I WILL BE BACK IN TWO TO THREE WEEKS

I had a family emergency and had to leave town.

John T.

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UNIFORMS AND SUCCESS

I have been working as a chemist in a very conservative company for the past 22 years. Before I started with this company I worked for a cosmetics firm. The executives in that high-fashion business dressed very well and I started reading GQ and dressing fashionably. From the first day with my present firm I have been dressing fashionably although I admit when I’m in the laboratory I usually wear a lab coat. However, at all corporate meeting, lunches and after work I am dressed fashionably In all that time no one has ever commented on my dress and I have been promoted several times. I concede that those promotions were at least in part due to my skill as a chemist but if you were right I would not have been treated so well. How can you claim that wearing a corporate uniform is essential to getting ahead?

K.M
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear KM:

When you put on a lab coat you are putting on the appropriate corporate uniform for a chemist. In addition you’re in a field where the results of your efforts can be objectively measured. That is why engineers, computer programmers and other high tech people often share your belief, unfortunately for them it is not true . Particularly if the next step up requires managing others.I have been talking to American executives for many years about image and how it affects people’s careers and I assure you that today, as in the past, in companies with conservative as well as casual dress codes how you dress affects your ability to move ahead. I know many high tech people like yourself believe that they do not have to dress for success. Nothing is further from the truth.

I had not conducted a survey in over two years and your letter forced me to conduct my 100th survey of American executives. I started by questioning 46 executives in 24 states and asking them if wearing the right clothing was absolutely essential to getting ahead in their companies. Now the “right clothing”is not necessarily the traditional conservative suit, shirt and tie or a feminine version of the same uniform. Since your letter questioned whether wearing a uniform of any type was essential to getting ahead I feel obliged to point out in advertising, TV and movie industries the uniform is usually a high-fashion outfit. Although the people who produced these garments would not admit it high-fashion clothing often can be and is a uniform.

As for the impact of clothing on one’s career I think the best example I can give is a partner in a New York law firm. He made this statement over 20 years ago; ‘If any young lawyer works for this firm for more than a year and in all that time doesn’t get the message that conservative clothing is absolutely essential to moving up he is too stupid to become a partner in this firm or any other. And I assure you he will not become a partner in any Wall Street firm in fact I doubt if he will keep his job.” That is not a new idea. Approximately 70% of American business executives that we’ve questioned over the years have told us that wearing suitable attire which in their minds generally means conservative suits, shirts and ties for men and something equally conservative for women is required for those being considered for management positions. Our latest survey produced almost identical results

An even more interesting finding was that approximately the same number told us that when a young person was turned down for a position because of the way he or she dressed, they were almost never told the reason they were passed over. What is more even though dress may be mentioned in a yearly appraisal or other company forms that allow for such comments, I’ve never run across a document that openly stated, not dressing as expected will limit your career. However, anybody with half a brain should be able to figure that out. The reason they avoid making such statements in print is they are aware there are organizations that will sue them if it looks as if they are publicly stepping on the constitutional rights of their employees to dress like damn fool’s. The executives who construct these documents know that if they get their companies involved in this type of lawsuit it will negatively impact their careers. As a result, corporate America discourages executives from publicly discussing image or related topics. When on occasion they do, they do not shout, they whisper.

While American executives are whispering the fashion industry is shouting. They refer to their industry as the rag trade which is a crude way of saying they are in the business of selling cloth. That is why they spend millions of dollars every month advertising clothing and why they have such great influence in newspapers. I wrote a column for 35 years in spite of the fashion industry who threatened newspapers that they would withdraw their advertising if they ran my column. Therefore it is not surprising that many people listen to the voice of the fashion industry which has a vested interest in everyone throwing out everything they own today and buying something new tomorrow. The latest example of this can be seen on television you may have noticed that many actors are wearing suits with narrow lapels, shirts with smaller collars and narrow ties. It costs the fashion industry millions of dollars to attempt to get men to buy new outfits because the fashion industry has made today’s outfits appear dated. They think it’s money well spent and they may be right.

The unfortunate people who follow the whims of the fashion industry are almost never the sons and daughters of executives. They have learned at their daddies pinstripe knee the rules of dressing for success. It is usually people from less privileged backgrounds who most likely to follow the pied piper’s of the fashion industry and a result limit their success. They do so because they only hear the loud voice of the fashion industry and quiet voice of success.

If you come from a limited background and have no role models of success in your life you have two choices listen to me or find role models. If you are hesitant to listen to me, pick two to six men and women in your field who are already successful. I know how hard it is to find role models so I you can choose just two, however, if you can find six you are far better off because two can be exceptions to the rule. When you look at six or more role models you know you’re getting a good cross-section of successful people in your field. Take very careful notes on how they dress and then attempt to emulate them. That will dramatically enhance your prospects of moving up in any organization or in any career.

Good luck!

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WHAT AN OFFICE SAYS

Dear Mr. Molloy:

After 39 years in a chemical laboratory, I retired. I’m not complaining about my time working for a large chemical company, I actually enjoyed my work but I was looking forward to playing golf and going fishing. I bought a place in north-central Florida called the Villages. It’s a fairly affluent community, the only problem is many of the people have limited educational backgrounds and having earned a PhD I didn’t exactly fit in. I paid over 300,000 for my house yet most of my neighbors are retired civil servants with pensions as large as mine if not larger. There is one ex police officer from northern California who has an $112,000 pension. The reason I know is he bragged to everybody about his pension and I don’t blame him. One of my golf playing buddies, a lawyer from the Northeast, set up practice specializing in estate planning after he arrived. He told me most of his clients were ex-civil-service employees who lived in the villages and had million-dollar estates.

I’m making the Villages sound like a terrible place and it is not. If you own a place here you have free access to a half a dozen of the best golf courses in Florida. In addition, there is a cadre of well-educated, sophisticated retirees who form a subculture so after two or three months I was enjoying myself. When I was working I never had enough time to play golf so I took lessons after I arrived and I was beginning to get back into the swing of things.(Pun intended.) I also purchased a 30 foot boat that I docked on a nearby lake and used about twice a week. For the first six months life was beautiful, however it gradually became boring. I found since I went fishing two or three days a week and playing golf the other days, it became almost like a job. It was a pleasant job but if you meet the same people every day and do the same thing every day it’s very much like going to work. Once I discovered that I decided to go back to work at least part-time.

One of my duties as a senior chemist in my old company was to help companies, schools and police departments to set up laboratories or new equipment In addition, I ran courses for employees of these laboratories to introduce them to the latest techniques or equipment in their areas. I was also in charge of producing training videos that accompanied new products either produced by my firm or others. One of the reasons I went back into business was I was approached by clients of my old company to help them overcome problems when introducing new products or new equipment.

I opened the business three years ago and for the first year clients came to me. Once the company started to grow I began advertising my services and hiring employees. Since I needed a considerable space I bought an old warehouse and set up my laboratory there. My problem is partially due to my success. Since my company and is new and unique it has been the subject of a number of magazine articles. The majority have been complimentary, however, I’ve had several understate the significance of what we have accomplished. I’m not sure but I think there are two reasons for these negative articles. The first is ignorance. Reporters without technical backgrounds simply don’t understand what we are doing and judge us by our image. While our laboratory facilities are very impressive to those who know, it doesn’t impress those who interview us in our office which is located right outside the laboratory. It is small, cramped and frankly being part of a warehouse, not very impressive. I hate to spend money upgrading our office space just to impress the press, shouldn’t what we have accomplished, do that? What do you think?

A confused chemist

Dear Chemist,

If you want to succeed in a new field you have to impress the press. I know this because when I was America’s first and only scientific image consultant I made the same mistake. After being in business almost 13 years I was interviewed by a very clever reporter from Time magazine who because of his personal experience understood exactly what I was doing. His article, which referred to me as America’s first wardrobe engineer kicked off a series of interviews by the press including one by the Wall Street Journal..

At the time. I worked out of a very small office on 55th St. in New York City. The reason I chose that office was I had owned a men’s clothing store in the same building. When I closed the store to work as a full-time consultant, I thought it would be advantageous to keep my address and telephone number which many of my clients had.

I stayed at that location for close to a year and only moved after I ran across the reporter from the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal would’ve been the ideal place to get positive publicity so I prepared carefully for that interview. I spent the week before the interview contacting Fortune 500 clients and obtaining permission to use them as references. When the morning of the interview came I waited on pins and needles for my 11 o’clock appointment.

When the reporter walked in and saw my very unimpressive office, he did not even try to hide his disappointment. In fact I think he was more disgusted than disappointed. He never conducted the interview. He said it was not the type of operation he expected and left in less than five minutes. I never got a chance to tell him that I was making six figures which was rather impressive in the early 60s and had over a dozen Fortune 500 companies as clients. I was sure that would have impressed him if it were not for my unimpressive office. During that five minutes, he implied that wardrobe engineering was more fiction than fact. I thought to myself what a jackass, the fact that he was shortchanging my interview because he wasn’t impressed by my office proved that image did count. I shouldn’t be so rough on him because he did teach me a valuable lesson. After his visit I immediately rented a corner office in a new, shiny, prestigious, high rise building on third Avenue and hired a decorator. It turned out to be a worthwhile investment.

If you are serious about setting up a new consulting business, rent a large office in a prestigious building and hire a decorator to give it a professional look. With anything less, you will turn off reporters, businesspeople and potential clients. Pavlov was right. We are conditioned by our experiences, and the experiences of most people has conditioned them to think that competent, important consultants have prestigious offices.

Get one, immediately!

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IMAGE COUNTS

Dear Mr. Molloy:

My husband is a software engineer from a military family who had graduated from Cal-tech just a little over a year before 9/11. The minute those planes hit the Pentagon and the twin towers he proposed to me and joined the Army. As soon as he became a second lieutenant the Army very wisely assigned him to a unit that developed computer programs for weapon systems. Since he had worked for a defense contractor before volunteering he said the only thing joining the Army accomplished was to switch his desk and cut his pay.

A year later, we were married, I was pregnant and we needed money. So he started a small business in his spare time repairing computers and computer systems for small and midsize companies near the base. At first he did most of the work himself but eventually he hired people and in less than two years we were making almost twice his military pay from the business. When he left service all of his efforts went into expanding the business and he succeeded, we now have offices in five states.

I wish I could explain exactly what he does but I do not know enough about computers. I do however have a fairly good idea of how business works. My father was an executive at the Ford Motor Company and he spoke all the time about his job. That is how I know my husband’s employees have an image problem. He sends people into offices who look like out of work hippies instead of technical experts. Invariably they are very talented and get the job done, nevertheless he receives complaints about them all the time which he chooses to ignore. He says all that counts in his world is getting the job done.

I know that’s not true. I argue with him that his experts also have to look like they know what they are doing or getting new contracts will be far more difficult. I keep telling him that not only will he find it more difficult to get jobs, when his disheveled technical experts arrive at a job they will find it difficult to enlist the cooperation of the client company’s employees. It’s like talking to a wall nothing seems to get through. I hope you can come up with a reasonable argument I can use to convince my brilliant husband that he is wrong, image does count.

A technical whiz kids wife

Dear Wife:
Your description of a technical expert is accurate. I often run across technical people who believe if they perform well in their area they are successful and need to do no more. They do not worry about their dress because they do not believe that it is important and in a limited way it is true. Scientists when performing their jobs often interact with inanimate objects such as computers, chemicals etc. and what they’re wearing when they are engaged in those activities does not have any measurable impact on how well they perform .

While admitting that he has a point if I were you I would continue to challenge his assertion that the technical wizards that represent him and his company are not affected by their image. When I first ran across techies who made this argument I used my own research to challenge them but I found they would waste my time with endless arguments, so I changed tactics. I now start by telling them about research projects conducted by others. The first being a study conducted in English jails with violent prisoners. They found if they put the most violent prisoners in holding areas that were painted vibrant pink, they calmed down. They further discovered that if they divide pink into 1000 shades, only one will have a calming effect. In fact, if you change the pink in the holding areas by as little as two shades it has the opposite effect. Apparently, bright colors, including bright pink, make it more likely that those who have a tendency to become violent will strike out at authority figures. If they question the validity of this research I simply quote the statistics and invite them to check the data themselves . Over a period of 12 years I have not run across one techie who found it difficult to review this research project and verify my information on his computer.

When I finish recounting the story of violent criminals in England I tell them how I start most of my presentations by asking each person in the audience to pretend that he has passed out and is being carried out on a stretcher. Then I have him look at the ceiling because if he is carried out on a stretcher that’s all he will see, first the ceiling of the auditorium, then the ceiling of the ambulance and finally the ceiling of the hospital. When he arrives at the hospital he is told two things, he needs open-heart surgery immediately and he is in luck, a team of heart specialists are gathering in one of the operating rooms preparing to perform a procedure on Mrs. Brown. However, since Mrs. Brown’s procedure is not an emergency they are going to operate on our audience member. In addition he is told that Dr. Jones and Dr. Smith both superb cardiac surgeons are in the hospital. In just a few minutes both will present themselves to the patient and the patient may select which of these superbly qualified men will perform the procedure.

I then ask him to imagine the first physician to approach him is Dr. Jones. He is wearing torn jeans and a T-shirt that says ski Kansas and his long hair is tied back in a ponytail. When he arrives he asks; “Are you the fellow I’m going to operate on.” Then adds; “You look worried, no need, I haven’t lost a dude in two years.” Then without saying another word he walks away. Five minutes later Dr. Smith approaches. He’s wearing slacks with a white doctors jacket and has a stethoscope draped around his neck. He introduces himself and tells the patient that he understands his condition is serious and this is a serious operation. Then he tells him not to worry. two thirds of his patients go home within a week.

After a slight pause, I inform them that 80% of every audience chooses Dr. Smith. Then of course I point out that they base that decision almost totally on image because if they were logical they would choose Dr. Jones. After all, he told them he had not lost a patient in two years while Dr. Smith said two thirds of his patients went home and never said what happened to the other third. Firmly establishing the fact that important decisions including those that involve life-and-death are often based on image.

Finally, I tell them about a third research project conducted at a major research laboratory that showed scientists who dressed in traditional garb were seen by their fellow scientists as more effective than those who dressed casually. At that point, I assume I have established the importance of image and begin my presentation.

You might try a similar approach. Good luck!

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IT IS FUN BEING SANTA

I
It’s still a week before Christmas but I have already received the best gifts money cannot buy. Every time I go to the mailbox I look forward to finding Christmas cards or Christmas greetings not only from friends and relatives but from relative strangers. Every year since I wrote ”Dress for Success” I have received at least a dozen thank you notes from people. When I had national radio shows and wrote a nationally syndicated column of course I received more notes and letters thanking me. Those who thanked me, thanked me for helping them succeed, get ahead, make money and so forth. I saved those letters, notes and emails until I experienced my first hurricane.

I moved to Florida because my mother-in-law was 87 and ill. When the local TV weatherman announced that a hurricane was moving directly over my house I decided to get out of its way. So my wife and I went up to Georgia and paid $ 230 a night for a $79 a night motel room. My mother-in-law who had lived in Florida for years moved a chair into a large closet and refused to go with us. She was just fine.

Before I left I decided to protect my most important papers including all those letters in the safest place possible. I put them in plastic bags and into a bathtub because I had read about people surviving hurricanes by getting into a bath tub. A week later, as I approached my house I saw that there was a hole in the roof directly over the bathroom where I had stored my papers. When I entered I could see the sun shining directly into that bathtub which was filled to the brim with water. Naturally my papers turned to mush and since I was, at that time, only receiving a few letters a year I stop saving them until this year. Probably due to this blog this year I received two dozen letters from grateful followers mostly coming as they did in the past during the holidays. I thought I’d share a few of them with you in hopes of convincing you that following my advice can turn you into a Santa Claus for those you love.

1
The minute I started dressing for success the people I worked with treated me with respect. At the time I worked for a small private insurance agency and sold mainly health insurance. I was far more successful as a salesman than I had ever been, clients not only listened to me with respect they took my advice. The minute they announced Obama care, I left the insurance business and went to work for a Cadillac dealership. Using your principles of dressing for success and getting your clientele to like you, in less than a year, I have become the top salesman at this dealership. I will be forever in your debt, I now know I can sell anything.
Thank you!

2
I work for a firm that in the not-too-distant future is going to be one of the largest suppliers of oil to the American consumer. Although most people do not realize it there is a real oil boon going on in America. Unless the government shuts it down America will not only become energy independent we will become oil exporters.

I attended one of your lectures because my boss insisted. This is a laid-back casual industry except at corporate headquarters when the bosses wear suits. If I had tried to manage people working in the field wearing a suit they would laugh at me. I thought you were full of xxxx and you would have everybody wearing dark suits and white shirts. Even after I heard you speak I had some doubts about the advice you gave. You said that clothing carried a socio-economic message. I will always remember that phrase because I didn’t know what socio-economic meant. I was two steps from working at headquarters so I paid the most attention to what you said about which suit, shirts and ties would make me look effective to the executives. However, your belief that roughnecks would respond positively to someone who wore upper socio-economic colors and patterns struck me as just plain silly.

Two months after I heard you speak my boss was offered a position which would put him in charge of 40% of our company’s production. The only catch was he would have to move and since he has three kids in school he didn’t want to move so I got the job. Although I had people working for me they often question my orders and I often had to explain or defend my positions. Two things were evident, I couldn’t afford to do that in my new position and suits would not add to my authority. At my wife’s insistence I changed the colors, the shades of colors and patterns in my semi-roughneck attire. Thank God it worked. Even though I’d heard rumors that I would get some resistance from the people in the new district, I moved in and took over with not as much as a peep from my new workers . As a result, I have become an executive and my son has just been accepted to an Ivy League school. When my son received his acceptance and I said we could afford to send him, he said thanks to mom. She said no, thanks to the dress for success guy. That’s why I’m writing, I want to thank you.

3
I’m a black woman from a poor section of town who won a scholarship to college. In college I was a member of the black business club and we read “Dress for Success” and “Live for Success.” When interviewing both were very useful and I landed a job at a bank. I have been here three years and received one promotion. so I was doing fine when I heard you were speaking at my university. I took the afternoon off to listen to you and thought it was sort of a waste of time, with a few exceptions you repeated what was in your books which I had practically memorized.

You were nice enough to stay after the speech and answer questions. You were having difficultly showing a girl how to balance a book on her head and asked for a volunteer to do it right. I took the book put on my head and said this is the way it’s done. You immediately said no, brace yourself against the wall and smile, you look angry. If you want to get ahead in business, particularly if you are a black women, you must look friendly. Then you spent about five minutes teaching me how to look friendly. At the time, I was a bit annoyed but I did remember what you taught me.

The minute I started looking friendly my world changed because I was at that point accepted by the people in management. Your brutal but honest truth made my life better and will make my children’s lives better. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

4
I had been looking for a job for almost 8 months without getting an offer or even a call back. A friend gave me your book and without purchasing new clothes I adjusted what I wore to interviews. All of a sudden I went from having no offers to three offers and I’m now working for a fortune 500 company. Your stuff actually works!

5
I just got a promotion, thanks to you!

6
The best thank you letter I ever received turned to mush in that bathtub but I remember most of it.

Dear Santa:
Last year was a very tough Christmas at our house. I lost my job and we were having difficulty paying the mortgage and I had to give up school. I was working and going to law school at night, nevertheless, the year before last, my four-year-old son’s gifts flowed from under the tree. Last year he received two little gifts my wife got by standing in line with the other poor people. We told our son that Santa lost his big sleigh and he couldn’t carry many gifts. I had read your books and as a result of your advice in January I landed a wonderful job. Naturally, this year the tree once again overflowed with even more gifts. My son asked me as he ripped open the packages what was Santa’s real name. Off the top of my head I said John Molloy and he asked; Do you know him? When I said yes, he said, “Thank him a million, trillion times.”
My son thanks you a million, trillion times and add my thanks as well.
Santa’s Friend

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HOW CASUAL?

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I have been working and going to school at night for three years. In January I will earn my Masters in chemical engineering. The minute that happens I will no longer be working in a laboratory as a chemist but in the field as a consultant. My official title will be senior consulting chemical engineer but basically I’ll be a problem solver. I will be expected to function in two ways when dealing with clients. If they are having a technical problem I will attempt to solve it. If that is not possible I will have at my disposal technical experts who can handle almost any type of problem that occurs. My second and even more important function is sales. Solving problems in technical fields often requires long hours of billable time as well as the purchase of equipment that can be very expensive. Of course to make that work I have to convince my clients that they should spend the time and money on my solution.

Even though I’m a technician going into a technical field where the dress is casual the men who presently hold my job tell me that I have to arrive wearing a conservative suit, shirt and tie. Without such an outfit they tell me I will lack the credibility needed to sell to the executives of client companies. Although they usually rubber stamp the decisions made by the technical people some insist on overseeing all purchases and make the decisions themselves.

They also told me when I am going to be spending time in a laboratory I should wear a lab coat. I’m wondering if that’s necessary since I will be observing not actually working as a chemist. Personally I think it’s a lot of trouble carrying a lab coat when going from one client to another, especially when I fly in for one or two days. There is a difference of opinion among my experienced colleagues. Two of them carry lab coats in a leather bag that looks like an expandable attaché case while the remainder ask the client company if they can borrow a lab coat. If one is not available, they take off their suit jackets and ties. I would appreciate if you would comment.

It would be very helpful if you could make specific suggestions as to the color and design of the most effective suits, shirts and ties. Please do not limit yourself to that, any comment you make would be appreciated.

V.T.
Houston, Texas

Dear VT:

I spoke to chemists at two companies and my answer is partially based on their comments.

The suits that will work best are moderately priced two-piece models. The reason they chose moderately priced suits is cheap ones look cheap and invariably some will be destroyed if you work in chemical laboratories. They should look like wool but should not wrinkle easily since you’re going to be traveling and visiting clients on the same day. According to these gentlemen you can have your suits treated so they resists staining. Unfortunately, the nature of activities in any chemical laboratory make it likely that you will stain your clothing occasionally. They like your colleagues were divided on whether you should carry a lab coat with you. After having listened to these chemists I decided that it would be wise to find one of those expanding attaché cases and carry a lab coat.

The suit colors that will work best are medium-range gray, navy blue, light gray, medium-range blue, medium to dark brown and beige preferably with a gray hue. Avoid all three piece and pinstripe models since they are likely to offend some of the techies with whom you will be dealing. Life on the road will be simpler if you wear only solid colored suits

Since in Houston the weather is hot for at least five months of the year and moderate the rest of the time 60% of your suits should be lightweight. Moderately priced tropical weight wool suits will stand up to your lifestyle as a traveling business man and will create the proper impression when dealing with executives. Go into a fairly decent men’s store and explain to the salesperson exactly what you need and tell him if he can get that suit you will buy all your suits from him. If the suit he sells lives up to your expectations give him your business if not find a different clerk and a different store. The most effective shirts are wrinkle resistant cotton models with standard or button-down collars. The best colors are white and blue and the best patterns are solids and simple pinstripes. Your pinstripes can be in any color as long as they are dark, traditional and crisp. You will find since you will be traveling with several suits and shirts that the most useful ties are solid navy and maroon. They will work with most of your suits and shirts. Please don’t even think that solid ties don’t go with solid shirts, that is a common misconception spread by idiots without a sense of taste or style. You may wish for variety to carry simple stripe or club ties. Once again you will find them more useful if the stripes are clean and their dominant colors are blue and maroon.

Since in all probability you will visit the same companies over and over you may decide to adjust your look to fit in with specific clients. Do not let my advice limit your choices. For example if you regularly visit a very casual company you may come to believe if you replace your traditional conservative outfits with slacks and dress shirts, feel free to give it a try. If you find you get a better reception when casually dressed, you are probably making the right decision.

Dressing for success does not mean wearing traditional conservative clothing when it separates you from your coworkers or your clients. Dressing for success means dressing to get a positive reaction from those around you. Once I wrote the book Dress for Success, I found if I dressed to the nines I intimidated many people I met. I adjusted my look and now dress very casually in most social settings. I often at times dress casually in business settings particularly in a casual business environment where the rules for dressing for success change from one com that pany to another. I literally have stacks of information on various casual dress codes and welcome questions from my readers on the subject.

Interestingly, how you dress in a casual business often has a greater impact on your chances of succeeding than it does in a traditional conservative business. Since that is the case, I will be discussing casual dress regularly in this blog.

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MANAGING CANDIDATES

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I attended your popularity seminar three months ago. I must tell you that the only reason I went to the seminar is I was given a free ticket by a girl I know and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. When I walked in and you said this was going to be an all-day seminar I was looking for a gun to shoot myself. I thought you were full of bull and anybody who said they could make people popular was a con man. If I weren’t sitting next to the young lady who gave me the ticket and her friend I would’ve left immediately but I thought I would stay for about a half an hour and then fake being sick.

You surprised me and caught my attention with your opening statement challenging anyone in the audience who didn’t think you could make them popular to try role-playing. I still thought you were full of it but you are an entertaining speaker. When you explained that your information was based on your research with salespeople, you really caught my attention because I run campaigns for Democratic candidates in my state. Needless to say I stayed for the entire seminar and by the end I decided I would try the exercises you suggested. You hadn’t completely convinced me that it would work but you had me wondering.

Once I started videotaping myself and practicing looking pleasant I found that people reacted to me differently. I don’t know if you know much about politicians but working for some of them is like working for God it’s almost impossible to challenge their decisions. In my business, the ability to charm my employers is an important asset in my work. In the past. when I wanted a candidate to change anything I usually had an argument on my hands. Today, when I make a suggestion,it is usually acted upon immediately or at least considered respectfully. Because of your training I’m making more money today than I ever made so if you can’t help me I will not be offended. However I have to ask can you make a candidate more popular with the public.

Name and address withheld
Dear Political Consultant:

When I read your letter I almost fell off my chair. I’ve been packaging candidates for national and statewide offices for years. In fact, they were some of my first clients. I started by dressing law firms and I did so well they recommended me to their clients and their friends who were business men and political candidates. The reason your letter caused me to react as I did was I have just finished a section of a book on charisma. The last chapter is titled how to communicate like Barack Obama. I was in the process of deciding whether I should present my information as a book on popularity and charisma or divide it into two books one on popularity and the second on charisma. The reason I was considering dividing the books is the next national election takes place in less than a year. If I want to make money consulting with candidates I’m going to have to get the book out quickly. The only practical way to do that is self publish which is a pain.

Since your letter forced me to face my problem I’m going to do two things for you . First I’ll tell you the mistakes I have seen made by most political consultants. While giving lip service to technology and the power of the Internet most run campaigns as if you can win elections today the same way you did 15 years ago. Technology has changed the election process both for fundraising and getting one’s message out.

The Internet, smart phones and the related technology have become essential tools in any modern campaign.. In most cases, Democrats are better at using the Internet than Republicans but not always. They often hire computer people who are good Democrats instead of good computer people. That’s the mistake Barack Obama’s people made when they chose people to design a site for Obama care. Start by hiring an independent computer expert to hire other computer experts to do specific jobs . The fact that you have run a number of successful campaigns and used the Internet in those campaigns does not qualify you to hire or even interview computer people.

The second obvious mistake they make is they often put campaign posters that help the other fellow more than they help their candidate. The most important part of a campaign poster is not what it says but the picture of the candidate. I’ve been consulting with campaigns on image for years and I cannot tell you which picture is going to sell the voters on your man. I have to test them and believe me you do to. Start by taking at least two dozen pictures of your candidate in different outfits. Then show them first to women and then to men. Ask them to separate them into three groups, pictures that make your candidate look honest, positive, friendly and energetic etc, pictures that make your candidate look like every other candidate and pictures that turn off voters. Pictures that are flattering and make your candidate younger than he or she really is often for reasons I cannot explain turn off voters. Next, find a district that is very similar to your candidate’s and show the pictures that were chosen by both men and women as positive to a cross-section of people on the street. Show them two at a time. Tell the respondents that they are twins and ask which one is honest, hard-working friendly, reliable etc. Their responses will tell you which picture you should use on your campaign posters. Don’t underestimate the value of a good picture it can make or break a local campaign.

Finally, interview the people in your clients district but don’t ask them which issues are important to them. Rather ask is there any issue that might get them to change their vote. If one candidate agreed with you on this issue and the other did not would it make a difference in the way you and your family members voted. Don’t ask them about a second issue ask only about their primary concern. Obviously , different issues will affect different groups of voters. This will give you information on which issues might change the vote of various groups. Using this information, tailor your clients standard speech so that he emphasizes or avoids speaking about specific issues when speaking to different groups. In most cases your candidate will only have to change a few lines in his or her speech which is good because a good stump speech is absolutely essential to a good campaign

Since you wrote me this very interesting letter I will arrange for you to attend a lecture I’m giving in the not too distant future on how to train a candidate to communicate like Barack Obama. I’m speaking to a group of Republicans in a state other than yours but I’ll bring you in. My political clients all know that I sell my services to both parties because I really don’t have an allegiance to either.

If I self publish a book on charisma. I will send you a copy.

Good luck

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HIGH STATUS ON THE CHEAP

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I am a 32-year-old woman working for a midsized company. I have an MBA from a fairly good school and when I started I expected to move into management. I just received my yearly review and there was one comment that bothered me. The interview board commented that I did not seem quite ready for management. The reviews in my company are conducted by three supervisors. The first is always the direct supervisor of the person being interviewed, the second is his or her supervisor and the third is a manager from another department. Each independently writes a summary of the interview with comments and recommendations. These reviews are presented to the board of senior executives who make suggestions on the final review. 99% of the time they re-state the original review.

The minute I read my annual review I spoke to two women on the board and both of them said the same thing. The company expects their women executives to dress in a sophisticated manner and unfortunately, I did not . Both pointed out that I wore the same outfits over and over and I would have to increase my wardrobe budget if I wished to move into management. Both women said it was a minor flaw and if I could improve my image before my next review it could help my career not hurt it. When an employee acts on the advice given by the executive board it is usually seen as a positive step.

I have one problem with their advice, it isn’t really practical. One woman is in her 40s and the other is in her 50s and they both have worked for the company for over 20 years. When they were hired a woman with an MBA was paid very well by today’s standards, for two reasons; the economy was much better than it is today and women with MBAs were hard to find and difficult to attract. In this tight economy many more men and women are going to graduate school and as a result there is an abundance of well trained people to choose from. My company today is offering significantly smaller salaries to job candidates entering the workforce with my background. The problem doesn’t end there, in this company you get a certain percentage of your income as a raise every year assuming you’re doing a fairly good job. As a result, the women who were hired years ago are earning 2 to 3 times what the people under them are earning. Which means they can afford to spend significantly more on their wardrobes and as a result dress better than those striving to get into management.

I carefully noted how these women managers dressed and there is no way I could afford to dress in the same style. My wardrobe consists of very high quality individual pieces and as I see it I only have three choices. First I can point out to these executives that I cannot afford on my salary to dress the way they dress and that is unfair particularly since I have to compete against men who don’t have the same problem. The other two possibilities I see are extending my wardrobe by lowering the quality of individual pieces. or purchasing only business outfits for the next year. I believe this would hurt my social life. What do you suggest?

Name and address withheld

Dear Aspiring Executive:

I know a woman who faced a similar problem 22 years ago. At the time she was a widow with three children. The husband passed away about a year earlier and she originally started working so that she could help pay her children’s college tuition. She told me when the funeral was over and everything settled down she decided that she had better get serious about her career since she was going to be the only breadwinner in the family.

My friend knew she had a problem because about eight months before her husband died she talked to her direct superior. He congratulated her on the excellent job she was doing. She had been working in the Human Resources Department and her record of hiring effective people to fill key positions was unmatched. However, while congratulating her he implied that she was not being considered for a slot in management. It struck her as rather strange but it didn’t bother her until two weeks later when another woman doing the same job told everyone at lunch that she was being considered for bigger and better things. She immediately asked her boss why a coworker that was not performing at her level was being considered for a management slot while she was not. His answer was her coworker would fit in with the executives at the company because she had executive style. When he made that statement she was tempted to pick up the enormous inkwell on his desk and whack him in the head. Of course she did not but when she got back to her desk she was still upset. When she calmed down she thought about it and decided to ignore him since the only reason she was there was her kids tuition and she had no desire to become a manager.

When she decided that she would like to move up in the company she read my books, The Woman’s Dress for Success and Live for Success. As result of reading those books she studied the women executives in her company. She came in 15 minutes early and had coffee at the coffee shop located in the lobby of the companies building and watched the women executives walk into the building. The first thing she noticed was they did have a different style, they were better dressed and they carried themselves with self-assurance. After reading Live for Success she decided to improve her posture and spent almost a month walking around with a book balanced on her head. When she started noticing a difference in the way she was being treated she came to one of my presentations and asked me questions.

After speaking to me, the first thing she did, when expanding her wardrobe, was to cross shop. She went to the best stores in town and looked for the garments she needed and paid attention as instructed to the colors, the shades of color and the cut of those garments. Then she went to the moderately priced stores and attempted to duplicate those garments. If she could, she purchased them, if not she chose other garments. In addition I told her it would be a very good investment to buy a handful of high status items, jewelry, watches, and an expensive or stylish bag in which she could carry her computer because for a woman to have such items added to her status and authority particularly with other women. She said that she couldn’t afford more than one or two of those items and she would purchase what she could. A year or so later, this lady showed up at another speech and reported she had solved her problem. She told me she lived an hour and 15 minutes from Palm Beach and every Saturday morning she visited a Salvation Army and two resale shops in that town. At one of the resale shops she spotted a Hermes scarf but it cost $85, so she passed on it. Two months later she spotted three Hermes scarves in a Salvation Army store with a price tag of $10 on each so she bought all three. When she began wearing them she noticed once again she was treated differently. In fact she received several compliments from managers on her scarves.

Without spending a fortune on a new wardrobe she changed the way people in her office thought of her. Today she is a VP of a fortune 500 company and when I told her about you she said: “Hang in there, you can do anything you set your mind to.” She sent two of her three children to Ivy League schools and the third attended Juilliard and she is convinced as am I, you can succeed.

Good luck!

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WOMEN MANAGING IN A MACHO ENVIRORMENT

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I am a woman electrical engineer and I’ve been working for my company for almost 15 years. Four years ago I was made a senior engineer and since then I have been running minor projects. For the last two years I worked at headquarters in research and development and we just finished designing and building the prototype for a new weapon system. I can’t be more specific than that since we work for the DOD and much of what I do is classified.

Although the weapon system we developed was designed to be used to enhance the capabilities of a particular vehicle it obviously has other possibilities. That is why I am going to spend the next year or two working with those who are testing our system. I will be traveling to a military base regularly and staying for anywhere from from a week to a month.

Two weeks ago I made my first trip to the base to help set up facilities for testing and to assign some of our people to the unit. While I was there we ran two tests and I discovered that wearing a lab jacket over a skirt was impracticable since as part of the testing team it was necessary to travel to desert areas and to move on foot through rough terrain. Most of the male engineers for the first test wore khaki pants and dress shirts but for the second test they were all wearing jeans and casual shirts. I also changed, I retired my skirts and replaced them with slacks. All of the research and development people discarded their white lab coats.

My problem is once l took off my lab coat I lost much of my authority. While I cannot point to a specific incident I felt I did not receive the same treatment that I did back in the laboratory. When I worked in the laboratory I was treated appropriately for someone in my position. In the desert, everything seemed to change. In fact everybody’s behavior and in some cases language changed. While I am not saying that these very competent male engineers became frat brothers the minute they were put into the rough and tumble environment of the desert there were some elements of a fraternity house by the end of the second test. When one of the managing engineers announced our success by saying; “We nailed the SOB” I was surprised and somewhat taken back. The rough language didn’t bother me however I feel the environment in which it was acceptable relegated me to a lesser position. Somehow I was no longer a managing engineer but at best a senior engineer and that my new title did not entitle me to be treated the way the two male managing engineers were treated. I am certain I lost status and prestige for no apparent reason. I feel it is necessary at this point to do something that will enhance my status and authority with the male engineers particularly the managing engineers. I am convinced, if I’m not able to do so, my job will becomes more difficult

It’s not practical for me to imitate the dress of my male counterparts, women’s jeans are cut differently than men’s and I realize they send different signals. I’m built like a traditional 36-year-old woman who has taken care of herself by going to the gym three times a week. In any kind of female pants I am going to attract the wrong type of attention particularly in the desert during the day when it is very hot and everybody is wearing short sleeve shirts. I have no idea what I should be wearing. I was hoping you could help.

Perplexed Woman Engineer

Dear Engineer:

You are right, in an informal macho environment women have far less authority than men. As a result in the Sun Belt particularly in the desert environment where informality is a must, women operate under a tremendous disadvantage. In offices women have to a significant degree solved this problem on their own. Women are very effective at doing that because they pay attention to the way other women and men dress and take mental notes on who’s being given preferential treatment. In addition, women talk to each other about their experiences which includes how they are treated when they wear different outfits. I know this because when I speak to groups of business women they often mention such meetings.

Several years ago a number of women in one company were faced with a similar problem. I suggested that they wear dark colored pants that were not cut or designed to accentuate their feminine figures. Several months later when we met they had improved on my advice by finding slacks that were cut full without looking large or ill fitting. I also suggested that they wear loose fitting tops that were not tucked in but rather hung below their waists onto their hips deemphasizing their feminine curves. Once again they improved on my advice by locating shirts that hung below their hips and looked like men’s short sleeve dress shirts. When we tested them we found they worked well. We also discovered through testing that one good piece of jewelry added to the status and authority of those women working in a macho environment rather than taking from it. I also advised them to wear dark colored Easy Spirit sneakers since they also had to traverse rough terrain while maintaining a professional image. Most followed my suggestions and reported back that they were usually treated well in their macho workplace. If you follow their lead you won’t go far wrong

Women have on their own taken several steps to overcome this disadvantage. First they make it a point of adopting the hallmark of their profession particularly if those in their profession are seen as powerful and successful. If a number of the male engineers carry clipboards or wear a certain color hardhat clever women tend to do the same. The hallmark of power you adopt need not be one that is worn or carried every day or even regularly by your fellow managing engineers. If your fellow managers carry clipboards only when they are performing certain functions it might still be a good idea to carry a clipboard even though you’re not performing one of those functions. The purpose of carrying the clipboard is to announce that you are a manager to those you meet, if it does that, it performs its function. In addition particularly women in offices wear or carry as many obvious status symbols as possible, an obviously expensive watch, a gold pen etc. you can try this as well. In some macho environments it works very well in others it doesn’t but it hardly ever hurts.

Finally, research shows that in a closed environment such as the one you are describing the most effective technique to enhance your image and authority is association. Make sure you are seen talking to, walking with and having lunch with the male managing engineers. That association will carry over and have an impact on how others treat you.

Good luck!

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DEVELOPING A FRIENDLY NON-THREATENING IMAGE

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I am an investigator for the district attorney’s office. Part of my job is to interview people who do not wish to be interviewed. Please note I did not say interrogate, I said interview Some will do anything to avoid being interviewed including asking for a lawyer when they don’t need one. I have run across individuals who are only being questioned because they may know something and who are not suspected of doing anything wrong who ask for a lawyer. I think they watch too much TV. Or they will give such guarded answers that it takes a half hour to get an answer to a simple question. When I’m questioning a suspect I can be and often am rather intimidating. Not being intimidating is often a problem for new investigators. My problem is I’m 6’5″ tall weigh 286 lbs. and I often intimidate those with whom I am trying to be friendly How can I relax them and get them to open up?

An investigator

Dear Investigator:

There are several things you can do, start by dressing in a style that relaxes those you meet. First avoid wearing dark colors particularly on the upper part of your body. Never wear a dark jacket, sweater, or shirt, avoid navy, black or gray suits, sweaters or jackets. Wear medium range brown, tan or beige whenever you can, it announces to most people that you are friendly. If the garment you wear has a small, faint, fine line traditional pattern so much the better because such patterns announce that you are easy-going, nonthreatening and likable. If with these friendly garments you wear blue, beige or pale yellow shirts you will relax most of the people with whom you are dealing. Second do not take them into an interrogation room without windows. Interrogation rooms accidentally or purposely are designed to create the impression that people are trapped. Of course, that is very intimidating. If possible interview them in an open environment. Ideally, if you could interview them in front of a window with a pleasant view they would be far more relaxed. If the only place you have to interview people is in a closed in office never sit them with their backs to the door, in fact never sit them with their backs to the door no matter where they are being interviewed.

If you want to see the ideal office for relaxing people all you have to do is go into a half a dozen real estate firm’s. About every fourth one will have a conference room with a large window or windows and an oval table surrounded by comfortable office chairs. Most of the people who work in those offices have no idea why they are designed or furnished in that style. I developed that plan for a conference room 21 years ago when working for a real estate firm in Alaska. The woman who hired me to speak to her salespeople asked me if I could solve another problem she had. In her opinion a certain percentage of home buyers she believed were ready to buy, changed their minds the minute they came into the office. She wanted to know why and frankly it intrigued me as well. I shipped her four cameras we used when conducting sales research and asked her to surreptitiously videotape all the clients who came into the office for one week and to indicate which ones she thought she was losing at the last moment.

When I received the first of the tapes, two things were obvious. The minute the potential home buyers came into an enclosed space they felt very uncomfortable. I knew this because she had two offices in which her salespeople tried to get the buyers to sign on the dotted line. The first was a large conference room with a large table around which you could easily seat 8 to 10 people in the center surrounded by stiff back but fairly comfortable chairs. This room had three normally sized windows that faced the parking lot. The second was an office that had been converted into a conference room with a table that sat six people comfortably. Probably because it had been an office there were three office chairs along with three stiff back chairs.

Since it was a well-established fact that potential buyers became nervous when they had their backs to the door she moved the door from the long side of the office facing the window to the far end of the office. This allowed her salespeople to sit the buyers at the far end of the conference table facing the door This was easily done because this conference room had been added onto the building and almost stood on one side of the main building. To give the people a sense of openness she removed all three windows and replaced them with two very large windows which gave her clients a view over the parking lot and into a large ball field next to a local high school which was about a block and a half away. She believed that Alaskans were used to being in the open and that the view would relax them. She was right, people in large cities don’t need to look on expansive spaces. Nevertheless, real estate firms in large cities who give their clients a pleasant view, sell more real estate that those who do not. In addition she replaced them with immovable waiting room chairs with rich beige leather office chairs that allow the home buyers to move comfortably without leaving the chair. The results were so positive that she built a second large conference room.

She thought the project was over so she returned the cameras. However, when I told her that I would like to see more videos and I wasn’t charging any additional fee for my analysis and report she put them back up. She sent me new videos about a month later and a second set that I requested after that. On examining those videos it was obvious that the traditional rectangular tables separated the salespeople from the buyers. Each had territorial limits that could not be invaded without causing potential problems so I suggested that they replace the rectangular tables with oval tables. It did not completely correct this problem but it helped. I realized you are not going to be able to talk your bosses into redesigning your office space but if they ever decide they need a new building you just might have a shot.

In some District Attorney’s Offices there is an official or unofficial dress code and as a result you will see investigators wearing suits and sport jackets. After reading my advice you might think this is a bad idea because it intimidates people but that’s not always the case. Your size makes you physically intimidating and wearing a jacket, shirt and tie announces to those you are questioning that you are not a physical threat. It’s the only case where wearing such garments lessens your intimidation factor. I spoke to a couple of district attorneys around the country and they said they had dress codes because it gave their office a professional look. I think they are copying the FBI.

I had a friend who was an FBI agent who faced the same problem being a very large intimidating fellow. I don’t know what it is today but when I was young there was an official dress code for FBI agents. It came about because when J Edgar Hoover took over the FBI he inherited an agency that was in disarray and with a very poor image. When he arrived the agents if they were not drunks were political appointees who were not qualified to do the job, who didn’t work very hard and didn’t care. He approached a professor who suggested he dress his agents like Congressmen since they were the ones who would fund his organization. While J Edgar Hoover solved his problem by dressing his agents like businessmen or Congressman it made it difficult for big fellows like you to be effective when you are trying to relax the people you are interviewing.

Good luck!

Developing a friendly non-threatening image
Dear Mr. Molloy:

I am an investigator for the district attorney’s office. Part of my job is to interview people who do not wish to be interviewed. Please note I did not say interrogate, I said interview Some will do anything to avoid being interviewed including asking for a lawyer when they don’t need one. I have run across individuals who are only being questioned because they may know something and who are not suspected of doing anything wrong who ask for a lawyer. I think they watch too much TV. Or they will give such guarded answers that it takes a half hour to get an answer to a simple question. When I’m questioning a suspect I can be and often am rather intimidating. Not being intimidating is often a problem for new investigators. My problem is I’m 6’5″ tall weigh 286 lbs. and I often intimidate those with whom I am trying to be friendly How can I relax them and get them to open up?

An investigator

Dear Investigator:

There are several things you can do, start by dressing in a style that relaxes those you meet. First avoid wearing dark colors particularly on the upper part of your body. Never wear a dark jacket, sweater, or shirt, avoid navy, black or gray suits, sweaters or jackets. Wear medium range brown, tan or beige whenever you can, it announces to most people that you are friendly. If the garment you wear has a small, faint, fine line traditional pattern so much the better because such patterns announce that you are easy-going, nonthreatening and likable. If with these friendly garments you wear blue, beige or pale yellow shirts you will relax most of the people with whom you are dealing. Second do not take them into an interrogation room without windows. Interrogation rooms accidentally or purposely are designed to create the impression that people are trapped. Of course, that is very intimidating. If possible interview them in an open environment. Ideally, if you could interview them in front of a window with a pleasant view they would be far more relaxed. If the only place you have to interview people is in a closed in office never sit them with their backs to the door, in fact never sit them with their backs to the door no matter where they are being interviewed.

If you want to see the ideal office for relaxing people all you have to do is go into a half a dozen real estate firm’s. About every fourth one will have a conference room with a large window or windows and an oval table surrounded by comfortable office chairs. Most of the people who work in those offices have no idea why they are designed or furnished in that style. I developed that plan for a conference room 21 years ago when working for a real estate firm in Alaska. The woman who hired me to speak to her salespeople asked me if I could solve another problem she had. In her opinion a certain percentage of home buyers she believed were ready to buy, changed their minds the minute they came into the office. She wanted to know why and frankly it intrigued me as well. I shipped her four cameras we used when conducting sales research and asked her to surreptitiously videotape all the clients who came into the office for one week and to indicate which ones she thought she was losing at the last moment.

When I received the first of the tapes, two things were obvious. The minute the potential home buyers came into an enclosed space they felt very uncomfortable. I knew this because she had two offices in which her salespeople tried to get the buyers to sign on the dotted line. The first was a large conference room with a large table around which you could easily seat 8 to 10 people in the center surrounded by stiff back but fairly comfortable chairs. This room had three normally sized windows that faced the parking lot. The second was an office that had been converted into a conference room with a table that sat six people comfortably. Probably because it had been an office there were three office chairs along with three stiff back chairs.

Since it was a well-established fact that potential buyers became nervous when they had their backs to the door she moved the door from the long side of the office facing the window to the far end of the office. This allowed her salespeople to sit the buyers at the far end of the conference table facing the door This was easily done because this conference room had been added onto the building and almost stood on one side of the main building. To give the people a sense of openness she removed all three windows and replaced them with two very large windows which gave her clients a view over the parking lot and into a large ball field next to a local high school which was about a block and a half away. She believed that Alaskans were used to being in the open and that the view would relax them. She was right, people in large cities don’t need to look on expansive spaces. Nevertheless, real estate firms in large cities who give their clients a pleasant view, sell more real estate that those who do not. In addition she replaced them with immovable waiting room chairs with rich beige leather office chairs that allow the home buyers to move comfortably without leaving the chair. The results were so positive that she built a second large conference room.

She thought the project was over so she returned the cameras. However, when I told her that I would like to see more videos and I wasn’t charging any additional fee for my analysis and report she put them back up. She sent me new videos about a month later and a second set that I requested after that. On examining those videos it was obvious that the traditional rectangular tables separated the salespeople from the buyers. Each had territorial limits that could not be invaded without causing potential problems so I suggested that they replace the rectangular tables with oval tables. It did not completely correct this problem but it helped. I realized you are not going to be able to talk your bosses into redesigning your office space but if they ever decide they need a new building you just might have a shot.

In some District Attorney’s Offices there is an official or unofficial dress code and as a result you will see investigators wearing suits and sport jackets. After reading my advice you might think this is a bad idea because it intimidates people but that’s not always the case. Your size makes you physically intimidating and wearing a jacket, shirt and tie announces to those you are questioning that you are not a physical threat. It’s the only case where wearing such garments lessens your intimidation factor. I spoke to a couple of district attorneys around the country and they said they had dress codes because it gave their office a professional look. I think they are copying the FBI.

I had a friend who was an FBI agent who faced the same problem being a very large intimidating fellow. I don’t know what it is today but when I was young there was an official dress code for FBI agents. It came about because when J Edgar Hoover took over the FBI he inherited an agency that was in disarray and with a very poor image. When he arrived the agents if they were not drunks were political appointees who were not qualified to do the job, who didn’t work very hard and didn’t care. He approached a professor who suggested he dress his agents like Congressmen since they were the ones who would fund his organization. While J Edgar Hoover solved his problem by dressing his agents like businessmen or Congressman it made it difficult for big fellows like you to be effective when you are trying to relax the people you are interviewing.

Good luck!

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