You may think that what a person wears should be up to them to decide, but when you’re spazmillionaire Mark Zuckerberg and you walk into an investor’s meeting wearing a hoodie… maybe you should think again. The Facebook founder has fallen under fire for showing up in various states of casual dress (including pyjamas) when meeting with extremely rich men to discuss how much of their money he’s going to collect. The casual attire of today’s power brokers (whether you call them the “nouveau riche” or simply the next generation) is part and parcel of today’s business attire. Even Steve Jobs himself became known for the casual turtleneck and jeans as opposed to the tie and jacket. But is there such a thing as broadcasting a message that you don’t care and, if so, should businesspeople not be called on it? Bloomberg called foul on Zuckerberg when he showed up at a New York meeting this Monday with investors wearing a hoodie, and quotes Wedbush Securities Michael Patcher:
[quote]“Mark and his signature hoodie: He’s actually showing investors he doesn’t care that much; he’s going to be him,” Pachter said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “I think that’s a mark of immaturity. I think that he has to realize he’s bringing investors in as a new constituency right now, and I think he’s got to show them the respect that they deserve because he’s asking them for their money.”[/quote]
Contrast Patcher’s view of the hoodie and all it signifies with The Loop’s Peter Cohen, who dismisses the stuffy condemnation and turns the mirror around:
[quote]Some might think that judging someone based on their appearance or the clothes they wear is a sign of immaturity. Just food for thought.[/quote]
The reality is that the world is transitioning to new business models and that demands a new image to go with them, but the transition is gradual and many of the players who carry the biggest purses aren’t ready for frat-house business meetings. There is an “old boys’ club” prejudice that still comes to the table, and Zuckerberg goes a long way to challenge and even dispel it. But, if you want someone to give you millions of dollars, you can never go wrong by making an effort to at least meet them halfway. Zuckerberg has the right to dress however he likes in any business meeting, but if investors stop taking him seriously he won’t have any grounds to complain.