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.
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.