The Midlife Bachelor Personal Makeover
>> Personal Appearance Rev 2.0 – Look the Part
>> Personal Hygiene 101
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Personal Hygiene 101
First impressions often make or break everything concerning a potential date with a new woman you’ve just met. And the first ten seconds of any first impression are often dominated by your basic appearance – what you look like, and your hygiene. I’m talking about the bare basics here – your hair, your teeth, your breath, the way you are dressed, if you are clean, etc. These core personal attributes transcend the realm of dating and women … as they to a degree tell the world in a nutshell what kind of person you are – as if you are wearing a sign around your neck. As a midlife bachelor, you need to be aware of these personal hygiene basics, and optimize them as best you can AT ALL TIMES … because good hygiene is more of a lifestyle, and not something that should be turned off or on, like a light switch.
I actually have a lot of strong opinions concerning personal hygiene due to the career I’ve had as a sales manager for a high tech company. One of the many functions I perform at work is to take young electrical engineers in their mid-twenties – and change them from being pure engineers into top quality engineering salespeople who sell very technical products. Some of these young male engineers either were not raised properly by their parents, or they somehow lost a lot of their “personal upkeep” skills in engineering school. Whether you are a new technical salesperson or a midlife bachelor – the bottom line is that you are essentially going out into the world to SELL YOURSELF first and foremost … and you’ve got to get the basics of personal hygiene right before you do anything else.
Hygiene Challenges I’ve Seen
Before I get into some specific coaching, I want to go over several examples of challenges I’ve personally seen concerning hygiene and basic personal appearance. Some of these examples come from friends of mine out in the dating world, while others come from my work experiences. I believe you will understand why they are all relevant, and hopefully they will get you thinking about your own core hygiene attributes.
Last year, my friend, Mike, came to me, and asked me what I thought he ought to do in order to increase his chances of getting a date (since he hadn’t had a date in quite a while). At that time, Mike at age 41 had long shoulder-length blonde hair, and typically wore t-shirts and blue jeans everywhere. He would NEVER dress up – in fact, one time when he saw me in a full suit, he said to me, “Dude – the only time you’ll get me in a suit like that is to dress my dead corpse in it”. Anyway, my first suggestion to Mike was that he buy some new more formal-looking clothes to go out in, and also cut his hair. I mean – at age 41, long hair is kind of a liability (at least in Southern California). Now that may not be true if, say, you are a rock star – but Mike is a contractor. And Mike’s hair usually looked kind of scraggly – as I cannot ever think of a time when it actually looked good long. Since Mike had also apparently been repeatedly told to cut his hair by his hot hairdresser, he finally agreed to do it – and he looked so much better that it was amazing. It was like he changed into a different person. Shortly thereafter, Mike also took my other suggestion, and went to the local Nordstrom … and purchased himself several nice pairs of slacks and a blazer. Just for fun, I arranged with one of my female friends (who knew Mike beforehand) to get a group of her girlfriends together (who had never seen Mike before). These women, I, and my other buddy, Greg, all met for drinks – with the purpose being the unveiling of the New Mike. We all got there before Mike, and as he entered the bar with his new short hairdo, blazer, and slacks - I introduced him to the group as “Mike Version 2.0”. The women applauded, and Mike was embarrassed – but I tell you, the change in Mike’s appearance was absolutely astounding. He had completely lost the prior “white trash” look, and now appeared to be a successful professional man! The ladies were all impressed with his new look! [He was still conversationally challenged – but at least he got the hygiene basics right … which was a good start!]
Here is a work-related hygiene story for you – more like a nightmare, I suppose. Recall that one of my functions as the Southern California sales manager for a high tech company is to take young mid-twenties electrical engineers, and turn them (hopefully) into successful salespeople. One such young engineer was named Tom – and he was my brand-new Pasadena-area salesperson. Tom was a very smart guy. Actually all of my salespeople are extremely smart … they have bachelor’s degrees and sometimes masters degrees in electrical engineering (or something very similar). And they have to have had at least a 3.0 grade point average in college in order to get hired by the company I work for. Engineering is an odd profession because it is usually brains and your diploma that gets you your first job. But selling in the high tech world is very similar to other types of sales positions out there – you sell yourself first … and then you sell whatever product you’ve got.
Right out of the starting block in his first week with me, Tom looked like shit. He had really bad breath – like he didn’t brush his teeth. [He was also a “close talker” or “space invader” – which means he was one of those guys who got within six inches of your face when he was talking to you … so his toxic breath (especially in the morning) would just about flatten a person.] Tom dressed semi-formally – long-sleeve shirt, and slacks, and formal shoes … but his shirts were wrinkled, and often smelled, as though he had worn them more than one day before having them laundered. His shoes were not polished, and looked like he had went on a mountain hike in them … they had that “lived-in” look. He also wore the same tie every day. [In fairness to Tom, I think he actually had two different ties total.] To make matters worse, Tom had a zit farm on the sides of his face, and he would constantly unconsciously pick at them during customer meetings – and at the end of the meeting, he would extend his hand to shake the customer’s hand. [I would NEVER shake his hand after witnessing this – yuck!]
I struggled with how to address these issues with Tom – as I had never in my life encountered anyone with such poor basic hygiene. After thinking about it for a week or two, I decided first that if I ever met Tom’s mother I would slap her face, and ask her angrily where she was when Tom was growing up. Next, I decided that Tom through his poor hygiene was misrepresenting the company we work for – and that I could not allow this to continue … and so my mission became to fix this young salesman. I decided on the direct approach, and just told the guy what I thought he needed to do. You might think it was easy for me – but it really was not … it was embarrassing, both for me and for him. I told the guy (on multiple occasions because I don’t think he believed me at first) that he needed to get rid of his perpetual bad breath by brushing his teeth, using mouthwash, and carrying around mints or gum or something to refresh his breath before every meeting. I also told him to clean up his wardrobe, to get new shoes and keep them polished, and to be mindful of his nervous habits (like the zit-picking). It took months, but Tom slowly got the idea. He would slip up periodically, and then I always came down on him. I probably sound like a very mean sales manager – but believe me, if you met this guy at that time, you would have either thrown in the towel and fired the guy, or done the same thing that I did. By the time Tom left his position working for me some two years later, he had cleaned himself up quite a bit. He wasn’t perfect – but he was no longer a mess. I had lunch with him about a year and a half later – and surprisingly Tom had gotten married. His appearance was far better than when he left his job with me – so I imagine he either cleaned himself up, or the woman he married cleaned him up.
Mike and especially Tom had basic personal hygiene challenges – Mike with his white trash hair, and Tom with his bad breath and his zit farm. Mike had also been missing a tooth – it was not in the front, but rather four teeth from the front … he had just had it replaced prior to the hair/wardrobe update I described … as he knew that was a major problem all along. My point with these stories – that first ten second impression that any person would have with either of these guys was usually extremely biased against them. When you looked at Mike (with the long hair, the missing tooth, and the t-shirt/jean wardrobe) you instantly thought to yourself “loser, drugs, party”. When you looked Tom in the face (remember he was a close-talker), if his bad breath didn’t instantly wilt you then his zit-picking nervous habit would surely inspire nausea. Now – to put this all into midlife bachelor perspective … if you were a woman, would you want to KISS EITHER OF THESE GUYS? Hell no! Actually, in fairness to both – there were, in fact, women who were attracted to Mike and Tom the way they were … as there is always someone for everyone. I’m talking more about women, in general, here – most women would not have anything to do with either of them. The personal hygiene updates I am advocating for you, the midlife bachelor, are oriented at making you a more universally appealing morsel.
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