The Beard Theory / by Nathan Dugat

I had a friend in college that was, many would say, an attractive guy.

He sported a short-haired look and was always clean shaven. We left school for the summer, and when we returned, he had changed his appearance quite drastically. Gone was the groomed and neat head of short hair, replaced by something much more disheveled. In the place of his once smooth skinned face was a long, unkempt beard. Needless to say, the girls that I had heard once fawning over his exterior were less than pleased and went elsewhere for their sightseeing.     

To me, it didn’t seem like the smartest of moves for a young single, so I asked him why he decided to become so repugnant to his former fanbase.  His response was simply, "Eh, the clean look just wasn’t me – I don’t really want someone that would take me just for my looks anyway. Besides, that’s just one group of girls. I bet there’s another group that likes just the opposite."

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before he built back up his fanbase, albeit composed of new girls.

Though a silly example, I’ve always kept his response in my head, as I realized that his approach to his appearance was applicable to many things in life, especially creativity – I call it "The Beard Theory." When trying to be creative, I know that I sometimes have preconceived notions of making a product that needs to appeal to some specific group of people, and I think that, if they don’t dig it, no one will. I have since learned that there is a group for every taste (as long as there is some quality and work put in!). If you think about it, it is really impossible to please everyone with any one product you create. You might have seen the TED talk where Malcolm Gladwell quoted Dr. Howard Moskowitz as saying about the making of pickles that, “there is no perfect pickle. There are only perfect pickles.”  That is to say, no one flavor will appeal to all, but perhaps, there is a flavor out there for everyone.  

Another point of equal importance is that, if we try to impress a specific group of people without being authentic, I think we ultimately do more harm to our own joy and creativity than if we were to take what some might consider a less than traditional approach. Go with your gut, create what you love – I am willing to bet that there’s a group of people that would dig it.

Go with your gut, create what you love – I am willing to bet that there’s a group of people that would dig it.

Funny enough, I took a bit of time composing this post because of the stick men drawing included. I was afraid that someone may think they were cheesy or no good (admittedly, I’m no artist). Then, I realized that I was probably right… but I bet someone will like them. :)