You look but you don’t see

16 February, 2018

Earlier today I was on a call with one of my coaching clients.

We were going over his assignment for the week and talking about ways that he can pull cues from his specific tribes for his clothing.

As a hobbyist sailor, he belongs to a specific tribe – but the way he described their clothing was that the sailors didn’t much care what they looked like – it was the function that mattered much more and they didn’t really think beyond that.

Now, because this is a common approach and because it’s my job to help my clients see things they’re missing, I challenged him on that and asked him a few questions.

Things like:

Does every single sailor wear the exact same clothing? How much variation is there?

Are there multiple competing brands within this space? Is one brand associated with one type of sailor and attitude? Are others more aligned with different types?

As we started diving in deeper, he quickly realized two things.

The first is that there is a TON of tribal signaling that goes on within the yacht clubs he belongs to – even if it’s all done under the guise of, “we don’t care how it looks as long as it gets the job done.”

The second is that he was already subconsciously aware of and accounting for these cues. Being very proficient on a yacht, he’s more attracted to the brands that are worn by the hardcore sailors than the weekend warriors.

And once we started to pull that association from the back of his mind into the forefront, it became much easier for him to see similar patterns and signals in the attire of men at the gym, at work, and all sorts of environments.

And now that he sees – consciously – it’s going to be so much easier and more effective for us to work through the remaining points in the system and really transform his appearance in a way that’s simultaneously better and makes him feel more like himself.

Don’t get caught in the trap of looking but not seeing. There’s more to this than you’ll pick up at first glance and, like my client, you’re likely already making decisions according to these deeper realizations – you may just not know it yet.

PS. If you’re ready to stop trying to figure all this out on your own and have me guide you through the whole process, go check out my coaching offerings and sign up for a free call with me to see if I can help you.

Stop Phoning It In

10 February, 2018

I have another sports analogy for you.

Yes that’s two in one week, but bear with me – this does bring up a different point though.

Currently at church my responsibility is to help oversee the 16 and 17-year-old boys – which is an absolute blast and one of my favorite things to do.

In addition to our regularly Sunday meetings and our weekly get-togethers, we’re currently in basketball season.

So each Saturday our boys will play against other boys from different wards (congregations) in the area.

We had a game this morning and it was very interesting to watch what happened.

There were two boys on the other team who were intimidating. One was obviously athletic and a very good player – the other wasn’t as coordinated but he was big and had a big personality, making him someone my boys were cautious around.

From the very get go they weren’t playing to win – they were simply trying to not lose too egregiously. They’d already decided they were the inferior team and you could see it in how they played.

They were lazy about rebounds, didn’t stick on their men very well, and got visibly frustrated when missing shots. It got to the point where one of them even lay down on the court during a time out because he said “he wasn’t feeling well.”

Basically, they were phoning it in.

They were just as good as the other team – legitimately. But they got destroyed because they had decided they didn’t want it enough.

They didn’t play aggressively, they didn’t command the court, and they didn’t have any real tenacity.

The final score was 43 – 21 and no one was surprised.

While watching them I was frustrated because I saw myself in those boys. At 16 I had the same defeatist attitude. If I wasn’t automatically going to excel at something, then I’d only put in a token effort.

It’s an attitude I’ve tried very hard to cure myself of, but can still be a fight sometimes. Thankfully, I’m now aware of what it is and can cut off that negative talk before it starts to take root.

Sadly, at 33 I still see this same attitude in the majority of my peers. They phone it in at work, with their wives, with their kids, and with their friends.

They’ve given up on hobbies that require anything more than passive consumption and take pride in doing the bare minimum.

It’s one of the reasons I’m so insistent on dressing with style all the time and everywhere. The more I can signal to myself and to others that I’m not just another guy phoning it in – but a man who’s actively and intentionally building my life, the better off I am.

It’s easier to weed out those with a defeatist mindset. They see the way I dress and immediately disqualify me as someone they can identify with.

Rather than feeling lonely or dejected by it – it energizes me. It helps me stick to the course and not fall back into a lazy mindset.

It forces me to put up or shut up.

It also helps others who are living intentionally pick me out from a crowd and identify with me.

In a way, it’s a tribal signal – separating the tribe of mediocrity from the tribe of intentionality.

Can you be stylish and be part of the mediocre? Sure, but it’s not very likely.

And I can guarantee that any man who belongs to the tribe of intentionality is eventually going to have to reconcile how he dresses and what signal that sends to him and those around him.

PS. Wherever it is that you are in your journey, if you belong to the tribe of intentionality, I want to help you dial in the style aspect of your life. It will help you in more ways than you can count and help separate you from the mediocrity of the world around you. If you’re interested in seeing if and how I can help you out, schedule a call with me and we can talk it through.

Is Caring How You Look Shallow?

8 February, 2018

I saw a graph on Twitter this week that was an interesting approach to how most people see the dichotomy of rich vs poor and then a new graph showing the reality of it. Here’s what it looked like.

I loved this because it helped take the morality or immorality out of wealth. There are good poor people, good rich people, bad poor people, and bad reach people. Rather than choosing to avoid the rich or the poor, we should be choosing to avoid the bad of both.

It’s obviously a super simple concept but it helps break down the constant messaging that pursuing wealth is somehow greedy, immoral, selfish, or any other negative character trait you want to associate with it.

As I was going through this I realized we do the exact same thing when it comes to appearance – especially for men.

We create a false dichotomy where caring about how you look is shallow, vain, effeminate, gay or whatever negative term you want to use.

And not caring about it is stoic, manly, practical, or any positive term you want to use.

But once again, the reality is a little different. Let’s just focus in on the shallow aspect.

You have shallow people who want to look good, wear nice things, and status signal with their appearance, and then you have shallow people who don’t  – shallow people who would rather turn their noses up at anyone who DOES wear nice things, or put some energy into getting dressed in the morning, or doesn’t have to be dragged kicking and screaming to buy clothes.

Just like you have good, profound people who really don’t put too much effort or energy into their appearance and good, profound people who have learned that the way they look is both a tool and an external expression of internal value.

Caring how you look isn’t shallow any more or less than being rich is bad – both can be taken from a healthy level to a dangerous extreme, but neither is inherently good or bad.

Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is not seeing the whole picture and is likely trying to reconcile any cognitive dissonance they’re experiencing because they choose to see things through that false binary.

Are You The Aesthetic Equivalent of a Fullback or a Wide Receiver?

7 February, 2018

I’m about as neutral on the Super Bowl as you can get.

I grew up in a family that didn’t watch it. But, I’m certainly not cynically antagonistic about it either.

In fact, getting together and watching it is one of my favorite annual traditions with my in-laws.

And I know the game well enough to be able to follow along and enjoy good plays.

I also know the game well enough to know that each position is highly specialized.

Highly specialized.

Not all players can train and play the same – yes there are some consistencies across the board, but each needs to specialize according to his role.

They eat differently, follow different protocols in the weight room, prioritize different abilities, and sacrifice some of their overall effectiveness in order to maximize their abilities within their specialization.

On top of that, all the players got where they are by learning to lean into their natural tendencies – the fast guys receive, the big guys block, etc.

Now, take those natural strengths and weaknesses, add in the specialized training they get, and top it off with the fact that all the players are better because they’re coached.

Can you imagine how much worse each individual player would be without a coach? How about how much more difficult it would be to function cohesively as a team?

The coaches are everything – and that’s why they make the big money they do.

A terrible coach would take a one-size-fits all approach rather than knowing each of his players strengths and weaknesses – which is why terrible coaches don’t last very long.

But a great coach – he takes the time to know his players – their strengths and weaknesses, their doubts and ambitions – he can see potential connections that they miss themselves.

So let’s bring this into your approach to your appearance.

The problem with learning about style solely from free content is you don’t get the individualized training – so you may be working on the equivalent of drills necessary for a tight end when really you’re a quarterback.

It’s a waste of your time, energy, and talent.

You also – like the players on the field – have your own natural strengths and weaknesses that need to be worked with.

And lastly, you likely can’t always see the whole picture.

Which means you need the basics, along with a specialized approach and an understanding of how to adjust for your own needs and goals.

You need a coach.

Sure you can get there without one – at least mostly there.

But even then, it costs you more time, money, and energy having to reinvent the wheel on your own.

So you need a coach.

Now, like most coaches, I don’t let just anyone onto my team. You have to be the right fit, we have to know we can work together, and we need to be aligned in our goals.

So if you want an opportunity to take a deeper dive with me, to see how I can help you, and to see if you have the right mindset to become successful on my program, let’s do an interview.

We’ll jump on a call for a bit, talk about your needs, strengths, weaknesses, and so on.

If I can’t help you, I’ll tell you (and that happens sometimes) and point you toward someone who can.

If I can help you, and believe you’ll see real success on my program, I’ll invite you to join me.

Tryouts are free. So let’s chat and see if we can get you to hit your goals.


3 Ways to Wear Chambray

5 June, 2017

Big thanks to this post’s sponsor Gant. The shirt featured in this post is from their Tech Prep collection and is my new favorite chambray!

Chambray is a weave that’s been around for more than 400 years. And, while it gained its initial popularity after being adopted by the US Navy in the early 20th Century, it’s really seeing a strong resurgence in the last decade.

This is due to the fact that’s it’s incredibly versatile while still being more unique and visually interesting than a simple Oxford weave.

Here are three ways to rock a chambray shirt!

Click Here to Watch the YouTube Video: 3 Ways to Wear Chambray



This is the most commonly associated use of a chambray shirt. It looks like denim but wears much cooler – making it an ideal alternative in the warm months of spring and summer.

It’s versatile enough that it can be worn on its own, or as an extra layer over a T-shirt or henley.

The key to making it look appropriate in a rugged environment is making sure the details are dialed in. Look for things like a button-down collar, traditional placket, and maybe even a pocket on the chest.

Not every one of these details needs to be present, but the more there are, the more casual it appears.

You’ll also want to make sure the length of the body isn’t so long it looks silly when it’s untucked. Keep it right between the bottom of the rise of your pants and the top of their waistband and you’ll be set.


Most men misunderstand a Rakish look.

It doesn’t have to be a bunch of competing pieces that are all incredibly loud and attention-seeking. In fact, the more you’re able to anchor down your statement pieces, the more of a punch they’ll pack.

Take a pair of white chinos as an example. These are pants that men don’t accidentally wear. You don’t see them on the average guy and they certainly require a bit of a go-to-hell attitude to pull them off.

By pairing them with a shirt that’s too loud, the outfit becomes clownish. But when they’re anchored down with a solid item like a chambray shirt, then they still make a statement without looking like a costume.

Finish them off with some loafers and nix the socks and no one will think you’re trying to blend in to the background.


You may think that a more casual, rugged piece like a chambray shirt has no business in a Refined outfit – but you would be very wrong. In fact, chambray is currently one of the most worn items in the sartorial corner of the menswear world.

There’s something about the casual nature of it that makes you look like you’re dressing well because you want to, not because you have to.

However, it’s not just a matter of slapping on a chambray shirt with your favorite navy suit. In order to pull this look off correctly, the rest of your outfit needs to be appropriately casual.

Dark colors, shiny materials, and fine weaves won’t work here. You need to embrace pattern and texture to avoid having the contrast being too strong and making the shirt look inappropriate.

A pair of cotton chinos, with a basketweave sport coat, and a knit tie all are textured and casual enough that they work excellently with the look of chambray


Once you pick one of these up you’ll quickly realize it’s on heavy rotation in your closet. To that end, it’s worth it to buy one that breaths well and easily moves with you – which is exactly what they’ve created over at Gant with the Tech Prep collection. These shirts use materials and weaves that dry quickly, move easily, and wick away any moisture.

Let me know below how you’ll pair yours up!