Avoid Facial Reconstruction This Holiday Season

Secret Santa season is right around the corner. Offices around the country will soon draw slips of paper with a collective, yuletide hope it’ll read the name of the hot new secretary, Denise. Chances are it won’t, and she’ll get her gift from Randy the egg salad sandwich guy. Better luck next year, Denise.

Giving a gift is like petting a stray dog—you could make a new best friend, or end up in the hospital with face bites.

Here’s how to not get face bites:

Classify. Think about the recipi­ent’s personality and lifestyle. Then, begin to classify their features. Are they old, young, male, or female? Are they athletic, technologically savvy, or artistic? 

Gmail? No, no, I need Email.

Listen. In the weeks or months before buying a gift, listen for hints. Pay at­tention to phrases like, “I’m so tired of this old…” or “Wouldn’t it be great if I had a…” or “I’d freeze-dry a wheelbarrow of babies for a…” Sometimes the recipient may not even realize they needed the gift you gave, which means they’ll appreciate it even more.

Let’s pretend we didn’t hear that. I’m gonna go bleach my ears now.

Research. Asking the person what they want is a last resort. Talk to friends or relatives of the person to discover their likes, dislikes, hob­bies, interests, etc.

What do you mean ‘he enjoys ghost-hunting?’

Compare. See what options you have as far as gift types, styles and brands. If you’re buying a gift for an avid gardener, choose something durable that will last for years instead of a cheaper product. Also seek current trends and the latest fashions.

Here’s potting soil from every continent!

Be decisive. Narrow down your ideas and pull the trigger. Don’t worry if they’ll absolutely love it. If you did your homework, I guarantee your face will end up bite-free.

If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.

Presentation. Opening gifts is half the fun, so spend time choosing the best way to present it. Don’t throw together a half-assed newspaper and duct tape wrap job like drunk Uncle Lenny. Nobody likes drunk Uncle Lenny.

It’s amazing what Lenny can do when he’s sober.

Now you’re prepared to spread some holiday cheer over a mug (or five) of eggnog. Just pray you don’t pick Randy. He’s been known to bite.

 

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Con Artists Speak Purdy

I love the show Boardwalk Empire. I love the acting, the script, the set, the props—everything about this show is completely eccentric and brilliant. But without a doubt, my favorite part of the show is Stephen Root. You may remember him as stapler-hoarding Milton from the movie Office Space.

Stephen Root plays a Prohibition-era FBI agent and con artist named Gaston Bullock Means. What an awesome name! What’s even cooler is the guy he plays actually existed. Means was the son of a prestigious lawyer in South Carolina and was extremely charming and clever. When talking about Means, J. Edgar Hoover once called him “the most amazing figure in contemporary criminal history.”

So why do I love this guy so much? Well, I don’t necessarily like the real Gaston Bullock Means, but I do like certain features. Not the con artist stuff—though that is interesting—but rather the way he spoke and presented himself. Stephen Root does a fantastic job at encapsulating the essence of Means in Boardwalk Empire. In the show he’s always charming, sophisticated, entrancing, and most of all, well-spoken.

I want to speak as well as this guy. Period. I’d sound ridiculous with a slow, southern drawl, but everything else I want. His vocabulary is ridiculously expansive and it’d be awesome to randomly use it during dinner parties, family gatherings, Taco Bell drive-thrus, etc.

Want to start beefing up your vocabulary with me? Follow these steps and we’ll be confusing fast food kitchens in no time.

1. Read books, newspapers and journals

Don’t go ahead and jump into Moby Dick. Start at your reading level and keep challenging yourself. Reading good writing is a great way to increase vocabulary because you can understand unfamiliar words more easily. When strange words are read in context, you have a better chance of figuring out what they means and how they’re used. You’ll also discover new, clever ways to group words.

2. Listen to good speakers and speeches

I love listening to Garrison Keillor podcasts because he’s a great speaker and his voice makes my ears feel like they’re getting a sponge bath. Writing for the eye is different than writing for the ear, so occasionally take a break from reading and listen to good orators.

3. Look up unfamiliar words as soon as possible

If you can’t figure out a word from it’s context, dust off the dictionary and look it up. I recommend checking the thesaurus, too, to see other similar words. It may sound weird, but looking up if the word as a noun, adjective, etc. helps you remember it better. Dictionaries also show the word’s variations and slightly different definitions.

4. Use new words when chatting

Say unfamiliar words aloud while looking them up. Next, repeat the new word in everyday conversation to learn how and when it should be used. You may receive some strange looks after dropping “quotidian” while watching football with your bros, but it’s the absolute best way to reinforce knowledge.

Don’t Overdo It:

Now that you’ve procured a proficiency in the art of locution, please, please don’t use it to annoy people. Nobody wants to listen to you ramble on using language as colorful as gummy worm poop. Employ your vocabulary modestly and only use it to help communicate more effectively. Not show off. The fifth and final step, which I didn’t include above, is to change your name to something as awesome as Gaston Bullock Means.

Mastering the Art of the Debut

Public relations is about sending and receiving messages. PR professionals make a living by monitoring and managing the flow of messages between their client and their client’s audiences. The same idea can be applied to yourself.

Personal public relations means controlling the messages you send and receive. It’s especially important when meeting new people because they instantly judge you on the messages you send—verbal or otherwise. Think about the last time you met someone. (Hopefully you were a total boss and displayed confidence and charm, if not, skip down one post.) Did you shake their hand? How did you look? Did you speak well? Did you introduce yourself, or did someone else?

The messages you send to people are either positive, neutral or negative. Telling an appropriate, work-related joke: Good. Walking with your shirt tucked into your underwear: Bad. Replacing your chair with a yoga ball: Ehh, neutral-ish, I suppose. With practice, however, you can reduce your negative messages and increase your positive, promotion-worthy messages.

How to Introduce Yourself

You’ll meet a lot of people when entering the job market. A lot. This can be good or bad depending on how comfortable you are with introductions. Follow these tips to ensure you come across as a classy, educated gentleman.

  • Always stand up for introductions
  • Be the first to offer a handshake
  • If you’re wearing gloves, remove them before shaking hands
  • Shake hands firmly, but not a vice grip
  • Look them in the eye as you speak
  • Enunciate your words—mumbling is a turn off
  • Remember names, titles and other important information

Practice doing these in the mirror until they feel natural and become second nature. It may feel silly, but fumbling over your job title is much less embarrassing when you’re alone.

How to Introduce Others

The job market is highly stratified. When introducing two people, make decisions based on rank and importance. Introduce lower people to higher people—not the other way around.

Example: “Mr. Bossman, I’d like to introduce our newest intern, Joe Smallfry.”

If you’re introducing two people with equal rank, introduce the person you know the least to the person you know the most.

Example: “Mr. Bossman, let me introduce Mr. Strangeman.”

How to Introduce Groups

  • Introduce everyone slowly and clearly
  • Let them to shake hands and say hello when being introduced
  • Avoid confusion by avoiding personal details
  • Try to find common ground so everyone can feel more unified

In a group of eight or more, it’s a good idea to introduce them as a unit, rather than individually.

Example:

Good: “Mr. Dingus, I’d like to introduce our engineering team.”

Bad: “Mr. Dingus, I’d like to introduce Matt, Michael, Mabel, Mark, Madeline, Megan, Malachi and Bill.

Maintaining a constant sense of personal public relations will keep you ahead. Focus on what you’re saying and what you’re doing. Body language is key. It’s easy to tell if someone says they’re paying attention, when they actually look distracted by something else. Probably that yoga ball you’re sitting on.

Meet the Boss, Like a Boss

First impressions are everything. Presenting yourself well is the best way to gain an edge in the job market. There’s no second chance to meet someone, unless they got amnesia, so strive toward perfection.

The best way to make a first impression is to stand out from everyone else. Sticking out in a negative way—like being the guy with nasty fish breath—is probably a bad idea. Being the guy with an awesome fishing story, however, will guarantee they keep thinking about you long after you’re gone.

Here are a few subtle tricks that will ensure you’re always putting your best foot forward—whether in job interviews, business meetings or formal introductions. With practice, you’ll always come off as a charming, professional gentleman.

Dress Well:

A pressed suit and clean shirt won’t necessarily make you stand out, but you won’t be seen as a slob.

Shake Well:

A handshake can subtly show your character. I’ve known bosses to disregard job applicants simply because they had a dead fish handshake. Always make sure you shake hands with a firm, manly grasp.

Speak Well:

Speak with conviction, and enunciate your words. Speaking clearly will show you’re a confident and capable man and keep your audience from getting confused. Don’t be afraid to pause occasionally to gather your thoughts.

Name Well:

Using the other person’s name will let their guard down and make them feel at ease. It’s also a sign that you learn quickly and were paying attention to their introduction. Don’t say their name too much or you’ll sound like a serial killer.

Listen Well:

Pay attention and give feedback when speaking with someone to let him or her know you’re engaged. Body language is important here. Make lots of eye contact, sit up straight and don’t fold your arms. Occasionally say “okay,” and “alright.”

Project Well:

Periodically take the emphasis off yourself to avoid sounding cocky. Engage the other person by having them speak about their work, experiences, feelings, etc. Project attention to other people and you’ll seem more charming and modest. In an interview, for example, talk about that one professor you loved and how they prepared you for the position.

Really keep these tips in mind during first encounters, but also use them during subsequent visits. Always put your best foot—and fish story—forward.

Gentlemanliness in the Workplace

A professional job requires a professional mindset. The jobs you had as a teenager—cashier, lifeguard, waiter, landscaper—meant you were at the bottom of the food chain. You still had to competent and punctual, but you were only expected to do one thing: work.

Now you (hopefully) have a professional job in an office. The game has changed and the stakes are higher.  Possessing a gentlemanly etiquette will be the difference between scaling the corporate ladder and dwelling in the same cubicle for 20 years. Just pray it isn’t next to Randy, the egg salad sandwich guy.

Etiquette in the Workplace

Business etiquette is about knowing your place and who stands higher or lower than you on the corporate ladder. Sellers, for example, concede to buyers. Workers concede to their bosses and so on up the chain of command. Here are some rules of thumb when working in a professional setting.

ALWAYS:

Know your place. Respect the chain of command and always know who’s above and below you. People too big for their britches are annoying.

Present yourself well. Dress professionally and adhere to the company dress code. Come to work clean, fresh and un-wrinkled. A touch of cologne is fine, but too much will piss off your coworkers. Remember to brush your teeth and wear deodorant.

Remain casual with coworkers. Staying friendly and fostering healthy business relationships are vital to maintaining a happy work environment. Cut loose and make stupid jokes with your friends after hours. In the office, keep conversations light and avoid morbid topics.

Do random acts of kindness. If you’re the last to use something, put it back the way you found it. Make a new pot of coffee and refill supplies. If you’re feeling extra nice, buy muffins for a meeting every once in a while. Spread kindness and it will be returned.

Be kind to subordinates. Respect is earned by respect given. Nobody wants to work under a jerk, and happy employees are more willing to go the extra mile and help you out.

NEVER:

Make excuses. You’ll look like you can’t take responsibility for your actions. Even if something was out of your control, briefly mention what happened and move forward.

Be late. It’s easy to notice if someone is late. Punctuality is a trait built over time.

Be annoying. Being a good coworker is like being a good roommate. You’ll most often operate in close quarters, so cut out bad habits like playing loud music and eating other people’s food. Under no circumstances should you show someone more than two pictures of your cat.

Get too personal. Work relationships are meant to be kept light so you can focus on, well, work. Don’t ask personal questions and never ever talk about religion, politics or personal finances.

A positive, dapper attitude will set you up for success. Coworkers are more willing to work with you and in turn, you’ll be more desirable to work with. Stay alert, be a gentleman and under no circumstances pack egg salad sandwiches for lunch.

Grandpa’s Cocktails Will Get You Hired

Plenty of people have great GPAs. Give yourself a pat on the back if you’re one of those people. But your GPA is only a tiny part of your résumé. During a job interview, employers want to get a sense of who you are by asking questions about skills, experiences and hobbies. With so much competition in the job market, how do you stand out?

Employers are more likely to hire you if they believe you’re a one-of-a-kind fella who’s competent in areas outside of  work. Start developing small hobbies—the less expected, the better. These hobbies help keep your brain stimulated and improve creativity, thus increasing your competence and problem-solving skills at work. Employers see you as an investment, and you’ll likely land the job if you have a well-rounded personality. Wouldn’t you hire the guy who has a solid GPA and makes his own fly-fishing lures?

So you aren’t a master in the art of fly tying. Let’s start with something simpler: cocktails. A basic understanding of drink mixing is a great way to stand out, show creativity and have some fun after work. Anyone can drink a good beer, but finding and mixing a classy cocktail is much more technical. With a little practice, the art of mixology is an extremely marketable skill to possess.

Old-fashioned drinks are in right now—thank you Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire—so let’s learn the classics. Anyone can appreciate these six manly beverages:

Old Fashioned:

  • 3 oz of bourbon
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 splash of soda water
  • 1 dash of bitters

Serve over ice in a lowball glass and top with a maraschino cherry and orange wedge.

Manhattan:

  • 3 oz of scotch whiskey
  • 1 oz of sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash of bitters

Shake with ice until chilled. Serve in a martini glass and top with a maraschino cherry.

Mint Julep:

  • 3 oz of bourbon
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 dash of soda water
  • 6-8 springs of fresh mint

Serve over ice in a highball or lowball glass and top with mint sprigs.

Tom Collins:

  • 2 oz of gin
  • 1 oz of lemon juice
  • 1 oz of club soda
  • 1 tsp of sugar

Serve over ice in a highball glass and top with a lemon wedge.

Martini:

  • 3 oz of gin
  • 1 oz of dry vermouth

Shake with ice until chilled.  Serve in a martini glass with olives.

Bloody Mary:

  • 3 oz of tomato juice
  • 2 oz of vodka
  • 1 oz of lemon juice
  • 2 dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash of salt

Serve over ice in a highball glass and serve with a stalk of celery.

Practice mixing these cocktails a few times and you’ll be ready to impress your boss and co-workers. Invite them to happy hour or host your own cocktail party after work. You can even offer to mix drinks at the company’s next Christmas party. Or fly-fishing trip.

Ouch, Your Suit Cut Me!

If a man’s wardrobe were a Swiss Army Knife, his suit would be the blade. Every piece of clothing is a different tool and each tool has a unique purpose. A sharp suit is just as versatile as a sharp blade and both can be used in many situations. Sport coats are the scissors and bow ties are probably that weird hole punch thing.

One good suit is all you need. If you don’t know where to begin, a simple black suit will come in handy for job interviews, funerals, weddings, graduations, formal parties and special events. Once you have a standard black suit, begin beefing up your collection with an arsenal of sport coats, slacks and vests.

Smashing.

You don’t need a Madison Avenue-sized wallet to look like Don Draper. We all have a clothing budget, and professional clothes aren’t always our top priority.The best way to look good while saving enough money for your next case of Ramen noodles is to use a tailor. That’s right, those old guys with ear hair and measuring tapes aren’t just for CEOs and Italian gangsters. You can usually find a quality tailor at your local dry cleaner. Tailoring off-the-rack clothes will save you time, money and from looking like a hand-me-down schmuck.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or secondhand clothing store
  2. Find dress clothes with the best fit possible
  3. Have the clothes altered by your tailor, then get them dry cleaned
  4. Look like Donald Trump

I bought a gray sport coat and vest at my Salvation Army last month for $3 bucks. They  fit well enough to avoid tailoring, but I can always have them altered in the future. When selecting your clothes keep in mind that certain alterations are easier—and cheaper—than others. Some modifications are simply impossible. Depending on the area, most alterations cost between $15 and $50 dollars. Hemming the length of sleeves and trousers is usually cheaper and less complicated than shoulders and waists.

Tailors CAN:

  • Take in the shoulders
  • Lengthen sleeves
  • Shorten sleeves
  • Take in the sides (make slimmer)
  • Shorten the jacket
  • Improve the neck area

Tailors CAN’T:

  • Extend the shoulders
  • Let out the sides (make roomier)
  • Lengthen the jacket

If you must, it’s better to buy a looser jacket because a tailor can always take in certain areas. Extending areas is usually hopeless because there’s only so much fabric to work with.

Don’t forget to develop a relationship with your tailor. They’ll be more accommodating, patient and willing to pursue the perfect fit. If you’re having trouble finding a good tailor, ask your friends or check online for local reviews. Don’t be shy to call ahead and schedule a appointment so you both have plenty of time to work together.

Now that you know the secret to looking Swiss Army sharp without going broke, check out what to look for while shuffling through Goodwill.

Single Breasted:

The clean, midcentury Mad Men look is a classic. Look for crisp gray, blue or chestnut colored suits with a slim waist, narrow lapel and upper handkerchief pocket. The investment will pay off for years because this refined style will likely never go out of date.

Double Breasted:

Yet another classic making a comeback. The double breasted jacket is perfect for taller, thinner men because the buttons are placed farther up. However, this particular cut may need more work at the tailor because an irregular fit will look oblique and wonky. But if you can pull off this style you’ll be a god among men.

Three Piece:

Finding a quality three piece suit at Goodwill is a hole in one. Look more formal by wearing the vest underneath, or go simple with just the jacket and slacks. You can also wear the vest by itself at semi-formal occasions. Having options like this will increase your wardrobe with minimal cost and effort.