Life Lessons for the American Gentleman

2013 with The American Gentleman

The first day of the year provides us an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, as well as a chance to decide what we want for ourselves in the next 365 days.  If you log on to twitter, tumblr, or any other social media site today, you will be bombarded with talk of resolutions, change, and improvements for the coming year – and we would be remiss if we didn’t throw our hat into the ring as well.  So here is an introduction to 2013, from your friends at AG. 

Why do I even need a resolution? 

We’re willing to bet that 2012 wasn’t a complete failure on your part – and that some really good things happened.  Don’t let this media frenzy of resolutions make you think you need to reinvent yourself completely – pick a couple of areas you’d like to improve upon, and knock them out of the park.  If you’re feeling complacent, challenge yourself; if you’re dying for change, prioritize the most important needs in the new year. 

I want to win the US Open. 

That’s great kid, good luck, we’re right here behind you.  Goals, by nature, are difficult to attain – that’s what makes reaching them so awesome.  That’s also what will cause so many men to fall short in 2013, but not us, and not you.  We know you’re smart enough to make your goals process-oriented, which is why you’ll get that promotion over Joe from accounts, and why you won’t stop at losing 20 pounds. 

In 2013, focus on the process, the everyday habit of excellence – in whatever field you choose – and your “resolutions” will soon be in your rear-view mirror.  This process-oriented approach will do two things; first, it will focus your daily activities and create a binary (yes or no) answer to your approach.  Take losing weight as the example: If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, that’s great, but how will you accomplish it?  Instead make your process:  30 minutes of cardio every day.  This creates an attainable and clear “goal” to accomplish.  Nothing feels better than having accomplished your goal for the day before you even get to work.  Second, this approach will be habit-forming.  Instead of stopping at your goal of 20 pounds, you have a process to follow: 30 minutes of cardio per day.  Follow that for an entire year, and you will reap many different rewards.

Just like fat people get fat one bite at a time, and Jack Nicklaus became great one range ball at a time, your goals will be accomplished one day at a time.  Make sure that you win each individual day, and you’ll be amazed at what you will accomplish.  

Happy New Year from The American Gentleman.  Let us know what your processes will be in 2013 @theamericangent on twitter or in the comments below 

Question for AG: The Art of Public Speaking

Dear the American Gentleman,

I have recently begun working for an insurance company and believe it is a fine career to start with after college. However, I am not the best public speaker and have trouble explaining things to future clients. Are there any ways a Gentleman can learn to be a better speaker and be more confident around strangers?
A Respectable Gentleman.
Public speaking is about confidence and preparation. First, practice speaking to the mirror or a wall. Go over the things you want to say, just talk, develop the ideas out loud in private.  After you have done this, work with a small group of friends or colleagues. Have them ask you questions and answer them as convincingly as you possibly can, even if you do not know the answer. The object of this exercise is to build confidence in your ability to think on your feet. 
Second, be prepared. Study your company, your clients, your content. Know everything off of the top of your head, the same way you would have for an exam. Preparation will give you extra confidence. This will make you seem as if you are thinking on your feet without actually having to do so. 
Third, make eye contact and speak slowly and clearly. People will automatically trust and have faith in you for looking them directly in the eye and telling them what you have to say. Speak slowly and clearly so they are not tempted to interrupt you and so you maintain their attention. 
Public speaking is an art. It is something I have taught at both a high school and collegiate level. It is the most valuable skill I have come across in a business setting. I highly recommend taking public speaking classes if the problems persist. 

Question to AG: Dear AG, I attended a very prestigious college following high school, but after a couple years, I ran out of money. Instead of taking on large amounts of debt to finance my degree, I instead chose to take time off to work before going back to finish my degree at a more affordable but less prestigious institution. I gained lots of valuable work experience and learned a lot in my time off of school, but due to my age, the women I have the best connection with tend to already be professionals with a salary. While it’s easy to lie and say I got one degree and am in the middle of going back to school for another, I’m not comfortable starting off a relationship with dishonesty. How do you recommend that I honestly portray my situation in a positive light while on a date? Sincerely, A Georgia Gentleman

I think that any woman who doesn’t see your economic motivation, and for that matter financial intelligence, is missing out. Explain to her that you learned the value of education and the value of money in one fell swoop. The biggest problems in relationship and marriages are often with money, showing her you are this responsible will show her you should be taken seriously. 

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Anonymous said: Dear American Gentleman, if a man wears a button-up shirt inside of a sweater, how should his collar be worn? Inside or out? Top button buttoned or not? Many thanks and I hope you and your loved ones have a lovely holiday.

I always leave the top button unbuttoned, my collars are starched enough that they typically don’t spread much from the sweater collar, but I’d say in or out is a matter of personally preference. Go with the cleanest look based on the collar type of the shirt, more narrow collars, tuck, spread collars let spread. 

Zeitgeist 2012

Lesson No. 149: Look ‘Em In The Eyes.

A Gentleman is a conversationalist. He can work a room with grace and easy, he instills confidence in his friends, partners, family and associates. He does all of this with a simple gesture. Look them in the eyes. Do not look down, do not look past them or away. Look a person in the eyes and confidently listen to them, look them in the eyes and confidently speak to them. You can convey both respect and trust simply by looking into a person’s eyes when you speak with them.