Presence-Men, Professional Presence

Mark Zuckerberg’s Sartorial Communication

With 2 billion Facebook users worldwide, it’s hardly a surprise that many would tune in to hear Mark Zuckerberg testify. I don’t know how many people watched or listened. But, I sure can tell you what I think of Mark Zuckerberg’s sartorial communication. Without doubt, U.S. Senators and the general public had eyes and ears focused on Facebook’s founder and C.E.O. And, with good reason. After all, third party data misuse and user base distrust are why Congress called Mr. Zuckerberg to Washington, D.C.

Buttoning up for another round of questions from U.S. Senators during the Facebook hearing.

I say all eyes and ears were upon him because those following wanted to hear what he had to say. But, when we hear what someone has to say, we do so while also seeing what he says.

Of course, there are exceptions to the visual rule. Personally, I was unable to watch him testify live from Capitol Hill because I was with clients in Silicon Valley. However, driving between appointments, I had chunks of time available to listen to the testimony.

I contend that how a person dresses comes across even when we cannot see him as he speaks. In other words, I totally knew that Mark Zuckerberg’s sartorial communication rose to the daunting occasion of speaking before Congress. Without seeing him, I heard his words and his demeanor. I could tell that he came prepared and brought his A-game. In this instance, his attire subliminally affected his speech cadence and vocal tone. He was purposeful, not casual. And, so was his clothing.

Mark Zuckerberg’s sartorial communication is mostly on point. The dark navy suit conveys that he is the executive in charge. It’s the ultimate color in trustworthiness. I predicted to the NYT reporter that a purple tie could convey that he’s doing some soul searching.

When my appointments wrapped up for the day, I tuned in to catch the follow up coverage. So, I wanted to see what he wore. The ensemble was a dark navy suit with notch lapels, crisp white spread collar shirt, and light purple-blue woven tie. Mark Zuckerberg’s sartorial communication was on point. He was both apologetic, and conciliatory. He was respectful and sincere. The words from his mouth and the clothes on his back matched in tone and candor.

It wasn’t entirely perfect, though. The suit looked a bit roomy on him. And the knot of his tie was too loose. Part of his message was about tightening up how Facebook does business. A more sartorially tied knot, tighter with a dimple, would have demonstrated his readiness to do that hard work. Yes, it’s symbolic. But, this is what onlookers wanted to see. Is he a man of his word?

I know that Zuckerberg doesn’t get props for dressing like this. But, he’s certainly no fool. I just knew that he would wear a suit to the hearing. Even though I do think he did it pretty well, I’d have taken him a bit further with his look. This won’t be the last time he’s in the white hot spot light. He still has time to do even better.

Early Monday afternoon, I was in the ladies’ shoe salon at Neiman Marcus in Palo Alto. My phone rang, and the number was from New York City. It was a reporter from the New York Times asking my opinion about what Zuckerberg should wear. I answered many questions and went into great detail about things like tie color with the reporter. The article quoted my assertion that Zuckerberg knew people would be on the lookout to see how he’d look.

Prior to Zuckerberg’s testimony, Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s new chief economic adviser had scathing words about Mark Zuckerberg’s sartorial communication. Kudlow opined that he could help Zuckerberg “clean up his act.” Ouch. Maybe he ought to stick to economic advising and leave the sartorial stuff to a sensitive, qualified professional like me.

Facebook, with Mark Zuckerberg leading the way for his company, has a lot of work ahead of itself. This Senate audience and his testimony will end. Things will go back to normal, so to speak. But, things will change. They need to. And, I think that it’s not just a tightening up of policies and practices at the company that will evolve. Based on Zuckerberg’s comments, whatever changes take place, I imagine that the company intends to make the service better.

But, another shift could also now take place, and it would symbolize a new day for Facebook. And, for Mark Zuckerberg. It’s time that he reserves T-shirts, khakis, and jeans for the weekend. It’s time that Mark Zuckerberg’s sartorial communication constantly demonstrates that he and his company have immediately taken action and matured. Hey Mark: please, call me. I’m the man for the job.