Being Cool On The Inside? Outside? or Both?

Being cool and being thought of as cool are two different things. It is funny how many people don’t get that.

Recently my friend’s teenager was asking me about being cool. We started talking about CoolToys and things that would be good for the show. The conversation went all over the board. Then the right question came up. What is really cool? That alone is an interesting question because we think we know it when we see it yet so few of us truly are. I sat and pondered the why.

Outside Cool

Outside cool is what we can buy. Botox lips, name brand sneakers, fancy watches and cars fit the bill. There is a reason that a sweatshirt from Early Bum is $50 and one from Gucci can run $500 or more. There is an instant image of “cool” when you see that Gucci sweatshirt. Gucci spends millions on ads to help us think “cool” when we see the Gucci colors and name.

In the world of business, we call it the trappings of success. Robert Kiyosaki noted in one of his “Rich Dad” books that he switched from Porsche to Ferrari because anyone with a Mastercard could drive a Porsche. Sadly now that is true of a gently used Ferrari. In my area there is a standing joke about young people in supercars with an instagram name on the window. We say that they live on their mother’s couch and hope to make the next lease payment on the car. All the “cool” is on the outside.

On the outside, these “things” are cool but what about the person on the inside? Are they cool or a poser in a facade of wanna be cool? The fashion industry has figured out, that it doesn’t matter. Make it cool, make it expensive and get the money. Let people feel cool for a minute.

Tattoos are a great example of outside cool. Once reserved for sailors and scoundrels to tell a story about a life once forgotten, tattoos are now basic cool. Like all outside cool things though, once everyone has seen it the cool wears off pretty quick. You can’t wear the same Gucci shoes forever any more than a tattoo will stay cool forever. Tattoos do however have the ability to connect to inside cool in a way other things can’t.

Inside Cool

No I don’t mean botox. Even though it is injected inside you, it is still cool that shows on the outside. Personally the duck lip thing is ridiculous but someone spends millions to convince people it is cool and then we all need more injectables.

During an interview some time ago, L.L. Cool J said “Discipline is Money”. He was right, and he is cool both inside and outside. The thing that makes a Ferrari a cool car, isn’t the car. It is the highly disciplined people that design them, build them, race them and sell them. Talk to a sales person at Porsche, Ferrari or Aston Martin, then go to the local CarMax. Who is more disciplined? Who makes more money? The people that design and build Porsche’s, Ferrari’s and Astons are the real cool that make the cars cool. Without them we would all be driving a square box like a Yugo.

Going back to tattoos. A navy SEAL with a trident on his arm has a tattoo that connects inside cool to outside cool. When you see the tattoo, you know you are looking at a highly disciplined human that is super cool on the inside and probably doesn’t care what you think anyway. Albert Einstein was one of those cool people that changed the world and yet he clearly didn’t care about his coiffure.

Some people never do the work to become inside cool, they work and spend every penny they have to be outside cool and get the attention. When you have inside cool, you have confidence. LL Cool J started out wearing a lot of bling but now he still looks cool in a long sleeved shirt and jeans. Why? Because his inner cool is that strong.

Being Cool Inside and Outside.

LL Cool J is an interesting one to watch. He started off with almost nothing but a will to get the job done. 50 Cent was the same way. I tend to listen to a lot more metal music, but I’d have a beer with guys like Cool J and 50 Cent every day. People think of musical celebrities as drug riddled bums that got lucky. The reality is that every musician I have ever met has been a disciplined machine.

Navy SEALS are among the most disciplined people I know. Most of them don’t show up to BUDS in Gucci shoes rolling a LV suitcase. Over a period of years they build skill, focus and discipline that makes them cool. they leave the Navy with confidence and discipline that lets them succeed in just about any venture in life. When you see people who ooze inside cool, they have it on the outside and they don’t need to buy it.

In the show Billionaires they mention that truly rich don’t wear visible brands. Plain ball caps are the chapeau of preference. Cool J might have said that Discipline is Money, but Discipline is also the cool that connects the cool inside of you to the cool the outside world sees. Without inside cool, you are nothing more than a temporary advertisement for the stuff you have on the outside.

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