This post is an interview transcript. Click here to listen to DIY Video Guy with Caleb Wojcik featuring Antonio Centeno.
This website was previously Cubicle Renegade. This is Podcast Session Number 11.
Welcome to the Cubicle Renegade Podcast where unfulfilled desk jockeys become fearless entrepreneurs. Learn from corporate escapees and world changers who are successfully building businesses that matter. Here’s your host Caleb Wojcik.
Caleb: Everyone, today we’re joined by Antonio Centeno, founder of Real Men Real Style and A Tailored Suit. He’s a men’s style expert. He’s also a fashion writer at The Art of Manliness and designs custom high end men’s wear.
We’re going to talk to Antonio about his background in the Marines, how he then went on to build a profitable fashion business online. We’ll also talk about why style is a crucial part of being an entrepreneur.
And lastly, we’ll talk about how he’s crushing it with over 3 million viewers he has on YouTube. So, thanks for joining us today, Antonio.
Antonio: Caleb, thank you very much for having me on. And I have to say, when I met you in person, you were styling it. You had a shirt on. You had nice shoes. And it worked well because you’ve got a tall thin frame and you look great.
Caleb: Well, thank you. I mean, I live in San Diego. So if you wear shoes, you’re overdressed, is what I always say here. So going to like a conference and dressing up, I always look forward to.
Antonio: Yeah. And that probably goes right into one of your questions. I mean, we had that conference in Las Vegas and here we’re over a couple of thousand people who make their living online and they come together in a town in which appearances are very important. Illusion is important. Because that’s really what appearances are. It doesn’t define who we are in the inside but people look you up and down and they make very quick snap decisions about you. And I made a decision about you, you probably made one about me, without even thinking about it. Yeah. So, that’s kind of what I specialize in and I love it.
Caleb: Yeah, and I’m excited to get into more of your advice for some people that are like just starting out or maybe don’t think they can afford it. But we’ll get into some of that stuff later. So let’s start way back like before you were even in the Marine or before you got into fashion, where did you grow up and what did you like to do when you were a kid?
Antonio: All right. Well, I grew up in West Texas, Midland, Texas to be specific, just a small town outside of there called Greenwood. And I was really big about going outside and playing with my friends. I played a lot of sports. If you grow up in West Texas, you play football. That just happens. I wasn’t very good at football. Instead I was a good runner. So I was a good miler, a good cross-country runner. And that was kind of my focus. It didn’t do much for, in a sense, where I was at in high school. But I actually did well in academics.
This post is an interview transcript. Click here to listen to DIY Video Guy with Caleb Wojcik featuring Antonio Centeno.
So I was always on the team that will go travel around doing science contests, math contests. And good at academics and that luckily got me into Cornell College for my undergrad. After that, I decided to do something a bit different and joined the Marine Corps.
Caleb: And so, did your experiences in college impact why you wanted to join the Marines?
Antonio: Not at all. In fact, college was an interesting — College was all about social. I went from a place in high school where I had no social life to deciding that in college I was going to have a great social life. My GPA was horrible when I graduated, well below a 3.0. And in fact, it came back to haunt me a little bit later but I was able to score pretty on the GMAT to get into a good business school. But one thing I did learn in undergrad is I develop some great friends.
I’m very fortunate to have friends that have and will continue to drive, if need be, drive across the country to help me out. And I think that when we’re young and we’re at that point where we’re very impressionable, it’s important that you try to put yourself in the best position you can so that you can form strong relationships with people who you’ll be able to stay in touch with and work with later.
Caleb: And did you have any entrepreneurs in your family or anyone that influenced you to eventually become an entrepreneur?
Antonio: None, I would say. I didn’t get the entrepreneur bug until later on when I was in business school and I saw, I was surrounded by people who actually love what they were doing and were using — It wasn’t about the money. Money was kind of like a score, a way to keep score. And they loved what they were doing. When I grew up, everyone hated their jobs, so they had hourly jobs. I lived in, basically, a trailer park. And no one liked what they did. I mean, these are people that were cleaners.
My mom worked at an animal control and she basically go around cleaning up dead animals off the road and taking care of their stalls. I mean, that is not a glamorous job. My stepdad hated his job. And so knew I did not want that path.
Caleb: And so, you went into the Marines and what kind of stuff did you do at the Marines and how did that influence you into later going to get your MBA?
I love the idea that it was — I knew OCS. I went in as an officer. So I knew OCS. They were going to weed out quite a few of us. And I was really excited about I consider to be the Marines to be — It was something that was very different. I was a very quite person.
And to be able to have to get into the Marine Corps and really put yourself out there and to lead Marines, it’s a very challenging but the most rewarding position I was ever in.
I found that by surrounding myself with men and women who, really — Yeah, there were no excuses. You were going to either lead or you were going to get kicked out. And I fortunately was able to step up my game.
And I learned to lead from example, so that’s one of the things that the Marine Corps really pushes is that if you’re going to tell a man or a woman to do something, you better be prepared to do it yourself.
It’s not that you can’t do it yourself. It’s simply that your job is elsewhere being a manager. So that bit of leadership and knowing that I had to be in great shape. I had to be in great shape mentally to be able to maintain myself, composure under pressure and in combat, so things like that. It was the ultimate test. And looking back on the clout I went through, because now pretty much anything I do in life I measure, I hold to that bar.
And it’s pretty easy to — Yeah, once you’ve been in situations like that, everything else is thrown at you, it’s not nearly as bad. People can send me mean emails. They can yell at me on the phone. They could say stuff to me in person. But they’re not shooting at me. It’s very different.
Caleb: And so, even with the style piece that we’ll talk about later, like the Marines, it’s a strict thing. Any form of the military is style and appearance and stuff when you’re in your dress uniform is like a big thing. And you can get punished for it. So it’s interesting that now you’re into this style realm and did the Marines kind of start that for you? Did it like get you thinking about fashion and how important appearance is?
Antonio: I don’t think I saw it at that time but you’re right. I mean, the Marine Corps and other military units across the world, whether you’re a Gurkha in India, whether you are — Or let’s just say — One thing I loved about the Marine Corps is the history. And I’ll just use an example of those from the Punjab region of India and the Punjabi and the idea of what they wear up and around — Actually, I can’t remember the name of it — what they wear around their hair, their headwear. The turban.
Actually, there’s a history that they used to carry knives up there in their land and the people are great warriors. And with the Marine Corps, I loved how we would also bring in our history. So with the officer uniform, on the top of the officer dress hat is a cross. And that cross is there so that Marine snipers, whenever they were up in the wrecking of a ship, that whenever they’re firing down — And literally Marines were jumping from ship to ship, taking ships during the few hundred years ago.
That they don’t shoot the right people because all they would see are the heads. So I loved the history with the clothing and how — The blood stripe. Any Marine can tell you about the blood stripe. If any of your listeners just go ask a Marine, history of the blood stripe on the leg and you have to be at least a corporal to get that blood stripe. And when you do, it’s a big celebration. And you could ask, yeah. Interesting celebration.
I love that history and how it played into and the fact that these were very masculine men. These were men that were considered the pre-eminent fighting force. Yet how they present themselves in their dress uniforms was very important. How they present themselves in garrison, in their camouflage uniform was very important.
Caleb: And so, what made you decide to go to school and get your MBA and transition out of the Marines?
This post is an interview transcript. Click here to listen to DIY Video Guy with Caleb Wojcik featuring Antonio Centeno.
Antonio: So after I left the Marines, I went and I lived with my fiancé, now wife, at that time in Kiev, Ukraine. And I was running a nonprofit. It was something I just fell into and I really appreciated the mission. But I noticed that we were running this nonprofit into the ground. It was losing money. And that’s not a way that you — You can’t lose money and make it up on volume. It was something that, okay, I have no idea how to run a business or how to even run a nonprofit and I need to go learn this stuff.
Initially, business was very boring to me but I had the opportunity to go back to the University of Texas on a full ride and went back to business school, got a great business education. And while I was in business school, I was exposed to an opportunity in the custom clothing world where I saw my custom clothier was making quite a bit of money in the fourth grade education. I’m like, “Well, I’m getting a masters degree in business. I should be able to do better than him.”
So that’s when I launched. Right after I got out of business school, within a couple of months of being out, I launched my first business, A Tailored Suit.
Caleb: And you were living in Texas still at that time?
Antonio: No, I moved up to Wisconsin. Short story, I had a job offer as a CFO of a manufacturing plant, took the job, lost it within a few months because I wanted to take the company one way, they wanted to go another way. And so I started off on my own, just left the company, and the next thing I know I’m running my own show. And that was how I ended up in Wisconsin.
Caleb: And so you started your fashion label A Tailored Suit. What was kind of the inspiration for you to start that? I mean, a physical product business and is a very different business than, say, just selling stuff digitally online which a lot of people are getting into now. Why did you want to start a physical type of product?
Antonio: I had no idea that you could even sell information or digital products online. To me, I knew of software but even then most things were, 2005, 2006, everything, most things were on DVDs and CDs. So to me, it just seemed like, okay, you sell a physical product and you can make it go. And the idea still is pretty novel in the sense that you could enter your measurements and then have a custom suit made for you.
I worked with a supplier and it was actually a partner and it was one thing I would bring in the business. He would make and fulfill the suits. But when I created that business, and that was really a big learning step for me, is that we started getting a lot of traffic to the website. Literally, at the high point, I was getting 100,000 visitors a month to Real Men Real Style, or I’m sorry, to A Tailored Suit.
And I was wondering why are all these people coming to my website? Because having Google Analytics, I knew I should have been making more money than what I was making. But yet, it just was strange to me why I was getting so much traffic. And it turns out because we were providing great solid content. To this day, our style system still gets a lot of traffic because it was authoritative. It was solid. And it was very useful content about custom clothing, about suits, shirts, shoes, things like that.
Caleb: And so, once you started the company then, did you go and study fashion around the world?
Antonio: No. It was something in which I started the company and started studying at the same time. I didn’t have time to go back to school, to some fashion institute or anything. I had a family to support. I just brought my wife and my son to the United States. So I started reading the books. I dove in and I started writing and creating content. And very quickly, I found that I was up to speed and ahead of 99% of people. And then within the first year, I was ahead of 99.999% of people. And it’s something where I’m constantly learning. I’m always picking up new information.
Antonio: So, Brett approached me. He saw what I was doing. Art of Manliness at that time was pretty small. I think it was only — He’d only launched it a few months before that. And he saw what I was writing. I actually had a blog that’s now pretty much non-existent where I was kind of replicating some of the content. He was actually a commenter in my blog. I almost thought it was spam. I didn’t even know who Brett was or what he was doing.
I checked out his blog, sounded cool. It was a nice blog. And I put up a post. It didn’t get a whole lot of comments. I mean, it did well. It didn’t send me tons of traffic. And I used to contribute about two articles a month. Now I contribute about one a month and this had been what, almost five years that I’d been working with Brett. I do it because I really believe in his mission. And, I think, that’s something that you’ll see in a lot of the things I do.
I started off as a mercenary, probably with A Tailored Suit, in the sense of I saw an opportunity and I really wasn’t deep into clothing. But now that I’ve started Real Men Real Style and why I continue to write for free for The Art of Manliness and other places, is that I believe in their bigger mission. And to me that’s more important. I mean, the money is nice and the money is important. You got to pay your bills. But if you’re doing it just for that, it’s going to be hard to make it through lean times.
Caleb: And so, why did you then separate all your content you’re creating for A Tailored Suit into Real Men Real Style? Like why did you brand it that way and do that?
Antonio: Well, there are a number of reasons but I believe that websites are properties. So I look at them as true physical properties. If you live in California and if you have one acre or one area of land and you build one big house, that’s actually not the most economic way to do it. If you were to take that area and you were to divide it up and put multiple houses on it, not only does that spread out the risk but you also create a lot more value with almost the same number of resources.
So that was kind of my view. I also saw what Brett was doing at The Art of Manliness. A Tailored Suit is an HTML website so there were limits to what I could do there. I eventually will rebuild that entire website. But I wanted to also be able to talk in a more approachable tone. I wanted to get it more in the casual style which A Tailored Suit is more about higher end suits and custom clothing. So with Real Men Real Style, it’s all about just general style. And I kind of take a little bit of the psychology approach of why we dress the way we do and make it applicable to the normal guy.
Antonio: It basically enabled me to raise my prices and to put it in a position where I only take on customers if I really want them. In fact, for 2013, I’m rarely taking on new customers. I have enough customers and probably the limitation for me is my own time in setting up systems and products and doing what I want to do. So that has been something that I’ve actually — Probably I could be focusing more, definitely could be focusing a lot more on A Tailored Suit and growing that side of the business.
Instead, what I’m choosing to do is to focus on Real Men Real Style and to focus more on the teaching aspect because I enjoy it more. I feel that’s really where my calling is at. I still run A Tailored Suit because I enjoy working with my existing clients and designing the clothing keeps me relevant and gives me credibility for what I do. But I would say the future for me is Real Men Real Style.
Caleb: How long after starting Real Men Real Style did you offer your first paid product and what other ways do you monetize it now?
Antonio: Probably within six to seven months, if not sooner. The first truly paid product would have been my ebook and that was something that I actually put in another website. It’s at Men Style Advice. And we’re going to be actually re-launching that ebook, making it a lot better. But that was based off of something I’d learned from Pat Flynn and it was simply take a lot of your existing content. My content, I probably have 800 to 900 articles across the web. We’ve got almost 300 videos.
And the idea was, okay, how about if I bring the best of this into one place and re-master it and then put a price tag on it? And it’s funny, initially, I gave it away for free and I never did really receive too many thank yous. Not many people said anything to me. And then I started charging $17 for it, then $27, then $37, now I charge $47 for it. And it came a lot better. I’m going to break it up into three levels. But that was my first product.
And it was nice because you wake up in the morning and you have sales and you’re selling something that people are just raving about and they love. And it’s helping people. I also find that when people pay for something, they take action on it. When they have skin in the game, yeah, they take action on it.
Caleb: Maybe that’s why some courses are thousands of dollars these days. Because they’re more likely to take action from that. So what percent of your income comes from A Tailored Suit versus Real Men Real Style?
Antonio: I’m not going to be able to get into that partly because I don’t have my — We haven’t gotten our numbers back from our accountant. I’m also in a point where I’m transitioning the businesses. But I will say that A Tailored Suit was still the majority of my business but Real Men Real Style is going gangbusters. I have to say I’m very happy. The first time I offered an interactive paid product was something I called the Style Boot Camp. Now, it’s called The Style System.
But the first time I did it, I had ten people that signed up for it. And those people signed up for it and then I finished building the product. So I only had the product half way completed. I wanted to make sure there was demand. So I went through and we sold ten spots and, boom, all of a sudden we made it happen. This last version of The Style System that I launched in January, and I used no affiliates. I used just my email list. We sold out. I had 100 people register for it. And it was great. I mean, I have zero returns. I’m able to spend time with each of these guys. And it was very profitable.
Caleb: That’s a good model for creating a course or creating something that you want to sell is make it the first time and launch it with whatever you have and finish it, get feedback from people, get testimonials, make it better, at least a 2.0. There’s nothing wrong, like you said, if you had given up after selling to ten people, like you wouldn’t be where you are today. You wouldn’t be selling out to 100 people.
Antonio: I was amazed. I was blown away. There’s a great interview over at mixergy.com by my friend Tim Bourquin who I met at New Media Expo and was very excited to meet him and his brother Emil.
He called me out in the comments because at that time I was selling a physical product and I was like, why would I charge — Because he saw my website. He’s like, “Hey, you should charge for your information.” And I’m like, “Why would I do that?” How about just give it away for free? We were kind of debating whether — This is the time when Andrew Warner was trying to decide should he make Mixergy behind a payroll, which he has now.
And basically Tim called me an idiot. I see where he was coming from and I’m glad he did because it really made me mad but it also forced me to rethink the way I was doing things and that, yes, I could sell a physical product and I could have, I could be selling information. In fact, many of the people that buy my information want to become my customer. They see how great my information is. And then they want to become my customer for my custom clothing. So that was a great lead generator as well. But that wasn’t the intended purpose. I created the products first.
Caleb: So I have two main topics I’d like to talk more in-depth about for the rest of this chat. The first one is kind of the importance of appearance, style, fashion, whatever you want to call, it for your career, your personal life, and even work online. So first, let’s just talk about style and why it’s important to you and why people should care about it?
Antonio: All right. Well, I talked about this. It was a number of reasons why. But I would say, the first one, let’s talk about you as the individual. And I would say that the way you present yourself, people make an instant decision. And this is more geared towards — The women know this quite a bit more than men because we are very harsh as men and we judge — I mean, I asked my wife to marry me after knowing her a few hours. And I can tell you it’s because I didn’t know everything in her mind.
My wife was supermodel hot and I was like, “I’m grabbing this one.” Incredibly superficial decisions. Someone knocks at your door. You look through the peephole. If they look like a gangster, if they look like somebody that would rob you, you’re not going to open that door. If they’re wearing a UPS uniform, you open the door. I mean, that’s just the physical. Any time people walking down the street, we make a quick assertion of is this a threat? Is it not a threat? And we move on. We don’t even think about it.
And once a man or a woman can master that, they’re really able to — Because I see so — We live in a society which is not politically correct to say that we judge people. Because if you say that you make a decision about someone because of the way they look, that you could be called racist, you could be called indifferent, you called be called insensitive. You know what, we’re human beings and we’ve been doing this since the beginning and we’re going to continue to do this. It’s something that’s programmed into us.
And knowing that, and using it to your advantage is powerful. A lot of people say that I would rather live in a world and not be judged. Well, most of us have big ambitions and why would you shoot yourself in the foot and limit yourself? Just understand that this is part of the human condition. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s simply the way it is. And use it to your advantage so that you can make the change you want to make in the world. That’s the big thing I try to press for people.
Caleb: And so what are some of those big style mistakes that you see people that are either fresh out of college or maybe they’re new professionals and they’re new in the job and they need to get a wardrobe? Like what are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make?
Antonio: Fit is easily the biggest one. So make sure your clothing fits you. Most men and women throughout the United States, we wear clothing that’s too large. A lot of this is because we have an obesity epidemic. And it’s very hard to find clothing that fits you in one part of the body and isn’t too tight in another. So they go for a size that’s too large. The easiest thing you can do is find something, understand what you should be looking for.
So I always focus on a person needs to educate themselves. I give away tons of content. I got like 900 free articles, almost 300 free videos. If you want to go buy a book off Amazon, that’s great. There’s some great books out there. If you’re a woman, I would recommend — Really quick. I’m looking on my bookshelf, The Pocket Stylist, the Science of Sexy. Those are great books as well. You go get those books or you read up and all of a sudden you’ve got a better understanding.
You’re not going to know everything, but then you can go into a tailor or a seamstress and you can get your clothing adjusted to fit you. Focus on the fit. After that, think about the style and make sure that you go with simple classic styles. Have you ever watched any James Bond movies, Caleb? Now, is he dressed like a peacock?
Caleb: No. Simple, black, white, yeah.
Antonio: Think of a lot of the clothing that he wears. We don’t even remember really what he wears. We just remember he always looks good. It doesn’t matter if he’s jumping off the crane. I remember on the preview there’s a part where he jumps off on to that train as he tore off half of it and then he adjusts his cuff and he walks in. So here’s this guy that he’s just always well presented. And that’s what I really aim for at people. And it doesn’t have to be a suit.
If you are a plumber or you’re a master electrician, you are looking for business and you want to be able to charge more per hour for your customers. If you show up to my door and you look and you basically get down there and start plumbing and I see plumbers crack, it’s like you look like you just came out of a bar, I’m sorry, I’m going to be having a little bit of a problem paying you $75 to $100 an hour.
But if you show up and you’ve got your uniform well-pressed, you’re well put together, you’ve got your toolkit which is part of your uniform, you’d look everything right. There is a symbol. And you could go down there and just say, “Oh, it’s just a small change here.” I’m not really going to question. And in fact, you probably could charge a premium because I’m going to trust you, I’m going to think that you did a better job and studied. There’s a lot of research out there that we — The halo effect, a great example of research done in the 1920s.
It was originally called the halo defect because it came out of the US Military and what they saw is that commanding officers would consistently judge and put at a higher level military men who looked better and more attractive — This is kind of funny — But men that looked more like a soldier. They would rate them higher for no other reason than they just looked — They had their uniforms pressed. They looked like the ideal soldier. These guys consistently for no other reason than their appearance.
And they call that the halo defect because they didn’t want these kind of guys getting up there. They wanted the best leaders going to the top. So this happens in the military, happens in the civilian world. And I would rather be thought competent on a first meeting. It’s much when you create that first impression. It’s very hard to overcome a negative one. And it’s better to create that positive one because you give yourself a lot of room to slip. And we all slip.
Caleb: And so what would you say to someone that claims they can’t afford to dress well?
Antonio: I would say they’re full of [0:27:29] [Indiscernible] because just go to like Thrift Store Runway. I just judge over this website and these are outfits that people put together for $50. But what I would say is if someone tells me that, I understand it’s not a priority for you. Because you find time for many other things. I would ask you do you have a television? How many Xbox games do you have? It’s like you find what is the priority for you? You find time for it.
The thing is you don’t think, most of these people don’t think that clothing is important. I have a friend. He’s a blogger over in South Africa. And he has put together great wardrobes for pennies on a dollar. I’ve seen gentlemen coming out — There’s pictures of guys down in the Congo that they used a lot of the used clothing that we donate and they put together some great outfits. As Americans, as Canadians, as Europeans, we have access to some great thrift stores. You can put together some awesome outfits to Salvation Army.
It’s really just a matter of time, and you’ve got to make some time to go in there. If you don’t have that — Let’s say, you’re down in Mexico. Not really great many thrift stores. Well, what I would say is ask your friends and family. I have one client who went through my style system and he asked the guys, he asked basically his uncles. And it turns out his uncle had an entire wardrobe boxed away that was 20 years — it was like 30 years old. And half the stuff was from the disco 1970s, half was amazing and it made him look great.
So, he’s wearing this awesome sports jacket and it was a beautiful vintage sports jacket, well-made, and I mean, the guy was rocking it. And this is down in Mexico City and he was able to pull this off. So you’ve got to find — I understand many people are in parts of the world where they don’t necessarily have access to thrift stores. But if you do have access to thrift stores, it’s simply making it a priority and making it part of your going in there and just finding this stuff.
Caleb: Yeah, because the education piece really it’s free. If people go and check out your YouTube channel, you can learn how to dress. If you just take a few hours and watch some of your most popular videos like I learned a ton just by watching some of those. And it’s just something you are never really taught. Like your parents take you clothes shopping and they buy you either whatever you want or what you have to wear for school if you’re in a uniform.
And then in college you don’t really have money to spend on that sort of stuff. And then you get a job and you’re like I don’t really know how I should dress. And so part of it is the education and then getting some of those staple pieces that work well with everything.
And so what are some of those essential parts of like a minimalist wardrobe, like if you’re going to start building your wardrobe, what are some of those key pieces that you would want to build? Which pieces of clothing or accessories?
Antonio: I would say every man needs to have a suit and that’s because someone’s going to get married, someone’s going to die, something’s going to happen. I mean, if you’re a high achiever listening to this podcast, you’re going to possibly get an award. You’re going to be invited to an event. And when you are wearing a suit, even if it’s one time a year, a couple of times a year, these are the points in your life when you want to present your best self.
So you can get away if you’re running an internet business in your home, wearing your pajamas 24/7, but you can’t get away when you’ve got to go out and meet and interact with others. A simple charcoal gray, medium gray or navy suit. In addition, go with a white shirt. And then you can then wear a tie with it or choose not to wear a tie. You could have gone to New Media Expo wearing a navy suit with a white shirt, no tie, and you would have been rocking. It would work. No one would look down on you. People would actually think that, obviously, you’re someone of success.
It would make a good impression. It’s okay to be a little bit overdressed. But I say that because I don’t mean that people have to wear a suit. If you know where you’re going, always pay attention. I mean, if you’re going to be going to a construction site, you do not want to wear a suit. I would say, if you work in a construction industry, you’re not afraid to spend good money on a pair of Red Wing boots because you know Red Wing is made in Minnesota. They are an amazing company. They can be resold. But those boots are going to cost you $150, $200, $300.
To me, that’s the kind of style and clothing I talk about, not being afraid to spend money on it and look at it as a tool that you can use to get to where you want to go. And that works with his hands, blue-collar worker, you’re also — I used to climb radio communication towers. And I was in Iowa and you’re doing this stuff in the winter. You want clothing that fits you well because you need to be, basically, able to move around on that frozen tower and not fall off.
So you’re investing in a full body Carhartt suits. I had a pair of Carol Davis thermal underwear that fit right next to my body. I mean, because you don’t want to get sick on that tower. You can get really cold. And so I look at clothing as, again, just looking as a tool but getting the best tool in the same way that we’ve got good microphones right now, decent headsets, good computers. Look at your clothing as that type of investment.
The last thing I’ll say, Caleb, is I know we’re talking about price. The most expensive clothing you will ever buy is the clothing that you never wear. So just make sure that whenever you buy something, that you’re going to wear and you’re going to wear into the ground. Measure it by the number of wears. So I’ve got a Saddleback leather briefcase. I love it. That briefcase was a gift to me from Brett, actually, and Kate over at Art of Manliness. I can tell you that I will — I mean, I love their model.
Your kids are going to fight over it when you’re dead. So buy pieces and look for classic pieces that — and you can go back and look at pictures of James Dean, look at a picture of Steve McQueen, look at Alain Delon if you’re French. I mean, there are so many great inspirational men. And go back and look at Steve Jobs when he was a young man and look at the way he dressed. And look at the way they presented themselves. And be inspired by that. And don’t be afraid to find a style.
People think that they’re being individualistic when they’re wearing a loud T-shirt that has some type of — they get from Threadless and a pair of jeans and a pair of running shoes. To me, look around. You’re dressed like everybody else. It’s not that you’re coming up with your own style. It’s a fact that you’re not even thinking and you’re afraid to be creative.
Caleb: And so what are some of your favorite places that guys can go to get their first suit? I know there’s lots of types of places you can go. You can go to like a Men’s Warehouse, like a discount thing. You can go to a custom tailor. You can go to something in between like a Brooks Brothers. What are some of your favorite places that you would recommend people go to to get their first one?
Antonio: Because that changes so much, it’s hard for me. I want this interview to be timeless. I’m going to recommend you go to the website Dappered and Joe over at Dappered does a great job of identifying quality vendors and whenever they’re having good discounts on that. So I would say I wouldn’t fall in love necessarily with a brand. Because even Brooks Brothers was purchased by an Italian company and they changed up a lot of their styles. And this was an American company that had been around for 100 years.
And then like ten years ago, they went crazy and did all these kind of crazy styles and stuff. Now they’re starting to get back. So I would say it’s more important for you to know yourself, know your measurements and be able then to go out there and purchase clothing not dependent on what the sizes they tell you but the fact that you know your chest is 40 inches, you know your waist is 35 inches, you know you’re 5’11”, and that you’re a hundred and somewhat pounds and your shoulders are 18 inches across.
These are measurements that aren’t going to change much over the next year. And when you know that, you can buy with confidence anywhere because you can either see the clothing in person, you can measure it out before you buy it and before you even try it on. Or when you’re even buying on eBay and getting a great deal, you can look at the measurements that they’ve taken of the garment and be able to purchase it. I just hate to recommend specific brands or vendors because they go out of business, those things change.
Caleb: So let’s change gears a little bit. You’ve been doing YouTube for how long now? How long have you been putting videos on there?
Antonio: I’ve been pushing hard for about just under two years. I’ve been on YouTube for about two and a half years. But the first half year, I didn’t do anything. And then in the summer of 2011, we made the decision that we’re going to start putting out quite a few videos.
Caleb: And so you have over 42,000 subscribers. You have over 3 million views. What was your plan when you started it and how has that evolved over the past few years as you’ve had so much success on YouTube?
Antonio: Well, the plan initially was to give it a try. And what I mean give it a try, the idea was, okay, let’s put out 100 videos in 100 days and see what happens. I also felt that it was a medium that wasn’t being used very well. My good friend now, Aaron Marino over at Alpha Image Consulting, he had, in a sense, paved the path because I saw what he was doing. So I knew that there was an audience for it. But I didn’t see really anyone else doing what he was doing.
And he focused more on fashion and more casual style. And I knew what I would bring. So I knew I needed to set myself apart. So I was very clear to have my custom clothier. I was much more about classic style in the beginning. Again, I made an effort that we’re going to put out a lot of videos. I’m going to really give this a shot. I’m not going to put out three videos and get only 300 views and just say, “Ah, I gave it my best shot. That’s too bad. It was okay.”
No. I’m going to, over 100 days — And I leveraged. I knew that I could leverage the traffic I was already getting at A Tailored Suit. And I could get Brett over at Art of Manliness to maybe point some traffic my way.
Caleb: And so your videos are ranging everywhere from how to dress taller, how to properly roll up your sleeves, all the way down to like what kind of wallet you should be using. How do you decide what to make a video about?
Antonio: Well, initially, I felt that the videos have to be very specific. You notice I haven’t put out a video on how to tie a tie. That will come out this year. But the reason I didn’t start there is because there are already 100 videos on how to tie a tie. And there was [0:38:08] [Audio Glitch] there. So, in a sense, I knew that there are people with very specific questions that they weren’t getting answers from the very general videos. So I felt it was better to make my videos very specific.
So I’ve got video out there for an Indian finance student on how to dress in Mumbai. Okay, that’s very specific. I realize that 99.9% of the world is not — But for that point, for that 1%, for that guy I created that video for, it is the best video on the planet. I think Gary Vanderchuk talked about this at one point. But he was clearly very specific content that screams and ignores 95% of people. But for that 5% is what they’re looking for.
And I did that enough times that it just builds up. And many of my videos are not going to be applicable to people. But that’s fine because I make them for only that 5% to 10% of the people. But I made enough of them. And that was another thing. I knew I had to put out volume. So that’s why we got almost 300 videos in. You’ll see me actually that we’re going to start another campaign, my wife and I. She was my video editor, by the way. We knew that we need to get a whole another set of videos. So we’ll probably be looking to get out another 100 or 200 here pretty soon.
Caleb: So what are some of your strategies for turning all those views and subscribers on YouTube to email subscribers, potential buyers, things like that?
Antonio: What did you notice at the beginning of each of my videos? What do I ask you to do?
Caleb: To check out your ebook.
Antonio: Check out my ebook, ask you to like it. I ask you to subscribe. A lot of people, when they create videos, they are afraid to ask. And I’ve had people tell me that, “Hey, can you stop asking me to do this? I’m tired of it.” And kind of, “Sure I’ll do that but will you send me a check? Will you pay my bills?
Here I am channeling my friend Tim Bourquin because that’s basically what he said. The people that complain would never probably buy from me anyway. And I’m very clear that I’m running a sustainable business. And I truly believe that it is — We’ve got a problem in this country and that we think — I don’t think it used to be like this. But that making money is a bad thing, that if you’re making money, you’re somehow taking it from other people. And that’s a scarcity mindset.
And, I think, it’s Rabbi Daniel Lipkin or Lapkin, I can’t remember exactly his last name. But he’s got a great book about how making money is moral. And he gets into a good strong business, gives money right back to the community whether it be on taxes or whether it be directly. So the money that people pay me, I use to pay my bills. And I’m not on the street asking for anything. I give money to my local library. I’m able to give money to our local swim team.
When I met an entrepreneur at — He was trying to get something up and going at New Media Expo, I was able to give her quite a bit of money and get her project up off the ground. Because I have the resources to do that. So I’m very clear in my videos that I’m running a business, that I would appreciate their support, that even if they don’t have money, well, like and share the video. That will help more men. It’s great if you can be on my email list because I’m always about pushing people onto my email list. Because I own that.
I realize that I do not own the YouTube channel. And I’m very aware of that. So I’m always looking to get people off of YouTube. And I think that’s probably one of the things that you’d want to hear. I am big about building an email list. So we’ve got an email list of almost 50,000 people that we’ve built up using mostly YouTube. And that is something that I own those or I’ve got those emails. And that’s really important.
Get them off there, offer a great free product. My free 47-page ebook, I could sell that. It’s good. But I learned from a guy named Pat Flynn. I mean, you give away something that you could sell and people are going to be amazed. And then they’re going to wonder, “Gosh, he’s giving this away. What does he charge for? I mean, gosh, that’s going to be even better.” And that’s really good place to be in.”
Caleb: Yeah. I love the strategy of offering something for free that people would pay for if they knew the value in it. But that’s kind of the barrier that there is with online business is you have to over-impress people before they buy something. You don’t have a brand name behind you. They haven’t seen your commercial on TV or what have you. So, you kind of have to give them something for free whether that’s content or whether that’s something when they sign up via email or what have you, videos on YouTube.
Whatever that is, you have to prove to people that you know what you’re talking about, that you’re going to provide value and then maybe eventually, after 10 or 20 more interactions, he’ll become a customer as opposed to just, “Oh, they’re on my sales page and they’re going to buy something.” I think that rarely, rarely happens. And those typically are the customers you want anyway.
Antonio: Well, people buy in different ways. Some people come on and they buy right away. Other people, it takes something, like you said, 20 touches to buy. I think the big thing is you’ve got to remember that — And I really always try to think this with my videos. It’s not about me. It’s about me solving your problem. People don’t go to the hardware store to buy a drill. They want a hole in their wall. My wife wants it. She’s still waiting for me. She doesn’t really want, I mean, the curtains themselves.
What she wants is the feeling that the curtains are going to create in our kitchen and how beautiful they’re going to look and how it’s going to make her feel proud. That’s what she wants. She wants to feel proud of our home. And so when you can dive in deep and you start to realize, how can I solve this person’s problem and really provide them value, then that’s when people really get excited. Because it’s very hard on television or other forms of media because you don’t have that back and forth interaction.
But as an online entrepreneur, I’d go in. If you notice, I respond to comments. We interact with people. I’ve created systems so that I can do that on a mass scale. But it’s something that — I feel we got this [0:44:18] [Indiscernible] to find out what is there — One of the recent questions, actually the latest question if you check out Real Men Real Style, is I asked what is your one burning problem? Because I’m always looking to answer what’s your burning problem? How can I help solve this?
And, of course, I’ve got the scale. Actually, I had 300 people respond via Wufoo Form to what their burning problem is in the last week and a half. But I’ve got systems in place because I used the Wufoo Forms. I can actually go in and it goes right into a database. I can quantify it. I’ve got virtual assistant she can go through and create a numbers database. So, actually, I do know what people’s burning questions are. And that’s going to be the content in the videos I’ll be creating this spring.
Caleb: Yes, that’s perfect. You don’t have to think of the next videos. You just ask people and then you answer the questions. Chances are, if one person is willing to ask the question, a lot of other people have it too.
Antonio: You get sometimes too many answers and you’ve got to be able to make not to do and what to do. Look at what are your capabilities. People for the longest time in my videos wanted me to put in pictures. Well, my wife is my editor and she just had a baby and so she’s breastfeeding and video editing. And so I understand you’re crying because I’m not giving you pictures. But understand, my resources are limited.
So a lot of people would hold some back and you’ve probably seen this many times, Caleb, is the analysis paralysis. I’ve got to be perfect. And as our friend, Andrew over at Mixergy, David Siteman Garland, they’ll all tell you that do not edit, don’t spend a lot of time in that. Get out an imperfect product and improve it as time goes on. With my style system, I still want to make this so much better. But I can’t tell you how many — People are just amazed at what’re providing. And it makes you feel good whenever you’re making money, you’re giving a lot of value. And at the same time, you know that you can do better and you will do better.
Caleb: Yeah, and whether that’s a podcast or videos on YouTube, just go back to the very first one. It’s always worse than the current one. I would hope they are always worst. I would hope someone’s not getting worse after like 100 videos. But like you have to start somewhere. You have to put yourself out there and if you just try to be a perfectionist, you’re not going to get it done.
Antonio: Yeah. And I invite people to go look at my early videos. I’m green. I’m orange. But it is what it is. It’s out there and the content was good enough. The sound was good enough.
Caleb: Thanks very much, Antonio. We covered a ton of stuff in this episode. I don’t even know what I’m going to title this thing. So, thanks very much for joining us today.
Antonio: Caleb, take care and thank you very much for having me.
Caleb: Yeah, of course. Cheers.
Caleb: So I hope you enjoyed this episode with Antonio from www.realmenrealstyle.com. I know that every time I talk to him I feel like I need to go shopping, I need to like spruce on my wardrobe a little bit. So I hope you enjoyed our talk today. There’s some great episodes coming up in the can. I’ve already interviewed Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness, Richard Boehmcke who is an independent filmmaker in New York City and I was scheduled to chat with some other people that I don’t want to reveal quite yet, but pretty excited to chat with him as well.
So thank you, everyone, for the support in this podcast. I’m going to try to stick with the weekly schedule here for a bit and get you some more episodes. If you have a second, I’d really appreciate any iTunes reviews. Just head to pocketchanged.com/itunes and it will take you directly to the podcast feed where you can leave a review. Until next time, keep hustling, keep working, you’ll break through.
Thanks for listening to the Pocket Changed Cubicle Renegade Podcast at www.pocketchanged.com. To read this episode’s show notes or check out other sessions, head over to cubiclerenegade.com.