The Professional – It’s a Sabotage – 5 Simple Ways You’re Undermining Your Career

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I have been exceedingly blessed with just over twenty-one years of work experience; nineteen years employed by the same company. I am truly thankful and gracious to experience such longevity. I have held a number of roles at various levels within the organization, and I have observed the varying degrees of success and failure of other colleagues. At this point, I am never surprised to see a colleague blame their lack of success on other individuals or the company itself. Now, I am not carelessly blind to the existence of professional barriers based on racial, gender, age, and sexual orientation discrimination. That is a topic for another conversation.

And while the aforementioned offenses could surely send a career down in flames; let us recognize other brazen violations that will not only severely hinder one’s career; it could get you terminated, sued, or perhaps even worse – sent to jail. Offenses such as sexual harassment, physical assault, theft, or NSFW material in the office will surely tank anyone aspiring an ascent up the corporate ladder. Today, however, I want to highlight 5 behaviors that aren’t so blatant. Well, maybe they are blatant. Still, you would be surprised that some individuals don’t connect these toxic traits to a sputtering or unfulfilling career.

5 Office Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Career

  • Gossiping – The professional environment should remain as such – professional. Yet many individuals behave as if they are still in grade school. To be sure, word does indeed travel fast – as does the identity of the individual spreading said word. Disseminating misinformation and/or disinformation is a good indicator that the person is not particularly trustworthy. Advancing your career could prove to be difficult if you develop a reputation for spreading inaccurate information, blatantly false information, or information that should otherwise be kept confidential. Leadership will be hard pressed to have an individual amongst the ranks that consistently leaks and spreads information to the detriment of the company.
  • Complaining – Straight up and to the point: No one wants to work with a malcontent. True indeed, misery loves company. However, misery needs to understand that the rest of us can do without your negativity and toxic attitude. Understand that your incessant complaining is draining and exhausting. Offering opposition absent any meaningful propositions is never constructive and adds zero value to the work environment. The malcontent only exceeds at dampening spirits, derailing productivity, and worse yet – spreading their toxicity to other employees. If presented with the opportunity, a company would be most inclined to remove this workplace cancer from the team.
  • Average at Best – A professional should never be too comfortable with being comfortable. True, one can feel fully satisfied with their current work situation with absolutely no desire for further advancement. And that is fair. However, performing the bare minimum just to skate by could very well jeopardize performance reviews and tag you as exceedingly expendable. I am not advocating that one work themselves into an early grave for an ungrateful employer. However, willful acceptance of mediocrity is not doing your development any favors – professionally or even personally.
  • The Office Villain – Closely related to the complainer; but instead of consistently sharing their disdain solely towards the company, venom is also unleased upon fellow colleagues. Communication consists of belittling and disparaging others. Work ethic is strictly self-serving without any regard for making the team better. The office villain is obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate, and quick to throw anyone under the bus to get ahead or avoid responsibility. This person never crossed a bridge they didn’t like to torch. In the workplace, your reputation is your brand. So, don’t expect anyone to invest in you if the product is unprincipled, cantankerous, and trash.
  • Bad Work Performance – This example is self-explanatory. Woefully devoid of self-awareness, you are unabashedly terrible in your role. Trust, at any moment, your belongings could be in a cardboard box. Yet, you think your dreadful work performance and poor work ethic should be handsomely rewarded during performance review time. The profound lack of ownership regarding your shortcomings and errors is breathtaking. You display little curiosity in learning and growing within your professional craft. If you are adding little to no value (maybe even adding negative value) to a company; understand that your career stagnation is wholly your own doing.

Note: There are exceptions to every rule, and some individuals you may see succeeding embody the traits above. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for you to exhibit the same behaviors. Ultimately, the goal is to be the best version of yourself and live your best life.

Living Your Best Life – Success

As I have grown older, I realize that success should not be a measurement based on the accumulation of material objects or a particular station in the world of business. Rather, my success is determined by the value I add to the lives of family & friends, the servant-leadership I provide to the community, and the quality of life I help provide for my family.

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.

Gent Hints – The Professional – Just Answer the Damn Question

Without question, interviewing for a new position can be a source of tremendous stress and anxiety. And it is this stress and anxiety that can cloud one’s thoughts, disrupt critical thinking, and impair the ability to communicate coherently. I have conducted or participated in a ridiculous amount of interviews during the past 5 years, and without question, not answering an interview question ranks very high amongst possible interview missteps. For clarification, I am not referring to a candidate simply refusing to answer an interviewer’s query. I am referring to a candidate missing the mark and not understanding what is being asked so a proper response can be formulated. It occurs all the time – trust me. If I am really trying to obtain information required to make a fair assessment, I will ask follow-up questions to unearth some nugget of valuable content. And again, sometimes, the candidate swings and misses for a second time. If you are reading this, and nerves get the better of you in interviews, or you simply need a little more polish – keep reading below for some helpful guidance.

  • Relax. Really – relax. Easier said than executed right? I would advise performing a calming exercise an hour or so before you actually sit down for the interview. When I am nervous, I tend to breathe faster and my heart rate quickens. Sometimes my stomach feels queasy. Most people don’t know this, but I am self-conscious regarding how I sound when I speak. Yet I’ve been in situations that required me to talk. And if I talked how I felt, my words would stumble and trip over each other. So, I intentionally have to slow my thoughts and rate in which I speak down. Pace your thinking. Pace your response. It is hard work. In a weird way, you have to unconsciously separate yourself from other individuals in the room and proceed as if you are having a relaxed, comfortable conversation with someone you feel the most ease with – yourself.
  • Now, for the first point to be performed flawlessly, one must be prepared. I suggest practicing with someone that you find comfort and will be able to offer constructive feedback. It would also help to educate yourself about the company and position that you are seeking employment. Misstep #1: Blindly applying for a position because you are desperately trying to escape a current work predicament. Never walk into an interview clueless. It can be viewed as insulting, as you are wasting valuable time that could have been afforded someone else.
  • A gentleman should never be afraid to bring a writing utensil and paper to an interview. You should ensure that you note key points of important questions for thoughtful analysis and response. Your interview should have enough allotted time for the interview itself and questions you may have for the interviewer. So don’t feel pressured to rush. Generally, interviews that I have participated in have been at least an hour, but candidates fly through and are done at the 25 minute mark. Misstep #2: Don’t leave that much time on the table! Use that time to think about what is being asked so you can give the best answer possible.
  • You should definitely engage in active listening to comprehend what is being asked of you. Misstep #3: Answering a question before the interviewer has even completed the sentence. Misstep #4: Talking over the interviewer while he or she is talking.
  • If the question is not clear, ask that the question be repeated or rephrased. Ask for clarity. Don’t be ashamed to ask for a better understanding of what is being asked.
  • If a gentleman struggles with a particular question(s), it would be wise to request a temporary postponement of a response and then circle back to the inquiry after you have (hopefully) collected your thoughts.
  • If you honestly cannot answer a question, well, respond honestly. You should never mislead your potential employee by dancing around the question with superfluous chatter laden with fancy words. A good interviewer will be able to see through your nonsense. And if you happen upon a really good interviewer, expect follow-up questions that will flummox and rattle you. And if you draw a really, really good interviewer; expect follow-up questions to an answer you provided 5 questions ago. We want to see if your story demonstrates consistency. Therefore, don’t feed BS to the interviewer – we’ll know.

Have you ever interviewed or hired someone? Chime in. We want to hear from you.

Listen Up, I Have a Story to Tell – How to Create a Winning Narrative for a Job Interview

To be absolutely certain, the most prolific hip hop artists in history display the innate ability to tell vivid stories – the art of storytelling as many call it. The Notorious B.I.G. Nas. Scarface. These artists were able to lyrically weave a tapestry of detail throughout tracks that transported the listener directly into the song. Undoubtedly, the experience leaves an indelible mark on the listener’s memory. Effectively describing the most minute facets and capturing the emotion of a situation; artful storytelling is a powerful tool that engenders engagement. That being stated, communicating an engaging story is not only a useful device in songwriting, it can also elevate a job interview above a fellow job seeker. When I have sought job opportunities, my interview style is conversational, detailed, and personal. I want the interviewer fully invested in my answers and my narrative.

And that is exactly what a candidate should be constructing – a compelling narrative; something not easily forgotten. Now, I cannot assign a hard number to the amount of job interviews that I have conducted or been involved in, but well into the hundreds is not unlikely. I have noted, over the course of many years and varying interviews, there are two distinct areas in an individual’s interview that tend to be flawed: the interviewer’s questions are not directly answered and the level of detail is severely lacking. The result is a bland, underwhelming experience that renders the interview forgettable, or alternatively, memorable due to the overall awful performance. Today, I want to offer some simple advice that may prove to be helpful while improving how you execute your interview.

6 Essential Tips for a Winning Interview

  • Without a doubt, the daily grind of employment will grant the gentleman a wealth of material for proper utilization during an interview. It is this information gathering that will lay the foundation for your interview preparedness. The gentleman would be wise to document specific work events that highlight teamwork, effective communication, critical thinking, and leadership. Microsoft OneNote is an excellent choice of software to gather and store this type of pertinent information. A manila folder, an electronic folder on your desktop, or Word document – whatever your choice for information tracking; ensure you are saving your notes.
  • Now that you have gathered all relevant information that demonstrates why you deserve the position, it is time for the next step in your job preparedness. A gentleman must now organize his thoughts, commit those selected work events to memory, and practice his delivery to an audience. I am a strong proponent of employing the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This technique allows the job candidate to provide structure to thoughts and articulate them in an organized fashion. Responding to an interview question that is intended to assess job viability; the candidate will first describe the situation at hand, what task or objective was proper for the situation, the action that taken to achieve the objective, and the concluding result. Bonus: A candidate can add another R for reflection, which basically captures what the candidate learned and how they matured professionally from the experience.
  • The job candidate must ensure that the emotion of the situation is addressed and articulated. Now, keep in mind, this is not the time to be overly dramatic and theatrical. Your heart doesn’t have to race faster than a cheetah across the African wilderness hunting prey. Rather, it was a tense situation and you were slightly anxious as you addressed the pressing issue. A candidate should clearly represent the stakes at hand so the gravity of the situation is completely understood.
  • As a candidate is describing a certain event in detail, it is paramount that the story contains specifics. Be sure to take advantage of adjectives and proper nouns. Again, please note, now is not the time to break out the thesaurus. However, the addition of a few small details can allow one candidate to shine brighter than another. Please see example below and note the differences.
      1. One night, I had to place an overnight order right before cut-off time for delivery. There were a lot of items on the purchase order that I had to place, but I was able to successfully get the order in with the vendor.
      2. One late evening, approximately 30 minutes before Medtronic’s cut-off time for shipping, I had to place an order for 100 items for overnight delivery. Given the large amount of items that had to be ordered, I asked the customer service representative if I could fax or e-mail the order to the vendor. Unfortunately, the order could only be placed verbally over the phone. That news was a little disappointing and stressing, but it had to get done. Therefore, I had to place the order accurately and efficiently with the CS rep to beat the cut-off time. So, item by item, I read off the manufacturer number to the CS rep and in turn she read it back for confirmation. To save time, she would only notify me of any back-ordered items after the order was loaded into the system. In the end, we were able to get all but 5 items placed for overnight delivery, and I notified the hospital regarding the 5 items on back-order with their release date. I also provided their sales representative’s contact information for a follow-up if a substitute item was required.
    • A candidate should ask thoughtful questions. Yes – salary, benefits, and shift are all credible inquiries. However, a candidate with a genuine interest regarding a position should ask questions that put the interviewers back on their heels. What challenges are they facing as a department or company? Do they promote a culture that rewards and retains its quality employees? Do they promote growth and development within the workforce? Of course, your questions will be tailored to suit your company of choice. For example, I applied for a position a few years ago, and I posed a question somewhat like this: With the Affordable Care Act reducing the rates of reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid; how aggressive are your standardization projects for med. surg. products to help offset that potential monetary loss for the organization? I did my due diligence researching the position I wanted. Serious, thoughtful questions illustrate an honest curiosity that will surely garner respect and appreciation.
    • As a job candidate, it is vitally important that you provide a brief summation of your qualifications and attributes as a future employee. You must present yourself as an asset that adds value to the company. This is your closing statement. At this point, the company’s mission statement and vision should be intimately familiar. Definitely, you should fully understand the role and responsibilities of the open position being sought after. Now it is time to deftly connect your best qualities to those areas and confidently argue why you are the best candidate. I highly suggest identifying 4-5 adjectives that best describe you professionally. Be thoughtful, sincere, and open. Remember: Craft an engaging narrative that answers questions directly while displaying critical thinking and showcasing your best traits.

Well, there you have it; just a few key pointers that I have extracted from experience over the years. I hope the information will be beneficial to job seekers reading this post. Good luck!

Gent Hints – Interviewing for an Internal Position

My current home of employment is quite unique. The opportunity for growth and advancement is wonderfully plentiful. Management offers a fantastic support system to aid and assist with an individual’s learning and development. However, the opportunity for advancement is not absent its share of challenge and adversity; wrought with anxiety and apprehension. The arduous road to career advancement can wind through a series of internal interviews that sometimes result in reward, and other circumstances with disappointment. Often, but not entirely, the outcome is predicated by the preparation and performance of the candidate. Interviewing for an internal position can present a myriad of unaccounted for pitfalls that a candidate fails to properly address.

My position in management has afforded me the opportunity to interview a robust quantity of candidates – both internally and externally. The knowledge that I have gleaned from my experiences has allowed for not only personal, professional growth; but I can confidently dispense guidance to candidates seeking career advancement. Today, I wanted to extend a small offering of wisdom to those individuals that hold a desire to advance within their present employer and must navigate the interview process to accomplish that objective. So, let’s explore what a candidate should and should not do when interviewing for an internal position at their job.

Do’s and Don’ts When Interviewing for an Internal Position

  1. Don’t arrive at the interview too relaxed. Sometimes a candidate can become a victim of comfort and familiarity. A candidate may enter an interview composed of peers or coworkers. Being haphazardly at ease with one’s surroundings can possibly dull a candidate’s sharpness and awareness. A candidate should be cognizant of body language and communication – keep it decidedly professional and formal.
  2. Do Approach an internal interview as if you were an external candidate, but bolstered insider knowledge. Dress professionally for the interview. Bring a resume. And don’t take for granted that the interviewer has predetermined knowledge of how you perform at work – now is the time to sell yourself and highlight noteworthy achievements along with championing your work ethic.
  3. Do the necessary research before applying for the position. A candidate that lacks basic knowledge of the desired position reflects very poorly on the candidate’s interview preparation. Network with colleagues that are currently in that department or on the team. Scheduling an appointment with the hiring manager prior to the interview can provide crucial insight and detail of tremendous benefit.
  4. Don’t torch professional bridges in the office. In the circumstance that you are striving to advance internally, your reputation can certainly travel with you as you apply for positions. Trust – managers speak with other managers. External candidates can be an unknown commodity. However, in the case of an internal candidate, expect the hiring manager to do a little research on their potential new hire.
  5. Don’t end the interview with a wave and goodbye. A prepared candidate should always ask meaningful questions regarding job expectations, challenges that the candidate may face, challenges currently faced by the team/department/company, opportunity for growth & development, and  – well you get the idea. Salary, benefits, and shift assignment are all valid questions to ask, but a candidate should arrive armed with inquiries that project depth and thoughtfulness.
  6. Do express gratitude after the interview. Some people may label this act as a dated practice, but a handwritten thank you note can be the finishing touch that separates two candidates that are running neck & neck for a position. Be aware of certain points during the interview that resonate with the interviewer or panel; craft your thank you card accordingly and take that moment to briefly pitch yourself as an asset, express enthusiasm for position, and offer gratitude for the time & consideration you’ve been granted.

This blog is about sharing knowledge. And I am certain the points above is not an exhaustive list of what to do and not to do. Therefore, please feel free to lend some advice in the comment section. I am sure someone will readily welcome a pointer or two or three.

Gent Hints – The Office – Preparing Your Job Narrative

jobsRest assured, the cognizant gentleman fully comprehends that preparing for a job interview entails more than rudimentary touch-up of one’s resume. A gentleman needs a narrative that coincides with what your potential employer is looking for in a potential worker. Therefore, diligent preparation is paramount. Your job interview should convey a story  – your personal story. It should be a story that will compel a company to look to you as its newest, welcome addition that furthers their mission. In that interview, your presence must have a purpose. Otherwise – why are you even there? Here are a few suggestions that will help you craft a narrative that will leave an employer thoroughly impressed, and hopefully, ending with you being hired.

  • Let’s start with your resume because it is something that should not be dismissed. To be sure, correct spelling and grammar is important, however, a gentleman should have his employment history and job duties memorized. Reading off your resume verbatim will not only negate your much-needed eye contact, but it will also bore your audience and make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. If needed, quick glances should be okay, but one’s work history should be etched into your memory by now.
  • Familiarize oneself with not only the history of your potential employer, but also commit its mission and vision statement to memory. You have visited their About Page correct? If at all possible, educate yourself regarding company culture, as much as possible. Example: If the environment focuses on the team concept, but your strength is independent work, that may be a hard sale.
  • Peruse your targeted job description, focus your attention on the abilities and characteristics that the employer desires in an employee. Do you possess any of these qualities? You may not want to use the exact same words to describe yourself in your interview, so consult a thesaurus and craft your pitch as close as possible without blatant plagiarism.
  • Bear in mind, it is not enough to tout your abilities with artful adjectives. One requires concrete examples that fully and clearly illustrate your capabilities that extend beyond the well-thought words on your resume. A gentleman should enter an interview with at least 3-5 real life situations that challenged him in a fashion that showcased his problem-solving skills. I suggest you practice and commit them to memory.
  • It would be helpful if these real life situations were written down and studied. Currently employed? Even better; the challenges you face and resolve should be dutifully documented for upward job movement in your future. A mock interview with a friend can ensure that your dialogue comes across effortlessly. Preparation, preparation, and more preparation.
  • However, you don’t want to rattle off information like a robot. You want to be thoughtful in your responses. Take your time and answer questions in a measured, natural manner.
  • A gentleman should also enter an interview with examples that illustrate his initiative and how he goes beyond what is expected of him. You have to convey that you have the necessary drive to exceed expectations and not just settle for the status quo. You want to present yourself as a much-needed asset that the employer would be foolish to bypass.
  • A gentleman should enter an interview with both short and long-term goals. How do your goals align with the job description and company goals? Be prepared to answer these questions.
  • Be prepared to ask meaningful questions; questions that go beyond the requisite query regarding hours, pay, and yes – office aesthetics. Once I seriously had someone ask for a comfortable seat with good lighting preferably with a window – this was for an entry-level position. Bold, but not a good look. Company growth, opportunity for personal growth, company direction, job expectations not spelled out in the job description – these are questions that expand your conversation and demonstrate thought and character. Sure, pay and work hours count, but it shouldn’t be the first – and only – thing you address.
  • So, you may be asking: But I just applied for this job, and I don’t have sufficient enough time to prepare, what do I do? Well, try to employ as many of these points as you can, but don’t let that fact deter you from building a foundation for that next job interview.

Gent Hints – PreShave Oil – Olive Oil

Olive OilFor those select gentlemen that require the usage of a razor with some regularity, the mastery of wielding a sharpened blade against one’s skin is a delicate operation. The operation can be a perfectly executed, boring routine; or plans could go seriously awry and leave said gentleman bleeding profusely over his bathroom sink. Trust, on one occasion, I nicked my scalp pretty good in the shower, and the subsequent gore required a Band-Aid on the back of my head like Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction. So, any sound advice that can be procured from varying sources to prevent a duplication of the events that day is much appreciated. And so, today’s wise counsel is courtesy of gentleman reader Henry Minton.

On a previous Gent Hint, Mr. Hinton was kind enough to point out that even with the beneficial, redeeming qualities of pre-shave oil; replenishing one’s stock could be relatively expensive. As an alternative, Mr. Minton suggested grape seed oil as a less costly option. Now, I had the sincerest intentions to try grape seed oil as pre-shave oil, but I discovered a hidden stash of olive oil tucked away in a bathroom cabinet, most likely courtesy of my wife. Anyway, I substituted the olive oil for grape seed oil, all with the hopes of attaining the same results as with a more expensive, brand name pre-shave oil.

Well, I am here to report that olive oil could be one the best skin care products absent from your shaving essentials. Yes, it provides an excellent protective, lubricated barrier between your razor blade and skin. Yes, it is loaded with skin-friendly antioxidants such as vitamin E to combat wrinkles, aging, and inflammation. Yes, it functions as a great moisturizer, perfect for dry or extra-dry skin. And finally, yes, it is far less expensive than many popular brands on the market – especially when accounting for the quantity contained in a standard bottle. If you don’t have a bottle of olive oil stocked in your bathroom, I humbly recommend a visit to your local supermarket to procure a bottle.

Gent Hints – PreShave Oil – Head Shaving

Zirh PrepareToday, I would like to share with the audience an amazing discovery. Actually, it perhaps is not that amazing at all. It was a bit of grooming commonsense that apparently wasn’t common to me at all. Revealed during a perusal through Men’s Health Magazine, I was awakened to the practice of rubbing pre-shave oil into the scalp before shaving. Now gentlemen, in all seriousness, I cannot begin fathom why I never employed the services of pre-shave oil for my head shaving endeavors. I would like to think that the remainder of the civilized, grooming world has long been up to speed with such a ritual. And so, the first opportunity I had to shave, I readily employed the advice as dispensed by Men’s Health – and what a difference it made. The finished product – my freshly shaven bald head – was smoother with far less irritation than past adventures in shaving. Shame on me for not utilizing this tactic long ago. Well, if you are reading this, none of us (assuming you are a fellow bald gentleman) have an excuse going forward with our shaving regimens. The pre-shave oil in concert with your shaving cream will provide a comfortable glide across your scalp, absent the nicks and burn. Happy shaving gents!

Gent Hints – Leather Glove Maintenance

LexolWith winter just around the corner, and in preparation of potential arctic temperatures, it would behoove the gentleman to ready himself accordingly. As part of that readiness plan, equipping oneself with the necessary wintry accoutrements is a given. High on that list of accoutrements would be leather gloves. For all intents and purposes, leather in its most basic design is skin, albeit animal skin (rawhide), but skin nonetheless. During the manufacturing process, the rawhide is treated with varying tanning methods that grant pliability, suppleness, and durability. As time slowly progresses, if left untreated, leather will gradually become stripped of its natural oils. It is important that these essential oils are replenished to maintain the leather’s integrity. The loss of essential oils is probably most troublesome in the winter, as the air progressively becomes cold and dry.

So, given the brutal weather ahead, combined with laborious tasks such as shoveling snow, your leather gloves are primed to take a beating. To keep your gloves well-maintained and appropriately conditioned, I would humbly suggest investing in a bottle of Lexol. Readily available at a cobbler, a discount retail store, or even an automotive store; Lexol is a leather cleaner and conditioner all at the same time. Simply don your leather gloves, dispense what is required to bring life to your leather, and rub your hands together until the results are satisfactory. Adopted as routine maintenance, a gentleman can easily extend the life of leather gloves, beating back the inevitability of cracking and drying under cold, harsh conditions. It is a small attention to detail that will certainly go a long way. Stay stylish and keep warm gentlemen.

Gent Hints – The Interview Timepiece

Longines HeritageIt is a rite of professional passage for any gentleman seeking employment. It is the rite of passage that calls upon the gentlemen to extol the merits of his expertise and character while being analyzed and examined for final judgement. It is the job interview. Whether or not you earn the position will hinge on a myriad of factors. Today, we’re talking about a small factor, but nonetheless, an important factor. During that crucial, pivotal job interview; credibility is an asset that is absolutely paramount during the hiring exercise. From your resume to your professional references, the totality of your presentation must articulate trustworthiness and a seriousness befitting of a future employee. So, let’s assume that the resume and credentials are all in place. Check, check, and double-check. The job is yours to claim, but one misstep can ruin a sure thing. And it can begin with a misstep with a small accessory – your watch.

That being stated, I must implore the aspiring job seeker to leave the gaudy timepiece at home. This is a job interview and not a dance club. Potential employers will not be impressed by your obnoxiously over-sized timepiece. You know the one we are speaking about. It’s the one with the abundance of diamonds – real or imitation. It’s the one whose width is greater than your wrist. All attention should be directed solely on you and your credentials. Not that monstrosity on your wrist. Go dark and go discreet. Stainless steel. Leather strap. Black or dark brown. Your sartorial mission on this interview is to be understated – not overstated. Keep the accessories quiet and allow your credentials to speak the loudest. Afterwards, if you want to show out a little, go right ahead, but in moderation. But we’ll talk about that another day.

Gent Hints – Neck Maintenance

Drake's Madder NecktieRitual: a detailed method of established procedure that is faithfully or regularly followed.

 Now, with respect to a gentleman’s wardrobe, maintaining a set of rituals can be greatly beneficial, especially with regards to preventative maintenance. Nothing can subtract years off the life expectancy of a particular item in your closet more than neglect and ambivalence. A gentleman must adhere to a rigid, set rule of practices that ensure proper upkeep and preservation, or he may witness a wardrobe that prematurely succumbs to irreversible disrepair. Today, we are focusing on the necktie. In the following paragraph, you will find a tried and true method that will definitely extend your necktie’s longevity. Every evening after work, I follow the same ritual as I remove my necktie. Trust, it works.

Now, neckties are delicate creatures to begin with, and the continual knotting process can administer a brutal toll on its fabric. Therefore, it is paramount that a gentleman develops the habit of rolling his necktie after he has finished wearing it. First, it is wise to loosen your necktie and carefully reverse the knotting to return it to its untied form. Next, and this is the important part, start at the narrow end and tightly roll along its length. Given that I have enough neckties to endure until the following week, I usually leave my neckties coiled until I unroll them, smooth out the remaining wrinkles, and either hang or place in my dresser drawer. The timetable is up to you. Nevertheless, the key is rolling your necktie nice and tight to hammer out those wrinkles. And never, and we mean never, leave your necktie knotted when you’re not wearing it. You’ve been warned.

Gent Hints – Remix The Double-Breasted Jacket

Denzel Washington - GQ - Nathaniel Goldberg

Denzel Washington – GQ – Nathaniel Goldberg

For the gentleman that desires to suit himself within an armor of elegance, he cannot go wrong by employing the dutiful services of a double-breasted blazer. Aided by an unexpected resurgence in popularity, the venerable classic enjoyed a modest level of ubiquity in the world of menswear last year. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a certain connotation that arrives with the double-breasted blazer – only men of a certain age wear them. And by certain age, I am speaking of an age that effectively qualifies them for a discounted breakfast at Denny’s. For a younger gentleman, the thoughtful utilization of said blazer can incorrectly represent a forced look. Therefore, how can one deftly remove the whispers of stuffiness without sacrificing the old-school charm that makes it unique in the first place? Well, try some of these tactics and reinterpret your classic with a contemporary makeover.

  • Sometimes a double-breasted blazer is the unhappy recipient of bad reviews because of fit. Meaning it fits like a tent. Streamline the body by having it tailored to your measurements. Don’t sacrifice comfort because you are attempting to recreate the advertisements in your favorite menswear magazine. No bunching. No tugging at the buttons. And for goodness sakes, make sure the jacket is long enough to cover your rear.
  • Button options: Your are either 4 or 6 buttons. If you are wearing a 4 button, fasten the top right button; or button the middle right button if you are rocking a 6 button jacket. The 4 button is a little more aggressive between the two. So, if you are looking to make a statement; I would definitely rock with the 4 button version.
  • Move away from the standard hues for your dress shirt. Yes, we are talking that conservative pair of white or blue. Incorporate some unexpected color and jettison the conservative baggage that can weigh you down.
  • And truthfully, the same advice can be applied to the color of the jacket itself. Blue doesn’t just have to be blue. And gray doesn’t just have to be gray. Each color possess varying temperatures and tone; explore and see what designers are offering.
  • As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to relegate yourself to blue or gray. Nowadays, a gentleman has options aplenty in the color department.
  • And further more…a little pattern never hurt a gentleman either. I hear that checks are pretty popular too. And that includes both your dress shirt and jacket.
  • Don’t forget to accessorize. And the cheapest accessory in your arsenal will most likely be a pocket square. And we’re not speaking of your solid white cotton handkerchief. We’re trying to move out of the conservative shadow remember? Instead, try a pocket square in the same vein as these beauties. Skip the neat fold; stuff that bad boy in your breast pocket and keep it moving.

Standard Recommendations – The Mesh Laundry Bag & Drying Rack

Laundry AssistantsIt is an inevitability that every individual will painfully experience in their lifetime. Naively you will ready your soiled garments for a routine wash, rinse, and spin inside your trusted high-efficiency washing machine; completely oblivious to the dangers that await your modest load of hosiery that have tagged along for the adventure. Immediately following the completion of the cleaning phase, it is now time to sufficiently remove the resulting dampness from your load. Into the dryer they go. And when that is complete, you will readily retrieve your shirts, khakis, jeans, hell – even your underwear.

They all make it out fine. But not your socks. Yes, 10 socks enter, only 7 make it out alive. The laundry room, call it the Bermuda Triangle of Hosiery, because you can be damn sure you’ll lose some of your favorite socks. Therefore, may I suggest a possible resolution? It involves two items that can be procured at a Target, a Wal-Mart, or whatever store that tickles your fancy. May I present to you: the mesh laundry bag and the drying rack.

The solution is simple. Toss your socks into the small mesh laundry bag and zip it up securely. Toss that bad boy into the washing machine and remove it when the cycle is complete. Now, instead of throwing those clean socks into the dryer, unfold your drying rack and have them dry naturally in the open air. Boom! Every sock is accounted for. You no longer have to lose a beautiful pair of striped wool socks because one vanished – never to be seen again. Neither item takes up much space, and both are inexpensive to buy. Trust, it is a worthwhile investment. Unless of course you like wearing mismatched socks. I didn’t think so.

Gent Hints- Fun in the Details

Neumok GreenSure, as burgeoning gentlemen of style, we are instructed to carefully adopt a safe, conservative aesthetic to lay the framework for a future wardrobe draped in sophistication. And that is most certainly understandable; learn the basic rules first, and then smartly implement the necessary modifications that best characterize your individuality. Suffice it to say, I am at that stage of personal expression that sometimes eschews the convention from which my style was erected upon. Hence the spinach green wingtip lace-ups. And the mossy socks sprinkled with sunny yellow polka dots. And the cobalt blue shoelaces. So, even those gentlemen with a predilection for tradition, shaking up your style every now and again should be welcomed. Style shouldn’t be too stiff; style should be fun. Here are a few pointers to help you achieve that goal.

  • Don’t divorce yourself from the basics. Yes, my shoes may be green, but for all intents and purposes, they remain true to the natural aesthetic of a classic brogue wingtip. Embrace tradition, but remix it a little.
  • Color, color, and yes – color. Now, I cannot fully endorse wearing blinding amounts of it, but adding a smidgen here or there can be very beneficial.
  • Have fun with the details. Begin injecting life into your presentation by way of using accessories – socks, neckties, pocket squares, belts, shoelaces, tie bars, etc.
  • Of course, a polka dot suit (sorry Mr. Wade) is far too garish. Save the polka dots, paisley, and other unconventional patterns for small venues like the accessories mentioned above.
  • Confidence. If you are going to rock a pocket square adorned with cute little butterflies, a gentleman better have a copious amount of confidence oozing from his pores.
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