Out of The Blue

YOUR Accessories speak when Work can’t!

16 Jun , 2015  

They say performance is everything and work is what makes you look good. While I’m able to relate to this philosophically, some of my experiences tell another story. Doesn’t style and what we wear also count in many situations including influencing colleagues, impressing customers, and getting noticed by the boss? Perhaps…but can this sort of attention be yours for always without discipline, intellect; aptitude; and the ability to connect? Well, I’m not too sure about that…

I thought I had a great press conference; I presented a new research paper to a packed hall of journalists for two hours. At the end of the press conference, I was pretty pleased with my composure and ability to provide responses which met the expectations of the media. I had prepared well; spent more than a few hours picking the best suit for the occasion; and made sure that I smiled as much as I could (though my heart was literally pounding for the first 2 minutes of the presentation). 🙂

But when I returned to the office, I was not at all pleased to see a gift-wrapped coffee mug on my table with a note that said, “Kamal, the coffee mug that you carried to the press conference today wasn’t suited for an MD so this gift is for your future use!” The “saint” in me smiled but the “devil” in me said “what the…!”

I laughed it off thinking that it did not matter as long as the journo gave a good coverage and yet despite receiving a positively overwhelming publicity the following day, I could not shake off the coffee mug incident and reluctantly asked myself, “’It is possible that attractiveness and a good sense of style may take precedence over everything else for a lasting impression at work and during interviews?”

Another episode comes to mind…a few years ago, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of our new boss from abroad when we were in middle of a merger. Some of us were disappointed by her initial address which we thought lacked depth, thought leadership and connectivity to Asia.  On the contrary, a majority of our colleagues were besotted by her. My new country head whispered to me during lunch, “Kamal, did you see her “Prada” bag? That woman has great taste!”

So it seemed that my new boss won more hearts with the Prada bag she carried and the Montblanc pen she used to make notes on that day. In a world of impressions, my boss sailed through her 1st win by her choice of accessories!

My memories on accessories go a long way. I was about to move into my 1st major managerial role. During this time, 4 of my direct reports took the trouble to sit me down to give me an “up-to-the-minute” crash course about style and the world of fashion!

These were some of the stuff they suggested on how to “style up” and “step into” my new role:

  1. Minimum 4 to 5 different pairs of ‘Loake’ shoes or its equivalent. I had never heard of the brand ‘Loake’ prior to this.
  2. A Bosca wallet which must be replaced annually. Being young and “economically challenged” at that time, I was horrified to fork out the money for a simple bi-fold wallet! Who cares if it is fine Italian leather!
  3. A Hidesign laptop bag. I thought my bag had a twice a day display only which was while entering the office and exiting (entering at 8 and leaving at 8 in those days meant that I was only impressing myself as no-one comes or stays that long if they are efficient at work).
  4. I was asked to replace my wedding gifted ‘Titan’ watch with a few internationally branded watches and to use those watches interchangeably!
  5. Schaeffer pens. And then the Montblancs
  6. 2 sets of Ray-Ban sunglasses (one formal and the other, casual).
  7. 4 different belts (unfortunately or fortunately, I can’t seem to remember the brands they suggested).
  8. Always carry a leather card holder and to change it every 6 months.
  9. A matching pair of cuff-links for every shirt!

I wasn’t comfortable with suddenly becoming “someone else” in terms of “Accessories” overnight and still not fully into it. But over a period of time I have observed many people who seamlessly blend their personalities with Accessories.

Many years later, I still believe that in the long run, substance wins over style and looks. I love accessories too … accessories are important but in a minimal and tasteful manner; not being overtly conscious about it!

The Ray-Ban matters but can be easily bought. Can we buy work ethic, intellect; aptitude; and ability to connect? 

The Ray-Ban matters but can be easily bought. Can we buy work ethic, intellect; aptitude; and ability to connect? 🙂

As always, read this with a pinch of salt! 🙂

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