Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair

The times, they are a changing, especially in the corner office.

Jonathan Schwartz, the new president and chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems, sports a ponytail in today’s New York Times photo. How cool is that? I’m not sure, but I have to believe Schwartz is the first official "long-hair" to join the exclusive Fortune 500 CEO club.J_schwartz_2

The hirsute leader’s unconventional appearance has to be unsettling to some of America’s more conservative business cultures (Disney and IBM come to mind). But, I think it’s totally liberating and very cool of Sun’s board to not care about Schwartz and his locks. For one thing, it fits the Silicon Valley/technology industry’s counter-culture philosophy. For another, it sets a nice tone for the corporate culture within Sun.

I remember working for a couple of CEO’s who would absolutely flip out if someone violated the unwritten dress code. One CEO went ape on a poor guy who once wore a pink shirt to the office and questioned his manhood right in front of the entire office. Another CEO counseled me to only buy my suits from Brooks Brothers and to steer clear of "….that Italian shit." He said Corporate America wore Brooks and expected its agency executives to do the same.

Happily, the times they are a changing. I, for one, am glad that Schwartz is on the scene and figuratively flinging his ponytail in the face of convention. If I had a few more locks to work with, I’d do the exact same thing.

6 thoughts on “Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair

  1. I don’t know about you, guys, but I am absolutely SMITTEN by muscular mature men with long hair! Ponytail is kinda chic, also, because nowadays it requires a lot of courage from a man to wear it. After all, Samson’s strength was in his hair!

  2. I figure Sun’s board had more pressing concerns than the length of Schwartz’s hair — like a sagging bottom line. Let’s hope he delivers. Not only will it help Sun, it might encourage a trend toward more corporate leaders letting their hair down, so to speak.

  3. Dave Copithorne had a ponytail when he was at Porter Novelli and it was a nice contrast to the more conservative cut Bob Druckenmiller sported. But interestingly, you were more likely to see Dave in a Brioni suit and Druck in Eddie Bauer khakis!

  4. I’d have to agree with you on this one, RepMan. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with projecting a version of one’s true image in today’s Corporate America. That said, I do think there’s a line, a la last year’s “flip flops” in the White House. What I like about Schwartz’s headshot is that while he does have a ponytail, he’s still dressed in appropriate business attire.
    As you pointed out, it’s ridiculous to think “appropriate attire” means execs need to wear only Brooks Brothers or shirts of a certain palette. And, women execs shouldn’t have to abide by the pants suit versus skirt suit/long hair versus shoulder-length or short hair rules. Corporate American should be comfortable with professionals projecting presentable images of who they truly are–especially if they have the talent to back it up!