Silicon Valley is known for its casual dress code, and its disregard for adhering to established societal norms — sticking it’s cotton poly blend finger up to the suit and tie brigade that populates Wall Street. Mark Zuckerberg’s style is perhaps the most famous of all tech CEO’s, seeing that he consistently wears the same wardrobe, and outfit of gray t-shirt, jeans, and sweatshirts. “I want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” he said in a video Q & A. “I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life, so that way I can dedicate all of my energy towards just building the best products and services.”
But there’s more meaning to his choice — even, his chosen lack of choice, than is immediately obvious. To answer this, I turned to a Quora thread, where Silicon Valley entrepreneurs weighed in on Zuck’s sartorial choices. The question posed was just why does Mark Zuckerberg live in the same clothes, especially when meeting with big-name investors?
Phil Darnowsky, an investor and co-founder says:
“To show them who’s boss. A small fraction of men enjoy wearing suits, but for most it is a grim necessity imposed on them by their employer. By showing up dressed casually while the money-men wore suits, he sent the message that he is not bound by their sartorial requirements.”
Software engineer Garrett A.Maring writes:
“The same reason Steve Jobs would show up to meetings in his signature black shirt and jeans in his later days at Apple AAPL -0.76%. It’s probably not to make a statement about wealth (“Look at me, I’m rich so I can dress how I want.”)
Mark is one of the most successful CEOs in the world and he certainly doesn’t walk into meetings with investors thinking they are inferior. He was quoted when asked about his attire saying, “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”
So when he wears simple clothes, or the same clothes, it’s because he is either consciously wanting to limit the “frivolous decisions” in his life, or as was probably the case in the earlier days, his clothes were the last thing on his mind.”
Entrepreneur and engineer Cameron Preston, has a different take on this.
“Dressing down is a form of egotism that is highly prevalent in the developer community. The attitude is “It’s all about me” – “I don’t care about what other people think” hidden under the guise of “it’s about my skills not what I wear”.
People that care about other people (have a natural empathy) will have an easier time seeing how they are experienced visually by other people. They will want to create a more uplifting, and beautiful environment for other people to experience in all their senses.
In fact, you can see this reflecting in the business model of Facebook FB +0.49% itself. An empathetic business would allow people who share, say, images, to maintain the right to the images they’ve created and enhanced the digital experience of the other users on the sites. And perhaps allow them to earn extra money from those images if Facebook uses them for marketing purposes. Instead we have an “all about me” business that retains complete ownership and more:
Specifically for photos and video uploaded to the site, Facebook has a license to use your content in any way it sees fit, with a license that goes beyond merely covering the operation of the service in its current form. Facebook can transfer or sub-license its rights over a user’s content to another company or organization if needed. Facebook’s license does not end upon the deactivation or deletion of a user’s account, content is only released from this license once all other users that have interacted with the content have also broken their ties with it (for example, a photo or video shared or tagged with a group of friends). [via]
That’s the true symbolism in the hoodie. It’s all about me and my privilege.
Here’s another way to look at it.
Would a woman where jeans and a hoodie to an investor meeting?
Would a person of color where jeans and a hoodie to an investor meeting?
Would a LGBT where jeans and a hoodie to an investor meeting?”