Every guy makes mistakes. What’s important is what he learns from them. This week: a budding entrepreneur flashes a fashion tastemaker. He’s been buttoned up ever since.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet a fashion icon. He had been the CEO of one of the preeminent fashion brands in the world, and had founded another.
I was in my (relatively) younger years then, and going out drinking in the evenings was the norm. Despite our meeting being set for 8:00 a.m., I found myself out late the night before and, naturally, well served. The following morning I woke up in a fog, showered and tossed on my nicest pair of jeans and a clean shirt. I was feeling ready.
The man’s daughter was a friend and had generously arranged the meeting. There were six of us in total: the fashion maven, his daughter, a few friends, and me. The discussion on the table was the new label we were working to create. It was a weekend morning, but the maven looked very sophisticated – a cashmere sweater draped over a silk shirt, horn-rimmed eyewear; hair impeccably combed.
I held back from speaking much early on, until he asked a question on design inspiration, and I felt compelled to jump in. I tend to speak expressively with my hands, and as I began my explanation, I noticed my friends looking increasingly uncomfortable. Thus, I kept my comments brief. At that point, I looked over at a friend who wasn’t speaking. He was fixed on me. He pointed at my shirt: two of my middle buttons had come unbuttoned, and while speaking and gesticulating wildly, I had revealed some rather flagrant man-chest to this fashion tastemaker.
I was mortified, sure, but I buttoned up, composed myself and continued on in the conversation. The meeting lasted almost two hours, and gentleman left the discussion intrigued and encouraged by our idea.
As I reflect back on the moment, I think a couple things are important to note:
- Before a big meeting, give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Give yourself a once over. (This is a great thing for a girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband to help you with.)
- Be aware of all others in the discussion. Look around. Take hints. My friends helped me be sure that my little flash of chest hair didn’t become a full-on nipple slip.
- Roll with your mistakes. For years, I have not been able to live this tale down. But every time it comes up, I own it. In the end, a little flash didn’t stop us from building a great company.