March 14, 2008, - 1:06 pm

Quote of the Day: In Case You Were Wondering . . . (McCain Could be First “Bald” President?!)

By Debbie Schlussel
. . . America’s top CEOs would rather be bald than short. But in politics, baldness is a no go. USA Today did a survey of America’s CEOs to uncover the truth on the burning issue of our day. And not only that, the newspaper made this the cover story of its “Money” section. Yup, that’s the distinction between the Wall Street Journal and McPaper.
And while the topic and article are inane and useless in the scheme of things, it’s still interesting. USA Today claims that hair–or lack of it–affects political prospects, but not those in the business world. And you can’t miss this from 5-foot, ten-inch, bald Howard Behar–former president of Starbucks, North America:

I mean, look at Mitt Romney. Lots of hair. Tall and good-looking. Sure didn’t help him. Compare him to the Dalai Lama: short, no hair and not exactly a looker. Just call me the Dalai Behar.

Schlussel Flashback: Hair Club For Men Picked Romney


Height vs. Pate:

Height More Important in Business, Hair More Important in Politics


CEOs say being bald doesn’t impede success and, given a choice, it’s better to be bald than short. So widely held is this conventional wisdom among top executives that when asked to choose, most CEOs say they’d take 2 more inches of height over a full head of Robert Redford hair.
Even most bald CEOs, including many who are both tall and bald, would choose to be taller. “Lack of hair can only mean the brain is busy with more important functions,” says Murray Martin, the 5-foot-8 CEO of $5.7 billion Pitney Bowes, who is being generous when he describes his hair as “thinning.”
[DS: Previous to this entry, reader Jonathan wrote me:

Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.]

“I don’t believe it ever (affected) my career. But as I progressed, it became less and less of an issue until it is now a point of pride and a personal branding advantage,” says Steve Carley, the 6-foot-1 bald CEO of El Pollo Loco. “It encourages approachability.” . . .
It’s not that being short is a career launching pad. Plenty of studies have found that taller men make more money, gain more success and attract more women. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell says 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs are 6-foot-2 and taller – vs. just 4% of all men.
Bald men are a much bigger slice of the general population. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery estimates that 50% of Caucasian men older than 45 and 60% older than 60 have clinical balding. Stress can cause hair to fall out, so all things being equal, the percentage of bald leaders might be expected to be a little higher than average. Yet:
* If elected, John McCain would be the first bald U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower. [DS: McCain is bald?!] To be fair, baldness, unlike height, can be a matter of opinion. At 71, some might say McCain is doing OK in the hair department for his age group. But pictures of 42 presidents indicate that less than 25% were bald or balding, when statistically it should be at least half.
* There are 41 male state governors. Those who are bald or balding make up less than 20% and, yes, that includes the aptly named John Baldacci of Maine. The hair-loss club dropped a governor Wednesday when New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced he would resign after being linked as a client to a prostitution ring. He will be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who is not bald. Only 10% to 20% of the 84 male U.S. senators are bald or balding.
* Among corporate CEOs, women run four of the largest 125 companies on the Fortune 500. USA TODAY examined photos of the men and considered about 25% to be bald or balding. Bald men running the nation’s largest companies include Chevron’s David O’Reilly, Home Depot’s Francis Blake, Morgan Stanley’s John Mack and Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein. . . .
USA TODAY surveyed its panel of CEOs, retired CEOs and leading executives. There was a lower response rate than for surveys on other topics, but 95% of the 74 who responded said, if given a choice, they would rather be bald than short. More telling is that the 31 CEOs who identified themselves as bald or “headed in that direction” in the unscientific survey were unanimous in saying that being vertically challenged is more detrimental to an aspiring executive’s career.

I’m still focusing on the claim that “John McCain is bald.” Huh? He’s not exactly a member of the Hair Club For Men just yet. Then, there’s the issue this article didn’t address: How many female U.S. politicians and business world execs are going bald?

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8 Responses

I don’t find myself being limited in what I want to do, but the perception of others is that I’m less capable because I’m short. I’m 5’4″ in my stocking feet and yet I’ve managed to graduate from the Naval Academy, serve in the submarine force, earn an MBA and a CFA. My experience in the dating world is that most women are not interested in dating a man who is shorter than them.
Luckily for my 12 year old son (who is almost as tall as me), he is projected to be 5’10” to 6′. I just hope he won’t be prematurely bald.

Dandy Walker on March 14, 2008 at 4:01 pm

One advantage of being short is that shorter men have a lower risk of prostate cancer. This is described in various Harvard health publications, and is discussed on the website:
in the section dealing with prostate cancer risk. This does not mean that taller men will get prostate cancer, or even that it is likely that they will get it, but according to Harvard, they do have a higher risk. In order to put themselves at lower risk, they should follow the recommendations for a healthy lifestyle discussed in the site.

c f on March 14, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Presidents who pretty much had the same amount of baldness as McCain: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Dwight Eisenhower. Somebody’s got to check their history books.

sanantonioins on March 15, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Who comes up with this crap? A quick perusal of pics of all the presidents suggests that many of them could be considered “balding” at least half. A few were wearing wigs. Some of the pictures are paintings and not photos and I suspect some “artistic” liberty taken. All of the pictures are (of course) frontal, but I suggest a better indication of “balding” might be gleaned from looking at the back of their heads. For what its worth 38 of 43 have blue eyes.
P.S. Debbie, great blogg site. Always top notch.

tonynoboloney on March 16, 2008 at 1:17 am

Also bald/balding were McKinley, Gerald Ford, LBJ. Carter’s head, however, is bald on the inside.

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