Why Did You Wear That Ugly Tie

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Many years ago, in the late 1980s, I was hosting a weekly TV political talk show it was syndicated throughout Florida. And I was living in Tallahassee, Florida, the capital of the state. This was back before the days of email and text messaging and all that. So when you got viewer mail, it was literally mail, someone had to write a letter, type it, find an envelope, put a stamp on it. So you know, they really wanted to communicate with you. I'd finished a show one week and I thought, Oh, I did a good job.

I said, so many brilliant, interesting, fascinating things. I'm sure there's going to be great commentary in the viewer mail. A couple days go by go to the mailbox, open it up. Sure enough, something that's clearly handwritten from a viewer. I opened it up. Dear TJ, why did you wear that ugly tie last Sunday.

Hear I thought I had all these brilliant comments, people would want to praise me for what stuck out was my tie. Here's what I found in working with people preparing for TV interviews, being on TV myself. It's not that there's one perfect thing to wear. But if you have one thing that stands out, that's the only thing anyone's going to notice or talk about. So if your tie is loose, if you have jewelry that's so much more interesting than anything you say. If you've got a collar up, there's anything that stands out.

That's what people will notice. So it is really important for you to figure out what's the image you're trying to project. If you're not specifically trying to sell yourself as a fashion designer or artist or a really creative type. And you're not in a specific job like Doctor wearing a doctor's outfit or fireman and a fireman's outfit. If you're just a typical business person or someone in government, then in general, you need to dress in a way that's somewhat bland and doesn't distract people. It's not that you can't have personality, but you don't want to distract them.

And that was the problem. I wear a tie. I think it had Paisley so it had too many colors, too many small patterns. It jumped around, and it just captured too much attention. Okay, so why do I tell that story? I tell that story during a day of media training, when I'm instructing people on what to wear for TV because I want to drive home the importance of really thinking about what you're wearing because you don't want to go to all the trouble brainstorming and messages for two hours brainstorming on soundbites, practicing rehearsing you do it everything goes according to plan.

And then the only thing family friends colleagues talk about is the fact that your shirt was sticking out or the stripes are dancing on the screen.

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