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Monday, August 20, 2012

Some of you are going to be shocked, shocked and outraged, by this news...but when I was in my 20s, and working in TV...I was kind of an a**hole. (Whoa, breaking news, right? Film at 11.) I kind of felt that I could do what I liked, dress however I wanted, say anything I thought...and there wouldn't be any consequences. It was a simpler time.

Now, it is true, that I did get away with a lot of bad behavior. I was rather unpleasant. But I would argue that this was, in large part, due to the fact that we were living in a fantastic economy and I had a tremendous work ethic. I was a work horse. 15, 16 days in a row, 15 or 16 hour days? Let's get this party started!

But it's probably very lucky for me that I was such a brainy workaholic, since my attitude also destroyed a lot of potential long-term opportunities. Interestingly enough, many managers don't wish to clasp to their bosom
someone who points out, at great length and high volume, their mistakes. Weird. Especially when that person is wearing no makeup, baggy trousers and dirty sneakers. Again: weird.

So, in some ways, I was kind of a train wreck waiting to burn out. But here's what's really weird: nowadays, when I visit friends or clients in their offices, I see people, much more conservative than I ever was, people who want to advance up the corporate ladder...wearing jeans or peasant smocks or muu-muus or sweatpants or flipflops in the middle of the day. Whoa...really?  That's the impression you want to give? Some of these people are now thinking, "Okay, maybe I dress like a slob, but...I'm nice! I'm not a brat like you were Carlota." Good for you.

Because do you really think management is going to be mentally positioning you to move up the ladder when you dress like that? Is that how you think management wants their brand represented? That sounds shallow and superficial, right? Welcome to Corporate America: pull up a seat, make yourself comfortable. For your career to advance, there must be someone in management who sees you in a different light, as a potential candidate.

I'm not suggesting that we all have to look like we just stepped out of a salon. But don't we automatically treat well-dressed people with a little bit more deference? We tend to assume they have a better job, income, education. That may be depressing, but a lot of life is depressing: get used to it.

You're going into work every day, hopefully, to advance your career, get better create a career which uses the best of you. No matter how smart and talented you are, if you consistently dress like a schlub, you're necessarily undermining your chances. Instead, envision what you want to become and dress for the role. Dress for the part you want to play.

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