I am 44 and beautiful. In fact, I get better with age.
I was on the phone the other day with my Uncle John and he reminded me how good I look so there’s that.
I guess that isn’t the point of this post. So here is the point. I polled several colleagues, business partners, friends and family and asked these men the same question:
“What should every man over 30 own?”
I boiled down the answers to these. I must point out that outside of the Bible, the rest are in no particular order. Oh, and I added a little commentary after each.
- The Bible – Not sure how much I need to share here except that it is the single most important book ever written, regardless of your faith. It shaped our world in pretty much every way possible. It is the best selling book in the world, in history, and has transformed people from the inside out, and probably outside in. Get one if you don’t have it. You should read it too.
- Chef Knife – There is much debate on how many knives a person should own. My friend Phil as at least 3 super legit sets of Japanese knives that would make anyone who wants to beat out the Cutco demo-guy at the county fair drool. If you can only have one though, get a 10 or 12 inch chef knife. You should be able to cut up all veg, animal, and even bread with it. If you need another, get a good serrated bread knife.
- Leatherman/Multi tool – That Uncle I mentioned, he had one of these and I think he used it for literally everything, including picking his nose. When we were kids, he was our Youth Pastor and he powered through some of the loud Christian rock concerts we went to with his trusty ear plugs. He would joke that he pushed them in so far that they ‘fell in.’ I think he used his leatherman to pull them out. But seriously, You can do so many basic fixing, tweaking, opening, and breaking things, that if you don’t want to build a full tool box (more later on that), get one of these and put in your glove compartment or if you are a hip white collar warrior like me, in your briefcase.
- Bar Set – I didn’t even get part of a bar set until I was well into my 30s. Late bloomer or whatever. I know not everyone drinks alcohol or needs to know how to make a cocktail officially, but I do think there is something sort of gentlemanly about being able to make a few for your guests. Having the basics, a cocktail spoon, a jigger, and some way mix is definitely a nice to have around, oh and they can be cheap. I see them at Value Village all the time.
- Wine Key – Same as above but probably more necessary. I know a lot of people that don’t like drinking cocktails but aren’t averse to having a glass of wine now and again, especially if someone in the family gives them a bottle as a gift. Knowing how to use the wine key, and serving a glass to your guests, I think, is a good thing.
- Black and Brown pair of shoes and socks – For matching…right?
- At Least 3 Ties – Similar to the other you-have-to-look-nice-once-in-awhile program. Have one that goes well with blue slacks, black, and maybe a bonus for khaki.
- Grooming Kit – I didn’t believe it but it is true. The older a man gets the more hairs show up in weird places. I used to make fun of my dad…now I am him. That sort of stinks but I think you get it. Trim the nails, pull out the wayward hair out of your nose and generally keep yourself together man!
- Jumper Cables – It is almost funny (not really), how often I have used jumper cables, both needed for me and some of the great vehicles I have owned (or my flakiness), and even more for friends, family, and strangers in need as well. Most cars have a spot you can easily store a little kit to keep for yourself and when you need to be the hero. Remember red on red (positive) and black on black (negative).
- Journal – Having a place to write goals, dreams, thoughts, wants, desires, sketches, ideas and hair-brained schemes is an important must-have. Online is fine but there is something great about paper and pen or pencil. Have at least something to capture that mind of yours.
- First Aid Kit – The Scout motto is to Be Prepared. I think you should have a handy, easy-to-find first aid kit not only for yourself but to be ready for when your friend or kid gets hurt too. Good idea to regularly check on it to make sure you have what you need. Bonus points for things like Neosporin and bee sting kits.
- Tool Box – Minimum containing the followings: tape measure, hammer, two screwdrivers, crescent wrench, vice grips. If you don’t know what these are or how to use them, call your dad. If he isn’t around, call another guy you look up to and respect.
- Johnny Cash Album – Not trying to get into a debate on GOAT but Cash has a unique way of uniting a lot of people. Gospel lover, hippies, rockers, R&B lovers, you name it, pretty much all of them like John. Knowing a couple of his hits will make a man out of you yet.
- Black and Brown Belt – Having one of each is important. Like the discussions about socks, pants, and suits, the rule of thumb goes that your belt should match your shoes. You WILL have to look nice at some point so nice to be ready.
- Coffee Brewer (french press, aero, pour over) – I have written a fair amount about coffee and I have a post for the proper way to make a French Press, Aero Press, Pour Over, and a few other ways but you should have at least some consistent method to make coffee at home, even if you get your commuter cup on the way to work. Your dad, when he inevitably shows up, will want a cup so you might have a way to make him one and make it well. My personal favorite is the Aero Press.
- Gun – Although I don’t personally own one, my boys do. I used to but my dad sold it (still struggling through that one – it was a single shot break action .410 gauge shotgun). I will own one again.
- Car/Truck – I know that the modern “boy/man” may feel this is a little old fashioned. I mean, can’t we all take public transit or my personal favorite, ride our bike? Look, I like bikes. I actually love them and appreciate them but am sick and tired of those that intentionally get in the way of cars. Watch this. Get a car so you can take someone somewhere.
- Toothbrush – Not sure why this one came up so often. I mean, should be a given right? Well, apparently not. So get one man!
- Work Pants – My mom used to tell me when my jeans were torn up (read only pair), she said I should use my beat up ones to play outside or for when I cut firewood with my dad, in other words, work pants. Today even with my office job, I have a nice sturdy pair of Duluths that love to wear on the weekend to do whatever work we have around the house. It is nice to have a pair that I can count on and you should too.
- Passport – This is important for two reasons. One, to show you actually went through the process of applying, snapping pics, and receiving clearance to travel is kind of a good thing, but more importantly (and two), it allows you to get out North America! EVERYONE should travel outside of the US. Learn a lot, see a lot, experience something different. It will impact your perspective, for good.
- Five Life Changing Books – in addition to the Bible, I think all men should have at least 5 other life-changing books in their library. May I suggest a couple? Man’s Search for Meaning, The Greatest Salesman in the World, How to Win Friend’s and Influence People, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Maximized Manhood, Think and Grow Rich, They Call Me Coach and a host of others.
- Cuff Links – Like the rest of my fashion advice, take it with a grain of salt, but I really do think that having a nice shirt that requires cuff links over buttons, is pretty sweet. I am fortunate to have had a couple of nice pair that I have since given to my boys. My son Jackson has some awesome ones he picked up at St. James Gate in Dublin of the toucan bird Guinness uses in their ads.
- Leather Wallet – There a lot of ways for guys to carry their cash, cards and IDs these days but having a nice, reliable leather wallet is pretty good. I don’t know that we need to have those super fat ones that our dads and uncles carried (surprised their butt cheeks aren’t beat up), but something simple and made of a nice leather. I had a Kenneth Cole one for over 15 years and now have a simple one piece leather with Smith plaid that I got at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. My oldest son Nate just got one for his birthday that was repurposed from an old baseball glove!
- Golf Clubs – I know not everyone likes golf, or for that matter can afford to play it consistently but one thing is true…if you are a man, you will eventually be asked to play in some sort of golf tournament or be invited by some of the guys to run around the links. Having a basic set is nice for that once a year round, even if you aren’t good. You might take lessons too btw. Don’t embarrass yourself.
- Dog – I had a dog my entire childhood and besides a few months right before Nate was born (cocker named Ireland), I didn’t “own” a dog until I was in my 40s. Having a dog, loving a dog, and taking care of a dog are good things, especially if you have kids. Our current version is an English Lab named Kuma. Means “bear” in Japanese and something else entirely in Swahili come to find out…
- A Nice Suit or Sport Coat – They say you need at least one for “marryings” and “buryings” but I suggest having one for a job interview, the occasional fancy dinner or banquet, and your friend’s weddings since they will probably get married before you do.
- House – If you can, you should. If you need the money to buy it, call me.
- Telephone – Funny but true. Own a phone so you can call someone who cares, even if it is just your mom.
- Retirement Fund – I got really great advice when I got my first job out of college and that was to save 10% of my earnings, every paycheck. Well I started, and as life happened, used a bunch of it. But the principle is sound and should be followed! Save man save!
- Higher Quality Bed Sheets – This is a funny one that actually came up a couple of times and caught me off guard but as I think about it, it is a really good idea to upgrade your sheets at some point, especially if still using the ones your mom sent with you to college.