This post is an interview transcript. Click here to listen to the full interview with Chris Albert of Warrior Soul Agoge
Chris: What's going on Warrior Soul nation? Welcome to the Warrior Soul Podcast in this latest episode with Antonio Centeno from Real Men Real Style.
Now, guys I have to say that style is actually probably one of my weak points. If you find me on any day of the week, I’m usually in jeans and a t-shirt and that’s largely because I work from home, but I also know the value of looking good. And, I think that it’s one of the most important points for personal success.
If you’re going out there into the public, you want people to look at you, you want to stand out from the crowd and you don’t want to get noticed for any kind of fashion faux pas and that’s what we’ll get into in today’s episode you’re being examined by the people you come in contact with, they’re examining you for weaknesses, they’re examining you for strength, they’re trying to determine whether or not you’re someone they want to work with whether or not you’re someone whose daughter they want to date whether or not you’re somebody who is worth talking to.
And, Antonio Centeno has made a name for himself by teaching men about the value of style. His channel, Real Men Real Style has over 1.6 million subscribers. The coolest part is that Antonio is a United States Marine Corps veteran. He served as an officer and he did multiple combat deployments.
I really love this interview with Antonio. There are so many lessons in here on leadership on personal management, on how to get yourself through tough times, on how to dress of course, and on things you can do on a daily basis to accomplish more. He’s got some really great advice here on how to focus on what’s important and how to get rid of what’s not important and just get it out of your life, so really, really awesome interview.
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So, with that step, yapping my trump over here and we’ll get into this amazing episode with Antonio Centeno of Real Men Real Style.
This is Chris Albert and I’m here to remind you of one thing, some day you’re going to die. But that’s not some morbid statement or scary idea, it’s a solid fact. Your time here is limited and you need to be reminded of this as much as possible for one simple reason, to live your best life while you can. This is the Warrior Soul Podcast.
What’s going on Warrior Soul nation? This is Chris Albert and welcome to another episode of the Warrior Soul Podcast.
Today, I am very privileged to bring to you Antonio Centeno. And this is a fantastic episode for us to be doing. Antonio has done so much work as far as getting people to learn more about something that's extremely important and that's style — personal style, understanding how to wear clothes, understanding that the clothes make the man.
And, he's got 1.6 million followers on YouTube, so he's helping people around the world to increase their style. He's also teaching people about things like life skills and business and you name it you can you can find it on Antonio's channel.
And one of the best things about Antonio is that he is a United States Marine Corps veteran. And I got into his channel a few weeks ago because of another guest we had AJ Harbinger from the Art of Charm and I was absolutely fascinated with what I saw. So, Antonio I just want to welcome you to the podcast and thank you for coming on today.
Antonio: Yeah. You're welcome, Chris. Proud to be here. So, anything I can answer and helps vets with, I'm ready to do.
Chris: Definitely. I want to get into a little bit of your story because…
Chris: I know you served as a United States Marine Corps officer.
Chris: We’re talking about prior to — to me hitting a record button, you know, you start serving in 1997, went up into the 2000s and, you know, you had this really interesting path where you went from being a Marine Corps officer to today broadcasting on YouTube and talking about men’s style. Can you give us a little bit — a little bit more about your story a little bit more about how you got into this line of work?
Antonio: Well, I think that right there is just it should give a lot of the guys out there hope because I'm sure, you know, all the sergeants – sergeant, you know, first, you know, with staff sergeants, they're like, gosh, if this Marine Corps officer can actually do something maybe I've got some – it’s going to be easy for me.
Because, hey, you know the guys that I saw that that did — had the most impact and still to this day my staff sergeant, he was, you know, I was an — I was in O180 and he was amazing because I came in as a second lieutenant with no idea and this guy had four kids and he was just making things happen. And I was greatly inspired by, you know, know my staff sergeant.
I remember my sergeant major who taught me how to go out there on the parade field and to make things happen. From my corporals that, you know, very gently just showed me, you know, through what — what is possible.
And so, you know, for those guys I think if — if I can go in and make a success of myself here, I think, you know, should give hope to everybody that it's possible because, you know, one of the big things when you start off and you get into whatever you're going to, you know, do after the military is that you don't have to do what you did in the Marine Corps or the Air Force or whatever, you know, unit you're part of or what your MOS is. That does not define you and that took me a while to figure out because so many of us think that, okay, I'm a [Lago] or you know maybe I'm an admin guy I'm a grunt.
So, I've got, you know, okay, I'm really good with weapons and stuff, so I need to go to FBI or I need to go into law enforcement. And I really think that that's the wrong mindset because what the Marine Corps gave what the army gives I think, you know, soldiers and, you know, with the navy, you know, for sailors and the air force on the coast guard is it really gives us amazing leadership skills and that — you've heard this probably before, but it is — it can't be understated because managing, leading, getting a team to do whatever you needed to do is something that you're going to use throughout your life. And to be able to inspire to be able to get up in front of a group of people and convince them that they need to invest in you whether it be time whether it be money, this is — this is a skill-set that is just so key.
So, yeah, I joined back in 1997 just straight out of college. Actually, sign — signed up in ’97, but didn't officially go active duty till 1998. I went through TBS. Actually, I was – I blew out my sinuses in the T-34. So, I started off as a — as a student naval aviator and went through Pensacola went to Corpus Christi, but ended up going and becoming an O180. Going right into basically it's an adjutant in an infantry battalion, so I was what they call a combat edge and didn't think too much of it.
In fact, I was very disappointed I have to admit with that — and you go from flying, you know, T-34, so all of a sudden you're stuck in a desk and you're doing admin work and not only that you're an infantry battalion, so you got to go hump multiple times. And you have all these O3s that they're giving you — giving you a lot of craps especially your fellow officers because you know they're off doing their sniper stuff or they're out training with your unit and you're just back again doing paperwork processing awards. I was just like what, you know, I definitely I'm going to get out like this is not for me.
And that was going to be my path until I had, you know, great mentors that just came in, you know, from my — from my XO to, you know, just other officers that they'd say this guy needs to get back on track to, you know, I had got a resurgence, so you know like a lot of — actually and first sergeants that came in from — because I was reporting to them and they're like, you know, we got to get this guy on his track because if he's not, then it's really going to affect us.
And it was them — it was those guys I think that really taught me what I need to know and so, I deployed with the 11th, you know, back in 2002. And then, soon as we got back from that, it was, hey, like there's something going down in Iraq. Obviously we talked about the 2001, everything that happened then and how the mindset shifted of we're no longer peacekeeping we're going after, you know, we’re going after the guys.
Antonio: That hurt – that hurt us. And so, into early 2003, we deployed with the time it was, you know, reinforced infantry basically was a BLT – BLT. And so, we went out and that was with the first Marine Regiment and I was with 3rd battalion 1st Marines and it was [WAS11] and some of those other guys and we jumped on a boat took a slow boat over and got ready and we basically hit I think it was in Feb — late February we were in – what was it? Kuwait and then went up straight into Iraq on the initial day I think that was March — March something – mid March.
Chris: Yeah, I remember.
Antonio: And I don’t remember the exact day, but I do know that it was, you know, just an amazing experience and this is what we trained up for, so we went through Nasiriyah, we went over to Al-kut and then we went riding into Baghdad.
So, to be a part of that and I think what I took from this and the reason I kind of wanted to share with you guys a little bit of my story is that I know some of you guys listening maybe you never got to experience combat. Some of you guys probably got a little bit too much, much more than what you ever wanted.
And I do think though and we're talking about the importance of timing and no matter how you served, you know, just remember that, you know, this – you — this contribution you made, you know, is something that I'm always grateful because I got out, you know, I think relatively easy. I’m — I got it, you know, bit of disability with my head because of the sinus blowing out and I had to have surgery and stuff like that, but I mean that's a small price to pay compared to a lot of guys that never came back and made the ultimate sacrifice.
And I think is – as vets that come back, it's our job especially those of us that are out to reach back and to really try to — to help those veterans and those that are still in to open their minds to what is possible beyond the military because so many guys are getting out and if you look at, you know, what is it? 1 out of 22 vets, you know, or 1 out of – is it 20? There’s some crazy number about…
Chris: Right now the VA has about 20 veterans a day, so that was the last numbers the VA released.
Antonio: Yeah. I mean and then when you think about it, that's crazy. It’s horrible. Why – why are we, you know, why are we killing ourselves? And I saw when I got back from deployment we had – one of our staff sergeants hanged himself. We had another guy, you know, shoot himself. I mean it’s just like what is going on here?
And, I think, you know, for us to be able to inspire and motivate and to help because let's face it, the VA ain't going to do it. You know the government is not going to help, all right? And — and it’s a good measure because I get it the marines job – the Marine Corps is to fight win wars. The job of the army is to go in and just overwhelm and destroy the enemy. The job of the chairforce, I mean the air force…
Antonio: Is to – I had saw some guy with a cold the other day, he’s like, you know, the air force doesn’t figure out how to get rid of the enemy on top of the mountain, they just destroy the mountain. I’m like, I’m glad you’re on our side.
But, my job is to – I look at it now is to inspire these vets and to show them what’s possible and if, you know, if an unmotivated, you know, first lieutenant, you know, you know, can go off and do amazing things on YouTube, then, you know, you can do whatever you want to do whether, you know, I saw – I’ve seen a lance corporal get out and start this amazing – I don’t know if you follow, you know, what – what Max is doing over at Terminal Lance.
Chris: Yeah. Max, absolutely.
Antonio: Yeah. Amazing. And just you see this guy go out there and just create this – this whole thing. I mean I remember we have a sta – he was – he was in [E 6th] that was in the air force at the time and I mean he had built up this game on Amazon and he had created like a $2 million a year business that he was getting drop shit and he was still in active duty.
And I mean – so – so, yeah, one of my projects I don’t know if you know about this is it’s called High Speed Low Drag and this is where we’ve work with veterans, we did a number of interviews. I work with a guy named John Lee Dumas who was a tank commander in Iraq as well, we’re about the same time. And this guy has built a multimillion dollar business podcast.
Chris: Entrepreneur on Fire. Yeah.
Antonio: Yeah. And you’ve got Tom Morkes. And Tom is – he just went into the publishing world and he was a, you know, don’t hold this against him, but he went to – what was it? The West Point, an army — army officer there, but this guy you know he's redefining himself. He's over living the dream in Colorado and he's helping, you know, people create content with the written word.
And, none of us if you would have asked like John did you go to school to become a podcaster. No, he didn’t go to school. I didn't go to school to become a YouTuber, I didn't even go to school to get into the fashion industry.
But, what I realized is I could take that hard work that discipline, and that ability to say you know what I've been in some really tough situations and this doesn't even compare. You know they can come take my house they can, you know, threaten, you know, to – I don't — take away my car whatever like I got my life and, you know, we don't have [0:15:23 Inaudible] prison in this country anymore, so, hey, I, you know, I can do, yeah, I just – you can’t hurt me. When you’ve got that I think type of mentality which I think a lot of vets have is you can go off and do pretty amazing things.
Chris: Yeah. That's, you know, there's so many lessons in what you just said. Number one, I can't believe that it's almost 15 years since — since 2003 which absolutely crazy I feel like I'm getting older and older. Number two, you know I think that the lessons that you learned as far as trying to get mentors the lessons in humility trying to find people who can support you and who can teach you and who can educate you on the path that you need to take and — and who could go to bat for you, I think that's –that's so important to learn and to understand and — and that definitely takes a good degree of humility.
And then, you know finally, understanding those possibilities that are out there that you don't necessarily you're qualified for a whole lot if you served in the infantry in the Marine Corps especially if you — you — you held a leadership position. And, that's something you know I learned when I was going through some hard times. I was living out of my car a few years ago and somebody told me to start a YouTube channel and my YouTube channel is nowhere near the size of yours, but it still gave me a launch to my career as an online trainer. And so, I've been able to deliver fitness advice to people around the world.
And I think it's absolutely amazing what you've done and what you just said to everybody. One of the big questions I have is at what point did you realize that YouTuber is the route you needed to take that that you needed to leverage this awesome free technology that was being put out there to get your message out there? And what kind of mistakes did you make along the way?
Antonio: You know I think I made a lot of mistakes and that's — that's the truth of the matter is that you got to view it. If you're – anyone is a baseball fan out there they know, you know, if you're batting 400 over your career you're probably going to get into the Hall of Fame. That's an amazing batting average. But, what that also indicates is that you're striking out six out of ten times.
And, I think in life what's great is you don't even have to like you could be batting a 100 and you're going to be doing great. The thing is you got to keep going up to bat, you got to keep swinging you got to try to learn from every time you're – you’re up there and you're not always going to launch, sometimes you're just going to swing and miss it. But you got to be able to move on, you got to be able to keep going.
And, I think anyone that has dealt with adversity, anyone that has gone through tough and trying times, anyone that has been pushed to the limit, you know, that that's — that's what businesses in many ways and you just got to be consistent. You've got to consistently work to get better and realize, hey, be willing to go through the suck. I think the people that impressed me most when it — when I would go through training anyone that's been through like school anyone that's gone through you know like just long, you know, infantry training for whether it’d be marines or the army, different types of flight school training. I know for the — for the air force or, you know, for the – it’s one of those things – SEAL training, they – it’s the people that can just take the suck.
They are in fact, it’s the guys that are singing when things are bad at 3:00 o’clock in the morning and you’re getting, you know, you’re cold you’re freezing, you’re getting sand thrown in your face, and you just belt – start belting out fun songs because you realize, hey, like I – I know how – I’m not looking forward to next year, I’m looking for if I can make it through the next minute, I’m fine. And if I can make it to the next, I want to just make it to next fifteen minutes, the next hour. And, you know it’s that type of mentality sometimes in business that’s going to get you through those tough times.
For me with YouTube, you know, being here I did not – I had no idea that I would go towards YouTube. When I started this journey in 2007, I — what I did after, you know, with is giving ten – give somebody $10,000 to build a website for me and then basically failing me and keeping the money. I had to deal with, you know, writing for years articles and I can’t write to save my life, but I can – I’m a horrible typer.
But, just going through this and creating hundreds of articles that, you know, why did I do that? Because I – that was the only path I knew, I was like, well, if I created some content online, maybe someone will find it. And it did bring me quite a bit of traffic, but it wasn’t what I really love and I can’t even imagine having to still create all that like content.
But, what I did find eventually was that you know I don’t mind creating a video like this is really easy for me. I can talk, I can get in front of that camera and I feel like I – I could try to motivate, I’m really good at moving my hands around you know, I mean that’s what people tell me. It’s kind of a joke on my channel that my hands go everywhere.
But, came the day I had a message to share and because I had written those hundreds of articles. Actually, I knew quite a bit about men's fashion and I was able to — to share that information and it just so turned out you know I was swinging and swinging and swinging, I got I caught that ball you know just out of pure luck. And all of a sudden, we started — I started realizing, wow, I'm pretty good at this type of swing, what if I did another one did another one.
And then, you know, you get a little bit hard-headed and you’re like, well, I'm going to try this a hundred times and I'm going to try this two hundred times. And so, we did you know like two hundred videos in two hundred days which may sound like a lot, but I batched those videos I didn't edit them, I just simply threw them up. So, it's like, you know, you don't have to have perfect form when you show up at the gym and you don't have to show up every, you know, every single day or even be there an hour every time you show up.
But, if you show up to the gym, you know, at least four to five times a week, I mean just almost by osmosis you'd be in there you're going to start to pick up the right habits. You're going to start lifting those weights and you're going to start looking around saying, oh, that guy, you know, he's built pretty well if he's doing it that way I'm going to follow him and do what he's doing or maybe ask him for advice and that's exactly what happened on YouTube.
I saw other people that were kicking butt and kind of imitated what they were doing. I simply tried to get better at, but I kept showing up I kept consistently putting that stuff out there and then, we started taking it off you know and that's really, you know, was kind of my philosophy.
And you know I wanted to get to a million views, so I was like, well, if I did a million videos and I got one view each that's going to get me there. But, I didn't think that would happen, I felt that, you know, but I was willing to put in a thousand videos because I’m like if I can get a thousand videos and each one gets a thousand views, there's my million, right?
Antonio: So – so, that was — that was kind of my logic to it like just be willing to put in that type of effort and not being — a lot of — most people you’re going to hear, they complain they’re like, man, I did everything I could, I tried everything. Did you really? How many things do you try? Tried twice, tried it maybe – you may be tried it once, you didn't try it a million times, come on. And I think a lot of guys, you know, a lot of vets, you know, they're willing to try a hundred times and if you're willing to try something a hundred times, you're – you’re way ahead of the vast majority.
Chris: Absolutely. You know it's funny because we live in these times where it seems like people come out of thin air and they become successes. You know we see a lot of YouTube channels just that seem to just pop up, we see a lot of businesses…
Antonio: Okay. Yeah. But, I’m like who really comes out of thin air?
Chris: Right. Exactly.
Antonio: I can’t think of anyone like.
Chris: Yeah. What I’m saying is you don’t – you don’t know the complete story. You don’t know how many videos that that person did that got no views or that got a hundred views. You know you don't know…
Antonio: Yeah. Casey Neistat, everyone is like, oh, where did he come from? It’s like, man, this guy – this guy busted his butt for twenty five years in video and he gets a break and people assumed, oh, he came out of nowhere. It’s like this guy has been working his butt off for twenty five years and we just see this blip when he has his like – his moment. That’s what we see.
You know even like some of the more controversial like, you know, this guy Logan Paul, I don’t know if you follow him. They got huge following, I mean I think their content is kind of junk, but you know one thing I do respect, they were wrestlers. And, in high school him and his brother like — any wrestler I respect because that’s like one of those sports that I mean they start when they were like 10 years old and they’re going without water they’re working out in, you know, started at 5:00 AM. I mean they’ve – they understand what work is.
And, everyone I see that apparently is an overnight success, there’s like ten years, there’s twenty years of work prior to this. And, that’s what people just like to ignore that, but, no, there’s always – there’s always something there.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I see that all the time. I’m good friends with a CT Fletcher and I used to be his nutrition coach. He’s a big fitness YouTuber and people don't realize that you know four or five years ago, the guy had nothing, he didn't have two dimes to scratch together and — and it took a long time for him to get his name out there. It took a long time for him to — to be able, but you know he took a chance he got the video up and in that first video that — that he had done for him did amazing.
But, why style? Like so — so when you were in the Marine Corps were you thinking a lot about style at the time? Were you thinking a lot about fashion? Did you always have a passion for clothes?
Antonio: No, not at all. I came into you know the whole thing kind of is a merc –there's — Andrew Warner talks about this. So, you're either getting to a business because you're a mercenary or you’re a missionary. Missionaries are going after it because they got a big — they don't care about the money, they just got a big mission. And the mercenaries are in it for the money like they see opportunity, let's go do it.
I was a mercenary. What I saw is that I graduated from business school, I went to UT actually, I got it — I got it paid for for free as Hazlewood Act allows any Texas vet to go to a public school combat vet for free, so if it’s something you’ve never heard of just check it out.
But, what — what I learned is that it's a lot of, you know, it's not as easy as it looks. I had this tailor that I spoke and he was making like $300,000 a year and he had worked for twenty five years to build up this booklet. He was a traveling custom clothier. It was like, man, like I've got this fancy degree like I like clothing it's interesting to me and I like the custom suits, so – but – why don’t I jump in this and build up and just a couple of years what took him twenty five years. That was my thought process.
And, it didn’t exactly work out that way, in fact, my first business is A Tailored Suit speaking of failures, failed. I mean I just I couldn’t get enough revenue and I couldn’t get enough profitability and I wasn’t going to go back and work and own the factory which is I think what you need in that industry to succeed. But, what it did do owning A Tailored Suit opened my eyes to the possibility of what I could do with content marketing and everything there. So, again, it was fail, fail, fail, fail. Oh, that thing worked and I zeroed in there.
But, getting back to the question about fashion, I don’t care about fashion. What I care about is looking good. And I don’t know a marine that didn’t care about looking good, in fact, if you put on your ribbons incorrectly, what would happen?
Chris: Someone is going to chew your ass out.
Antonio: Somebody – somebody is going to chew you out, they’re going to correct you. If you put your jump wings on sideways, you think anyone’s – yeah, every – I mean you’re going to get smacked. It will be like, you know, it’s little things like that. If you went through ranger school and you’re a marine, what do you – where do you have that tap? You’ve got it underneath you know.
Antonio: Guys got those things in there. It’s like little codes that we’ve got. And if you see someone and if you’re an Army Ranger you’re Navy SEAL and you see someone wearing the Trident and it’s on like liberal out there, what are you going to do? You’re going to go smack that guy, you know, what are you doing? You’re going to tear that thing off.
I saw it with someone or some clothing company…
Chris: Stolen valor.
Antonio: Yeah. Well, this was the Ranger tab, I mean they didn’t know, but some – some designer thought it would be a cool put Ranger tab. I mean you don’t put a Ranger tab on some – it’s like – and that was a big protest and that’s a big deal. So, you can’t tell me that veterans do not care about image and uniforms and presentation.
And my message is to get guys to understand that and everything you wear is actually sending a message and an image. So, you know, and just make sure that you don’t betray expectation because when you would do an inspection and you see, you know, a guy and one them he’s just good to go. I mean everything about his uniform is spot on and back, you know, when we used to shine our boots, I mean it was something you look from the boots to the parade, you know, use that – what is that – that – that stuff edge liner — the…?
Chris: Yeah, edge liner. Yeah, I remember that.
Antonio: I mean it was all those details. When you see someone does that, I mean you can see yourself in their boots and you see nothing, I mean uniform is immaculate. You don’t even have to bother checking the inside of their M-16 for rust. You don’t have to like this guy if he’s done this like it’s good to go.
However, when you get that turd that is like every – it’s like, man, come on, you slept on this uniform? It doesn’t even fit you properly. You can bet that they’re going to go in and inspect everything because if he messed this up, he most likely did not clean out his wall locker, he did not check it. And it’s little things it’s why we did inspections to be able to make sure like to be able to catch this.
So, understand that when people look at you, they’re inspecting you. They don’t know that they’re doing this, but if they see something off subliminally in their mind they’re thinking, can I trust this person with my business? Can I trust this young man to take care, you know, to go out with my daughter? Can I, you know, it’s like all of these things they’re making that assessment.
And so, what I can help guys understand, you don’t need to wear a suit to look good, but you do need to ensure that you’re sending the message you want to send and do not betray expectations because when you do that, I don’t trust you and I’m not going to give you my business, I’m not going to give you my daughter’s hand in marriage, I’m not – I mean it’s like all these things are – are immediately red flags sirens. And, when a guy understands that, I’ve accomplished my job.
Chris: That’s – that’s also been – and I noticed from your YouTube channel you do give a significant amount of life advice in addition to just the – the direct style stuff. You know I was – I was kind of laughing about your video about BitCoin versus getting a new suit.
I thought that was kind of like a joke video that you did, but some of the other ones you did where you know you talked about getting your MBA from Harvard and how you didn’t directly go to Harvard, but you got a chapter and a book for – for the Harvard University Press and you know that gave a lot of great lessons on persistence, on understanding multiple different paths in your life and I feel like every time I do watch one of your commentary videos, I’m getting a really valuable life lesson in addition to learning that – that skill of style that you talk about.
Antonio: Yeah. I have, you know, and we expanded. I mean initially when I started my channel, it was focused on one thing, custom clothing advice. So, if you were looking to have anything done with a custom suits or custom shirts or trousers, that was my focus. And then, I branched out into shoes, a natural progression. But then, I branched out into more casual style and then I branched out into, you know, other accessories. And then, I realized, hey, like style is just one aspect, what about grooming? I mean it’s very natural except you want to talk about style, I could talk about grooming.
And then, all of a sudden I realized, hey, you know what about the soft skills because you’re a well-dressed man, but if you don’t know how to eat and how to deal with everything how it’s properly set in the table, if you don’t know how to speak to a person, if you don’t know how to, you know, greet a person, how to, you know, all these things that I realized they’re all – they’re all close to each other. So, that’s kind of how we’ve built up the brand and we’ve encompassed quite a bit more.
Now, I do think that there's a lot of strength for staying very niche very early in your business because it's easier to dominate that way. It's very difficult to become the number one — I mean what, you know, it’s difficult to become the number one stylist in the world that, you know, from my example. But, it was very easy to become the number one guy on YouTube talking about men's custom clothing because there wasn't anyone. So, just by default by showing up, I was the number one guy.
And then, I expanded out, we got bigger and we — we have become in many ways a lifestyle brand focusing on men. Now, I've got a conference the Menfluential Conference, I have a media company called Menfluential Media and those companies now are bigger.
Well, the media company is bigger than Real Men Real Style in terms of the revenue. But, I wouldn't have been able to create that if I hadn't started off very narrowly focused and staying here unmanaged. That’s something that I learned in the online space that works really well and, you know, so anyone going out there and starting a business, you know, that may be a great way to start.
Chris: Yeah. It's like building a moat to protect yourself from the beginning because if you go out and you know you're selling t-shirts for example you know you can buy a t-shirt from anywhere, Walmart, you see — you can buy a t-shirt from — from any store, there's thousands of stores that sell them. But, if your t-shirt fills a specific niche maybe people like cats, then you start to protect yourself from the Walmarts and the thousands of other stores out there who are trying to market their t-shirts as well. So, that's definitely a value — a valuable lesson there.
One of the things, you know, as far as veterans go, a lot of us aren't used to, you know, dressing up in a suit — a civilian suit all the time. And you know I remember, you know, I've kind of had these style hiatuses, you know, that there was a time where, you know, I got out and I went to the store and I decided I was going to buy myself a bunch of clothes.
I got myself a bunch of clothes, but then, you know, I went through some hard times and wasn't really making a lot of money. I didn't buy clothes for a while and then, a few years later I go into the store to buy some clothes for the first time and it looks like stuff from out of space like these skinny jeans that I see now these days, a lot of the — the joggers that I see guys running around and like I can't — just can't bring myself to do that.
Number one, where should somebody like me and — and I'll be fully upfront with this, I have, you know, I probably own two pairs of jeans, one suit, a few t-shirts. Where should somebody like me start?
Antonio: I would go to Barnes & Noble and just go into the magazine section, maybe get, you know, a few magazines that you like. They don’t have to be style magazines and just go through start and identify people that you like that look. And, mirror and start to identify like you know I like the way Justin Timberlake looks on this one. You know, oh, man, I love the way that Daniel Craig, you know, is wearing this. Or, you know, maybe, you know, Idris Elba or, you know, some of these other actors out there, Chadwick Boseman, you know, in the new Black Panther. Man, I’m excited about that. I’m a huge Marvel fan.
But, you know, it’s like – so look at some of these guys and say, you know, that’s – I like that. Maybe go into, you know, look at, you know, it’s – and once you have a direction, then it’s a matter of like working backwards and identify, okay, why does he look good there? You know it’s like, okay, let’s look at this, where I can get this piece where can I get that piece.
You can do a lot of shopping online. I would say that a lot of shopping in the stores is you’re at the mercy of what’s in the store and oftentimes – so you may go into a store and there is like, you know, the section of menswear, but how much is actually going to fit you? So, that’s the first thing is probably 90 – 90%, 95% of the clothing you see here won’t even fit you.
Another thing is so what you want to have is your own skin measurements and you can quickly, you know, just type in online how to take your skin measurement, it’s pretty easy. Because once you have that, what you can do is take a tape measure in or ask for one when you walk into a shop if you don’t have it. You can lay out the clothing and you could say, okay, my shoulders are 19 inches across. Well, I want to make sure I get a shirt that’s approximately 19 or 19.5 inches across, that way you don’t rely just on the sizing as well.
And, style and looking good in general is really, really very simple. It’s – don’t try to over think this. Daily day in and out I’m wearing usually a navy button-down shirt similar to what I have – I’ve got probably like twenty different navy button-down shirts. I find this is my uniform. And I would thing that first what you want to do is just develop a uniform that you wear most of the time. Again, for me navy button-down shirt, long sleeve which I can roll up when it’s warmer. I wear a wide range of undershirts. And then, I wear dark-colored jeans that are of a regular fit. And then, I’ve got a wide range of boots and shoes that I interact – interchangeable with, but that’s pretty much it. And I could always throw a sports – I love this look, so I can wear I throw a sports jacket over it and it’s got to work with everything I’ve got.
But, right there you get your one go-to outfit. Then, maybe you branch away, you may be find a few other shirts that you can bring in and, again, I got twenty different navy shirts, but they’re all different. Some of them have pockets, some of them have different weaves, some of them have like a little bit small patterns, some of them are lighter blue, some of them are dark blue, some of them are like I said navy. I sort – I mean notice I haven’t gone too far from that one main outfit.
Antonio: What’s cook is everything is interchangeable. And there’s nothing wrong with actually developing a uniform. I love, you know, when I active duty I mean one thing I love is just being able to wear my camis and go to work. I didn’t have to think too much about it. It was everything work too. This other camis I went with pretty much match the boots and pretty much match the cover that I was going to wear. They all work together.
You know when I was in the, you know, with the wing it was easy, flight suit. I mean you – you could show up – hard night of drinking and you simply throw in your flight suit, you got an undershirt on and, you know, it’s like, boom, you’re just going in. I remember just wearing that stuff on my motorcycle and it was you know.
So, you want your wardrobe to be initially that simple. And you may be a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, I’m not saying that that’s wrong, I am saying not thinking about it and actually identifying what really looks good on you is in opinion a mistake because for me I’m a thin guy and, you know, I find that this shirt and this overall type of look actually just makes me look better. And I like a colored shirt, it’s a little bit dressier than not wearing that colored shirt.
Now, you may find that Hanley just works out really well for your style or you may find that, hey, I am a casual suit guy, I live in Los Angeles, I’m aspiring to be an actor, so why not actually have a little bit of fun. You know I think costume design and looking at, again, finding a great actor , maybe you see, you know, Ryan Gosling in some of these movies, you know, man, I love his look, so go with that and be inspired.
Chris: Awesome. Yeah, that’s definitely some great advice. And, you know, it’s low cost advice too because you just go out there and you grab a magazine, you identify the people that, you know, you want to look like and then you start to try to put together those pieces.
I want to switch over to some of your personal influences. And this is important to me because I would like to hear what type of things people are educating themselves with. So, what’s a particular book that you’ve read that’s had the most influence on you?
Antonio: Gosh. You know a lot of these are going to be business books. So, right now I’m listening to a book called – or just went through Scaling Up and I really – so for a business if anyone’s into that it’s by a guy named Verne Harnish, but just a great one.
I like the book Essentialism by I think it was Greg McKeown or something like that. Very — a very simple book about just basically eliminating most things in life are noise. You know social media has done wonders, but it also has done a lot of damage because people cannot seem to get out of their phones. And for you to identify what’s important to you and what you really need to accomplish to get to your goals, it’s really pretty simple at times, but we don’t want to face it.
And the final book I would recommend is Cal Newport’s Deep Work. That one, again, revolutionary amazing, but it’s all about, you know, the world does not reward us for checking our e-mail or being really good at answering comments on Facebook or to fighting with someone in the comments on YouTube. The world will not let you know will not – you will not have success if that’s what you’re doing. You need to actually make a contribution and to do deep work, you’ve to tune most things out and you’ve got to go deep.
And this is very rare in today’s information society when people are just distracted. I mean if you could work through a solid six hours, eight hours a day without distraction and without being interrupted with phone calls, I mean that’s a super power right there and very few people actually have that.
Chris: Yeah. That — that's an amazing superpower. Definitely, you know, one of the things I've learned is to keep my phone on airplane mode during the day trying to eliminate those distractions as much as possible. And – and you mentioned social media, but also the news. I think so many people are so addicted to getting on CNN to try to find the next thing that's going to piss them off and get them into that negative state.
Antonio: So, the best thing that — when I deployed in 2002 I gave away everything. I didn't want to get a storage unit, so I gave away in my bed, my television, everything. But, I'd never bought television after that.
Chris: Oh, wow.
Antonio: And, I am so thankful that — I mean that is probably the best thing at my home, there's no television. There's no vam — I call it the vampire because it sits in your home and it sucks away your life because you're walking by it it’s just it's like we – we turn it on it's like a fire to keep us warm. I don't know — and I go visit, you know, my brother, I love him, but I was visiting him in — in California. I remember we were — and we had, you know, drive — driven across the country to see our family to hang out and we all sit around the TV. And it's like — I mean it’s just – and I’ve learned this from living abroad at my wife's family, they don't, you know, it's always about when you sit and you spend time with people, you sit and you spend time with people.
And so, that was just something I — she just finds it very odd and I do too. If you have a place where if you have gathering place in your home, why do you have a television right there? You know try to make it a little bit more difficult and I mean we're not weirdos because we do enjoy a good movie. We love going to the movies and in fact, I have a projector in my house, so I will set it up sometimes and project the movie for my kids and we'll set up the sound. But, it takes like 20 minutes to set that up and that little barrier is a huge deal because, yeah, don't waste your life watching – watching that television watching the news.
I don't — I don't get any news, if it's big news, my mom will call me, my neighbors will let me know, but I found that not what – not — not checking the news not getting news forced on me, huge — I feel so much better.
Chris: Yeah. It will find you if it's that important.
What are some of your personal habits and what's your daily routine look like like what types of things have you incorporated — corporated in your life to stay sharp?
Antonio: Sure. I wouldn't say I've got a daily routine, I have more like a weekly routine if that in general. But, I would say I have a habit of telling people I love them and to my kids, to my wife. My thirteen-year old son, he knows that his dad loves him. Now, he doesn’t tell me this very often, he loves me unfortunately. I always living for it, but I mean I grab them and wrestle them and I kiss them on the head telling them I love them multiple times.
My wife, I always tell her that I love her and I’m thankful for her that she’s doing a great job because – because many times I do forget and many times I do take things for granted and many times I do, you know, I’m like any other guy out there. But my family will always know, my brothers, my sisters, my mom, a lot of my friends I’ve told them I love them you know. Why? Because we’re all – we’re all dead at the end of the day. It’s coming for us.
And, the regret that people have and that you hear is that they didn’t let people that they know who mean a lot to them let them know that they love them. And, I’ve lost that whole pride thing, it’s not, you know, it’s just something that I guess, you know, singing off, you know, doubt. It’s just one of those things that no one that I care about will not know that I care about them.
And so, I try to be a very positive person. With my team, I have it – I have with my team because I usually schedule meetings with them and I schedule other things to happen and that’s how I kind of follow. I knew that I just show up, but I’m always trying to be the positive force with my team because they’re going to have enough things and – and I do let them know things are the level they need to be at. I have very high expectations. But, my habits, again, are consistently I try to be a positive person. I’m try – I’m – whenever I’m driving somewhere, I always set it up so I’ve got a few people I’ve got on speed dial that I haven’t talked to for awhile and I’m just checking in how is their life.
So, those are to me the most important habits are the ones that I’m outward we – outwardly projecting positive – positive thoughts, positive energy, and putting this stuff out there and it’s – what’s cool is it comes right back and that what keeps me really motivated.
Now, when it comes to like this other schedule like, you know, other things in life, I would like to say I wake up at 5:00 AM go straight to the gym and, you know, have a monster workout and have a monster – that doesn’t always happen. I have to admit that I’ve really like I’m sleeping in a bit more and I actually kind of enjoy it. My kids are homeschooled and we just – we just – but we do try to have at least two meals a day at the house with my family. And so, tonight we’ll have a nice dinner, we had a good breakfast.
I would say I’ve got an office 800 meters from my house. I don’t have to do this, but I do it because all my work stays here. So, I have another habit that work doesn’t follow me home. In fact, I can’t log in I couldn’t do this interview from my house, I don’t have a computer at my house that would allow me to do this. I don’t have anything on my phone like social media that’s going to interrupt my day with my kids. Like I do have like a work phone and the stuff is here, but those are probably my – my habits are the systems I’ve created that allow me to, again, try – I try to be really effective maybe. Every computer I try to keep at least two screens.
Another thing is I don’t spend time in e-mail. I’ve got two assistants and, again, I run a company and it’s internet-focused, so we get a lot of messages about three hundred unique messages a day from on YouTube from e-mails. At least a hundred and fifty e-mails, you know, Facebook comments, LinkedIn messages. I get guys that I served with and, you know I’ve got AA, you know, was a track guy the other day was like, Antonio, I haven’t heard from you forever man. What’s going on?
And so, what I’ve got my assistants go through and they wade through 95% of those messages. And every day I come in to my inbox and what does it have? I’ve got one big message of Antonio, these are the – these were the messages I couldn’t answer for you. So, my assistants and, again, I’ve got two of them that do this, they just monitor and clean up my e-mail full time.
And, the vast majority of messages I’ve given them set of rules, they can handle that — that type of work. But, the – the nine to ten messages I see a day are the really are the ones that, you know, maybe it’s a vet. A lot of times like that’s always come to me, I mean the one that served always gets the priority. And it’s like this guy has this question or he’s curious about this or this or you’ve got, you know, this message from somebody I haven’t heard from for a long time.
And then, I’ll just simply record it – audio record it usually using Jing, it’s a screencast and it limits itself to five minutes and I just quickly answer all those questions in five minutes and then, boom, I’m done with e-mails.
Antonio: So, what that does is it frees me up to focus in on what’s important. And what’s important in my business is making video, is coming up with topics for video, having meetings with VIPs usually it’s going to be my business partners, and then directing my team and my company in the direction it needs to go. And then, if I can do that, the day is a win.
Chris: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. The power of systemization and the power of just – just building systems in your life just to be able to focus on what’s important and get rid of all that – that extra stuff. That’s definitely solid advice there.
We got just a couple of minutes left. I want to ask you quickly what are – where is Real Men Real Style heading over the next year and over the next five years? What direct – you got your – your videos, you have your courses, you have the Menfluential Conference, where are you guys going?
Antonio: Yeah. I would say, you know, my goal maybe in the next five years, I have given my – I’m looking also at twenty five years ahead is to really – is to be the number one resource in the world for men’s information in style. You know it’s like so I look at Esquire was, I look at companies like GQ and I really feel like I missed they ball in many ways. They – they’ve lost touch, I mean you can’t – they just – they’re cool magazines at times, but other times like they put in like $5,000 suit which are cool, but most of us can’t – I mean that – that’s just outside of most people’s budget. I don’t understand why would I spend $5,000 on a suit? And does GQ, you know, or Esquire have my interest in mind?
And so, my goal is to dominate become being number one channel across all platforms cumulatively for the men’s style space. So, we do well on YouTube. We’re about, you know, we’re number two I would say over there. You know my friend, Aaron Marino is number one, so it’s a healthy competition and we’re partners on other things.
So, you could say I like – what but I get excited about is, you know, the infographics we put out. The way we’re growing our website how we continue to get larger there, all the articles we continue to put out. Instagram, we’re building up there, Pinterest, we have a podcast. I mean there are just so many different platforms that I’m growing on. And I get excited just thinking that this business is going to continue to grow.
Now, it’s not always going to be with me and in fact, one big change people are going to see with the company is I’m going to kind of move my – like any good systemization in person I realized I am the bottleneck in many parts of my business, so I see over the next five years myself becoming less of the face of the company and me being able to bring in more people that can I think better represent my audience and better serve them.
Chris: Awesome. Yeah, definitely lesson on scaling there and I see why you’re – why you’re reading the scaling book on building that growth and, you know, definitely things that a lot of people out there who are running their own businesses can learn from.
Antonio, do you have any last words for the audience? I think this has been a fantastic conversation and, again, I want to thank you for coming on. Do you have any last – last bits of advice or – or things you want to get out to the audience before we go?
Antonio: You know I just know we got a veteran audience and so, what I would stress to them is don’t be afraid if you’re holding back on – you know it’s – one thing you get out you figure out pretty quickly is that, you know, if you got out as a light bird or you got out as an E3, who you were in the military doesn’t define you as you are, you know, when you – when you get out. You do lose your rank, you do, you know, but at the same time you never lose your experience and everything you learned.
And, I do think that a lot of guys getting out, it is an amazing opportunity for them to recreate themselves and to rebuild who they are. So, don’t be afraid to – and I think one of the things that they don’t see all the time is see another veteran who is ahead of you in an industry you want to be in and reach out to that guy or that gal and – and talk to them and, you know, because they’re going to make time for you. I could tell you that I know, you know, guys like John Dumas made time for veterans. I made time for veterans. And it’s something that veterans want to see other vets succeed and so, don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
Chris: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Antonio, again, I want to thank you so much for coming on. I want to wish you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas to you and your family. And everyone out there, there has been so many lessons that Antonio has given us today and you know really take this to heart. You know we talked about some of the lessons he gave at the beginning as far as finding mentors, you know running your own business, finding your purpose in this life, focusing on what’s important and think about how many times a day you worry about things that aren’t going to contribute to your success or aren’t going to contribute to your personal growth.
And, if you want to check out Antonio, we’re going to have all of his links up on our show notes. If you want to check out the YouTube channel, check out his website, check out some of his amazing courses. And, to each and everybody out there, make sure you get out there apply this knowledge and live your best life.
Hey, guys, I hope you enjoy that episode with Antonio from Real Men Real Style. You know it brings a little joy to my heart every time I see somebody from the veteran community who’s having so much success and who was having such a positive impact on the world.
And if you’re looking to connect with Antonio or if you’re looking to connect with Real Men Real Style, we’ll have all the links for his social media, his website, his YouTube channel up on the show notes for this episode.
And, you know, seriously you got so many awesome pieces of advice from Antonio in this episode, I really want you guys to take some action and go out there and apply at least one thing to your life. Think about what you can do to move yourself forward at this moment. Every single moment counts. We have so many brothers and sisters in arms who aren’t here today because they gave their lives for our country and for our nation and we owe it to them to live our best lives to do everything we can to live the best life possible.
So, with that, I want to wish you all really Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy New Year though I’ll probably talk to you before the New Year. And, seriously really take every moment as it comes. Love your family, spend time with them, enjoy these days because someday you’re going to look back at where you’re at right now and you’re going to say to yourself, man, I wish I was that young again even if you feel like you’re old, I promise you you will.
So, with that, guys, thank you for listening and I will talk to you all very soon.
This post is an interview transcript. Click here to listen to the full interview with Chris Albert of Warrior Soul Agoge