear for standing all day. The collection also boasts an array of striking color combinations that affords a gentleman the ability to smartly coordinate with his outfit.

The particular pair pictured to the right is the Cole Haan ZeroGrand Stitchlite model. Advertised as java, the chocolate hue lends enough versatility to complement numerous shades of khaki or brown. Regular retail price is $180.00, but I was able to capitalize on a Cyber Monday deal, which effectively lowered the price-tag to $85.00 – with free shipping. Generally, I don’t participate in Cyber Monday sales, but this deal was simply too good to ignore.

Currently, this same model is still on sale, but not as steep as my catch at the time. Priced at $139.95, it is still respectable, but it might be wise to wait for a post-Christmas and New Year’s Day sale. The temperatures are steadily dropping week after week, so if you are contemplating a pair to sport around the office, ensure that you reserve some heavy boots to keep your feet warm and dry as you walk around outside. Because an outside winter shoe it is not.

No More Mr. Nice Guy Misconceptions- 5 Effective Leadership Approaches For a Nice Guy

Broadly speaking, every gentleman has perhaps struggled with some form of insecurity at a particular juncture in life. And I am certainly not a beneficiary of any special exclusions. To be sure, I am not immune to episodes of uneasiness and internal distress with what I perceive as personal character flaws. I put forth the best effort to manage and suppress feelings of uncertainty and dissatisfaction; sometimes with success and other times falling short. In many ways, writing is very therapeutic, and it is always my hope that my musings serve as encouragement and empowerment to readers. A circumstance this week prompted some self-reflection regarding certain insecurities that are a source of a long-standing internal battle. This is going to sound odd, but I struggle with being a nice guy. I understand that may seem strange, but allow me to explain further in detail.

If I may make the assumption, I am quite confident that my family, friends, and associates would describe me as a nice guy. And in many instances, that designation would be a compliment. I consider myself respectful, pleasant, courteous, and kind. These should be considered noble traits. However, being classified as a nice guy also has a negative connotation. In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, I can also be described as a guy that is soft-spoken, quiet, and non-confrontational. All things combined, well, now the moniker of being a nice guy takes a turn for the worse. When some individuals have referred to me as a “nice guy”, I am intelligent enough to decipher the context. Weak. Passive. Soft. When I became a supervisor, there wasn’t a question of knowledge or work ethic, but some individuals questioned whether I possessed people management skills necessary to lead a team. After all, I was a nice guy, and nice guys are pushovers.

The prevailing and misguided philosophy regarding management is one has to lead with bluster, aggression, and micromanagement. Colleagues disdain those types of leaders, yet subconsciously, people tend to believe those traits get the job done – for better or for worse. This typifies toxic leadership, so it is usually worse. Now, those adjectives don’t describe my personality, as I am a laid-back and easy-going individual. Now what occurred recently (centered around a work issue) was a subtle implication that my nice personality prevented me from making hard decisions, especially when friends within the department are involved. Admittedly, this tapped into my insecurity of being perceived as the “nice guy”. In other words: passive, soft, hesitant, and weak. I am fully aware of the perceptions, and I would not be truthful if I were to say the perceptions didn’t irritate me and cause some second-guessing of my work skills.

However, you might find it interesting to know that perception does not necessarily align with reality. The reality is that amongst management, I am one of few with the most corrective actions, and unfortunately, I have had to separate a colleague from the company. This belies the perception of being a pushover, as theoretically I should not be able to address difficult colleagues or situations. Trust me as I tell you that my initial years being a supervisor were wrought with challenges that I never envisioned – it was insanity. Nevertheless, I was able to navigate the most problematic circumstances and colleagues, yet the perception of being a nice guy remained unchanged. How?

The label bothers me, regardless of the facts, and I even contemplate adopting a harder edge from time to time. I eventually regain my senses and dispel the silly idea. I cannot betray my character and integrity. And I suppose that it is a testimony to my leadership style that I have been able to deliver some unsavory actions, yet my name and reputation remain unsullied. I’ll probably continue to struggle with the nice guy moniker, going back and forth within myself in search of an imaginary solution. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in the same boat as me, here are a few tips to help you navigate rough waters and stay true to yourself.

5 Effective Leadership Approaches For a Nice Guy

  • A leader should never demean, disparage, or defame fellow colleagues. Good morale in the work environment is essential to the overall health and productivity of a business. If a leader is contributing to poor morale and a toxic work environment; that is definitely an issue. I ensure that treat every colleague with decency and dignity – even when delivering hard truths regarding work performance or behavior.
  • A leader must ensure that his or her management style is guided by company policies and regulations. I am confident in my decision-making because it is supported by company protocol. I make sure I am familiar with pertinent documentation offered up by human resources, and I seek clarity when it is necessary. Any accusations of shenanigans on my behalf will be hard to prove because I adhere strictly to company guidelines. Yes, I’m a square. But I don’t play favorites, as I am fair and just across the board.
  • A leader must be transparent. I will never ambush a colleague. If there are foreseeable issues on the horizon, I try my best to speak with a colleague to avoid any corrective actions. Confrontation makes me uneasy, so I attempt to avoid it. I am always honest with colleagues. I do not tell them what they want to hear. I tell them what they need to hear – no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.
  • Leaders must demonstrate follow through on their word. Declarations of punitive measures without the proper consequences are meaningless. No one will ever take you seriously because colleagues will conclude that you never enforce warnings. Trust, I still get butterflies in my stomach, but I cast away whatever emotional responses I have toward the situation, and address the issue (not the person) directly per company policy. Before a serious conversation, it is not unlike me to script out talking points the day before so I can stick to the subject and never stray off the designated topic. I maintain an even, measured tone and I keep the conversation streamlined to the subject at hand.
  • A leader must be willing to help their fellow colleagues. I am a strong believer in the growth and development of their careers. It is not unusual for me to undertake the task of performing a corrective action, yet later assist that same colleague with a resume or interview preparation. I believe everyone should be treated justly and fairly regardless of previous work indiscretions.

Gentlemanly Review – Jack Black – Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap

In the spirit of offering full transparency to the audience, the appearance of the Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap gave me quite the full-stop pause. So, I can totally understand why a regular gentleman would take a hard pass on purchasing this odd-looking piece of bar soap. During shopping excursions for grooming and hygiene products, I never embraced the risk and purchased the Jack Black charcoal body bar offering. Sure, I was thoroughly impressed with the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar Scrubbing Soap, but this particular charcoal grey soap was a whole other animal. It was just recently that I discovered that charcoal could be used as an ingredient in soap. My mind pondered why I would rub my body with a dirty, grimy briquette that was better served on my Weber Grill. I plead ignorance. Nevertheless, more than a year after my initial encounter, I decided to take a chance and purchase a value set that included the charcoal body bar. And wow, I was completely astonished by its performance and results. Check out my findings below.

Observations

  • First things first: Why is there charcoal in my soap and won’t my shower be a filthy mess? Simply answer: The type of charcoal used in soap is actually “activated charcoal”. It is still derived from charcoal, but it has been subjected to very high temperatures, transforming it into a powdery, non-toxic substance. Being highly absorbent, activated charcoal swallows up toxins, oil, and dirt.
  • This isn’t prettiest body bar on the market, but in this particular case, appearances are deceiving. Oval, dark charcoal grey, complete with circular nubs on the underside; this bar soap would not be the first item you drop in your shopping cart. Nevertheless, the bar soap performs its duties quite well. The lather is moderate to heavy depending upon how vigorously you rub on your body or washcloth. And speaking of rubbing vigorously…
  • Infused with charcoal and jojoba beads, this bar soap is very grainy. It serves as a fantastic exfoliating agent, however, I would caution against using this product if you have sensitive skin. You will certainly feel the gritty surface of the bar when applying it to your skin. I advise that you address rough skin patches with a light, gentle touch. This is definitely a body bar. I definitely recommend that a gentleman not use this product on his face.
  • Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar has a pronounced, sharp, and lightly aromatic fragrance. It rinses clean and the scent will fade after an hour or slightly less. Despite its dark hue, this body bar rinses clear in the shower without a mess – aside from the dirt and grime it strips from your skin.
  • It doesn’t boast the mass like Jack Black Turbo Body Bar Scrubbing Soap, so I would estimate 3 weeks or so of grooming service.
  • Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap retails for approximately $15.00 for a 4.75-ounce body bar. An auto-replenishment program is available (1-6 month subscription) that offers free shipping and deluxe samples.
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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