Men's work style

Personal Branding for Career Success

We had a great time in Chicago last weekend - weather aside! As I mentioned in last week’s post, we were very excited (and a little nervous) for an upcoming event. This event was exactly what we envisioned when we founded FirstSeven! We were hired by a leading global law firm to conduct a session around Personal Branding. The session was part of a three weekend-long offsite (at the chic Soho House in Chicago) and was attended by about 35 six-year associates, a pretty equal mix of men and women.

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We knew our content was good and relevant, but we were anxious to see how it would be received by this room full of extremely successful professionals. Well, we’re happy to report it was received very enthusiastically.

We kicked off the session by talking about the role personal branding plays in executive presence, and the power of a first impression. We showcased some compelling statistics and research studies that support our premise that image can play a role in professional success. Then, we split into gender-specific breakout sessions (the men headed downstairs to the cinema room, or ‘man cave’ as we affectionately referred to it). In these break out sessions, we moved beyond the ‘why’ and into the ‘how’.  Here we walked through how to build a functional and flattering professional wardrobe. Both the men and women engaged in some interactive exercises and a robust Q&A session.

The Man Cave.

The Man Cave.

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It's always a good day when you’re able to do something you love, with people you like, in a cool space, where you feel you’re really making an impact!

Night before prep!

Night before prep!

We offered samples from  The Laundress , a female founded company that creates eco friendly detergent, fabric care and home cleaning products.  

We offered samples from The Laundress, a female founded company that creates eco friendly detergent, fabric care and home cleaning products.  

During lunch, after the breakout sessions, we overhead a man talking to group of other men (all who had participated in the session) saying ‘I mean, wearing a suit that doesn't fit, that’s career suicide!”. That statement may be a bit dramatic, but we were thrilled our content resonated!

Please contact us to discuss how we can create and deliver custom training content to meet your company’s needs!  We can participate in company off-sites, provide one-hour ‘lunch and learn’ sessions or even facilitate a happy hour or team event.

The Missing Piece in Many Corporate Training Programs

Each of us has probably experienced a moment when a leader enters a room and she instantly attracts the attention of everyone present. Heads turn, conversations halt and everyone just gravitates toward her. Perhaps you can recall a time listening to a CEO address the company or simply chatting with a successful team leader at a holiday party - you just want to listen and engage. You feel motivated and inspired, and led. These people have what some might call a wow factor, and in business it's usually referred to as Executive Presence. There’s quite a bit of research that’s been done on executive presence, and most of them come back to some version of what’s laid out below:

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Most people will agree that to be successful in many career paths, certainly those that involve high-level leadership and management, a certain level of executive presence is crucial.

Most people would also agree that companies should provide training to their employees to help guide them along in their career development and provide growth opportunities. In fact, 68% of workers said that training and development is the most important workplace policy for them. It’s particularly important to millennials, 87% say professional development opportunities are very important. (per a State of the Industry Report from ClearCompany).

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), “companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. These companies also enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training. It would seem that continuing to invest in training and development, even when there are economic downturns, is the smart play.”

So what does all this have to do with executive presence, you might ask?  Well, we’ve seen our share of really robust training programs and we’ve talked to many professionals who have been on the receiving end of these programs.  Between the three of us, we've spent decades at companies where they have truly invested in their learning & development programs; offering Presentation Skills, Conflict Management, Leadership Training, Writing & Business Communication Workshops, Negotiation Skills and Effective Brainstorming, just to name a few.  These courses are phenomenal. They help develop character, form behavior and they ensure there is substance and clear communication.  That said, we’ve yet to see any courses that focus specifically on those other key elements of executive presence - style and appearance.

That’s one of the reasons we founded FirstSeven!

According to a study done by LinkedIn, 27 percent of North American businesses are going to spend more on internal learning programs in 2018. Hopefully, some of this increased investment will fund programs to allow employees to explore the power that image has on improving their executive presence and enhancing their career!

Today we’re busy putting some final touches on a program for a top global law firm that has recognized the value of personal branding and executive presence.  We’re so excited to share it with a room full of very successful professionals. Check in next week and we'll tell you all about it!

The Stylish Man: 4 Ways to Enhance Your Office Style and Common Mistakes to Avoid

At FirstSeven, we’re equal opportunity stylists and trainers, and it’s come to our attention that we’ve been focusing all our efforts (at least here on the blog), on women.  We definitely want to be inclusive, so this week, it’s all about the guys. Appearance in the workplace matters for everyone, regardless of gender. We’ve talked at length about the science behind dressing for success, and all of that is relevant for men too. In fact, many of the studies we reference featured male participants.

We’re going to start by addressing five common mistakes men tend to make. These mistakes are easily fixed and by simply eliminating them (starting today!), you'll make huge strides in your office wardrobe game.

  1. Wrinkles:  This is simple, don’t wear anything that’s wrinkled. If you show up to the office in a wrinkled shirt, you’re basically saying you don’t care. You’ll looked frazzled and definitely won’t project an air of confidence. We don’t like to iron, so we opt for a great steamer. It works wonderfully and there’s actually something cathartic about watching the wrinkles fall out of a garment…but I digress...

  2. Short sleeve shirts & a tie:  We know it can get hot out there, and we feel for all you guys in long sleeves on the subway platform (especially when we’re in a sleeveless dress), but trust us, don’t go there. Simply choose a long sleeve shirt and roll up the sleeves. There are tons of great tutorials on YouTube that will show you the polished way to get those sleeves off your forearms, if that’s your goal.

  3. Ties that are too short:  Speaking of ties, make sure they’re the right length.  It should hit right at, or above the belt.

  4. Exposed undershirts:  If you’re going 'tie-less' and plan on unbuttoning your shirt, don’t let your undershirt peak out. Choose a v-neck option and keep the neckline clean.

  5. Ill-fitting items:  We saved this one for last, but it's probably the MOST common mistake we see (women often make this mistake too!). We’ll go into a bit more detail below, but fit is everything, and a great tailor can be your best friend.

Eliminate these mistakes from your wardrobe and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a polished, professional look. If you want to take it a step further and up your style game, start to think about a few of these areas:

Fit Comes First:

We’ll do a post focusing on fit in the next month or so, it's that’s important. Most men who fall into the trap of wearing ill-fitting garments choose pieces that are too large. Not many men can buy off-the-rack and have it fit perfectly, but that’s where a good tailor comes in handy. Also, many retailers offer complimentary on-site alterations - definitely take them up on it.

Once you put on a suit that fits you like a glove, you’ll never want to wear anything else. In a casual office, a great fitting pair of denim will be an instant upgrade. Try a slim fitted button down and you’ll wonder why you ever chose those baggy ones. A sport coat that lies flat at the shoulders, buttons perfectly and shows just the right amount of cuff will make a world of difference. You’ll stand up a little straighter, speak with more confidence and your colleagues and clients will be sure to take notice too.

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Think in Color

With mens workwear, many guys tend to err on the side of safe. We get it, it’s easier to be safe. But let's face it, it’s also boring. Safe has turned into its own uniform; white or blue dress shirt (or polo or tee in a casual office) and black, navy or tan dress pants (or khakis or jeans in a casual office). If this ‘uniform’ sounds familiar to you, we urge you to incorporate some color and maybe step outside your comfort zone just a bit. Pink (soft, not sweet) is a great color on men, specifically in professional wear. Trade in your blue dress shirt for a pink one and see how you feel. Yellows, reds, purples and greens are also great additions. 

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Play With Prints:

Once you’ve mastered fit and color, it’s time to move on to prints. It can seem daunting to some, to mix prints, but it’s actually pretty easy. Once you’ve got it down, it opens up a whole new world of styling options.   

There are 2 main things to think about when you start mixing prints; scale & color. With scale, opposites attract. If one print is a large scale, choose a smaller sale for your second print. When thinking about color, there should be some commonality across the prints, something that ties them together.

The Devil is in the Details

The details of an outfit are what will really set it apart and establish you as the style guy in your office. We talked about ties a bit, they’re a great place to start if you wear ties to the office. We also love a pocket square. A pocket square for a guy is equivalent to statement jewelry for a woman. It has the power to elevate an otherwise basic look. It can also be the cherry on top of a really stylish ensemble. Socks are another thing to think about. If you play it safe, you probably match your socks to your pants and your shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that, per say, but a colorful, even whimsical sock (we know a guy who rocks pink flamingos) can go along way in showcasing your personality and injecting some life into your work look.  

Experiment, have fun and follow us for more specific styling tips for men in the months to come!