You know me – I don’t shy away from the tough topics. I blog about what I believe and let the chips fall where they may. And oh yes, they do fall. Recently, I have blogged about conquering your fears, creating good luck, battling complacency, indulging your inner schizo – all very helpful topics, doncha think? But these are all traits and skills that can be learned. What if your issue is more nature than nurture? What if the water in your gene pool is a little less than fresh? What if….actually, Fred Sanford said it best in 1973 so I’ll just ask – if you stuck your face in dough, would you make gorilla cookies?
The Truth about Beauty and Success
Studies confirm what we already know – that good looking people have advantages in life. Maybe it’s not fair, but listen up – that’s the way it is. A Princeton study showed that after an interview, an attractive person’s chance of getting a callback is over ten percentage points higher than Fugly Dooright. A hottie of either sex earns, on average, 3-4% more than a nottie every year. Over a career, this compounds to more than $200,000. This is just the tip of the iceberg – attractive people are better at sales, get higher sale prices as realtors, get better performance appraisals, and are generally seen as more valuable to their companies than their less blessed cohorts. And the benefits don’t stop when they leave the office – the lookers also get lighter sentences from juries, are awarded higher damages in suits, and the list goes on. These folks also bask in a phenomenon known as the “halo effect”, where because of one exceptional quality (in this case, looks), they are also perceived to be kinder, more honest, and more talented than others. And until Congress adds “facial symmetry” to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is no law preventing discrimination against unattractive people. Companies can (and do) hire who they believe will perform best, and those with the lucky lineage of above average height, average weight, nice hair and white teeth clearly have an advantage.
Lick a Tic-Tac?
So what’s a non-supermodel to do? If you can’t beat ‘em, do your best to join ‘em. I’m serious – this is a real issue with real economic consequences, and my advice is specific and actionable as always. In my career I have interviewed dozens of job seekers, and based on this (sometimes fragrant) experience, I believe I am qualified to dispense the following fashion tips from the House of Kolb:
#1. Tuck in your (clean and pressed) shirt. Zip your fly and be sure your shoes are clean and shined. I don’t care if you live in a dog park, but you don’t have to prove it on the floor of my office.
#2. Shower and brush your teeth (at least daily). I’m sure Oreos are great with peanut butter – ‘nuff said.
#3. Got hair? Wash it.
#4. Wear clothes that fit.
And because studies consistently show that attractive people are seen as personable, trustworthy and honest, you need to embrace that troika even if it kills you, Crankenstein. Here’s one last parting tidbit in case you’re having a tough time with this topic. During the last recession, a Newsweek study of recruiting managers found over half recommended that prospective employees spend as much time and money polishing their appearance as on polishing their resumes.
Gisele Bundchen said it best, “Always powder your T-zone and the lines going from your nose down around your mouth so you don’t look like a bulldog…”
Thanks, Gisele. What she means is, look the part.
If you don’t, someone else will.
Do you think you’re successful? Believe your personal engine is firing on all cylinders? Happy to sit back and watch the money and accolades roll in? Content with the current level of backslapping, high-fiving and general sucking-up occurring in your organization? Well, good for you sunshine. Have a seat! Do you need a pillow? A drink? Shall I peel a grape for you?
Why yes, that is my foot buried in your ass. Read on, mon frère.
Dew and Dust Bunnies
Humanoids are very adaptable. Given a few years of evolution, we could all live in empty milk cartons and draw sustenance from dew and dust bunnies. And here lies the problem – we get used to stuff too easily. Take success as an example. After you’ve worked hard and made the smart decisions, you get to reap the rewards. But is there a danger of becoming complacent, of forgetting how you got that job done? There sure is – I see it all the time. It can happen very easily in certain professions (pop stars, actors, athletes). When everyone you know (i.e. everyone on your payroll) insists that you’re brilliant, sexy, unbeatable, hilarious – after a while you get used to it and tend to believe them. It happens to us regular folks too, but in a slightly different way. You start your career full of piss and vinegar, but over time normal problems pop up like bills, kids, and fixing things you had to have that now are broken. Let’s pretend someone came up to you at a barbecue after all that and asked “I hear you work at XYZ Corp – what’s it like?” What do you think that person’s most likely answer would be?
Death by Complacency
The wrong one. Anything other than “We have accomplished some exciting things and I really enjoy the challenges we face” is death by complacency. But the most likely answer is something like “It’s OK, it pays the bills.”
That’s inspiring. What if the inquirer was a recruiter, or a new neighbor starting a business, or Mark Cuban’s business manager? I guarantee if THAT was your reply you would never hear from any of them again.
When is Good, Good Enough?
So back to the problem at hand. How does one avoid falling into the trap of coasting through life on the glory of past success? When is good, good enough? For me, the answer is….never. I have to work harder than anyone I know to justify drawing breath. What makes me nervous? I don’t know you, or you or you. I don’t see this as fear, but a motivational rocket booster to the land of milk and honey. If you recently experienced a great success, how did you do it? What was your decision tree? Who did you bounce ideas off of – who helped you get it done? Keep your focus and if needed, adjust your future strategy. The same is true if you just experienced a failure – what happened? Don’t accept it – learn from it. It’s ironic that “getting used” to success leads to the same result as getting used to failure.
Peyton Manning once asked, “Do you want to make things happen or do you want to watch things happen?” Exactly.
I’ll take my foot back now.