About a dozen years ago I started a management consulting firm and said sayonara to the corporate grind … and my Gillette razor. What can I say; I’ve always hated shaving, so I traded in the clean-cut exec look for the real me: grubby.
Not everyone appreciated the new look. When I stopped by to have lunch with one CEO, my old boss looked me up and down, and said, “You look like a rock star.” No, he did not mean that in a good way. Another former CEO remarked, “You need to stand closer to your razor, son.” And so on.
Did I take the feedback to heart? Hell no. And while I’ve never exactly been a trendsetter, look around. Today, everyone’s got stubble, a beard, a stache, or what not. I mean, did you catch Square CEO Jack Dorsey when he first came back to run Twitter? He was like Silicon Valley meets Duck Dynasty.
Having been at this for more than a decade now, I’ve pretty much mastered the personal grooming pitfalls of the entrepreneurial gig. And that includes what most people – unlike my former bosses – would be too polite to say to your grubby face. Fortunately for you, there isn’t a polite bone in my body.
So, if you’re a startup founder, a small business owner, self-employed, or work from home a lot and can’t exactly afford to lose any clients, associates or connections because you left the house looking and smelling like a homeless person, here are five essential personal grooming tips.
Try showering. You won’t melt. What you do is head into the bathroom – it’s the room right next to the one where you sleep – and look for a metal pipe coming out of the wall about a foot or so above your head. It’s a bit tricky but if you can figure it out, you can make water come out of it. Now grab that slippery white bar and you’re in business.
They can still see you on Skype, you know. I once sat down in front of my Mac for an early morning Skype call with the east coast, took one look at my image, and freaked. I still had bed hair. And don’t even think about wearing a decent shirt over those holey old shorts. At some point you’ll get up without thinking and it won’t be pretty.
Double-breasted suits are not back in style. Clothing designers switch things up every few years and you don’t want to look like you came out of a black and white movie or something. Try to venture out every so often and check out how people with real jobs look. If they look sort of futuristic, better hop over to Nordstrom and drop a few bucks.
Women dig the stubble; old CEOs, not so much. While the two-day stubble look has definitely taken off since I invented it, let’s face it, you’re not Tom Brady or Brad Pit. If you’re going for the big bucks, better dig up the old razor before pitching conservative corporate types.
Go to Walgreens annually, whether you need to or not. If the last time you visited a pharmacy was during the Bush administration, prepare yourself – it might be overwhelming to see all those cleaning products in one place. If you’ve forgotten what shampoo and deodorant look like, just ask someone with a nametag to help you.
While I’m obviously in no position to advise women on this sort of thing, if there’s an entrepreneurial guy in your life, you might want to do him a favor and forward this along. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.
A version of this first appeared on entrepreneur.com / Image of Jack Dorsey credit CNBC