Don’t get me wrong, our Businessmen of Style appreciate Salvatore Ferragamo neckties, Patek Philippe watches, and Berluti Rapieces Reprises shoes as much as the next guy, but they also seem to understand that style is more than looking good.
Pure style — what you value, how you attain it, and how you treat others — is about substance. Sorry, but the Dos Equis pitchman is not the most interesting man in the world. And a good tie, expensive watches, and fancy shoes do not make a man. If anything, expensive baubles can hinder a man’s potential and potentially distort his view of what’s important.
That might be what happened to Jerry, the big brother of my elementary school girlfriend Janie. That guy had it going on.
Jerry had style. His suits were always perfectly pressed, he never had a hair out of place, and his shoes were polished like the tile floors at Kroger after an all-night wax and buff.
This guy was going places. He finished near the top of his class in college and was well-spoken, well-mannered, and well-traveled. He had a good job and interesting hobbies.
He was going places all right. One night, Jerry left town with the wife of a friend. Jerry’s mistress left three small children behind.
Jerry only appeared to have style. He wasn’t truly a man of substance.
True style involves the heart of a man — his moral and spiritual beliefs and how he applies them. Men of style try to do things the right way, even when no one’s looking. Especially when no one is watching.
The epitome of style isn’t how you dress, walk, or talk, it’s how you live. And there’s nothing more stylish than helping others, a fact most, if not all of our Businessmen of Style, have experienced.
If you need a role model, read up on Bart Starr, the legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback who continues to live an exemplary life.
There are no shortage of inspirational Bart Starr stories, but one of my favorites is preserved in the book Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle by Bill Curry.
Curry tells how he and another assistant coach were at Starr’s home, deep into discussing how to turn around a disappointing season, when the doorbell rang. Bart’s wife opened the door to a man who nervously explained that his gravely ill father desperately wanted to meet Bart Starr. Bart asked his wife what the man wanted, then left his coaches and joined her at the door. “Where is your father now?” Bart asked. “He’s waiting in the car,” the son replied. “You go get him and bring him here right now,” Bart ordered. When the old man hobbled up to the doorstep, Bart greeted him warmly, invited the strangers in, and led them to his trophy room. There, Bart told the stories behind trophies and photos and awards from his Hall-of-Fame career. The old man left with tears in his eyes. He could die in peace. The son couldn’t stop thanking the Starrs for their hospitality. As the door closed, Bart returned to his coaches. “Now where were we?” Bart asked as if he hadn’t done something truly remarkable.
Now that is style.