Shaving my head was the best thing that ever happened to me as a marketer, writer and human.
My senior year in high school, I was voted "best hair" and rightfully so. I had great hair. It grew thick and long and girls would often compliment me on it –– telling me how pretty it was.
I was damn proud of it, too. I would spend close to thirty minutes every day before school washing it, conditioning it and styling it.
I had an image to keep, after all.
But, God or the universe (or karma paying me back for some fucked up shit I did in a previous lifetime) decided to play a cruel trick on me… when I turned twenty-two it started falling out.
Like most men, when I first noticed the falling, I was in complete denial.
I thought it was bad lighting… and then when I realized it wasn’t bad lighting I told myself it might just be stress… and then when I realized it wasn’t stress I told myself it could be corrected with some fancy snake oil shampoo invented by some savvy marketers like myself.
Psst… I drank the Kool-aid more than a few times and I will save everyone some time and money –– it doesn’t work.
While I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that De Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt but something that also runs through the minds of men losing their manes, I kept my hair long (almost down to my shoulders) despite the fact that it was beginning to very obviously thin*.
*In fairness to me, I was definitely hyper-aware of it's thinning but it was thinning nonetheless.
I recall one day running to the store, buying $70 worth of "hair growth shampoo" that some men’s wellness blog had recommended, walking in my bathroom, turning on the shower and beginning to remove the fancy shampoos from their fancy packaging.
Right before I got in the shower, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I stopped and I looked. It was one of those moments you see in the movies where everything goes silent as the main character stumbles upon an epiphany of sorts.
In some strange way, I think it was the first time I had the following realization… “Maybe, I don’t need my hair…”
That moment, I shut off the shower. I walked outside into my garage, still naked save for my towel. I grabbed a pair of clippers. I ripped off the guard. And, I cut my hair down to the scalp.
To this day, I often tell people that losing (or shaving) my hair was the best thing that ever happened to me and I truly believe it.
While that statement might sound like bullshit –– after all if any man could choose he’d never choose baldness –– allow me to explain why…
Great long-lasting hair isn’t unlike being well-endowed or blessed with good looks. Some men, for no rhyme or reason at all, are lucky and are born with great hair or big dicks or devilishly good-looking looks or by the luck of the draw, all three.
It says nothing about a man’s character, intelligence, heart, soul and brilliance. If you disagree… Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Ted Bundy all had great hair.
I rest my case.
Me coming to terms with the fact that I had no say in the matter of my hair staying or leaving my body gave me permission to stop caring about the things I couldn’t control and start putting more time and energy into the things I could.
I dropped about twenty pounds and today have a body I am damn proud of because while I couldn’t control my hair thinning… I could control the foods I put into my body and how hard I hit the gym.
I started a one-person creative writing business that today does six-figures a year and will eventually do a million because while I couldn’t control my hair thinning… I could control working my ass off to build a profitable business.
I started worrying less about what women thought of my physical appearance and more about how I could connect with them emotionally and mentally because while I couldn’t control my hair thinning… I could control how I treated and cared about people.
I starting writing and reading voraciously (eventually making it a full-time career where I today get paid to do both) because while I couldn’t control my hair thinning… I could control building upon my intelligence, creativity and writing abilities.
Ironically, since shaving my head… I’ve gotten much more physically fit, I’ve built a profitable business, I’ve connected far better with the opposite sex (and people in general) and I’ve become a far more talented writer.
No, keeping your hair and finding greater success in health, wealth and relationships aren’t mutually exclusive.
But, for someone like me who was perhaps overly concerned with my physical appearance… it was the nice humbling kick in the ass I needed.
I see a lot of men today struggle with male pattern baldness. For some, it’s completely and totally debilitating, decimating their confidence, their self-image and at times even their happiness.
But, the truth of the matter is that by the age of thirty-five, 66% of men will experience some degree of balding and by the age of fifty, 85% of men will have significantly thinning hair.
So, for nearly 9 and 10 men on this planet, it’s not a matter of “if” they will lose their hair, but “when”.
I was talking to one of my best friends just the other day about the topic and he shared something with me that his father shared with him… “Baldness only happens to men who can handle it.”
While, I’m not sure if this is true or not, I adore the philosophy… this idea that baldness doesn’t happen to a man but for a man.
And, from my experience, it holds true.
When I changed my thoughts on balding to… this is happening for me rather than to me*… it gave me permission to view the adversity as a spark for greater personal and professional growth.
*Also, I think it’s worth while to keep in mind that we’re talking about balding here, not getting your limbs blown off in war.
In addition, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about women because I think for most men, when it comes to losing their hair… that’s one of the biggest concerns.
And, understandably so.
After all, some of women’s biggest crushes are men with great hair… Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Justin Bieber, Adam Levine, Odell Beckham… the list is endless.
For what it is worth, since shaving my head, I’ve done much better with women. And, while I don’t think how an individual does with the opposite sex is indicative of his or her self-worth… it says something interesting.
It says that attractiveness can’t be defined by one physical quality… like hair or pretty eyes or washboard abs or beautiful curves.
In fact, in my opinion, it says that attractiveness, in so many ways, is more heavily influenced by what is within a person rather than what is on the outside of them.
And, guess what?
While none of us can control what we’ve been dealt physically, we can control what we build internally.
For a long time, I thought girls liked good looking boys and bad boys. I was wrong about both. Girls like interesting boys.
And, no one is born interesting, that’s something you have to develop on your own and often times that type of development must take place away from the mirror.
Now, you know I have to tie all of this into marketing. That’s what Honey Copy is all about, after all, writing pretty words that sell like hell.
Currently there are dozens of male-wellness startups flooding the market promising endless fixes to the problems that plague men… hair loss, erectile disfunction and acne.
While I don’t think any of these brands are inherently bad, they are certainly challenging from an ethics standpoint.
I think us marketers must walk a very fine line when marketing to an individual’s insecurities.
I believe marketing makes the world a better place when it gives people solutions to their problems… not when it preys upon their deepest insecurities.
Yet, so many brands today are doing the latter.
One prime example was a controversial startup called “Sweet Peach” that took the internet by storm in 2014. It’s mission? To make women’s vagina’s smell better.
Since the ass-whipping it got by multiple online publications, it’s original founder has gone about doing some rebranding.
Regardless, it still presents a much larger issue –– where do we draw a line with marketing?
For me, I try to never write for a startup or brand that I don’t believe is making the world a better place.
And, as of today, I can’t say that making men more insecure about their hairlines and women insecure about their vaginas smelling the way vagina’s should smell… is making the world a better place.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
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