This weekend I was fortunate to attend the TEDx Talks in Navesink, NJ. My friend and client John Stepper, author of the book Working Out Loud, was selected to give a talk on The Making of a Movement.
It was an incredible experience for many reasons. The speaker’s topics were so varied, ranging from working with homeless teenagers, finding the key to successful relationships, the brain’s reaction to spending time in nature, to the rebuilding of Ashbury Park. I learned a ton and felt so inspired just being in the presence of these people.
But what made this such a cool experience was that I got to see and be a small part of the preparation that goes into giving a talk like this. John’s message is already ingrained in him – he’s written the book on it and he’s living the “Working Out Loud” life everyday, inspiring others to form peer group circles to get more out of work and life and make their own luck, and helping organizations create a more open and connected culture by spreading the movement, but he still had to fine tune and practice his eight minute speech to make it as smooth and authentic as possible.
He also had to think about what to wear. And that’s where I came in. Actually I started working with John at least a year earlier when his book was about to launch and he knew he’d have several speaking opportunities coming up. He knew he wanted to look presentable and feel good standing in front of people and sharing his message, but he wanted to stay true to who he is, not feel “dressed up”.
I started with my signature sort, the wardrobe edit – evaluating what he already had for fit, style and wear, I came up with a strategic plan, we shopped and then I put the looks together in a manageable way, documenting them in a lookbook with notes on what to wear and when.
For this Ted Talk John wore an ink blue suit – brighter than a traditional navy - custom made by tailor Ian Rios - a crisp white perfectly fitting shirt, no tie and a white pocket square peeking out, with brown shoes and a brown belt.
When I saw John on the stage I knew we had got it right. The color was perfect under the lights, the fit was impeccable, he looked sharp but not too buttoned up, but mostly he looked comfortable and confident, and I knew he felt that way too. After all that preparation and rehearsing he hit the ball out of the park with his talk. The fact that he looked awesome doing it was the icing on the cake.