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PHIL HARDWICK — To beard or not to beard

PHIL HARDWICK and his beard

It’s a late October evening. The Saints are playing the Vikings on television. On another channel, the Red Sox are playing the Dodgers in what will be the final game of the World Series. As the players are introduced, photos of their faces appear in little boxes in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Looking at those faces, it was so obvious. I couldn’t miss it. Six of the 11 starters on the Saints offense had full beards. Not those other variations of facial hair, such as stubble beards or Fu Manchus. Nope. Full beards.  I counted as the Vikings defenders were introduced in a similar manner. Also six out of 11. 

Switching channels to the World Series game, the screen showed a pitcher, a catcher and a batter, each with a full beard. Later, I noticed that the weather person for a local television station also was sporting a full beard. On Monday morning I attended a meeting of seven men, four of them had full beards. I also observed that late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel now sports a full beard. 

Full beards have obviously gone from being a fad to being a trend. Several weeks ago my wife and I were having breakfast at Brent’s Drugs in the Fondren neighborhood in Jackson. It’s a neat place to have breakfast on a Saturday morning. A throwback atmosphere with a basic menu. As we sipped coffee while waiting on our bacon and eggs, we discussed that many of the diners were young families. And of course – you guessed it. Many, if not most of the fathers, had beards. I also noticed another thing. Many of the older men who came into the restaurant were clean-shaven. Was this a millennial thing? 

I decided to do some further research. I went online and checked out the full roster of the Boston Red Sox. What I found was that 17 of the 22 pictures had full beards, three of the three catchers had full beards, four of the four outfielders and five of the 11 infielders, for a total of 29 out of 40 of the players had full beards. That’s 73%. Surely 73% of the male population of the United States does not have beards. Of course not. 

So I did a little even further research. Especially beards in the business world. I turned to Forbes magazine and checked out the class of 2018 New Billionaires. Eleven of the 14 new billionaires on the list are men. Only two of those 11 have full beards: Dan Kurzius, co-founder and chief customer officer of MailChimp and Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of of Dropbox. Further research was conducted on the Mississippi Business Journal website. I found that out of the 50 Under 40 only a few men had a beard. There were a few more in the Top Entrepreneurs edition. 

By now, you’re wondering if you should consider growing a beard. If so, allow me to offer some thoughts and perspective on this weighty subject. 

First, what’s your organization’s policy and culture when it comes to beards? Some companies embrace beards. Lucky Town Brewing Company is a good example. It goes with the culture. On the other hand, some companies prefer the clean-shaven look. That will be your first consideration.

Next, does a beard look good on you? Begin your beard at a time when you’re going to have some time off from work or when other people you normally see won’t be seeing you. After your beard has reached the desired length, ask some trusted friends for their honest reaction. Listen to people’s comments whom you haven’t seen for a long time. In my case, I had various people tell me that I looked like a college professor, a Russian, and even a homeless person. The very best compliment I received was, “You’ve lost weight.” Beard stays.

Consider why you are growing a beard. Are you trying to be part of a trend, are you just trying it out to see what it will look like on you, or are you really serious about becoming a bearded person? If a full beard is not your cup of tea, consider other facial hair, such as a Fu Manchu, a mustache or a stubble beard.

There are advantages to having a full beard of course. Shaving time is greatly reduced. All you have to do is trim around the edges. 

 Finally, with apologies to Shakespeare: To beard or not to beard, that is the question.

» Phil Hardwick is a regular Mississippi Business Journal columnist. His email address is phil@philhardwick.com.


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