How to Perfect the Art of a Work Uniform

How to Perfect the Art of a Work Uniform

My closet looks exactly like Donald Duck’s: two dozen identical white shirts all in a row.

About three years ago I decided to start wearing a uniform to the office, so I went to J. Crew and ordered three of the same suit in the same fabric and a score of white oxford shirts with button-down collars. My uniform, I thought, would free me from the daily anxiety of standing in front of my closet wondering, “Does this match?” or “Am I wearing this sweater too often?”

At first, I had just swapped one anxiety for another: Would people think I was lazy or boring for wearing a uniform? But as I eased into my new uniform lifestyle, I started to feel better at work because I knew I would look good and I would be dressed perfectly for almost any occasion. Simply put, the decision to go all uniform all the time is one of the best I’ve ever made. I had joined the ranks of very successful people who dress the same every day — Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama — and I appreciated that I could so easily communicate who I am.

“The whole idea of uniformity and adopting a uniform for yourself, it keeps things very simple,” said the fashion designer Thom Browne, who wears one of his signature “shrunken” gray suits every day.

“I think there’s something refreshing when you see someone who has a true sense of their own style,” Mr. Browne said, joking that his uniform is so consistent he could probably get dressed in the dark.

“There is a real confidence in being able to project that image,’’ he added. “I hope that’s what people see as well.”

Research supports that correlation between self-confidence and the way we present ourselves. In one study from 2012, people were given a coat and told it was either a doctor’s coat or an artist’s smock. Researchers found that the subjects paid more attention to certain tasks when they thought they were wearing a doctor’s coat, but that there was no improvement in performance when they thought it was an artist’s smock.

Dr. Adam Galinsky, who ran the study and is a psychologist and professor at Columbia Business School, calls this “enclothed cognition.” When we wear certain clothes, particularly uniforms, we take on the characteristics associated with those uniforms.

“The clothes or uniforms that we wear affect our basic processes,” Dr. Galinksy said.

For this to work, a person has to understand the symbolism associated with a given outfit. So, if a person begins to conflate their work uniform with a certain persona, they will start to embody that person. It’s kind of like Dumbo’s magic feather, but hopefully covering a lot more skin.

Dr. Galinsky added that when a person starts to embody that persona in the office, co-workers will recognize it, reinforcing that persona in the wearer’s mind. This creates an endless feedback loop between how a person wants to be perceived and how they are perceived.

Basically, this is the psychological justification for the “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” speech your mother gave you when she bought you your first interview suit after you graduated from college.

So what should shoppers do when looking to start a uniform?

“The key question you’re asking is, What behavior do we want to produce and what impression do we want to portray?” Dr. Galinksy said. “You work backward from that into that uniform.”

Dawnn Karen, a fashion psychologist who teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology, added that people should look to dress appropriately for their specific office.

“You don’t want to be in a tutu when everyone else is wearing a suit,” she said, adding that it goes both ways. For those at a tech firm, a few pairs of the same jeans and two dozen of the most comfortable T-shirts and hoodies are going to get you a lot further than a closet full of stuffy suits.

Rather than creating a uniform, Lauren A. Rothman, a stylist who lives in Washington, and wrote the book “Style Bible: What to Wear to Work,” practices “capsule dressing” with her clients, which is curating a small set of clothing that can be mixed or matched together. She suggests four capsules, one for each season. She added that people generally wore only about 25 percent of what was in their closets, so start by finding that 25 percent and replicating it.

“The problem with variety is that it is unpredictable and can be unsuccessful,” Ms. Rothman said. “A uniform does communicate who you are. It is great if you have consistent messaging every day about who you are, and what you wear will show that.”

When you are buying a uniform, take comfort into account, but also body type, physique and what will make you look and feel good, Ms. Rothman said. And while budget is always a consideration, it does not mean a solid collection can’t be found inexpensively.

“A great capsule can be created at Kohl’s and Bonobos as it can at Neimans or Nordstorm,” Ms. Rothman said.

Mr. Browne suggests people stick with high-quality goods, things that will last a long time through repeated wearing, and to consider tailoring when possible.

And don’t forget you can still customize the details. Dawnn Karen got a client out of her all-black clothing rut by incorporating more jewelry into the client’s everyday attire. For men, consider a rotation of lapel pins, colorful socks and shiny shoes to mix things up.

One admittedly clichéd sentiment worth remembering: Less is more. That is certainly a philosophy that Donald Duck, my uniform bête-noire, subscribes to as well.

After all, he never even bothered to buy pants.


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The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause

The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause

Strike up a conversation about work values, and it won’t be long before someone brings up a pyramid — a famous psychologist’s best-known theory. Abraham Maslow’s big idea was that we all have a hierarchy of needs: once our basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, we seek love and belongingness, then self-esteem and prestige, and finally self-actualization. But that pyramid was built more than half a century ago, and psychologists have recently concluded that it’s in need of renovation.

When you review the evidence from the past few decades of social science, it’s hard to argue with Maslow’s starting point. If your basic needs aren’t met, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If you have a job that doesn’t pay enough, and you’re up all night worrying about survival, chances are you won’t spend much time dwelling on self-actualization.

But Maslow built his pyramid at the dawn of the human relations movement, when so many workplaces in the manufacturing economy didn’t have basic physiological and safety needs covered. Today more companies are operating in knowledge and service economies. They’re not just fulfilling basic needs; they’re aiming to fulfill every need, providing conveniences like meals and gyms, and competing to be the best places to work (from 1984 through 2011, those that won outperformed their peers on stock returns by 2.3% to 3.8% per year). In those environments, survival isn’t in question.

And once you get past that layer of the pyramid, the rest of it falls apart. People don’t need to be loved before they strive for prestige and achievement. And they don’t wait for those needs to be fulfilled before pursuing personal growth and self-expression.

If Maslow were designing his pyramid from scratch today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? That’s a question we set out to answer at Facebook, in collaboration with our people analytics team.

We survey our workforce twice a year, asking what employees value most. After examining hundreds of thousands of answers over and over again, we identified three big buckets of motivators: career, community, and cause.

Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.

These three buckets make up what’s called the psychological contract — the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse.

In the past, organizations built entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract. You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career or a close-knit community or a meaningful cause. But we’ve found that many people want more. In our most recent survey, more than a quarter of Facebook employees rated all three buckets as important. They wanted a career and a community and a cause. And 90% of our people had a tie in importance between at least two of the three buckets.

Wondering whether certain motivators would jump out for particular people or places, we broke the data down by categories. We started with age.

There’s a lot of talk about how different Millennials are from everyone else, but we found that priorities were strikingly similar across age groups.



Contrary to the belief that Millennials are more concerned with meaning and purpose, we found that younger people cared slightly less about cause — and slightly more about career — than older people. In fact, people ages 55 and above are the only group at Facebook who care significantly more about cause than about career and community. This tracks with evidence that around mid-life, people become more concerned about contributing to society and less focused on individual career enhancement.

But overall, the differences between age groups were tiny. And that’s not just true at Facebook. In a nationally representative study of Americans across generations, Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers had the same core work values — and tended to rank them in the same order of importance. As we’ve said before, Millennials want essentially the same things as the rest of us.

We also didn’t see any major differences by level, or by performance reviews: people valued these three motivators whether they were exceeding, meeting, or falling short of expectations. And when we compared office locations, it was clear that career, community, and cause were all prized around the globe.



Finally, we turned to function. “If it weren’t for the people,” Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “the world would be an engineer’s paradise.” Survey says: false. Our engineers care a lot about community, giving it an average rating of 4.18 on a 1-5 scale. And just as we saw with age and location, across functions people rated career, community, and cause as similarly important.


“To know what one really wants,” Maslow argued, “is a considerable psychological achievement.” Our data suggest that people are very clear on what they want at work — and they fundamentally want the same things. When it comes to an ideal job, most of us are looking for a career, a community, and a cause. These are important motivators whether you’re 20 or 60, working in engineering or sales, in Luleå or São Paulo or Singapore or Detroit. We’re all hoping to find a what, a who, and a why.


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Weekly Market Summary – 16th September 2018

Weekly Market Summary – 16th September 2018

Sean Burgess | PraxisIFM Asset Manager and Co-Founder Emirates HR

With large caps outperforming the broader market, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led a new round of trade negotiations in an effort to avoid the latest tranche of tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods. Year-to-date the technology focused Nasdaq Composite remains the top index, up 16.03 percent
compared to 5.81 percent and 8.65 percent of the Dow Jones and S&P 500, respectively.


Holding the refinancing rate at zero percent, whilst setting out its monetary policy for the remainder of 2018. The central bank plans to reduce its bond purchases from €30bn to €15bn next month and to stop them completely in December. ECB President Mario Draghi committed to keeping interest
rates low until at least summer 2019 as he targets inflation at or just below 2 percent.


With the rate reaching $1.313 on Friday, on the back of disappointing US inflation data and short-term economic uncertainty. Pound sustaining its strength will depend almost entirely on the progress made on a Brexit deal. The Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned that a no-deal Brexit
could lead to another financial crisis in the UK and could see house prices fall 35 percent.


With the Nikkei 225 breaching the psychological 23,000 level for the first time since May, on the back of a weaker yen boosting exporters and receding worries on global trade. In other news, annualised economic growth in the second quarter was revised up to 3 percent from a previous estimate of 1.9 percent, as GDP was boosted by upward revisions in private consumption and business spending.


Before slipping to close the week at $68.98, as investors factor in the impact on global supply of US sanctions on Iran and the energy market from Hurricane Florence. Prices could have been higher if it was not for the continued USChinese trade war that threatens oil demand. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 1.6 percent over the week to reach $78.09 a barrel, the highest close since May.

In other financial news:
  • Russia raises interest rates to 7.50 percent, the first increase since 2014, as the central bank defends the ruble against inflation, US sanctions and market volatility
  • Turkey hikes interest rates to 24 percent, a 6.25 percent increase, to support the country’s lira which has lost over a third of its value against the US dollar this year.
  • Mark Carney to stay until January 2020, a seven-month extension, with the Bank of England Governor demonstrating commitment to ensuring stability post-Brexit
  • $2bn charity fund created by Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, with the Amazon founder using the funds for the homeless and schools in poor communities.



Weekly Market Summary – 9th September 2018

Weekly Market Summary – 9th September 2018

Sean Burgess | PraxisIFM Asset Manager and Co-Founder Emirates HR

With hourly earnings up 2.9 percent year-over-year whilst the economy added 201,000 jobs over August. This latest round of positive economic data makes it almost a certainty that the Federal Reserve will hike rates by 25 basis points at their meeting later this month. In response, the US dollar strengthened against a basket of its peers with the dollar index hitting a 2-day high on the news.


after announcing that tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods would happen “very soon” and could be followed by another $267bn. Major companies, including Apple, Dell and Cisco, have warned that tariffs will end up increasing the cost of their products and hurting the US consumer. All major US indices declined over the week with the tech-heavy Nasdaq suffering the most.


a typhoon and an earthquake, with the market suffering its worst weekly decline in two months. Typhoon Jebi was the strongest storm in 25 years whilst the earthquake on the Northern island of Hokkaido measured 6.6 on the Richter scale, with both causing fatalities. The Nikkei 225 lost 2.4 percent over the week and pushed the index 2 percent into the red year-to-date


The first weekly loss since mid-August, as investor sentiment was damaged by a stronger US dollar and weaker energy demand. Expectations of weaker demand are being driven by the anti-trade rhetoric of the US and retaliatory pressures of other nations. However, the oil market is far more concerned with the actual impact on supply of US sanctions on Iran which come into effect later this year.

In other financial news:
  • South Africa enters a recession, after the economy shrank 0.7 percent in the second quarter due predominantly to a 29.2 percent decline in the agriculture sector.
  • Argentina asks for early release of $50bn loan, from the International Monetary Fund, plus announces a new austerity program in order to stabilise the peso.
  • Cryptocurrencies suffer further setbacks, with Bitcoin down 4.5 percent on Thursday, after Goldman Sachs shelved plans for a cryptocurrency trading desk.
  • Tesla shares tumble more than 9 percent, after the CEO Elon Musk was recorded smoking marijuana, which is legal in California, live on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
25 Ways You Can Make Your Life Healthier in the Office

25 Ways You Can Make Your Life Healthier in the Office

Feeling a little sedentary? Time to take care of your body even when you are in the office all day.

As I sit at the computer and start to write, it becomes apparent that all that eating and partying during the holidays definitely took its toll this year. Now, of course, it’s time to get back on track. I know I am not alone in making the commitment for better health this year. The problem is that while people might try healthy habits at home, they struggle to transfer them over to the place they spend most of their waking hours: the office.

I recently discussed the issue of staying healthy in the office with CEO and co-founder of SnackNation, Sean Kelly. Kelly, a member of YPO, is literally in the business of creating healthier, more productive workplaces. SnackNation provides thousands of offices across America with a curated selection of the newest, most innovative healthy snacks on a recurring membership basis.

In our conversation, Kelly broken everything down into what he considers the five most important focus areas when it comes to healthy offices:

· Physical well-being

· Diet and nutrition

· Mental performance

· Immunity and sickness prevention

· Relationships and connection.

Here are his tips for living a healthier lifestyle in the office.


Physical Wellbeing
1. Stop sitting.

Sitting is our generation’s smoking,” he insists, “The average person sits 9.3 hours per day compared to 7.7 hours per day of sleep, which wreaks havoc on our health, wellness and state of mind. After just one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat decrease by as much as 90%.” Kelly recommends trading the traditional office chair for a standing desk. If you’re not ready to stand for that long, try an ergonomic chair that requires you to sit with good posture. He also recommends standing meetings, too: “You’ll find people are more engaged, energized, and also, you’ll waste less time.

2. Take walking meetings and phone calls.

Any meeting where you are not required to face a computer screen is the chance for a stroll and to get some fresh air. “Especially if there’s just one other person involved, walking side-by-side and in parallel with someone allows for problems to be discussed more openly and allows both people to have a go-forward mentality.” Kelly believes that walking meetings are less combative, more open and collaborative, while also burning some calories and increasing blood oxygenation. Phone calls too can be done while walking, freeing creativity, and putting you in a more dynamic and positive state of mind.

3. Work out with co-workers.

Exercising together not only will deepen bonds and allow you to get to know the people you work with better, it’ll also make you accountable for getting the activity you know you should. This can be before work, at lunch, or at the end of the day. The key is to get a group together that can rally around each other. “I’ve found that end-of-day commitments are easiest for most co-workers to keep,” he advises.

4. Knock out a three-minute workout.

An interval as short as three minutes boosts metabolism, energy and positivity. Kelly suggests, “Bring in some exercise bands or skip equipment. Stick to bodyweight exercises such as squats, push-ups and jumping jacks. Short workouts will help fuel you through the day, reduce stress, and also won’t leave you sweaty and fearful of interacting with other co-workers.”

5. Stretch & Release Emotions.

Anger often shows up as tension in the shoulders and upper back and neck. Fear is typically felt in the pit of your stomach. “Don’t avoid these emotions,” warns Kelly. “Recognize them, feel them, and release them through some basic stretching and deep breaths. The problem isn’t experiencing these normal emotions. It’s in holding onto them for too long.”


Diet & Nutrition
6. Plan your lunches.

Either the day before, or better yet, at the beginning of the week, prepare and pack food. “Even just determining what you’re going to order instead of choosing something in the moment will ensure you make healthier eating choices,” he states.

7. Change lunch meetings to breakfast meetings.

Not only does this lead to increased productivity through less interruption, it’s also easier for most to choose a healthy breakfast. Ego depletion often makes it tougher to do the same at lunch. “Stick with a high healthy fat and high protein breakfast that is low in carbohydrates to power you through the day with sustained and balanced energy.”

8. Limit access to sodas and junk food.

Instead,” says Kelly, “make it super easy to access healthy snacks and wholesome foods that help enhance productivity, not grind it to a halt. Keep healthy snacks in your desk and/or encourage your office to sign-up for a service like SnackNation.” This is especially important with Millennials, who are a snacking generation — each day they have at least one meal made up of just snacks and typically snack 2.5 times as much as their parents.

9. Eat a lunch high in vegetables, proteins and fats.

Sure you can have carbs, but I wouldn’t recommend more than a handful, and they should be complex in nature (sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, etc). Eating a bunch of carbs mid-day will slow you down and encourage an early afternoon crash. Opt for a salad with a bunch of vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins and show the afternoon who is boss.

10. Make it home with enough time between dinner and bed.

This might not sound like an at-office tip, but it is,” he insists. “You should leave at least 2.5 hours between when you finish dinner and when you go to bed. If you don’t, it’ll interfere with your sleep and make you feel worse and groggy the next morning.” Create a plan for when you’re going to leave the office and stick to it. This will also encourage you to work as efficiently as possible.


Mental Performance
11. Put your phone away.

According to Kelly, the worst drug we deal with today is distraction. “Our phones are the biggest culprits. We’re literally addicted to our mobile screens and it’s causing us more harm than we realize. Turn off all notifications on your phone and never place it face-up on your desk. Even better, put it away in your desk drawer. Only check your phone at set, pre-planned times of the day. And definitely don’t bring it into meetings. Nothing says ‘I don’t care about you or this’ like continually checking your phone.”

12. Pre-plan social media visits.

Being intentional with your social media forays will have an immediate positive impact on your mentality. Impulse social media visits not only distract from doing the meaningful work that have a positive impact on life, it also typically makes most people feel worse rather than better.

13. Get going with gratitude.

Set a calendar reminder to consider — what are you grateful for in this moment? The fact that you’re employed, the sun outside, your five senses, the feel of wind in your hair, your kids…it doesn’t matter what you think about, it just matters that you give yourself 60 seconds of pure appreciation.” Kelly believes that it is impossible to be angry or fearful when you are concentrating on gratitude. While all are normal emotions, they should not rule your day. Moderate them by checking-in on all that’s good in life.

14. Zone out and meditate for five minutes.

No one has to be a Zen master! Just five minutes of meditation can give you increased energy, increased tranquility, and the ability to more effectively deal with your surroundings. Download a meditation app on your phone and allow it to guide you through some simple breath and thought work.

15. Keep track of both personal and professional goals.

Burn-out isn’t healthy for anyone, and it’s usually caused by focusing too much on one area of life while other areas of your life suffer. “You can help prevent this by having daily reminders of your personal goals at your desk and reviewing them frequently. If you achieve your personal goals, you’ll feel better about yourself and will experience a better life, leading to a better you at the office too.”


Immunity & Sickness Prevention
16. Re-think your caffeination strategy.

Instead of sugar in your morning coffee, use coconut or MCT oil. Both are brain boostersthat will yield better focus and mental stamina. Instead of that second cup of coffee in the afternoon, opt for green tea (or water) instead. It will dehydrate you less while giving your body some valuable antioxidants not found in java.

17. Keep a water bottle at your desk and fill it up frequently.

I like to keep a 24oz water bottle at my desk and aim to consume at least three full bottles every day.” Few things are more important to your health than staying hydrated. This will prevent you from eating too much (overeating is often due to dehydration). Kelly suggests making it a game that you play with yourself: “I take a trip to the water cooler every 90 minutes or so when I need to get up, walk around for a bit, rejuvenate, and get ready to focus on crushing my next task.”

18. Combat germ transmission.

Always wash hands for 30 seconds. If you can, use paper towels to open doors. If you have to touch handles and door knobs that everyone else uses too, always wash your hands after. And an added note — coffee pots are killers!

19. Avoid open bags of food at the office.

Not only is the food likely not very healthy, it’s also likely caked with germs.

20. Keep some immunity boosters at your desk.

When I feel something coming on, I tap into my supply of immune boosters. That includes vitamin C, L-lysine, Astragalus, Apple Cider Vinegar, Grapefruit Seed Extract, and Zinc.” Hit the feeling hard and fast and you’ll have a much better shot of preventing sickness.


Relationships & Connection
21. See everyone around you as an ally.

Kelly believes in a positive approach: “If you think the universe and all of those around you are conspiring in your favor, you might just be amazed when it actually happens. People and the world have a great way of meeting our negative expectations. Instead, give people an unreasonable benefit of the doubt and watch the quality of your relationships, and the positive performance of those around you, sky rocket.”

22. Eat lunch away from your desk.

Use your mid-day break as a time to forge deeper relationships with others. According to Kelly, job satisfaction is directly correlated with the quality of friendships you have with others at work. “Use your lunch break as a time to build friendships. Don’t talk about work–share about personal issues and show them you care about who they are both outside and inside the office.”

23. Take a tour.

Kelly recommends that, once per day (preferably in the afternoon), you set a reminder to go and check in with co-workers. “See how they’re doing and just say hello. Let them know you care. Not only will this make you feel better, it’ll help you develop better relationships. Yes, you need to be careful not to interrupt people, but you can selectively choose who to interact with based on their current level of focus.”

24. Recognize the awesome around you.

This one is simple, but boy is it powerful,” he enthuses. Write one handwritten note per week to someone around the office that you saw do something awesome. This gift of recognition will create serotonin release in both the giver and receiver, leading to greater respect and trust between the parties.

25. Love yourself.

Remember that your perspective of the world says a lot more about you than it does about the world. If you don’t think highly of yourself, you simply won’t think highly of others. Appreciating ourselves and those around us is the number one key to experiencing a happy, fulfilled life, so don’t neglect this essential, everyday task.”


Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world’s premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.

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