In this full hour interview, RP Jason Grill discusses JGrill Media, Sock 101, and his political past.
Lou is a management consultant and stylish man about town.
We sat down with him at the Michael Andrews Bespoke studio and discussed what makes him tick when it comes to menswear.
He also reveals his favorite pieces from his vintage cufflink collection.
We all know the story of the local cobbler who was so busy making shoes for his customers that he didn’t have time to make shoes for his family. I have led and participated in hundreds of organizational visioning sessions but in 1998 it was clear to me that my own family needed a shared vision for the future. I was determined and proclaimed that we would spend New Year’s Eve 1998 together as a family working on our family vision. Under duress my wife and three children amused me and participated. My wife found the actual document I used to facilitate our visioning session in a file. I hadn’t seen it in ten years and the question remains relevant today. Does your family have a shared vision?
Here is the document I used to get us talking as a family ten years ago. Maybe the questions will enable a similar conversation with your family.
Kaplan Family Visioning 12/31/1998
Imagine it is the year 2008. The world survived the dreaded year 2-K disaster and the Kaplan family is thriving in the new millennium. It is hard to imagine that ten years have passed since that silly New Year’s Eve in 1998 when our dad made us stay at home together and develop a family vision. He said it was a mental picture or image of the kind of family we wanted to be. And like any vision it wouldn’t happen by accident but because everyone in our family wanted to achieve it and worked hard to make it happen. Well, ten years have passed. Let’s see how we did in living up to the family vision we created that New Year’s Eve right after dad won the family monopoly game!
Before we can discuss the kind of family we have become in the year 2008 we should start by discussing the kind of individuals we have become. I can’t believe how far we came as individuals. It will help us with our family vision to understand what each of us will be doing in the year 2008. Once we have a picture of ourselves as individuals we can take a look at how we relate together as a family.
How old are you in 2008? Where do you live? What kind of home do you live in?
Are you still in school? What grade (high school, college, graduate school)? Where? What do/did you study? What kind of grades do/did you get?
Describe your personal relationships (boyfriend/ girlfriend)? Husband/wife? Kids! How about friends? Do you have a lot of friends?
What role does music play in your life? Do you play any instruments? How often do you play?
How much traveling have you done? What parts of the world have you seen? What parts do you plan to see?
How much do you read? What do you like to read? Do you read a newspaper every day? (Maybe there won’t be newspapers ten years from now!)
How much do you write? Does your job require you to write? Do you write on your own? What do you like to write about? (your mother has been encouraging me to write more…blame her….she has a habit of encouraging all of us to be better…doesn’t she…I think one of her best traits)
What hobbies/sports are you active in? How active are you? Do you exercise? Maybe we should know how much you weigh! Are you a sports fan? What sports? Have the Red Sox made it to the World Series in the last ten years? Perhaps you live somewhere else and have become a traitor and don’t root for the Red Sox any more!
What are the most important things in your life in 2008?
Now that we can picture what each of us is up to in 2008 and can admire our personal successes we can start to discuss what kind of family we have become.
OK so the Kaplan clan is alive and well in the year 2008. Who would’ve doubted that each of us would have an exciting and positive view of the future? It’s one of the great things about our family….the fact that as individuals we are all smart, funny, ambitious and have a ton of optimism about the future. And of course it is the humor we share with each other which makes for an “interesting” combination with our competitive spirits. I don’t know about you but I am extraordinarily proud and impressed with the individual integrity, talent, and personal motivation that we all possess.
But…(you had to know that there was a but somewhere!) …I am not as clear on what we will be like as a family. What will we be like collectively? That might seem like a corny question to ask and I know you are laughing at me for doing this. I truly believe that what our family is going to be like ten years from now will have a lot to do with the importance we place on being a family and how we treat each other NOW.
Having a vision doesn’t mean you can predict the future. Nobody can do that. It simply means that you have a view of what you would like the future to be like. Once you have a clear vision you can steer yourself toward it. It helps you know every day/month/year if you are doing the things and acting in a way that points in the direction of the vision.
Anyway, here are a few questions to get us thinking about our family vision:
How often do we see each other as a family? Are we together for the holidays? Do we go on vacations together?
What happens when our family gets bigger? Spouses? Are there any nieces and nephews? (I guess they would be grandkids huh? YIKES)
How often do we talk with each other? Do you talk often with your siblings?
What is the nature of our conversation? Are we talking about our lives and what is really going on or are we doing the adult equivalent of NOTHING REALLY!
How about email as an alternative to the phone. Are we all hooked up on line wherever we live?
OK how about something a little tougher….How close are we as a family…..really? What happens if something really great happens for one of us…. Are we all there to help celebrate? I suppose it is fair to ask the opposite question… What happens if someone gets hurt or has something bad happens, or just plain needs our help? Are we all there for each other?
How will we treat each other? Do we respect and love each other? Can other people around us see how much we respect and love each other?
And finally….How much importance do we place on family versus individual? Ultimately the importance we put on it will determine the kind of family we will be in 2008. I am willing to sign up to whatever vision we create and to work hard to make it happen. Are you?
Back to the Future 2009
I cried when I read this, ten years later. Because of its personal poignancy and its accuracy. My family is as close as ever. We communicate incessantly by every electronic means available. We added a new member to our family when my oldest daughter was married this past summer. We just returned from a great family vacation. Newspapers are almost dead and of course the Red Sox have won the World Series, twice. Life is good.
Today’s post is courtesy of speech and communication specialist, Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker, of The Whittaker Group. I was introduced to Marjorie by a client and have been thoroughly impressed by the progress she’s made with his communication skills throughout the course of my work with him.
Many of us spend a significant amount of work time in meetings ranging from routine staff and management meetings, to client presentations, and more. Unfortunately, these frequent opportunities for education, collaboration, and communication are often perceived as boring, unproductive, and even contentious. One of the most important things you can do to make your participation in meetings positive is to be a good listener. By offering your full and focused attention, and conveying respectful and socially appropriate behaviors, you can build and maintain healthy long-term business relationships. This is easier said than done. Many of us have both verbal and non-verbal habits that can sabotage our best efforts. However, if you identify and address some of these behaviors, you can learn how to exude confidence, competence and poise.
If you typically:
1. Interrupt others – If you have an enthusiastic, perhaps impulsive personality, it may be difficult not to blurt out comments at inopportune times. Take a slow, deep breath, or silently count to three before you speak. If you inadvertently interrupt someone, acknowledge it by apologizing, and encouraging the speaker to go on. For example, “I am sorry for interrupting. Please finish what you were saying.” If you need to interrupt a speaker to get a meeting back on track, or give another participant time to reply, raise your hand slightly (to chest level), and acknowledge the speaker by name. “James, I’m sorry to have to cut you off, but I promised I would leave 10 minutes for Q and A.”
2. Have a trash-mouth –
If you are a person who litters their speech with expletives to get attention or express extremes of emotions, you are negatively affecting your professionalism and credibility. It is best to refrain from inappropriate or potentially offensive remarks. Work on expanding your vocabulary so you can explicitly and appropriately convey your thoughts and emotions. Instead of saying, “It was a damn good meeting,” try something like, “The meeting exceeded all of our expectations.” Learn how to choose your words carefully. Rehearse alternative ways of expressing your feelings and ideas in a more professional manner. If your colleagues include nonnative English speakers, be careful not to use unfamiliar figurative expressions, slang or colloquialisms which may be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Also avoid jargon or acronyms that might be unfamiliar to some members of the group.
3. See the glass as half-empty –
If you are the nay-sayer in the group, think of ways to re-frame what you say with a more positive spin. Instead of remarking, “That is never going to work,” or “That is a ridiculous proposal,” try something like, “This project is going to be challenging. Perhaps if we delegate the responsibilities, we can meet the deadline.”
4. Have “monkey-brain” –
If you sit in meetings and your mind jumps from one thing to another as if you were swinging from tree to tree by your tail in the jungle, you need to learn how to focus. Of course there are a myriad of external distractors, such as people walking past your office, interesting things outside the window, office chatter, and buzzing smart phones. There are also internal thoughts that may range from a growling stomach to how you feel about your co-worker on a given day. Learn how to be in the moment. Look at the person who is speaking, and really listen with your eyes, body and mind. Offer to take the minutes. This task will ensure that you are really engaged and listening mindfully.
5. Ramble, mumble, or speak too softly or rapidly –
Sometimes it is difficult to get to the point, especially if you are asked a question that you didn’t anticipate. Instead of answering immediately, take a breath, and organize your thoughts silently. Create a mini outline in your mind so you can stay on topic and avoid rambling. A convenient acronym to help you achieve this is T-I-E-S. T= re-state or paraphrase the question or topic I= introduce your main idea E= cite 2-3 supporting facts or examples S=summarize
Make sure you speak at a reasonable pace (not too fast or slow), and at an adequate volume (not too soft or loud). Finish the ends of your words, and don’t let your voice trail off at the ends of words. Try to minimize stereotypical and meaningless remarks such as, “Do you hear what I am saying,” and empty fillers such as “you know,” “It was like,” “uh,” etc. Pause silently, and speak when you have something worthwhile to say. Make sure you speak with varied pitch and intonation, and avoid a monotone (boring) delivery.
6. Send the wrong message without saying a word –
It is extremely important to be aware of what kinds of non-verbal messages you are sending through eye contact, gestures, and body language. For example, bouncing your leg, drumming your fingers, or rolling your eyes could convey impatience or frustration. Closing your eyes/pinching the bridge of your nose, looking away and yawning could convey boredom, and raising your eyebrows, covering your mouth with your hands could convey disbelief. Much of what we say isn’t spoken at all. Try to maintain appropriate eye contact with speakers, lean forward with your body, and nod to convey interest and attentiveness.
Of course, you cannot control what other colleagues or clients say or do in meetings, but you can control your reactions. You will find that being a good listener who is in the moment will have benefits that go beyond the Boardroom.
Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker is owner and principal consultant at The Whittaker Group in Boston and is co-founder of ESL RULES. Her companies provide assessment and consultation services to both native and nonnative English speakers in a variety of fields. She develops and delivers specialized foreign and regional accent modification programs and customized workplace communication programs for those seeking to improve the clarity and effectiveness of their speech and communication. Marjorie works with clients from all over the world, both in person and via distance learning. Her training programs have been featured on The Today Show and many local media outlets.
You can contact Marjorie here.
-Content provided by Rath & Co. Men’s Style Consulting. Read more: http://rathandco.com/2014/03/follow-these-6-rules-for-success-in-any-meeting/#ixzz2xZ1CJ78r
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, excuse me, someone was talking to me about navy blazers, and I fell asleep.
The idea of navy blazers typically conjures memories of a first trip to Brooks Brothers for a rite of passage Sunday jacket, gold buttons and all. But not all navy blazers have to be a snoozefest. In fact, there are ways to take this conservative stalwart and give it a good shake-up. Read on for 5 tips on how to make a navy blazer your own:
1) Get it tailored so that it FITS you. I’ve you’re a current Rath & Co. client, or if you’ve been following me for some time, you know I’m a stickler for clothes that fit perfectly. So if you have a navy blazer that’s been hanging around your closet for a while, and the fit is within striking distance (the first thing to check is if it’s right across the shoulders), take it to a tailor you trust, and have him or her check the rest, including waist, arms and length, and make adjustments as needed. You’d be amazed at the 180 a jacket can take with a few nips and tucks.
2) Swap out those trad gold buttons for ones made of horn or gunmetal, like in the image above of a blazer I designed for a client. You’ll go from preppy to polished in no time.
3) Rather than standard navy, consider a blue with some kick to it, like midnight, cobalt or royal. Check out the same shot above of my client in his spanking new bright blue blazer. (His fiancée wasn’t complaining.)
4) Instead of a solid, try a subtly patterned fabric, like this tone-on-tone windowpane (above left — you have to expand the image to see the pattern) I just picked out for a different client. A blue hounds-tooth or pin-dot (above center and right) would also work, as would blue tweed in cold weather. From 4 + feet away, these fabrics read as solid, but up close you can see the extra oomph.
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Why do I say this?
Mostly because I am always looking for clever and cost-saving short cuts in life.
And it is fun when I come up with one.
For example, last month I decided the 5 sportscoats and suit jackets I wear most frequently all had arms thst came down to long on my shirt sleeve and I was going to do something about it. The typical person would go to a tailor or to the store they bought the jackets.
But not me. That is too expensive and time consuming for a guy like me–who can comes up with ingenious short cuts I simply tried each jacket on and estimated in my mind how much needed to be taken out of each arm. Took me all of 3 minutes.
Then I dropped them off at the cleaners with my instructions.
Ok, maybe a little too short….I know. Ahem. So this week I am taking the 5 jackets and suit jackets to a tailor to have them taken back out to the appropriate length.
Ok. So, maybe I’m not sooo smart after all. But it was fun thinking for a day or two that I really was.
There’s nothing better than a well-dressed man in a suit. And yet, while suiting is one of my favorite things to style, many Rath & Co. clients work in casual environments and don’t have the need or opportunity to wear dressy clothes very often. For these clients, the challenge becomes how to be well-dressed and get noticed without looking out of place among their peers. There’s a fine line between putting some effort into your appearance and seeming like you’re trying too hard (which can often result in getting busted on by coworkers – never fun). Those offices where jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are more common than a jacket and tie can range from tech startups to laboratories.
With these challenges in mind, I’ve created the below list of 8 tips on how to step up your style just enough so that it improves your self-image and the way you’re perceived by others, but not to the degree that you overdo it and become the object of skepticism or even ridicule.
1) If you’re wearing sneakers, make sure they’re not ones you’d actually exercise in but rather what I call “social sneaks.” These are sneakers you wear for every day, not working out. They should be clean and fresh-looking. Wash or replace them as soon as they start to look grungy. Converse Jack Purcell’s are a great choice.
3) Just because you’re wearing a casual shoe, you don’t need to wear white gym socks or plain black dress socks. In fact, wearing more interesting socks is a great way to inject style into your look without going over the top. Try different colors or patterns, like those above from Drumohr. And even simply switching from black to navy or grey is a big improvement.
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I was excited until I was browsing and was told they not only didn’t have any jeans big enough for my waist (36), they also didn’t have any with a short enough inseam either (29).
And the worst part is I really liked the jeans!! I asked if they had a hybrid “Big and short section” for my size but they didn’t.
To add insult to injury, the waistlines for most jeans there are 26 and 28!!
I smell gender payback all over this!
Come on, guys! I am on a diet…but for a normal male waistline circa 1985.
When a guy reduces his waist from 38″ to a 35.5,” he can’t help but develop a little attitude.
And start asking himself if it is time to look into buying a pair of “skinny jeans.”
And feels a smug superiority toward men who sport a 36″ or 37″ inch waist.
A big thank you to The Wall Street Journal for including me in the recent article, Spring Shoes for Men Step Brightly. The piece discusses how men’s footwear is trending toward colorful uppers or soles and “statement” elements like spikes and wild patterns; my advice on how to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe is included at the end of the article.
After speaking with the WSJ reporter, I had an outfit brainstorm, and below I share with you a few specific looks that incorporate Spring 2012′s shoe trends.
1) A great Spring combo would include a pair of neutral shoes with a neon sole like the bucks, above, from T&F Slack. Pair them with white straight-leg jeans and a denim shirt for a casual night out.
3) If neon shoes are too much of a commitment for you, you might dip your toes in the trend by adding color via your laces, as with the Esquivel shoes above. Because the color pop is not too prominent, you can play around by incorporating other colors into your look. Pair these boots with dressy jeans and a sport shirt that has some yellow in the pattern, like the one below from Polo Ralph Lauren. The reason yellow and purple work together is that they are complementary colors, meaning that they live opposite from each other on the color wheel. When used together, complementary colors intensify each other and create a harmonious color scheme.
4) For a shoe where the detail (as opposed to the color) is the statement, like Jimmy Choo’s “provocative paisley” slippers above, you want to keep the rest of your look tailored and simple. Wear these with a midnight three-piece suit for a posh night out, or for a more casual event, try a medium grey dress shirt and black or charcoal grey pants. The important thing to keep in mind with shoes like this is that they need to be in line with your personality, and wearing them with confidence is key. (As an aside, check out this fun Bond-style video detailing the Burlesque silhouettes hidden in the print.)
You want the latest when it comes to skis and other equipment, but do you look the part when it comes to your ski clothes?
If you look like the Michelin Man when you ski, it’s likely you haven’t rethought your attire since the late 90′s. Fortunately, along with advancements in skis, poles and other gear, there’s a lot new in the style department with plenty of excellent options that serve both form and function. Ski-wear designers have been heavily influenced by the more fitted cuts on the runways. And new fabric technologies allow for close fits that still provide warmth and flexibility. Bottom line: you can project a flattering physique on the slopes while staying warm and maintaining mobility.
When dressing for the slopes, you should wear a baselayer, midlayer, insulating layer, and coat or shell. Below are my suggestions within each category, plus accessories.
Gloves or Mittens
A note on combining: don’t go nuts mixing too many colors. If you wear a pop of color like bright red or orange, have it be on either top or bottom, with the remaining colors in the look neutral and coordinating with one another.
PSA: make sure to wear sunblock when skiing. The sun reflects off the snow onto your face, so you need to take extra precaution. I like Armada Sport 70 for all outdoor activities.
Are you ready to hit the slopes in style? I’d love to hear what you’ll be wearing – let me know in the comments below. And if you’re more about hot chocolate than black diamonds, stay tuned for an upcoming post on one of my favorite activities to style: après-ski.
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