Collecting Wisdom from Men, for Men, Everywhere.
I never intended to start a men’s skincare company. Even once I identified a massive opportunity after speaking to dozens of men, I had to assess whether such a venture could make the world better in some way (a primary metric I use for all my investments and entrepreneurial pursuits.) Fortunately, those conversations with men of all demographics about their skincare routines or, more often, the lack thereof, it quickly became apparent the sort of transformative vehicle this company I was considering could be.
Masculinity today is a shockingly fragile quality found in most men today. As I asked guys their thoughts on skincare, it was fascinating to hear how many believed that taking care of their largest organ, the one most responsible for a first impression was “gay” or “for women.” Although this was disappointing, it should not be surprising. Our conception of masculinity stems mostly from the rise of mass media after World War II, as the legendary “Mad Men” of New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, created the modern male typecast of a stoic, tough guy found in the Marlboro Man born out of the country’s great wars. The rise of the middle class and a broad manufacturing economy, one in which many of the women who had taken up similar work during the war returned to domestic labor, allowing men to be the providers the media portrayed.
Fast forward half a century, and the assumed role of men, and the opportunities that exist for them, have changed. More (though not completely) even opportunity for women in education and the work-place, the transition of the industrial economy to one more service-based, and the glory associated with war and the military diminished, has significantly reduced the capacity for men to exemplify this dated conception of masculinity, which has hardly changed with the times.
This has led to what the legendary Stanford psychologist, Dr. Phil Zimbardo, has dubbed “The Demise of Guys.” Video games, online pornography, and a growing disinterest in educational and professional attainment broadly characterize the state of young men in contemporary society. With this understanding, it should be unsurprising that men see skincare as effeminate. With a shrinking number of ways to distinguish one’s masculinity, falling back on silly definitions of what makes a man is a logical progression (or regression.) But this is where the opportunity exists for MadeMan, the skincare startup I have launched.
Armed with a marketing budget and a team with limitless creativity, we can start a conversation about what it means to be a man. In our emails, packaging, and advertising, we can poke fun at the silly, toxic definitions of “manliness.” It’s fun, but it’s a powerful tool for making men reconsider their sense of manhood.
But I want to go further. I’ve learned so much over the past couple of years speaking to men about skincare and this idea of what it means to be a man, and I think there’s a chance to take the focus off “toxic masculinity.” There’s no point in continually discussing the problem without suggesting a solution. That’s why I propose we start talking about the meaning of “positive masculinity.” What does it mean to be a great man, or as we call it, a “Made Man”— a man who invests in being the best version of himself, for himself, for his family, for his community, and society at large?
We want to hear the best advice men have received, the lessons they wish they had learned sooner, the wisdom that every guy should hear.
There’s no way my team and I can do this alone. That’s why we are creating “The Made Man Manual”— a compilation of the best advice, lessons, and tidbits men wish they were taught or had discovered sooner. We want to get these positive nuggets of wisdom from every corner of the globe to share with men everywhere. If we gather the treasure trove of insight that I expect, maybe we’ll turn it into a book. But I hope to start sharing the submissions we get much sooner. Maybe on Twitter or a daily newsletter.
With that said, please share this article or share this link to the brief form we have for submissions. It takes less than thirty seconds to fill out and help us pave the way for a new conception of what it means to be a man.
Founder & CEO, MadeMan