Michael: Hey, before we jump into this awesome session of The Dealer Playbook Podcast, because we value you so much as a listener, we have a free gift just for you. Head on over to thedealerplaybook.com/lead and get instant access to your copy of The Secret Dealership Lead Generation Blueprint. This is going to help you discover the six simple steps that will help you get more high quality car buyers all on auto pilot and it’s completely free. Head on over to thedealerplaybook.com/lead and get yours now. Now, back to business.
This is The Dealer Playbook.
Michael: Hey there, what’s going on? You’re listening to session 65 of The Dealer Playbook Podcast where every week we’re having conversations with some of the most influential people from inside and out of the automotive industry. My name is Michael Cirillo joined by you all know him, Mr. Robert Wiestman. What’s going on?
Robert: Hey, man. What’s up?
Michael: Yeah. I mean, this is a cool one because it’s a subject matter that we haven’t had on the show ever. One thing that I’ll say is, I mean, there’s got to be a lot of guy talk here. I mean, a lot of what we’re talking about is specific towards men’s fashion with our guest today. But you can take these same principles and apply them to yourself–
Robert: Yes. Sorry, ladies.
Michael: — if you’re a lady in the automotive industry.
Robert: But ladies, if there is an expert like this for ladies that can talk this, what you’re about to get into here, please hit us on Twitter, @dealerplaybook, on who, because we’d love to get her on.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. So our guest today is a gentleman by the name of Antonio Centeno. This guy is a very, very influential info marketer, and we could have gone that route with him, but specializes in — What’s his website again?
Michael: Realmenrealstyle.com. He is one of the foremost experts on fashion, dressing for success.
Robert: Style consultant.
Michael: Yeah, he’s a style consultant. And so we thought it would be really cool to bring him on the show and talk about ways that you can present yourself to get the most out of your sales career or whatever it is that you’re doing at the dealership. But Robert, you’ve been connected to this guy watching and checking out his blog and stuff like that.
Robert: Yeah. I originally got the guy’s YouTube channel. You definitely want to check out. He’s got 500 plus video tutorials on there of awesome stuff and that’s where I originally started following him, is from his marketing, just watching his marketing and thought he was a great marketer. And I was just looking at like his strategies and tactics in regards to that. And I really fell in love with his content. And it’s so good for everything, the whole business, because your personal brand is so much of your style. We go into that a lot here.
Michael: Stay tuned in this episode because you’re going to hear Antonio demystify and dig deep on a lot of the questions that we know you have about how to present yourself, how to make your appearance really kind of come through the clutter.
Robert: What kind of those that you wear.
Michael: Yeah, everything. We’re going to dive deep on the beard topic, what kind of watches you should be wearing, everything, so stay tuned for this episode in our sit down with Antonio Centeno.
Robert: And why you should be wearing it. Let’s do it.
Michael: Hey, Antonio, thanks for joining us today.
Antonio: You’re welcome. Good to be here, guys.
Michael: Yeah. We’re really looking forward to this because it’s subject matter that we haven’t really had on the show, actually, we haven’t had on the show at all, but something that we’re very particularly interested in and I know it’s going to go a long way for those that are listening. But I want to kick this off with a question to you. I’ve attended a ton of different business seminars and wealth seminars and all those sorts of things in the past; very, very much so invested in that, the concept of personal growth and all those sorts of things.
There’s one particular topic that always comes up, it doesn’t matter what seminar I go to, and it’s the concept of dress for success. And there’s a lot of, I guess, questions that I have for you that I know our listeners will have as well that we’re hoping you can address and demystify. I guess, the first one is, for me, the first, I guess, business seminar that I attended, they talked about the importance of being clean shaven. I don’t know if that was specifically directed at the type of business that I was getting myself into or the type of sales that I was getting myself into.
But at that time, I had a pretty big delicious looking beard. And it was a hard thing for me to shave that thing off in my own pursuit of whatever my definition of success was at that time. But what I found is that it did actually have an impact on my ability to sell. I want to turn this over to you because I know beards, we’re going to jump off right into this topic.
Beards is a big thing right now. They’ve kind of come back in. Robert is kind of sporting this manly mountain beard going on right now. What’s the consensus on that? I mean, what kind of — Do you have any conclusive information? Yes beard or no beard? What are you finding works?
Antonio: Michael, let me go ahead. That’s a great place to start because it’s a trend. A lot of people in sales, I know you guys are staying up on — You see what is popular and you also feel a little bit of pressure and you want to try it out. So the answer was actually in what you said — clean shaven. So the association after a long time has been if you are, if you have hair on your face, you are not clean. And my friend Eric over at Beardbrand, he has a big issue with the word clean.
He has built an entire — [0:06:20] [Indiscernible] and that guy has built an entire business on beard products. And he likes to call it fully or completely shaven, not clean shaven. But there is still an association and it is out there. Some people feel that if you’ve got a beard you are in some way dirty. So that’s the issue with beards. It isn’t that you are dirty or that you are clean. It’s simply that they are polarizing. So it’s kind of like if you’re in the Chicago land area and you’re a Green Bay Packer fan, you don’t wear a Green Bay jersey and try to sell cars in Chicago.
Some Green Bay fan will probably say, “Man, you’re freaking awesome. I love how you go against the crowd.” But if you do that, you’re just going to polarize and people are going to be, “Who is this guy?” It’s too polarizing. So you try to reduce the polarizing things that you try to set things up for success. If your job is to sell and be the number one salesperson, you want to eliminate anything that’s going to cause basically subconscious distrust and beards, unfortunately, are one of them. Same with mustaches.
Robert: Okay. But how does that tie back to — Because another thing that I think a lot about style though is it’s so important. And a topic we discuss here a lot is about personal branding. And your style is huge with your personal brand. But I see what you’re saying that it’s like it could turn some people off but it might not turn others off, if you know what I mean. It might not.
Antonio: Exactly. There’s a guy in Austin or I’ve even seen a lawyer I think in Portland and the guy is completely covered with tattoos and piercings. That works for those towns. And he’s the lawyer for the — You get caught with weed, you go to this guy. And that is the message that he’s going for and that’s how he’s standing out from the crowd. So if you are the bearded dealer, you go for it. But understand that is part of your branding and you’ve got to own it.
Robert: Got you. Here’s one that I have off the cuff that I see a lot of people asking about and is very important. Antonio, think about these guys whether they’re established or not, they’re on their feet a lot, some of the newer guys are outside, they’re stumping around in Chicago winters and then, or Texas summers and stuff like that. Your feet, man, they start aching no matter what shoe you have. From your perspective, I would really like to hear the content. What shoe you would wear if you are in that terrain.
Antonio: Well, one, I would probably have a variety of shoes so it would be something you keep two or three at work if you’re in Chicago for the weather and actually rotating through shoes in a day. Because what really happens is you start to get moisture build up. It’s a hot humid day in Chicago or maybe on the northeast coast and, yeah, you want to be able to rotate through shoes. You do want nice shoes though. People will look at shoes and they’re going to look at your accessories and they’re going to quickly measure you up.
So if you’re selling BMWs, you don’t want to be running around in a $50 pair of shoes. Your customer, he may not dress, he may keep it a little bit lower key, but he probably is more — He understands quality. He’s buying a quality car. And if he looks down at your feet and you’re wearing something that’s glued together and cost $50 and is square toed, he’s going to say, “Can I really trust this guy?” Versus if you pick up something like Allen Edmonds or maybe Paul Evans. It really is finding a brand that works for you, also making sure you get the right pair of shoes for your feet.
Go through and go into a store, try on multiple brands. They all fit you differently. And practice wearing them. I think some nice people are pretty darn soft. Honestly, when I was in the Marines, we throw in rucksack and you go march 30 miles. And that’s when your feet hurt. And I understand being up on it all day.
Michael: Yeah. But don’t some of those like with the wooden bottoms and some of those really, really nice shoes that are beautiful and constructed great like walking on pavement, walking on — It’s different than walking through an office all day. But then when you’re walking on black top and grass and like that, is there any particular brand? My favorite go-to, and I’d like your opinion on this, was the Cole Haan Santa Barbara. I’d get them in the tans and the blacks over and over again. Looked good, comfortable, air max, like air and it felt good on the foot.
Antonio: I would say, I mean, if you feel good about them and if you can make a knowledgeable decision that they do look good then I would say go for it. That’s the way that I like to teach. There’s an infinite number of decisions you’ll have, I mean, men around the world will have to make when they get dressed. And my thing is you need to focus in on fit, fabric and function. And if you understand those three things in men’s style — And just to apply them to your shoes, do they fit you properly? Do they feel good? Or it sounds like they passed that.
Or do they function properly? If your job, and I don’t know what type, in this case what you were selling or — We’re always selling something. If they actually fit, if they function right for your position, then great. And when I say fabric, what I mean is the overall, buy the best you can afford. And you want to do that. And the difference between sewn up shoes, shoes that are actually sewn versus shoes that are actually glued is going to be simply you can get re-soled, rebuilt and over the long term you’re going to get more value.
But you’re right. Some men, they are simply going to want a brand that has everything that you talked about. But you just need to own it. You need to make sure it fits right. I mean, if you decide to be running around in a pair of Air Jordans and that fits your style, you actually dress great but you got this flashy pair of Air Jordans and you’re a young guy and you are a Chicago fan, you could make that work for you and people are going to remember. That is stylish. And you can even measure, “Hey, I don’t remember the guy’s name but, man, he was running from point to point. He brought me water and he was wearing those Air Jordans.”
Michael: I think those are so overlooked. Everybody is always talking about ways to stick out and spending a lot of money marketing whatever to do so but little things like that, if you just have it in you to take that chance, they can go a long way and today more than ever, they’re accepted. But you said fit. So my opinion, let me ask you this, if I’m right here, is that the fit is everything. It’s more important than you have this great fabric shirt on me by the high end designer everybody knows it and the style is great, but if it fits you bad, it’s like worse than having something cheap on that fits you good, right?
Antonio: It’s close. I compare it to a stool and that stool has three legs, like I said, fit, fabric and function. And fit is the first leg of that stool that I would say you need to have on there and the last one, if I had to lose on quality of the material and build and if I was a little bit off in the function, the fit though I do not compromise on. From the practical concern, if it fits you, you will actually be able to move easier. It just simply looks better. It makes you look healthier.
A lot of guys spend time in the gym or they’re in the best shape of their life and having something that fits you is going to make you look great. If you’re in bad shape and you’ve an extra 15, 20, 30 pounds around the midsection, if you’ve got something that fits you and does a good job or hiding that, it’s going to make you look better, healthier and, therefore, more trustful.
Michael: Okay. So I’ve got a question here. I mean, it’s kind of off of the topic of what we’ve been talking about, the fit, fabric and function. But, I mean, in today’s, I guess, society, as the millennials are coming up and we try and be as non-judgmental as we possibly can, how do we approach this topic of your appearance matters without, I guess, offending people? Do you know what I’m getting at? I mean, I feel like people are like, “Look, I’ve got–”
I’m just going to throw it out there. And for those of you listening in, I’m not suggesting that these are my opinions. I’m just throwing it out there because I see a lot of it. Hey, visible tattoos or length of hair. We’ve already addressed the beard thing.
Robert: My opinion, what I say with that is we don’t make the rules. You just learn how to play the game. And unfortunately, that’s just how it goes.
Michael: I’ve even had this conversation with my own team. There’s the two varying schools of thought and that’s why, Antonio, I’m interested in your perspective here. There’s the perspective of people are becoming much more accepting, it doesn’t matter what you look like, everybody is a good person, yada, yada, yada, let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. There’s the other school of thought which I will admit is kind of closer to what I believe and what you just, Robert, which is I didn’t create the rules but for some strange reason in the universe we just naturally feel more open with somebody who presents themselves well. I’m a big suit wearer.
Robert: In a way that we consider well.
Michael: Yeah, exactly. I’m a bit suit wearer. There’s nothing — I tell people I was born wearing a suit and that I’m going to get my wife to sew me a pair suit-jamas so I can sleep in a suit. So that’s my school of thought. I really enjoy it. I like the way it makes me feel, et cetera. How do we approach this topic especially in the auto industry which at times can be very controversial? How do you approach that topic? Look, I’m not judging you. I’m just telling you that this is where you need to do some work.
Antonio: But I am judging you. I want to be straight up here. You know what the kill radius of an M67 grenade is?
Michael: I have no clue.
Antonio: It’s five meters. And if you can’t throw that grenade five meters, I don’t want you near me or in a foxhole with me, close to me, because it’s going to kill both of us. If you hold on to this PC belief that looks don’t matter when you chose your mate based off of how they looked, when you made the decision to cross the street because the guy walking towards looked like he may be high on some type of drug, you’re ignoring reality.
And that’s why I don’t focus on opinions here. I bring up the signs. I’ve got an evolutionary biology degree from Cornell College and that was my background. And my experience in the Marine Corps is something. You would think that it shouldn’t matter how a Marine performs or how a soldier — Or it should matter how he looks. But the halo effect, which is where we associate good feelings or bad feelings based off of simply how somebody looks came out of the military. It’s called the halo defect.
And Thorndike talked about this in the 1920s and for over 100 years they’ve been doing — We’ve got hundreds of studies. I cite many of them over in my site about how this is a real phenomenon. We want to believe that we should — I mean, it’s something we try to say and it feels good but it is not reality. And I was just reading about the protest on Wall Street, the Occupy Wall Street, and the guy was just saying the he worked there.
You know what? When you wear a suit, you walk right through the police barriers. If you weren’t wearing a suit, they stop you. Now, how did they make that decision? Based off of looks, based off of presentation. And if a man wearing a suit jaywalks, three times as many people will follow him versus if he’s dressed like a slob. If a man falls down and he looks like he’s having a heart attack and he’s dressed like a homeless man, people walk right by him. If he’s dressed in a suit, people stop immediately, try to help him up, find out what’s going on. That’s the world we live in. I’m not proud of that we do judge. I mean, I’ve got four kids. I want them living a great world. But I also need them to understand that gravity is a real–
Michael: That’s the way it is, man.
Antonio: Exactly. Gravity is not a theory. This is a law. You’ve got to understand that, yeah, if you fight this, you’re going to lose.
Robert: I agree. I think anybody that’s out there agree, you like not to but it is the way it is.
Michael: It kind of goes along with I say stop moving against, stop moving in the opposite direction on the money. And in the context of what we’re talking about today, it’s like, look, if you want to — Like you said, Antonio, if you want to be number one and you want to achieve your definition of success and if that has to do with building trust, making money, then stop fighting against it. I guess, what the political correctness of everyone is a good person, it’s like, look, they might be a good person and, like you said, I mean, I’d love to have people not be so judgmental but appearance does really affect how people treat you and what kind of affinity or not that they have with you. So if that’s the case, move in the same direction as the money. Stop fighting against it.
Robert: Exactly. Hey, Antonio, what about the ability, is it possible for the guy to be overdressing? Now, we talked about BMW. Of course, you’re talking the higher end cars is one thing.
But let’s get down to somebody that’s working, that guy listening that works at Kia, the girl listening that works at Ford, you know what I mean? What can you adapt from your customer? Do you take anything from that? Or going into that, how do you design your style?
Antonio: That’s where the function comes into it. You have to remember who you are and what you’re trying to do but also pay very close attention to your audience. So I was just talking to a gentleman. He’s going to be going to a conference. It’s actually plant-based, talking about horticulture. But basically, it’s a lot of landscaping. In that case, he’s not going to want to wear a three-piece suit. He will not connect with his audience.
On the other hand, he’s a lawyer and he’s talking about GMOs. He’s already talking about a controversial subject and he needs to be presented in a way that he doesn’t betray the expectation of the audience. That’s the big thing. Robert, you guys have any kids?
Robert: Yeah, I have. We both do. I have two boys. He has two boys and a girl.
Antonio: So you walk into an emergency room at 2 o’clock in the morning, your kids are sick and they’ve got a fever and you’re looking, “Where’s the doctor?” And some guy comes out, he’s 25 but he’s wearing torn tie-die shirt, shorts and say, “Hey, I’ll take the kid. I’ll take a look at him.” Now, he could have a degree from Harvard but unless he got that white jacket on, you had betrayed my expectation with my child. I want to make sure you’re not some random guy just on a high, walking around the halls.
Robert: Yeah, good point. I mean, the jacket makes it happen. That’s the key.
Antonio: We’ve all got a uniform. And in the military, it was very clear what the uniform was and what the rank signified. We have those same things in the civilian world. They’re just a bit more subconscious. So when I expect to meet a salesman, I have a certain expectation of what he’s going to look like. Now, if you’re selling a Ford, you’re selling BMWs, you’re selling a Mercedes, that uniform is going to change based off of not just the area you’re at but also your clientele.
Robert: Okay. So what tips before — I know we got to wrap this up but I like where that’s going. We should go with this. What tips can you give on them determining that? Just some quick ones. Like feeding off the individual, knowing that you’re kind of in the right — You’re not too fresh but you’re right in the “just right” zone.
Antonio: A number of things you’re going to take into this. One, you want to look at your environment. Obviously, if you’re in Chicago, you’re going to have the weather because you’re going to be out there when it’s cold. So you want to still present yourself well but you don’t want to be shaking. You don’t want to look like you’re ill-prepared. So pay attention to that environment. Also look at the city you’re in. There’s a difference between if you’re in downtown Chicago or if you’re going to be maybe in Highland Park or you’re going to be out maybe in [0:23:02] [Indiscernible] or something like that.
So it’s a little bit different feel for those areas. If you’re outside of the city and you’re in Evanston, Illinois. That goes into it. You’ll be able to dress down at the Mercedes dealership in Evanston versus if you’re in downtown or if you’re in New York City. So all that goes into it. Then you start to bring in what type of message do you want to send? If you’re starting at the bottom at the dealership, you’re not going to be wanting to wear cuff links. You also have to pay attention what are the people in the company going to be thinking of me?
Are they going to think I’m pompous and I’m a little bit — Because I’m out-dressing them? So pay attention what the unspoken dress code is at the company. And you can dress very similar even if your company does have a dress code. You could actually take your clothing and get it adjusted to fit you and that would be something most people never go that extra mile and have that done. Then you want to pay attention to, like we talked about, the way your customers are dressing.
Look around, see what the average, especially the people that are the best customers. How are they presenting themselves? How do they like to be addressed? I would say always have a sports jacket and maybe a change of clothes so you can dress up because you may not always find yourself on the lot. You may be called into a meeting with company execs that come in from Toyota and they’re dressed in suits. You at least want to be dressed, be able to take it up to another level. And you want to be flexible there.
Robert: Yeah. And you mentioned change in the shoes and stuff too. So you got to be like Mr. Rogers, changing twice a day there at the dealership.
Michael: Make sure you sing while you do it.
Robert: Putting on a jacket, sweater, yeah.
Antonio: When it comes to the extra mile in business, there’s not a whole lot of traffic there. And that’s why some people succeed and other people don’t. And if it’s too much for you to have that extra gear and to go that extra mile, then you’re probably not just going to be that top 1% performer.
Michael: And I’ve even known people that have gone as far as having like an electric razor in their top drawer that they can just kind of run into the bathroom and clean up real quick if they’re getting a little bit scruffy or whatever. I have one last question for you to kind of add to this rapid fire. You mentioned accessories. Does the size of your watch matter?
Antonio: I wouldn’t say the size of your watch. I would say it matters for some because that is a — So if you are on a higher end car dealership, I mean, if you look at what did BMW start off as? What type of — I almost gave it away. What did they manufacture?
Robert: Wasn’t it motorcycles first or something, didn’t it?
Antonio: It was airplanes? If you look at the logo, it’s a propeller.
Michael: That’s right, yeah.
Antonio: And airplanes, I mean, it’s a precision instrument. If that fails and you go down, that’s not a good thing.
Robert: Oh, yeah, difference between an airplane and a car, but definitely, yeah.
Antonio: But that’s a precision instrument. And I would say the same way that people get wrapped around their cards and they love them and they give them names. The same thing with watches. So you want to focus in on a quality piece and for a relatively small investment, you can get something under just a couple hundred dollars that is respected. Once you spent and you get into, if you happen to catch the bug, there are watches out there that cost half a million.
I’m not recommending that. You shouldn’t be probably be having to work at a dealership if you could spend half a million dollar watch. But the point is, is that it’s something that if you’re going to go into, go into and become — Understand that it could become a conversation piece.
Michael: So with that, thoughts on smart watches?
Antonio: It’s not something that’s really a collector’s piece. You’ll get more compliments or more people will talk to you about–
Robert: Respectable, yes or no?
Antonio: It depends. I mean, if you’re wearing it to grab — If you actually enjoy the tech and you like being part of a movement, then sure. If you’re a tech, you’re on to your side time, you’re a podcaster and you’re not just a guy talking about cars but you love watches and you love to be part of the first generation, let’s say the Apple smart, the Apple iWatch or whatever it is, then sure. But if you’re doing it thinking that’s going to impress somebody, I would say, no, not at the point because that technology has not even come close to being perfected.
Michael: Okay, hold on. I’m just taking off my smart watch.
Robert: I’m excited to see what the brands are going to do with that, the accessory as in like the watch band for the smart watches. I envision like a lot of brands stepping forward with designs for that.
Antonio: I’ve got a friend up in Montana called TheStrapSmith and he has just been bombarded with orders for straps for the smart watches. Amazing.
Robert: Sweet. Listen guys, you got to check this guy out. Antonio, man. Not only is he a master of style, he is like a marketing monster too, just so you know. We could have went that way with him but thought that in this session, this was the way to go. Where is the website where you have like 500 plus blog posts and videos and whatnot?
Antonio: 500, man? We’ve got 1500.
Robert: 1500, okay.
Antonio: Yeah, we’ve got about 500 videos free on YouTube and it’s something that — Hey, email me if you’re a dealer and you’ve got specific questions. I love creating content that addresses questions to people who are, for me, qualified leads.
Michael: He’s got great stuff that’s like how to roll your sleeve up the right way and stuff.
Antonio: Exactly. Five different ways to do that. I give you a quick and short bites. But if you’ve got a specific question, just send me emails. We love creating content for guys because I find that it’s just a great way to build trust and at the end of the day, create more sales with our courses and products.
Michael: Love it. We’re going to link to all of that in the show notes.
Robert: Real Men Real Style.
Michael: That’s right. Love it. Antonio, thanks so much for being with us today.
Antonio: Robert, Michael, appreciate it. Thank you, guys.
Robert: You rock it, bro. Thanks. And there you have it. That was Real Men Real Style’s founder, Antonio Centeno. Michael, you like that? I could tell you liked that one, throwing in some last minute questions.
Michael: Yeah, hold on. I’m still trying to take off my smart watch over here and throw it. But you go bounce back on or whatever.
Robert: Just get it on eBay right now?
Michael: Yeah, exactly. It’s like, “Oh man, I just bought this thing.” No, so, yeah, I mean, this is a topic, like I said, I mean, you heard me say in the episode. I have conversations about this topic so frequently. I like how he just kind of took my question there halfway through the show and chewed it up and spit it out and just was very candid and frank and said, “Look, yeah, we’re absolutely judging people,” and gave some examples.
And he’s not judging them from them as being a good person or a bad person but just strictly from how we perceive things and how we build trust with people. And so I really like just kind of —
Robert: Is that who I want to solve my problem, is what it comes down to.
Michael: Exactly. And so–
Robert: And it’s hit or miss because we were talking like what you want — Sometimes you want to turn off a certain type of person.
Michael: Yeah, we’re big in segmenting.
Robert: It’s all about who you want to work with.
Michael: Exactly. I mean, we’re big in segmenting and he addressed that right at the onset. It’s like, look, you need to dress appropriate for the audience that you’re trying to attract. I mean, in the context of your business, if you’re running like a — I’m going to go to an extreme obvious example. If you’re running a tattoo shop, I mean, fill your boots. You’re going to have a specific target audience. But if you’re a BMW dealer, a Mercedes dealer, there’s also a specific target audience there and you need to make sure that you’re presenting yourself to match your audience. That’s it.
Robert: That’s it, man. That was great. I had a good time with that. So check him out. Subscribe to him on YouTube and then also www.realmenrealstyle.com. He’s got some great stuff and learns every day.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re going to link you guys up in the show notes, www.thedealerplaybook.com/65, if you can believe that, 65 episodes in on our trek to 100 episodes and beyond. But listen, check out the show notes. We’d love comments from you. And again, if you ladies have anyone that you know of that talks on this topic but specific to the ladies fashion, just hit us–
Robert: @dealerplaybook on Twitter.
Michael: Absolutely. Hit us up, @dealerplaybook on Twitter. Until next time, guys. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll talk to you later.
Robert: See you.