• Sharebar

Those of you who checked out last week's Bonus Bananas may have noticed #7, a piece lambasting the commercialism promulgated by one of BuzzFeed's, "Buy these or you suck!" lists. Now, let me start by noting that the derision Thomas Pluck from Good Men Project piled upon Justin Abarca from BuzzFeed was well earned, but I thought it could have gone further. I would recommend reading through Pluck's retort; it will give you some great high level bits on why BuzzFeed's original piece is nonsense, in particular:

Because being a man is not about being a consumer, it is about being a decent human being.

Words to live by, certainly, but they are not the whole story.

As I read through the 40 products that BuzzFeed requires self-respecting men over 30 to go out and buy, I noticed that many of them were more suited to a wedding registry instead of the average man's collection. I think if the author came out and said, "Be Married by 30" his list wouldn't have seemed so utterly ridiculous. But, I digress.

One could easily break down the original list into five basic categories: "Clothing", "Accessories", "House Ware", "Other", and "Actually a Good Idea". We will focusing on the 39 things found in the first four categories, where I will correct the misconception of the original author for you, the reader.

Clothing - #1, #2, #3, #24, #32, #33

What the Original Piece Suggests: The author suggests that a self-respecting man over 30 owns the following: "A Tailored Black Suit", "Black Dress Shoes", "Brown Dress Shoes", "Undershirts", "Good Socks", and "Good Underwear". Hilariously, the single most useless suit color is the very first item on the list. This should've been every reader's first clue that the whole list is utter bullshit. The second clue is that while the author chose to include a suit, dress shoes, undershirts, underwear, and socks, dress shirts and ties were conspicuously left off the list. Suggesting, rather peculiarly, that self-respecting men over 30 wear black suits, nice shoes, and undershirts.

How to Actually be a Self-Respecting Man: In terms of clothing, there is nothing you need to buy in order to be a self-respecting man. It's all optional. That's not to say you can write it off completely. You should know how to tie a tie, whether you own one or not (bonus points for tying a full Windsor and/or a bowtie). Also, you should know how to shine (if applicable) and take care of your shoes.

Accessories - #6, #7, #8, #12, #14, #21, #28

What the Original Piece Suggests: Holy crap does this guy have a boner for accessories. I had no idea how unmanly I am given that the author suggests that every self respecting man over 30 owns this awfully exhaustive list: "A Nice Wallet", "Cologne (Not Body Spray)", "A Watch", "A Weekend Bag", "Grooming Kit", "An Umbrella", and "Sunglasses". First, let me point out that referring to a duffle bag as "A Weekend Bag" is weird. Also, who buys entire "Grooming Kits"? All of this is totally optional. Owning all or none of these things has exactly zero impact on whether you're considered a self-respecting man.

How to Actually be a Self-Respecting Man: Most men, as they pass through their 20s, will acquire many accessories. What accessories you ultimately purchased is meaningless, what matters is why they're purchased and how they're used. Watches and sunglasses are prime examples. If you want a watch, don't go out and buy whatever everyone else bought. Buy something that you've researched and will enjoy and appreciate. If you don't want a watch, don't buy a watch. Same thing goes for sunglasses. If you don't give a shit about sunglasses, don't buy them, if you do, buy whatever you think you'll like. Grooming is not something you need a special kit for, just something you should do on a daily basis. If you want to look clean cut, go to the barber or hairstylist regularly. If you want a ZZ Top style beard, keep that shit brushed so you don't a bird's nest in there. If you want to be a self-respecting man, do whatever you want but do it right. That's the only requirement.

House Ware - #9, #13, #15, #16, #17, #20, #22, #26, #31, #34, #35, #36, #37

What the Original Piece Suggests: Self-Respecting men over 30 are all married.

How to Actually be a Self-Respecting Man: This is easy, yet took up a 1/3 of the original list. Here's the jist: Whatever you happen to own, keep that shit clean and straight. That's it. You don't need to "buy" anything.

Other - #4, #5, #10, #11, #19, #23, #25, #27, #29, #30, #38, #39, #40

What the Original Piece Suggests: Sweet shit on a stick, I should've broken this one down a lot more. The author lists the following as necessities for the self-respecting man over 30: "Stocks", "A Tool Kit", "A Flashlight", "Duct Tape", "A Flask", "Jumper Cables", "Playing Cards", "A Leatherman", "A Record Player", "Foot/Soccer/Basket/Base-Balls", "A Decent Car", "A Solid Book Collection", and "A Decent Bottle of Booze".

How to Actually be a Self-Respecting Man: Okay, I'm going to hit these one at a time where applicable. The author's original reasoning on many needs to be forcefully rebuffed.

Stocks - The author says, "Who cares if you know how the market works or not?" This is the exact opposite of what makes one a self respecting man. Owning stock is completely unnecessary for many (saving for retirement is not), however, a self-respecting man will know what simple stock metrics mean from a high level. If you're over 30, you should know that a high P/E is worse than a low P/E. The self-respecting man knows a little about how the world works. Only children buy shit they're clueless about.

Tool Kit - The author says, "It doesn't need to be the most expensive, it just has to have the necessities: hammer, screwdriver (both Phillips and flathead), wrench, pliers, and a tape measure." Now, I'm big into DIY projects and I have a tremendously large assortment of tools and I can tell you that for the typical repair I've done over the better part of a decade, those are not the necessities (with the possible exception of a crescent wrench). In order to be a self-respecting man, you don't need to own ANY tools, at all. However, I would recommend being able to fix two common problems: Drywall and toilets. I would high recommend you learn how to patch drywall and fix a toilet. In my days as a renter, holes in drywall would magically appear after an awesome party, and people break toilets all the time. If you know you to fix these two things, you're in a great situation. Borrow the tools.

A Record Player - The author says, "It doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to be able to play The Clash's London Calling without it skipping." If you like playing records, by all means, go out and buy a record player. If you'd like to get into playing records and building a collection, by all means, go out and buy a record player. If you like playing MP3s on your iphone and don't give eight shits about vinyl, never buy a record player. Self-respecting men don't buy shit they don't need. They buy shit they want because they enjoy it.

Books - The author says, "Nobody is saying you have to read them all, but just having them speaks volumes." Yes, if you have a lot of books that you've never read, that does speak volumes about you, but it's not positive. If you love reading and/or love collecting books, go to town. If you don't like reading books and don't care to collect them, the don't. If you stack your shelves with a bunch of books you've never read and don't intend to read just to make it seem like you're smart, you're a douchebag.

Booze - This is easy, ask yourself if you like drinking? If so, what do you like to drink? If the answers to those two questions are, "yes", and "wine", go buy some wine. If the answers are, "yes" and "scotch", go buy some scotch. Buy what you like and don't buy what you don't like. Some people like to have a good liquor cabinet, some people don't care. Both are perfectly reasonable options.

Actually a Good Idea - #18

What the Original Piece Suggests: The author states that the self-respecting man should have a passport because, "It's better to be prepared than disappointed when you win that trip overseas in that radio call-in contest." The author is correct here, but somehow is completely wrong as to why. A self-respecting man over 30 has a passport. However, I've never met one that participates in radio call-in contests.

Conclusion

Being a self-respecting man has more to do with "what you know" than "what you have" and more to do with "what you like and want" than "what you should want to have". In closing, the final words from Thomas's post from the Good Men Project are worth repeating, as I cannot write something more appropriate:

5. A skeptical attitude toward anyone who says you have to buy anything to "be a man." Want to be a man? Act like a man. Sometimes it sucks: to get what you want, you often have to do things you don't wanna do. It can be hard. But you know who whines about it?

Boys.

3

The WSO Advantage - Land Your Dream Job

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation. Learn More.

Wall St. Interview Secrets Revealed

30,000+ sold & REAL questions. Learn More.

Resume Help from Finance Pros

Land More Interviews. Learn More.

Find Your Mentor

Realistic Mock Interviews. Learn More.

Comments (21)

  • Going Concern's picture

    Good post, this I can agree with for the most part. Being a man is basically a matter of being self sufficient / independent, having beliefs and interests, and being true to those beliefs and interests despite other people (and instead of following other people). If you want to be a gentle man, maybe add a few more things to that. That's pretty much it in a nutshell.

  • Cookies With Milken's picture

    I was going to give you a SB but you failed to mention duct tape in the tools section.

    Otherwise gj.

  • prospie's picture

    The funny thing is, there is a thread somewhere on here that is like 300+ posts where people debate the stupid shit that an "alpha male" should do/own. It is the shallowest pile of garbage I've ever read, and nobody in the thread is aware of it.

  • blackjack21's picture

    They should rename the title of it to "40 Things Every 45-Year-Old Dad Who Lives in the Suburbs Should Own."

  • Angus Macgyver's picture

    So... just for anyone who's reading this, be sure to take up at least a small bit of the author's advice and get yourself some sunglasses. Cataracts are bad and nobody wants 'em. Also, does anyone really need to be told that they need to own an umbrella? Who DOESN'T own an umbrella?

  • winteralreadycame's picture

    mikesswimn:
    If you're over 30, you should know that a high P/E is worse than a low P/E. The self-respecting man knows a little about how the world works. Only children buy shit they're clueless about.

    All other things held equal, yes a high P/E is worse than a low P/E, but that's never the case in the real world. In fact, that's a very misleading statement. P/E needs to be considered in the context of earnings growth, margins, perceived secular growth in the industry and so forth. Further, depending on the capital structure of the business, P/E may not even be an appropriate metric to look at. You may need to consider something like EV/EBIDTA or EV/FCF.

    Bottom Line: I'd rather the self-respecting man know nothing about the markets rather something incorrect. Let the self-respecting man stick to Vanguard funds and he'll be better off than your average stock picker.

  • In reply to winteralreadycame
    adapt or die's picture

    winteralreadycame:

    mikesswimn:

    If you're over 30, you should know that a high P/E is worse than a low P/E. The self-respecting man knows a little about how the world works. Only children buy shit they're clueless about.

    P/E needs to be considered in the context of earnings growth, margins, perceived secular growth in the industry and so forth.

    In my opinion, understanding P/E ratios is not something of substantial value to unknowledgable retail investors.

    I think for the avg non-financial mind you should just have a general idea of the risk associated with each asset class in a very broad sense.

  • Mr. Manager's picture

    Great post. These "How to be a Man" posts crop up every once in a while and they are so useless. The original authors should just be honest with themselves and title their articles "I Define Myself By the Following Things and You Should Too".

    I've always had a pretty simple definition of how to be a man. Work hard and be accountable. I tend to disagree with anyone that suggests that I'll never be a man because I don't like watches, I don't drink, and I think black suits are tacky.

  • In reply to adapt or die
    mikesswimn's picture

    @winteralreadycame and "@adapt or die I was mostly getting at, "knowing a little about the market" is more important than "owning stocks". I was using the P/E ratio as an example. After I wrote it, I realized you guys were probably going to jump on me :).

    You're both absolutely correct, however.

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In The Flesh's picture

    @mikesswimn : I'd have one caveat to a gentleman "having" to own something. "If a gentleman truly and deeply admires an artist, musician, or writer, he should be comfortable with spending money to acquire his or her work."

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • In reply to In The Flesh
    Going Concern's picture

    In The Flesh:

    @mikesswimn : I'd have one caveat to a gentleman "having" to own something. "If a gentleman truly and deeply admires an artist, musician, or writer, he should be comfortable with spending money to acquire his or her work."

    Spending money has nothing to do with being a man. Period. I think you also agreed with Nefarious's bit about needing to buy straight razors.

    Like the OP's general message, if you had said "being a man means liking an artist, musician, or writer because you have a deep understanding of their work and not because other people like it", then I would have agreed. Whether or not you purchase their work or are exposed to it some other way is irrelevant in this context.

  • In reply to Angus Macgyver
    prospie's picture

    Angus Macgyver:

    So... just for anyone who's reading this, be sure to take up at least a small bit of the author's advice and get yourself some sunglasses. Cataracts are bad and nobody wants 'em. Also, does anyone really need to be told that they need to own an umbrella? Who DOESN'T own an umbrella?


    Me. Fuck your stupid umbrella. That's my choice. You go buy your umbrella and have fun with that. I choose not to own one.
  • In The Flesh's picture

    @"Going Concern" : I agree that a gentleman should appreciate something because HE likes it, not because it's popular. But I would argue that he wouldn't be true to his guns if he claims to love an artist but just steals their work, for example.

    If someone says they love a band, but don't own any of their records (physically or digitally), wouldn't you think that was odd?

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • In reply to In The Flesh
    mikesswimn's picture

    I think I follow you here, does this sum up what you're saying:

    "A self-respecting man doesn't steal the work product of artists they admire and enjoy, they buy it"

    If so, I'm with you 100%. The first quote from Good Men Project sums up that particular concept (even if it does decry the consumer part of the equation).

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • In The Flesh's picture

    @mikesswimn : I was quoting "How To Be A Gentleman," but your source works too.

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • In reply to In The Flesh
    Going Concern's picture

    To unlock this content for free, please login / register below.

    Sign In with Facebook Sign In with Google

    Connecting helps us build a vibrant community. We'll never share your info without your permission. Sign up with email or if you are already a member, login here Bonus: Also get 6 free financial modeling lessons for free ($200+ value) when you register!
  • In reply to Angus Macgyver
    bonks's picture

    Nothing short of everything will really do.

  • BatMasterson's picture

    "I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
    "Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
    Storm: Orig Mix

  • PowerFinance's picture