If I had a penny for every time I heard the word “professional” in this industrial work setting I’d be the world's first trillionaire. I started abiding by the word in University or at least what I thought it meant to be professional. Oh there is hiring fair? You gotta act "professional" and what does that entail? Let me take you through what I thought it meant at the time.
First things first and first impressions matter right? I’d go out shopping and buy a 300 dollar suit which is more than you can afford for those situations. Of course, the goddamn thing needs some hemming because I’m not a giant, and that adds another 40 bucks of my beer money to the equation and of course 4-5 hours of my time! Of course, time is more valuable than all the cash in the world guys because it’s finite. we simply can't get time back. Event day, wake up in the morning and spend 40 minutes ironing your stuff. Print a bunch of resumes detrimental to the environment and then go on to practicing my 3-liners on why I want to join a certain company. Arrive early and now when you meet a potential employer be sure to make that precious eye contact and give a very very firm handshake. Make sure your resume is seamless, because any grammatical mistake will turn them off. Have your answers prepared before hand so you can look like you know your shit. Did you memorize a few things about their companies, because god forbid you do not do that. Everybody loves to sit at home and research companies because that so normal. If not, you’re getting chopped! Put your tone of voice, maintain eye contact, don’t stop that bullshit fake smile and agree with all the stuff they say. Watch your language, do not dare to tell them that you have life outside work or school, or that you like to enjoy a beer or two every once in awhile. And oh, if you swear you’re done. Make sure you hand out your resume and most importantly have one of those leather folders that show that you are “professional” because that shows who you truly are! End the conversation on a high note, give one more firm handshake, and then leave confidently. The same applies for bullshit conferences and expositions that I’ve attended as well. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.
What the hell is that? Are you kidding me? Professional in this sense is something of the past. Who the heck gets to decide what “professional” is? Here I am writing this article sitting across from this bartender, and she is one the best out there. She was angry that Steve did not sit at the bar as he was waiting for me and she damn well made sure we knew that. It’s not our first time at this bar by the way. So she was cracking a bunch of jokes, shooting the shit with customers and calling many of them out etc. This young woman has a huge following at this bar and there is 10 other dudes on this side of the bar that love what she is doing and how she is doing it. The thing is she is extremely genuine, she cares about the customers, she guided me through the “buying process” some beers and even advised me to wait a few minutes to order to get the happy hour discount! Was she acting "professional"? Not by societal standards and certain not in the so called professional/technical industry. But you know what? She is doing 10 times better than any other “professional” I have ever seen at these “professional events.”
Have you seen Steve and I in a meeting? Our close rate is 90% and we are as far from “professional” as it gets. I wear a fresh shirt with a snapback, Steve wears boots, I wear jeans on days other than Fridays, and I never wear a tie. I call clients out on shit they are doing wrong, I use profanity, I crack jokes, and I bash other companies. But most importantly, I’m honest. I’m honest as fuck. It all comes down to two goddamn things: 1) providing value and 2) building rapport. It doesn't matter how you look or what you say, how expensive your suit is or if you even have a resume. It is all about the content of your character because that’s the way it should be and that’s the way it is at QuadRipple. People are not dumb, people know if you care or not. You can shine your shoes and gel your hair all you want but it's not gonna close the sale for you.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr.,
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Here is my simple advice. Be genuine and be yourself because you can only act as someone else for so long. By being yourself you will attract people that are like minded, that have the same values, that want the same things and they don’t give a rats ass what you wear and if you swear. This preconceived notion of professionalism and professional attire is going by the wayside, just like the bowtie did. Have a look at how Zuck’s dresses or how Gary Vee and Tony Robbins talk. By no means would be considered professional, but all of them are successful and fulfilled nonetheless.