in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: July 8, 2024

Podcast #1000! Rules for the Modern Man

Fifteen years and more than 200 million downloads later, this episode marks the 1,000th installment of the Art of Manliness podcast! It begins with a bit of a retrospective on the podcast and then segues into an interview with one of the show’s earliest guests: Walker Lamond, author of Rules for My Unborn Son. Walker and I revisit the origins of the book and the early days of the internet and have a fun discussion of which of his rules have become obsolete and which remain evergreen. Tune in and enjoy!

A big thanks to our listeners for helping us reach this cool milestone. The support is deeply appreciated!

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Read the Transcript

Brett Mckay: Brett McKay here and welcome to the 1000th episode of The Art of Manliness podcast. Yes, a thousand episodes. That’s a really cool milestone. If you listen to the podcast you know I primarily interview authors of books and in preparation for the interview, I read the entire book to get ready for my conversation with that author. So a thousand episodes represents my reading nearly a thousand books, which is pretty cool to think about. It’s been a long and great journey. If you would have told me 16 years ago when I was in law school that I would have been hosting a podcast for my career in 2024, I would have said, you’re crazy. I’m gonna be an oil and gas attorney in Tulsa. What are you, what are you talking about? So I thought it’d be fun before we get to today’s interview to do a brief retrospective of The Art of Manliness podcast. I started The Art of Manliness blog in 2008 when I was in law school at University of Tulsa. I started it ’cause I wanted to create the men’s magazine that I’d wanna read. Didn’t like the men’s magazines out there. So I was like, Hey, you know that? I’m gonna make the men’s magazine that I would wanna read.

So we put out, started putting out text articles. A lot of men resonated with what we were doing. They enjoyed what we were putting out there. Then in 2009, I decided to start a podcast. I was listening to podcasts. I enjoyed the format. I thought it’d be a great way to interview authors of books that I enjoyed. So I started the podcast at the time. Podcasting was a relatively new format. I don’t think people knew what podcasts were supposed to be. I had no clue what I was doing. There wasn’t the technology or the infrastructure that exists today in the podcasting world. So I was figuring things out on my own. I had to cobble together this podcasting setup. So I bought this crappy USB microphone ’cause that’s all I could afford. And the technology didn’t exist at the time to do remote interviews in a way so that your guests audio sounded good. So I had to use Skype on my laptop and call the guest on their landline or their cell phone. So the sound quality, the audio quality is really bad.

It sounded like AM radio. Here’s a sample of the very first episode we published. This was published September 2009. I talked to Marcus Brotherton, who’s been a guest on the podcast several times. He’s also written quite a few articles on Art of Manliness. I was talking to him about his book, We Who Are Alive and Still Remain. It’s about the band of brothers. So here you go. Take a listen.

Brett McKay here, and welcome to the inaugural episode of The Art of Manliness podcast. And I gotta say, I’m really excited about this. I’ve been wanting to do a podcast for quite some time. And we’ve been getting emails from you all requesting that we start a podcast for The Art of Manliness. And so here we are, we’re doing it. And to give you an idea of what we have in mind with the podcast, we’re going to do an episode once a week. They’re going to be between 20 and 30 minutes long. And it’s not going to be me just pontificating and blabbering on about what I think is manly or whatever. No, I wouldn’t do that to you all. What we plan on doing is bringing in experts, authors, personalities, and Art of Manliness readers, you all who read the blog, and talk to them and discuss with them issues and topics of interest to men, ask them what manliness means to them, and hopefully get some advice and get some tips on how to be better husbands, better fathers, and all around better men.

So that’s the goal of the show. And I’m looking forward to it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the first episode of The Art of Manliness podcast. Okay, few observations there. First, why did I sound like I was 12 years old? I was 25 at the time, so I should have been done with puberty, but I guess I wasn’t. That’s interesting. Number two, I really do appreciate the earnestness of young 25 year old Brett. I could tell I was excited about this new thing. So I really do appreciate that. And then three, we’ll talk about the intro music. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while now, you are familiar with our original intro music. People either love it or hate it. That song is a 1920 something recording of a song called Flaming Youth by Duke Ellington. So if you wanna listen to that, you can check that out. We changed it a couple of years ago. I like the intro music we have today. It’s got this 1970s police cop show vibe that I like. So I started the podcast in 2009, put out weekly episodes, and then I stopped doing the podcast in 2012 because people just weren’t listening to it.

I don’t think people really understood what podcasts were at the time. There weren’t a lot of apps out there for podcast discovery or podcast consumption. You basically just had Apple podcast and that was it. So I wasn’t getting any downloads. I wasn’t getting any feedback from the podcast. I was like, well, this is a waste of time. I’ll just go focus my time on writing articles. And then we also started doing YouTube at the time around 2012. So I stopped it. And then in end of 2012, I started getting letters and emails from people saying, hey, you had this podcast, but you stopped putting out new episodes. What happened? Can you bring that back? I think what was going on was you started seeing the development of technology to make podcast consumption and discovery more easy. And I think podcasting was starting to pick up in the mainstream. So I restarted the podcast again in 2013. And since then I’ve upgraded my podcast setup. I’ve gone from a crappy USB microphone to a nice studio mic.

We also have technology that allows us to do remote interviews so that the guest audio is good. We send our guests a microphone if they don’t have one because we want the listening experience to be as good as possible for our listeners. But despite all that, I still record the podcast in my bedroom closet. And the reason I do, it’s the quietest place in the house. I’ve got my suits hanging up next to me, kind of muffles the sound, creates a really great sound studio. So if you’re trying to imagine your head, like what does it look like when Brett’s, I’m in my, just imagine a bedroom closet with clothes hanging next to you. That’s it. That’s what it is. And what’s been interesting to see in the past 16 years as the podcast world has developed is that podcasts have gotten more complicated and complex. A lot of podcasts out there have whole teams of people working on it with a dozen editors, writers, producers, engineers, video people, social media teams. The AoM podcast essentially remains a mom and pop operation. I work on the site and the podcast with Katie McKay, who’s my wife.

She’s been working on AoM since the very beginning in 2008. We started working on articles together. She’s written articles for the site and she took on the role of podcast producer and editor. And Katie, her role is primarily behind the scenes, but AoM would not be what it is today without her. She does so much work, digging up great guests for the show. And then she edits the show better than anyone in the business. So here’s the workflow of the AoM podcast and Katie’s role in that. So I’ll read the book in preparation of the interview, outline some questions for myself and the guest, and then I do the interview. And then after I’ve done the interview, I send it off to Katie, who starts listening to it over and over and over again. It could be three, four, five times she listens to this episode. And what she’s doing is she’s taking out all the parts in the show that don’t go anywhere. Sometimes I ask a dumb question that just leads to a dead end, removes any of the awkwardness that can seep into a podcast interview, reworks parts that aren’t clear, distills things down just to the very best bits so that the final episode that you all listen to is the clearest, cleanest, and most coherent it can be.

Our goal with the podcast is for it to be no longer than an hour. This episode is gonna be longer than an hour. It’s the 1000th episode. I hope you can indulge us. But our goal of the podcast is we feel like an hour to 45 minutes. That’s long enough where you can listen to a single episode on the commute to work and then on the way home from work. I know a lot of podcasts out there, they like to do the two, three hour long episodes and there’s an audience for that. A lot of people like that. I personally don’t, I can’t listen to podcasts that’s that long. So our goal is to keep it concise. We want this to be something that you can don’t have to slog through. So she just does a fantastic job with editing the podcast. And besides editing the podcast, she also writes articles for the site and she’s probably written some of your favorite articles on AoM that we’ve put out there in the past 16 years. So Katie, thank you for all that you’ve done for the AoM podcast. It wouldn’t be the same without you. You’re an amazing producer and editor. You’re a fantastic writer. It’s been so much fun working on this crazy project with you for the past 16 years and the same time raising a family with you. You’re a great wife, an amazing mother.

I love you so much. Thank you for all that you’ve done. After Katie does her editing, we hand the episode over to Dylan Moraga at Creative Audio Lab here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who puts the final touches on the episode. He cleans it up even more, making it sound as good as it possibly can. And I’m so impressed and appreciative of Dylan’s reliability and consistency in turning out each episode week after week, year after year. So thank you, Dylan, and also John Mitchell at Creative Audio Lab. And that’s it. That’s who works on getting episodes of the AoM podcast out to our listeners around the world for the last decade. Honestly, it takes a lot of work. It’s a lot of long hours with very minimal breaks. Katie and I have not really taken a non-working vacation since the AoM blog started in 2008. We’re working on the podcast and the blog even when we’re not home. I’ve done podcast interviews sitting on a toilet in an Airbnb bathroom ’cause I’m gonna need to get an episode out. But we really do. We love what we’re doing and we hope that what we’re doing is worthwhile. And we hope that in a world where online content can feel like it’s making you dumber and lower, we really do hope that our content uplifts and edifies and improves every aspect of our listeners lives.

And I wanna thank you all, our listeners. This show would not be possible without you all. There are a bajillion podcasts out there that you could be listening to now. So we appreciate that we’re part of your lineup. Thank you for listening to the show. Thank you for sending us nice letters. Thank you for the podcast reviews. Thank you for making donations to the site. And thanks for spreading the word about AoM. You guys really are amazing. I mean, one of the compliments I get from our guests after they come on the show is how engaged you guys are more than any other show they’ve been on. They just talk about how, wow, after I was on your show, I got all these nice letters and emails from your audience. And that doesn’t happen when they go on other podcasts. I also wanna give a big shout out to our listeners who have been with us from nearly the very beginning. We really do appreciate the loyal, longtime support and being with us for this long. So thank you all so much. And I also wanna thank you guys for sharing the show with others. Katie and I are pretty uncomfortable promoting and hyping ourselves up. We don’t have a social media team for Art of Manliness.

We don’t have a marketing team. We like to go about things in a quiet, understated way. So we particularly appreciate those who hype the show up for us and tell their friends and family about it. Thank you for spreading the word. And we commit ourselves to continue to always do our best to produce shows worthy of your trust and endorsement. So thank you all for being with us for this long, crazy journey that we’ve been on. All right. So for this 1000th episode, I wanted to bring back a guest from the podcast earliest days. We had some quality guests back then, but I can’t really recommend listening to those episodes because the interviews were short. My interview style wasn’t that great. The audio quality was really bad and I sounded like I was 12 years old. So I wanted to revisit and redo one of those early episodes. And one that particularly reminded me of AoM’s early days was episode number seven, Rules for My Unborn Son with writer and television and podcast producer Walker Lamond. The reason why Rules for My Unborn Son reminds me of AoM’s early days was that the blog that Walker started in the 2000s was pretty popular around the same time I started AoM back in 2008.

And he started this blog when he was 25, before he had kids, and he wanted to keep track of all the life lessons that he wanted to pass on to his son when he had kids. And it’s got the same ethos as AoM of trying to help men become well-rounded, all around good dudes. And it also reminds me of the early days of AoM because this is a period where publishers were turning blogs into books. So Walker’s blog was really popular. Publisher picked it up, turned it into a book. Same thing happened to AoM. Our blog got turned into a book. We produced that green book that a lot of you have. So I wanna revisit with Walker, Rules for My Unborn Son. We do some reminiscing about the old days of the internet back in the 2000s. Then we talk about some of his evergreen rules and whether he’s kept up with them and whether he’s been able to pass them on to his sons. So I really enjoyed this conversation with Walker. We had a lot of fun riffing on the rules and discussing whether they still apply today. We do some not so serious, curmudgeonly old man complaints about things these days. So I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as Walker and I enjoyed having it. So without further ado, let’s get to the 1000th episode of The Art of Manliness podcast.

All right, Walker Lamond, welcome back to the show.

Walker Lamond: Thanks, Brett. It’s good to hear from you again.

Brett Mckay: It’s been a long time. It has been a long time. So you were one of the very first guests of the AoM podcast. You’re episode number seven.

Walker Lamond: Yes, the seventh most important person that you could think of at the time. That’s awesome.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. And so that was back in 2009. And we talked about your book, Rules for My Unborn Son. We’re gonna talk about that again today. I wanna bring you on…

Walker Lamond: That old chestnut.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, we’re gonna do an update on it. But what have you been up to in the last 15 years?

Walker Lamond: Oh, man, well, mostly raising a family. I got married, I started raising kids and done some traveling. But mostly, I’ve just been working on being a dad, I’ve coached a little little league, I’ve done a little boy scouting, and generally kind of flailing around trying to figure it out like the rest of us. But I have been traveling quite a bit. We live a little bit of a nomadic lifestyle. My wife’s in foreign service. So we have bounced around the world living in the Middle East. And I’m calling in now from London, England. So staying busy as much as I can, but mostly just trying to stay alive.

Brett Mckay: Didn’t I see you something about a motel, some kind of cool vintage motel that you were involved in?

Walker Lamond: Yes, yeah. That’s great. You brought that up. Some people have houses and get to do their DIY projects. But living around the world, I haven’t had my own house until, I guess, very recently. But a buddy of mine and I stumbled on this old mid century ’60s classic motel down in South Carolina, and had the genius idea.

Well, maybe it didn’t seem so genius at the time, but had a fun idea that we could renovate it and turn it into a fully functioning, very cool motel. And believe it or not, we pulled it off. So three years later, put a lot of work into it. And it’s a going concern. It’s called the Starlight Motor Inn in North Charleston, South Carolina. Check it out. It’s a great spot. We basically saved it off the demolition block. And it’s awesome. It’s bringing a little life to a neighborhood that really needed it.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, I’ve seen pictures of it. It looks amazing. You guys kept the decoration, that mid century style. The motel keys, do they have the plastic thing that says put in the mailbox to return?

Walker Lamond: Yeah, we’ve got some souvenir key chains if you wanna go home with one of those. But the cool thing about it is that we did preserve it as exactly how it was in 1961, which is why we got historic preservation status for the property. But we’ve updated it. So we actually run the motel a lot like you would get an Airbnb.

You check in on your phone, you get texted a code, you go right to your room, you don’t even need a key.

Brett Mckay: Oh, that’s cool.

Walker Lamond: So it’s kind of best of both worlds, which people seem to really dig.

Brett Mckay: Okay, let’s talk about Rules for My Unborn Son. This is such a fun book. I’ve had my copy for 15 years. And it’s one of those things that it’s on my bookshelf. And every now and then I’ll see the back, the spine, and I’ll just pull it off. I’ll just flip through it. And it makes me nostalgic on multiple levels. But I just love it ’cause like the advice in it, the little rules, they’re good. They’re good rules for men of any age to follow. And my wife was looking at it and she was thumbing through and she said, this is such a winning book. But before it was a book, it was a blog. And she started this blog before you were married, before you had kids, and you decided to write down the rules you wanted to tell your future son. So let’s talk about what you were like when you started this blog. How old were you when you started the blog Rules for My Unborn Son?

Walker Lamond: That’s a great question. If I remember correctly, I was probably about 25. But the story of its origins, and first of all, thank you for those very nice things you said about the book. I often pull it down and wonder, did this thing hold up? But no, it’s nice for you to say that. So when I was out of college, I was a wannabe novelist. I had kind of walked around with a pocketful of notes and bar napkins. And this idea was really just born out of kind of journaling and taking notes for what would inevitably be the great American novel. But so in a lot of ways, it was kind of supposed to be a memoir. And I also lost my dad right after college. So he was always kind of a central figure in what I thought I wanted to write about. And I found myself thinking a lot about the things he taught me, whether told me explicitly or showed me by example. So I started having this idea of, well, maybe it’s not a novel, maybe it’s not even a book or a memoir. But maybe I just need to be jotting down these notes for myself. And this list kind of grew and grew. And then there was this confluence of a lot of different things that happened. I mean, I was a young writer in New York. So I initially thought, hey…

Brett Mckay: My ambition was, Hey, maybe I could sell an article to Esquire or something like that. The idea of a book was kind of far out and also seemed incredibly daunting, but when I was up there, when we were about that age, the internet was kind of coming along, and I ran into a friend of mine who was in publishing, and he was like, look, the barriers to entry in this business are so hard. Why don’t you start a blog? And of course, I knew very little about blogs, but he said there was this great new website called Tumblr. I don’t know how many of your younger listeners will remember it, but it was this brief blip on the digital landscape that was really amazing.

Walker Lamond: And this is not a humble brag or anything, but I might have been like the fifth signed up user on Tumblr or something absurd. And it was just incredibly intuitive to just post your content and it looked good, and you didn’t have to know how to code, and you weren’t writing these long journal entries. So this idea of giving the material away for free and getting immediate feedback was really appealing to me and it was fun and lucky me, it also just happened to be that a lot of the publishing companies from the old days were looking for ways to kind of modernize and they started trolling the internet for new cool content, and I got really lucky. So I was one of these early blogs that got scooped up by a traditional publisher and basically decided to print what was already available for free online, but that just shows you that we are living right on that threshold between the old and the new.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, AoM got scooped up in the blog to book pipeline too, so I started the blog January, 2008 and I was approached for a book deal like 10 months later alongside other noteworthy blogs to books like, I Can Has Cheezburger, Stuff White People Like. This was an amazing time because publishers came looking for you, I didn’t have to reach out to anybody, I didn’t have to write a book proposal. It was awesome. So when you started putting this stuff out on Tumblr, did it just take off? I mean, I think it went viral because, it seems like you’re all over the place at the time.

Walker Lamond: I mean, I guess it did by the standards of what, 2003 or four. I’m trying to remember exactly when this was all happening, but yeah, I mean, I remember there were many websites up on Tumblr, first of all, but I remember the president of the company emailing and saying, Hey, this is great, we really like your blog, it’s doing great. It’s got 100 followers or, then 1000 followers or whatever. So yeah, it felt viral for whatever that was back then. I think I probably was one of their early runaway hits quickly to be surpassed by Taylor Swift or whoever the first celebrity was to sign up on Tumblr. But it was fun, it was like this moment when you felt like you didn’t have to break through the wall around traditional media, right? So all of a sudden you could be a nobody and your story could get picked up in magazines, and a lot of digital magazines being like, Oh, here’s this new thing. Now, I feel like things go viral once an hour, so it’s a little bit of a dubious title, but back then, I think my five minutes of fame stretched to at least six or seven.

Brett Mckay: And there’s something about that time, something about the internet just seemed more fun, maybe it’s just ’cause I’m being nostalgic about my 20s, but I think something has changed, it was just people just started stuff randomly, the internet then wasn’t as heavily monetized as it is now, and something about it just seems a little bit more alive, a little less serious, a little less high stakes, they just seem more fun.

Walker Lamond: I think you’re right, and the less monetized part is true. I remember people saying, “Why aren’t you selling ads?” And I remember thinking, No, man, that’s not the point. There was actually a community spirit on Tumblr, especially at the very beginning, that was super supportive and collaborative. It was the first time we kind of had this idea of re-blogging, which is kind of like showcasing other people’s content. So there was kind of a good vibe and again, it was a world run by amateurs, which was really nice, but like everything good in the world, it got professionalized and that works for some, but you always lose a little something. Also, you and I, not like we’re the grandfathers yet, but there are plenty of people doing awesome things back then online, but it always feels good to be in a smaller pond. Nowadays, it’s very hard to make a ripple in the media world, in the digital world, so there was a little moment when it felt like, Oh man, you know, there’s only a few websites out there that people are going to read, it’s nice to be one of them.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, the scene is over.

Walker Lamond: That’s right. It’s like we were an early punk club, it’s like, oh man, the internet is not the same anymore, but really, just to being part of any kind of fun confluence of coincidences, it’s awesome.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, it really was a cool time to be on the internet. I remember when we would put out an article like on how to tie a tie. We were one of the few articles out there on the subject on the whole internet. Now, there’s just so much stuff out there, so much content, millions of articles, millions of videos. So yeah, it was a fun time to have experienced. Okay, so let’s talk about these rules, what were your sources for them, how did you come up with them? You mentioned your father was a big source, any other sources for these rules?

Walker Lamond: Well, my dad at first. And the idea was, it was really like I started thinking about, I gotta remember all the things my dad’s told me over the years, ’cause again, he had passed away, and I wanted to remember things in case I was gonna write a book or just in general, just… I gotta remember some of these funny things, and then that kind of… The list kind of added like, oh well, what were the quirky things about him, and then when I started putting them online, mostly for, I was looking for laughs, really. I intended it to be more of a humor thing, and then people… It’s amazing what positive feedback will do, it starts triggering like, Oh well, all right, let’s keep rolling, it’s like making a mixtape, it’s like you never want it to end, so I just kept coming up with new stuff and I kinda started adding the things that bothered me. And then just pulling from… I’d stumble on an old photo of Paul Newman or some old speech by Winston Churchill, and you never know what’s gonna inspire you, and then you think, Oh, that’s a great rule. I’m gonna add that. And so really, it just kinda grew from there. But my dad, my dad’s always… He was the originator. A lot of this stuff, if not all of it came from him or my grandfather, or…

Brett Mckay: Yeah, it sounds like the book was a way for you to remember your dad, but also for your kids to know your dad too.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, for sure. I wasn’t really thinking about a family just yet, but once this thing got going, I love the idea of, Oh man, I’m gonna have this rule book for my kids, and kind of tongue in cheek like how hilarious is it to have a kid and then hand him this book of rules, but I also know in the back of my head that this will be a pretty good manual for being a dad and kind of keep me on the straight and narrow just as much as my kid. I mean, the ’90s and the early aughties, they were a wild wacky time, right? Rules were not kind of hip in the late 90s, early aughties were kind of suffering from this abundance of choice and freedom and office casual. And to some people that was like paradise, but I think for a lot of young men, and maybe a lot of young people in general, it almost felt like too much choice, and there was a little bit of a craving for like, Well, just tell me what to do, man.

Just give me some parameters, because without parameters, I’m a little lost. And I think that was part of the appeal of this… In pop culture, you saw this throw back to like the ’60s, like suits got a little trimmer, people watching Mad Men and yes, a little bit, it was romanticized in the past, but I think it was also just this yearning for a time when they felt like they were less choices, and maybe some more rules and maybe some stricter value judgments on like, what is good, what is bad? I think at the time people were craving that a little bit, I know I was. I mean, geez, I look back at my pictures in the ’90s, I’m like, I wish someone had marched me into a barber shop with a picture of Johnny Unitas pinned to my chest because of all the bad haircuts I had. And so I think that that was part of the thing that I was trying to do with the book, is appeal to that kind of romantic notion of when you just had a closet of gray suits and white shirts.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, right. Life was simpler ’cause… Yeah, the book has this great vintage vibe, it looks like something that came from the 1950s. Inside, you have these great pictures of… And they’re all black and white, you got Carrie Grant, Jackie Robinson in here. Just random stock photos from the ’50s and ’60s of kids getting in fistfights and playing baseball, and it’s interesting, you mentioned your theory of what was going on, why did men our age find this appealing that sort of the throw back, I think there was a bit of nostalgia and romanticism. I started AoM around the same time 2008, and I decided to go with that sort of vintage man vibe, calling to our grandfather’s generation, and yeah, at the same time you had Mad Men was really popular, you had all these clothing brands developing heritage lines, so they’re going back to their archives and bringing out clothes from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. The idea that men our age, they just wanted some parameters. So you wrote the book, you started writing the blog before you were a dad, and I think all of us who are dads now probably had this idealized version of what we would be like as fathers.

Walker Lamond: Totally.

Brett Mckay: And what we would teach our sons. I remember thinking like, Oh, my kids are only gonna play with wooden blocks, they’re not gonna use video games or whatever, so eventually your hypothetical son became a real son and he’s now a teenager. So how have you done in imparting the rules that you wrote when you were 25 years old to your son?

Walker Lamond: That’s a great question. Pretty good, I think. You’re totally right. When I was writing these rules, I was being a little cheeky. I’m not a parenting expert, I was not even a dad yet, I had no experience, so that kind of I felt like I was letting me off the hook of any kind of professional standard, but it turns out that I’ve been pretty good, but I think my sons, I have three kids, I have two sons, they keep the book nearby, I don’t know the last time they cracked it, but I could see the rules seeping into their day-to-day, but I really think it’s probably less about my advice or my rules than just about me being present. I’m very present in my kids lives, I’d like to think. And so my kids do a pretty good job. At some point I thought, Oh man, I’m gonna hand them this book and this is like a recipe to do the exact opposite. I know if I was in their shoes, I’d probably be like, Oh really, dad. I’m gonna do the exact opposite. And to be fair, I do have a 16-year-old, so who knows what is in store in the next couple of years, but we do all right. We do all right.

Brett Mckay: That’s good. So yeah, the rules are there, maybe they crack it open and it’s rubbing off a little bit, but it sounds like just living the rules yourself is probably doing more than the book itself.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, and that, to be fair, is probably harder than my kids following the rules. I mean, holding yourself to your own high standards, is that not one of the hardest things to do in the world?

Brett Mckay: Oh, it’s super hard. Yeah, I get grief about that all the time.

Walker Lamond: I was gonna say, running The Art of Manliness.

Brett Mckay: The Art of Manliness.

Walker Lamond: You’ve gotta walk around like Charles Atlas reciting Socrates all day, if you’re to be believed.

Brett Mckay: And have the charm and style of Carrie Grant. Every now and then we have that article that we wrote a long time ago, Every Man Should Carry A Pocket Knife. I don’t have a pocket knife on me, and so my wife’s like, Hey, we need a pocket knife. Like, I don’t have one. It’s like, You wrote an article called Every Man Should Carry A Pocket Knife. Why don’t you have a pocket knife? The same thing with cash. Every Man Should Carry Cash.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, and this is why I’m not allowed to leave the house in shorts or sandals no matter how hot it is or how much I wanna go to the beach. Yeah, it’s tough to live by your own standards, but…

Brett Mckay: Yeah. You gotta… But I’m glad they’re there. It’s something to aspire to.

Walker Lamond: That’s right. They’re guardrails, they’re guardrails.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. I like that. Are there any rules that you thought were good in theory, but you found difficult to put into practice as you’ve moved into middle age?

Walker Lamond: Yeah, probably. Some become kind of obsolete and some change when you get married because you have to adapt to being part of a partnership. Let’s see, well, I used to swear by making sure you read a newspaper every day, that was one of them, but A, you’d be hard pressed to find a paper newspaper unless you’re living in a downtown area these days, and also I think I’m more of a podcast guy now, so I’m not very good at reading the newspaper every day. There was another rule that I was thinking… Oh, and sleeping with the window open, which is something I’ve done my entire life, I never had air conditioning as a kid, even live in a hot humid DC, but my wife has allergies and we moved to London and we realized that if we leave the window open, she’s absolutely miserable. So I’m trying to adapt to a closed window life, which is not easy.

One that I was just looking at the other day that I’ve totally changed my mind on, not because I’m just not good at following it, but I had said you should always aim high and basically like poking fun of being like an accountant. No one dreams of being an accountant or something like that. Well, now as I’m older, I’m thinking, I’m less about following passions and dreams and more about just finding what you’re good at and kind of scratching away at your little corner of the world and making a difference. So if my kid decided he was really good at accounting, then I’m all for it.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, that’s an advice from Cal Newport, we’ve had him on to talk about his book.

Walker Lamond: Oh, nice.

Brett Mckay: So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, exactly.

Brett Mckay: Basically, he advised don’t follow your passion, follow what you’re good at, and then just dig deep into that.

Walker Lamond: Scott Galloway has the same thing. Scott says, “If anyone’s ever telling you to follow your passion, he’s already rich.”

Brett Mckay: Right. Yeah. What about this one? Another one was, when in doubt, wear a tie. Does that still hold true? Or do you think the sun is sunk on tie wearing?

Walker Lamond: That’s a great question. Yes, I still think you should wear a tie. I know that seems absurd these days, but I still lean on over-dressing rather than under-dressing. I like the look of a tie, I realize that it’s getting really close to feeling kind of performative, which is not a good thing because I generally hope the rules in general encourage humility and a dismantling of the ego more than putting on a show, but I still love wearing ties. And I’m not some fashion guru by any means.

Brett Mckay: I’m not either, yeah.

Walker Lamond: But I’ll tell you, a suit looks terrible without a tie, it just does. It was, that the shirt was designed to have a tie on it. It’s tough when you go to a dinner party and you’re the only guy in a tie, and the thing about… Okay, so the thing about dressing up is it’s a courtesy. Dress codes and dressing up, it’s always been about a courtesy and being polite is about making other people feel good, about making people comfortable. And I always tell my kids, if we’re going to like an adult’s house, I said, look, it’s not that they are requiring you to dress up, this is not a fancy occasion, but it’s a way of showing them respect. I thought enough to get myself cleaned up.

It’s a show of respect, but if you’re interviewing with your future boss and he’s in a t-shirt and a sweat shirt or something, maybe us being in a suit, is making him feel uncomfortable. So this world is changing so fast, right? But you kind of have to be able to adjust and say, you don’t wanna make your dressing up so performative that it actually makes other people uncomfortable or make them feel under-dressed, because again, being courteous is about making people feel good about themselves. You probably don’t wanna out-dress your boss or your host. That could be counter-productive.

Brett Mckay: I like that idea. When you dress well, it’s not for you, but it’s for others. We ran an article about that called Dressing For Others. Benjamin Franklin said, “Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.”

Walker Lamond: Totally.

Brett Mckay: There’s a style writer that we like, Russell Smith, he said, “Think of your appearance as a gift to others.” So I think when I’m going to a nice dinner party or I’m at church or something, the way I present myself, I’m trying to add to the ambiance, to the situation.

Walker Lamond: 100%

Brett Mckay: That’s my philosophy.

Walker Lamond: Again, it goes back to courtesy, it’s like, for example, if I’m spending money, which might be a lot of money to me, to take my wife to a dinner at a nice restaurant and the guy next to me wears sweats. It makes me feel less. It makes me feel that my dinner is less special. This might be the most expensive restaurant I can afford, I’m putting on a jacket, I’m wearing a collared shirt, but if the guy next to me is in sweats, he’s saying, “This is basically my McDonald’s.” And what’s special to me is not special to him, and that makes me feel bad, so I do think that, again, it kinda goes back to courtesy, and it’s like if you have an opportunity to make other people feel like the space you’re sharing is special, then that’s cool. I think it just always makes things feel a little more pleasant. Think about the feeling you get when you’re invited to a special party and you walk in and everyone’s in a tuxedo. You don’t go… You don’t say to yourself, “Oh, this so lame.” You go, “Wow, this is a swanky event. I’m happy to be included in this.”

This feels good. This feels special. So I think you can go through life looking at it that way. Every opportunity you get to just make your waking moment a little more special is great. Does that mean you can’t wear sweats to the Starbucks in the morning? No, of course not. We’re not walking around in the ’20s here. But taking a little extra care in our appearance, I do think is important.

Brett Mckay: We’re gonna take a quick break for a word from our sponsors. And now back to the show. All right. Well, let’s talk about some of these rules. We’re just gonna do like rapid fire and discuss some of my favorites and what I think also too, one of the reasons why men have found the book so appealing is men like to talk about rules. Like we get together and you wanna share your rules for life. And because they can provide a lot of like, Oh yeah, I agree with that too. And you can riff off of it. But also, and you talk about in this book, you hope it raises some opposition. You want people to object.

Walker Lamond: Yeah.

Brett Mckay: Tell me why you think my rule stinks and why your rule is better. So we’re gonna hit on some of these. So one of your rules is men with facial hair have something to hide.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. Usually their chins. That’s usually why we grow them, right?

Brett Mckay: They’ve got no chin.

Walker Lamond: Because we’ve got an extra one, or maybe none at all. When I wrote that, it’s funny, that one came straight from my dad. I remember him telling me that, I don’t know, we were looking at a picture of somebody on TV and he just, he had a thing about beards. But when I wrote that this was like pre-beard mania. The world has gone crazy for beards since then and I am guilty of trying out my rugged desert beard, when I was in Jordan, it did not suit me. But look, you wanna wear a beard, that’s great. But I think it’s healthy to admit that a beard is a kind of disguise, right? It’s a disguise. And that’s fine. Not all disguises are bad, sometimes you wanna just change your look up really quick. And a beard’s a great disguise to wear, but it is a bit of a mask. Whether I can trust you, Brett, I think I can. You’ve proven your worth. You’re in my circle of honor.

Brett Mckay: I appreciate. Yeah, Nietzsche said a mustache is a mask, which is interesting ’cause he had a mustache. He rocked a really big furry caterpillar there. And I’m always wondering like, Man, what mask am I wearing with my mustache? I will say this. So yeah, there was that beard maniacs, the whole lumberjack retro sexual thing that happened. Everyone had beards and the high and tight side part. Something I’ve been noticing now, though, when I’m out in public is a lot of younger guys rocking the mustache. So I was doing the mustache since 2009. It’s been part of my look. I think it suits me well, but now I’m seeing a lot of, and I’d always get compliments from guys like, Oh man, I wish I could grow a mustache like that. And I’m like, Well, just grow it, you know? You gotta find out if it works for you. But I’m seeing like, I’ll be at the gas station. I had a guy come in, he’s probably in his 30s, fix my refrigerator rocking the mustache.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. Yeah. Well, like anything cool it probably started as irony and then gets mainstreamed. But the mustache is an elegant version of the beard. I was just listening to this great podcast about George Custer’s Last Stand. Great podcast, The Rest is History. Do you know that one? It’s a good one. Anyway, they were talking about how in the civil war, all the generals had beards and then at some point after, as we get into the Indian wars, all the generals moved to the mustache. It was considered a little more elegant. And I think this was a European thing. But as soon as you see the mustaches on the frat guys and the jocks, I think is when you know it’s probably almost over.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. I’ll admit I’ve been kinda like, man, maybe I should shave my mustache off ’cause this…

Walker Lamond: No, you look so good.

Brett Mckay: This scene is over.

Walker Lamond: I think my dad, my dad was probably just reacting to the ’70s.

Brett Mckay: Yeah.

Walker Lamond: And his abject terror of all things free and easy and I just remember that all my uncles, they would invite their buddies over when I was growing up and they’d all be sitting on the back porch of my grandmother’s house playing Allman Brothers without shirts on and jean shorts. And they all had, they looked like the Allman Brothers. They all had mustaches. So I’ve just always associated with that very special time of those types of dudes.

Brett Mckay: Another one you got is take the stairs. We have that rule in our family too.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, that seems to be right up your alley. That’s like a very Art of Manliness thing, right? Mostly for exercise. Is that why you guys do it?

Brett Mckay: Yeah, it’s mostly for exercise. Michael Easter, he wrote the Comfort Crisis, we had him on the podcast and he says, I don’t know where he got the statistic, but says, only 2% of the people take the stairs and that we should all be two percenters.

Walker Lamond: Two?

Brett Mckay: So that’s what I think when I see the stairs, like I’m gonna be a two percenter.

Walker Lamond: 2%. Wow. Yeah. I mean, exercise is always better. You gotta kind of take it when you can get it. But also just making things harder in general. I mean, some people are, like, hunting their own dinner. I don’t know if we need to make it that hard on ourselves, but little things is probably a good idea. But mostly it’s just to take care of the ticker, right? I gotta take advantage of every opportunity I can to exercise, especially if you work at a desk or something like that. See, I’m a health guru too.

Brett Mckay: That’s right, you are a health guru. You got some great health advice. I also think it’s just annoying, like when there’s an escalator, it’s always annoying because people just stand there and it just takes forever. And I think people use escalators wrong. Like, I don’t think they’re originally designed or maybe I’m just imputing this, I don’t know if this is right. I don’t think they’re originally designed just to stand there on the step.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a ride. It’s not a ride.

Brett Mckay: It’s not a ride. I think you’re supposed to like walk and it just gets you up faster.

Walker Lamond: Faster. That’s right. That’s right. If you impede walking traffic on an escalator in London, you will attract the wrath of the locals, which usually means it’s just a slight stern look. But yeah, that’s a big no-no here in London.

Brett Mckay: All right. So take the stairs, be a two percenter. I like that one. All right. Then another rule I liked is talent is learned, learn to sing.

Walker Lamond: Yeah.

Brett Mckay: Have you learned to sing? That’s one of my regrets in life. I don’t know how to sing in like the parts, if I’m singing at church.

Walker Lamond: I’ve never had formal training, but I was in the choir when I was in high school and I love singing in church because when else are you gonna be around a bunch of other people that also cannot sing at all, but you’re encouraged to sing loud. You’ve got notes in front of you, you’ve got people who know the words, such a good time to practice. And I tell my kids this all the time, it’s really not about singing in church. It’s about participating and courage, right? The courage to do something new. It used to drive me crazy when people would say, Oh, I just can’t draw. Or, Oh, no, I can’t sing. And for me as as a young writer, as an English major, people would say, Oh, I’m really a terrible writer. And all these things are just, they’re just skills. They’re just skills that you learn. Yeah. Sure, some people are born like Mariah Carey or something and have a natural talent, but most talents are learned. I think Chuck Yeager said, no one’s born a fighter pilot, right? So like anything else, you dedicate a little time. If you want to know how to sing or at least not sound ridiculous at the next karaoke go take a week and practice. It’s probably not as hard as you think.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. One of your rules related to that is, and you mentioned church, when it’s time to sing in church, sing. And I’m a big believer in that too. Even if I’m not a very good singer, I belt it out. I think it’s kind of lame or just kind of not cool when your churchgoers treat congregational singing like they’re spectators at a concert. They just stare blankly. Man, it just feels great to sing and you said you don’t get that many opportunities for communal singing in modern life.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. And it feels great also because A, America has fantastic worship songs in general. I go to church in England and believe me singing American folk songs and gospel songs is a hell of a lot more fun than the classical songs. So we have that going for us. And it’s just such a good expression of community, right? I love a big sing-along. We like them in a bar. We like them around the campfire. If you give the kids permission to not participate, then they’re never going to, right? So all these rules, you force them at the beginning, then it becomes habit, then you enjoy it. It’s a process. And the courage to do it, it’d be one thing if we were saying, Hey, you gotta come to church and everyone’s gotta sing a solo. Everybody get up at the front and do your part. No, you’ve got the safety of this big group. What a better time to practice. It’s like learning how to draw in an art class. You’re in a supportive environment, take advantage of it.

Brett Mckay: So here’s a controversial one. Men should not wear sandals ever.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, I’m sticking to that one. I’m sticking to my guns.

Brett Mckay: Why? Why are you sticking to that one?

Walker Lamond: Oh, man. It’s like… Again, it feels a little like, and I don’t wanna sound like a stick in the mud, but I can’t, I still can’t shake the feeling. Now listen, do I wear shorts sometimes? Yes. Have I worn a pair of flip flops to the beach? Yes. But I always can’t shake the feeling that there’s this certain selfishness that goes with prioritizing your own comfort. And that could be kind of like the old Protestant in me or something. But the same kind of goes for wearing sweats outside the house. I get it. If it serves a purpose, it’s one thing, you’re on your way to the gym. But if you’re living in sweatpants and you’re saying, but it’s ’cause I’m comfortable. Yeah, but it’s also saying I prioritize myself over everyone else and I like going through life a little bit of the opposite. And if it makes me look like a goofball sometimes that’s fine too. I also don’t think men’s feet are gonna win any beauty prizes.

Brett Mckay: You know what’s funny? My son Gus, he hates, he thinks men should not wear sandals ever too. He came up with that on his own. He’s like, men’s feet are not good looking. They shouldn’t display them.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. It’s like Elaine from Seinfeld when she goes, “Men’s bodies are like a jeep. It’s for getting around. It’s not a thing of beauty.”

Brett Mckay: Yeah. I don’t wear sandals all that often. I’ll wear sandals if like I’m going rafting in a river and I need that.

Walker Lamond: Yes, yes.

Brett Mckay: But my son…

Walker Lamond: Again, that’s gear.

Brett Mckay: That’s gear. Yeah.

Walker Lamond: That’s gear.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. That’s gear. It serves a purpose. For a summertime shoe, I wear this slip-on, it’s like a woven slip-on, so it feels like a sandal, but you can’t see my toes. And it’s breathable.

Walker Lamond: There are many toe covering options out there, ladies and gentlemen. We have an abundance of shoe options.

Brett Mckay: This is a rule that I’ve been passing on to my kids because they’re really into basketball. They love to play basketball. Be a good passer, but don’t forget to shoot.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, man. My son, my youngest is getting into hoops right now and it’s so fun to watch him. It’s so awesome. And I feel like, ’cause I tried playing when I was a kid and I was like the classic two guard, like a little too nervous to bring it up the court, always dishing it, but I never really had the guts to be the shooter probably ’cause I was afraid to miss and ruin the possession or whatever. And so now when my kid’s playing, I’m like, Oh man, just shoot, just shoot. You’re young. Just shoot. And being a generous and a good team player are always so important. But even in general in life, success kind of requires a certain level of aggression and selfishness to some extent. And every once in a while you kind of gotta take it yourself or you might live in this kind of purgatory of like being decent, being just good enough. So I’m always telling them, just shoot. Plus when you’re young, man, just take shots. It builds resilience. See yourself miss. And this starts to get into real cliche territory, but you miss every shot you don’t take, right?

Brett Mckay: Yeah. Our kids will sometimes get the ball and they’ve got this wide open shot, but then they just freeze and they pass it and dump it off to somebody. So we have to tell them, take the shot. You gotta take that shot. You gotta be a generous passer, but when you’ve got the open shot, you should take it.

Walker Lamond: Absolutely.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. All right. So another rule. Wear a sport coat when traveling by plane. It has easily accessible pockets. Is this something you still do?

Walker Lamond: Yeah, but this should go on the list of obsolete rules because I avoid traveling by plane now at all costs.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, same.

Walker Lamond: It’s the worst. It’s like nowhere seems as emblematic for the fall of civilization than an airplane. I despise it. I’d rather drive. I’d rather take a train. And also like, I don’t know, we don’t even carry plane tickets anymore. A lot of your listeners might not even realize that you used to have to carry a plane ticket. No one’s got magazines. They’re all staring at their phones. So what is there to carry? I guess you’re fine just getting on in your sweatpants and your flip flops. But I prefer to wear a coat mostly just so I can look a step better than the schlub next to me.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. Yeah, I’m with you. We hate flying. Most of our vacations now we’ll road trip.

Walker Lamond: It’s just the worst.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, it is the worst. We had an article called Flying Is For The Birds, talking about why we don’t like it. But when I do fly I do have, I don’t wear a sport coat, I actually wear the… I call it my travel jacket.

Walker Lamond: Oh yes. That’s…

Brett Mckay: Yeah.

Walker Lamond: Like a safari jacket.

Brett Mckay: It is like that. I got it from the J. Peterman company, long time because…

Walker Lamond: Of course you did.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, they sponsored the blog back in 2009. They sent me this. It’s a safari jacket and I wear it when I fly ’cause I get all these pockets so I can put things in. Yeah.

Walker Lamond: I think that’s good. There’s a fine line though between that kind of like Peterman heritage gear and full senior citizen travel gear. It’s all in the material. If it’s GORE‑TEX or like nylon, you might be in full German tourist mode. But if it’s like a good proper army chino, then maybe you’re in good shape.

Brett Mckay: I think it’s good looking and you don’t have to carry paper tickets anymore, but I still do. I like to get the paper tickets. But I think even if you don’t carry paper tickets, it comes in handy. You have a travel jacket because you can use the pockets for your phone, your wallet, maybe some pistachios, a snack for later on. Here’s another rule. You don’t get to choose your nickname.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. And you know who also doesn’t get to choose their own nickname? Grandparents. Both my mother and mother-in-law, both walked into the delivery room and both insisted like, this is what the children will call me. And I was like, No, you don’t get to do that. They’re supposed to like try to pronounce your name and then whatever garbled mess they come up with becomes your name. But of course, I lost, I lost that battle.

Brett Mckay: No, that’s an… I’ve been having this conversation more and more with my friends, ’cause now our kids are getting to teenage years. Some of my friends, their kids are getting married and so they’re gonna be grandparents soon. I’m like, we discuss what do you want your kids to call you? Are you gonna be a meemaw, a peepaw? Or do you just wanna be grandpa? I think it’s interesting, like, I feel like a lot of baby boomers, like our parents’ age, like they didn’t wanna be grandpa or grandma. It’s always some weird…

Walker Lamond: Yeah, my mom, they all just wanted to insist on some notion they’ve always had in their head about a grandparent. If I get to choose, I wanna be like Colonel. If we get to pick our own, I’d like to be called Colonel or something.

Brett Mckay: Colonel. I like that.

Walker Lamond: But no, you shouldn’t get to pick and especially when you’re a kid.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, like George Costanza in Seinfeld we wanted T-bone. T-bone.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, right. T-bone.

Brett Mckay: It doesn’t work that way.

Walker Lamond: Instead he’s Coco the monkey boy, right? That suited him better.

Brett Mckay: No, my son Gus is actually, he’s really great at coming up with nicknames and he…

Walker Lamond: That’s good.

Brett Mckay: He gives everyone a good nickname and it sticks. There’s people that, his friends, he’s like, this is some weird nickname and that’s what I call the guy. Now, he’s not… I don’t know his actual Christian name.

Walker Lamond: I love it. And college was great for that. I was in a fraternity and there’s… College nicknames, there’s always a little undertone of menace or being picked on or something. But those are the best. Those nicknames are what stick and also learn to be a little self-deprecating. If you walk in and someone’s like, Oh man, you look like a parrot, we’re gonna call you parrot-head, or some… Roll with it.

Brett Mckay: You gotta roll with it.

Walker Lamond: Lean into it, right? What makes you unique? That’s cool. People are seeing something unique about you, lean into it.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. The nicknames, it’s how men… That show, like, I wanted you to be a part of my group. I think you’re great. I’m gonna give you this term of endearment. Even if it is sort of deprecating. In high school, my friends called me Mama Brett or Mama McKay because I acted like the mom when we were out. I was trying to take care of everybody and Hey, let’s not do this ’cause we might get in trouble. So they called me mama and that’s fine.

Walker Lamond: Perfect.

Brett Mckay: My son, there’s this kid in his youth group at church, he was a new kid and after a while my son thought he was like, Hey, here’s the nickname. And this kid was like, Don’t ever call me that. And he was kind of on the outs with the group after that.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. You know, it’s about a little sense of humor.

Brett Mckay: You gotta have a sense of humor.

Walker Lamond: Gotta keep your sense of humor.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. All right. So you got one, this is a good one. Call your mom.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. I probably should have been better at that as a kid. That was probably a rule written out of my own guilt. But now that, I mean now that you’re a parent, Brett, all you wanna do is make your kids strong enough to be independent, right? That’s like your goal. Send them off in the world. Leave the nest. But I remember doing that and just feeling like, well, I don’t have to check in with my parents anymore. And now as a parent I’m like, Oh, my God, it’s gonna kill me if my kids don’t check in. And I wanna see how their life is doing, ’cause they’re your friends or at least you consider them someone who you really enjoy being with. So it will be tough when those calls start to peter out. Maybe even tougher for mom. I don’t know, maybe it’ll be tougher for me. I don’t know.

Brett Mckay: Yeah.

Walker Lamond: But I don’t even know if the kids call anybody anymore. I don’t know if my kids know how to use a telephone. They certainly don’t call anybody even their friends, they text and I think not to get all, we don’t wanna get into that realm of like, Oh, what’s wrong with youth today? But there’s something lost in not picking up the phone and talking to someone and hearing their voice. And I miss it and I miss it. And I should be better at picking up the phone and calling my own mom. Hey, mom, I’ll call you later.

Brett Mckay: No, it’s good. Yeah. You want to be the turn into the cats in the cradle song?

Walker Lamond: Oh, jeez.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, my boy’s just. He’s just like me. I don’t want to…

Walker Lamond: I remember playing that song for my dad when I was like, 14, thinking, I don’t even know what I was trying… I wasn’t trying to prove a point or anything, but he got really upset and was like, oh, my God, is that what you think I’m like? No, no, I was just playing it ’cause I think it’s clever.

Brett Mckay: All right, here’s another one. Don’t personalize your license plates. I agree. Hard agree on that one.

Walker Lamond:Yeah. I’m also against bumper stickers. Not a big bumper sticker guy, but again, it’s kind of like I don’t know, I think in the future, maybe a little mystery is going to be the currency. I mean…

Brett Mckay: I agree.

Walker Lamond: When there are no more secrets and we are just walking around like these billboards of all of our personal thoughts and opinions and politics and style. I think a little bit of mystery is going to be the new currency. So I don’t need to know that you’re a mama’s favorite or beach lover. I like, all right, that’s fine.

Brett Mckay: You don’t get the deathly hallows decal on your…

Walker Lamond: You’re a stranger. It’s cool. I get it. You like to fish, and you’ve got the sticker on the back. Anyway, whatever. I don’t mean to sound like I’m too critical. That falls into the just personal…

Brett Mckay: Have some mystery. I like that. I like that idea. Here’s another one that I’m a big believer in. When you’re older, coach; sounds like you did some coaching for your kids. I’ve done some coaching. I’ve just retired. I coached my last season of flag football.

Walker Lamond: It’s the best. And you don’t even have to be a dad to do it. It’s probably even better that you’re not a dad. In fact coaching a team that your kid is not on is even better. But I tried out some coaching, and I was coaching baseball, and I didn’t even play baseball when I was growing up, but I figured if I just needed to be, like one step better than the kids I was coaching, and I’d be fine. But I was telling my wife after we won some game at the end of the season or something. And I remember thinking, I am never more in the moment than I am when I’m coaching. Here I am standing at the first baseline of this little league game, and these kids are, like eight years old and some kids deep in the count, and the game’s on the line, and I’m thinking nothing except this game. I mean, you were so in the moment. I mean, there are other elements.

Like, it’s nice to mentor kids. It’s nice to make friends with kids that aren’t your own, think those are all really special things. But also from a selfish point of view, you are so in the moment when you’re coaching. And that is pure. That’s pure. And people get that in meditation, they get that in exercise. I think in coaching, it’s another way of just really losing yourself in a moment. I mean, it’s almost like playing an instrument or something, like just kind of shutting off the rest of the world. I absolutely loved it. Loved it.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. My advice for dads is, if you’re on the fence whether you should coach or not, and you’re thinking, well, I just don’t know enough. Just do it. You’re going to be fine. I coached basketball. I’d played basketball maybe two seasons when I was a kid, and it was actually, I only coached basketball one game because we showed up and the kids didn’t have a coach, and all the parents were looking around like, what do we do? So I was like, all right, I’m going to take control here. I’m going to put things into action. So I just got the kids warming up, and I was just thinking about all the basketball montages I’ve seen in movies. And I created my practice session based around. It was like, Hoosiers. Like, what do they do in Hoosiers?

Walker Lamond: I was gonna say, suddenly you’re Gene Hackman in Hoosiers.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. That’s what I did, and it worked out.

Walker Lamond: Boys, don’t get caught watching the paint dry.

Brett Mckay: That’s right. Here’s another. This one’s been controversial. I think we talked about it last time. A man’s luggage doesn’t roll. Do you still abide by that one?

Walker Lamond: God, that is a controversial one, isn’t it?

Brett Mckay: Yeah. Wheelie luggage.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, wheelie luggage. It’s kind of come a long way since that. If I’m traveling by myself, I’m not bringing wheels. I’m not. But I am a family man now, so when you’re in charge of hauling the family luggage. I’m throwing it all in the big wheelie. I still like an over the shoulder duffle. But I’m not gonna give anybody a hard time for getting one of these fancy roller suitcases. They’re pretty. They’re pretty sweet.

Brett Mckay: They are. Yeah. I think it’s one of the things you have to adapt as you get older.

Walker Lamond: I think that was a rule a friend of mine sent me. We were on one of these wedding weekends, and when you’re single. How about this? A single man’s luggage shouldn’t roll. I remember. If you show up on one of these single weekends, whether it’s like a bachelor party or a wedding, you don’t really want to… You don’t want to walk up with the rolly suitcase. You want the over the shoulder backpack. There’s a little bit of a kind of devil may care insouciance to a duffle. You don’t want to look like a businessman out on a sales call.

Brett Mckay: Right. Yeah. Related to that the packing for your traveling. Never pack more than you can carry yourself. If you’re a single guy and you’re traveling alone, I think that’s good advice.

Walker Lamond: Yeah.

Brett Mckay: Here’s one that might be obsolete. Send postcards, write letters on paper.

Walker Lamond: Not obsolete.

Brett Mckay: Not obsolete. You think you’re still a big believer in that?

Walker Lamond: I love sending postcards. You know what I do? I love when I go to a cool bar or a hotel. I love seeing if they have a postcard. And then, as you’re paying, this is a little tip to your listeners. As you’re paying the bill, write a note to a friend, just had dinner here. It was great. And then send it off. Leaving the hotel, you can give it to the concierge. Be like, hey, could you put a stamp on this or send it when you get home? It’s like, it’s better than sending a selfie. Everybody loves getting mail.

Brett Mckay: Oh, everyone loves getting mail.

Walker Lamond: So I love sending postcards. I mean, when I travel, I don’t go to the postcard store and buy five and then go home and write postcards. I like the spur of the moment. And a lot of bars is where you’re going to get postcards nowadays. And also, I’m still a firm believer in thank you notes.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. Me too.

Walker Lamond: I love sending thank you notes. And for a little twist, I actually love collecting old hotel stationery, which sounds like a goofy thing to do. But if you’re in a hotel that still has stationery a sheet or two on the desk or in the drawer, I love taking that home. And I even have old stuff that I used to get on eBay and stuff from fancy hotels that I’ve never been to. It’s kind of fun. Keeps them guessing.

Brett Mckay: Here’s one. Never turn down a girl’s invitation to dance. Have you been telling this to your son?

Walker Lamond: Yeah. If we could just get these kids today to actually have dances.

Brett Mckay: Right. I wanted to talk about this.

Walker Lamond: Geez.

Brett Mckay: There’s been a lot of talk about this. Like, young people these days, they don’t dance anymore.

Walker Lamond: But they don’t do… I mean, again, I’m gonna sound like the old man if I’m not careful. They don’t do much anymore together, their participation in social events is dropped dramatically. I think it’s really unhealthy dancing. Yes. It’s about courageous. You never turn down a woman’s invitation to dance. Nobody. I don’t care if she’s 80 or she’s your cousin who’s five, be the guy that dances. Never be embarrassed. I mean, again, it’s like every opportunity you have to practice, the better. Saying yes to a dance does not mean you’re getting married. But I think kids are so protective these days and so risk averse that the idea of getting up there and dancing in front of other people is terrifying.

And believe me, it’s probably been terrifying for generations and generations of young men. But in the old days, you would do it, and you would get a dopamine rush from contact with another human being, from the dance itself. It’s fun. You got to let your inhibitions down for a little bit. But now you’ve got that little dopamine rush in your pocket in the form of your phone. So you just simulate that experience, and it’s really a bummer. It’s a huge shame. Plus the fact that dancing, like anything else, it’s just practice for more important things in life, like having a girlfriend, intimacy, all that kind of stuff. Being a good partner. My wife used to always remind me, she’s like, you know this is not a one man operation. Don’t dance at me. You got to dance with me. And I was like, that’s such good advice. Like, that’s the best couple’s advice ever. And you learn that stuff through dancing. I love dancing.

Brett Mckay: I agree with you. And I’m bummed that kids aren’t dancing these days, because, yeah, when I was a kid, when I was a teenager, church would have monthly dances, and I learned a lot about interacting with the opposite sex through doing the dances, you learn how to… You’re in this position where you gotta be respectful and put your hands in the right place, and then you learn how to lead the dance so the girl feels comfortable and she’s having a good time. Then you have to learn how to have a conversation when you’re just 2ft away from her. And then also…

Walker Lamond: Yeah, absolutely.

Brett Mckay: You learn courage. There’s this girl that I really like, and I’m kind of intimidated. But you learned the gumption. I’m gonna go ask her to dance. One piece of advice that my mom would give me before I went to one of these dances, she said, make sure you ask the girl who’s not getting asked to dance to dance.

Walker Lamond: 100%. Great advice. Great advice.

Brett Mckay: And what started… My kid, Gus, is starting to go to dances for middle school, and I’ll give him this advice like, Hey, ask a girl to dance. It’ll really make her… He’ll make her weak if you ask her to dance. And when he comes back, I’m like, did you ask a girl to dance? He’s like, dad, people don’t dance. We just kind of run around and say skibidi toilet the entire time.

Walker Lamond: I mean, it’s insane. I mean, I had my teenage… My high school kids come back from kind of a school sanctioned dance. And, yeah, it’s a bunch of people sitting around watching each other on their phones and partly dancing. In the old days, it’s born out of not having a lot of opportunities to get together with either the opposite sex or just in a big group. And there wasn’t a ton to do anyway, so what a great thing to just cut loose. And again, I feel like kids probably have too much of this artificial stimulation on the phones to that they don’t need to go out and dance. But I think it’s so healthy, and I miss it. I mean, do you remember in the 90s, we even had a dance craze a resurgence of swing dancing. I mean…

Brett Mckay: Man, I was totally. I got sucked into that. I went through my swing kid phase.

Walker Lamond: It was so fun.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Walker Lamond: I mean, it’s a blast. And, I mean, just the… I have great memories of, like like you said, getting the sweaty palms, wondering if I should ask someone to dance. I mean, and the best moment was like, you dance into a really fast, fun, safe song where you can kind of just like 16 candles at each other, and then all of a sudden the music changes and it’s a slow dance and it’s, do you keep dancing? You know, because you don’t want to go ask a girl to dance as the slow dance is coming on. There’s so much messaging going on there, but if it transitions to a slow dance, it’s like bingo. This is the perfect opportunity to take the dancing to the next level. These are such good lessons. I remember, I think I was getting them when I was 12 and 13 and 14 and, man, I hope my kids can figure out a way to get dancing.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, no, I’ve kind of made it one of my goals. I want to make dancing awesome again. Like, I want kids… I think it’s such a great thing. So I’m going to… We got to figure out how we’re going to do this.

Walker Lamond: Can you make a hat on AoM that says make dancing great again?

Brett Mckay: Make dancing great again. We could. Maybe we should start a cotillion. I don’t know, I’ll figure this out.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, I tried that. I put my kid in cotillion when we were back in Virginia and that’s another victim of COVID. But it was good while it lasted. But, man, that’s an uphill battle.

Brett Mckay: Okay, here’s another rule. Don’t spend too much money on a haircut. They don’t last. I think I disagree with this one. But do you still abide by this one?

Walker Lamond: Yeah, but that’s, again, mostly because I’ve never figured out my haircut since I was a kid. I still feel like every time I go into the barber, it’s just total lottery. It’s just crapshoot. And so why waste money on something that I know is going to be horrible? But it’s a little bit haircuts and also just about everything that’s temporary. I don’t mind spending a little money on something that’s going to last. But maybe this is just kind of a warning shot about vanity. But I suppose as you get older or maybe you’re in the… Maybe you’re a professional performer. It might be nice to lock down a perfect haircut, but then you don’t you really need… I mean, how often do you get your haircut if you know you exactly how you want it? Wouldn’t you have to get your haircut every fourth day?

Brett Mckay: Yeah, I don’t. Yeah. So for me, I got the long Sam Elliott thing going with my hair.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. That’s good.

Brett Mckay: But it took a while to find a barber that could do it right. A lot of barbers just messed it up, so when it grew out, it was all poofy and messed up, and I found that when I went with the cheap barber, they were always bad. And so investing in the barbers that are a little more expensive, it made a big difference. That’s been my experience.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. I think that. I think you hit on the solution there, which is just go to the same guy or gal. So if you get a good haircut, you just got to go back to the same person. The problem with a cheap barber is that you go in there and it’s like, oh, no, Sal’s not working. I got to work with Nevio, and he really likes the blow dryer. But I guess if you find the right barber, stick with him. Stick with him.

Brett Mckay: Here’s one that I like. Watch your language at the ball game.

Walker Lamond: Oh, boy. Yeah. I’m not a big cusser. Are you a cusser? Do you cuss? I can’t imagine you’re…

Brett Mckay: No. I’m not a cusser. And something I’ve noticed, it’s not just at ball games, just anywhere in public, how language has degraded. Everyone just… Adults just let off F bombs, even when there’s kids around. I just… I hate that.

Walker Lamond: I know. But I love watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and just listen to people. I love a good, creative, emphatic cuss. I mean, they’re great, but I’ve personally not been a very good one. And I do hate it at the ballpark because I get cringy when I know there’s kids around. And that might sound a little old fashioned, but my dad never, never cussed, ever. I don’t know why. He was not a particularly self righteous guy, but he did not cuss. And so if we were at a ballgame or something and guys are cussing in front of us, it used to really turn him off, so that probably rubbed off on me. And when you have kids, that’s the worst thing.

Brett Mckay: Save the cuss words for when you hit your thumb with a hammer.

Walker Lamond: Right? Make it count. Make it count.

Brett Mckay: Make it count. Right. Here’s another rule the younger generation seems less comfortable with. Don’t be shy in the locker room. They’re all thinking the same thing.

Walker Lamond: My kids, they thought I was crazy when I was describing to them the big gang showers in the boarding school I went to. Or in a locker room at the golf club or whatever. Like, the idea of five guys showering in the same room was shocking to them. But I don’t know. I think these kids have to realize that there’s nothing wrong with a little male nudity. I mean, I don’t know what’s going on that people are so shy. And in the old days what happened to skinny dipping? Didn’t Teddy Roosevelt swim naked in the Potomac every morning?

Brett Mckay: Yeah. He did.

Walker Lamond: Right, right. So there was something manly about being nude. It was not sexualized, honestly. I think my kids look at me cross eyed now because they just associate nakedness with sex and perversion. And maybe that is a awful byproduct of the world they’re growing up in that nudity is so closely associated with something dangerous or something… Geez. Something perverted. But, I mean, when I was younger, I remember going to some tennis club, and they had an indoor pool, and the rule was you had to swim in the nude. I don’t know why that was a rule, but I think it was probably just this throwback to old school. Like, hey, we’re all men here, and as a sign of mutual respect, we’re all gonna put each other on equal footing. And what’s more equal footing than just bearing all? I think there’s something kind of poetic about that.

Brett Mckay: It’s very democratic. So are you the old guy in the locker room? You know, the country club locker room or the gym locker room? You just let it all hang out and talking about the game.

Walker Lamond: I don’t know if I’ve graduated to that level, but I definitely have memories of those old dudes who just wanted to talk to me all about school and my plans for the future standing in front of me just buck naked. But these were learning experiences, and probably the greatest thing you learn is that we are all the same. We are all the same. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. My God, if we keep everything a secret, what’s going to happen is we’re just myth building. Oh, my God. There’s no way I could be as good as he is.

Come on. You need to pull the curtain down, if you will.

Brett Mckay: All right, here’s another one. Have a signature dish, even if it’s your only one. By the way. I didn’t think I would have such a strong opinion on male nudity, but there you go.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. What’d you say? What was the last one?

Brett Mckay: Have a signature dish, even if it’s your only one.

Walker Lamond: What’s your signature dish? That’s what I want to ask you.

Brett Mckay: So lately I did a brisket for the first time.

Walker Lamond: Nice.

Brett Mckay: Smoked it. I think that’s gonna be my signature dish.

Walker Lamond: Like, on the green egg type of thing?

Brett Mckay: I got a pellet smoker. And it worked out really great. The other one, I do. I do a prime rib at Christmas time or New Year’s time.

Walker Lamond: These are both very impressive. I’m pretty good at Thanksgiving dinner. That’s not hard. But I’m pretty good at Thanksgiving. I don’t really have a signature dish. I wish I did. I’m not a great cook. I am more or less the cook in the family, but that’s not saying much. I’m trying to get better. Let’s see. When I was a single guy, I guess I think my signature dish was probably just a little grilled salmon or something, but nothing fancy. I’m trying bangers and mash. That’s the new dish that I’ve been cooking lately that I love. And it’s all about, I mean, grilling sausage and making mashed potatoes is nothing but making the perfect bangers and mash gravy is fun.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. We have an article on the site written by Jeremy Anderberg. He said you have three signature dishes. You have a signature breakfast dish, a main dish, and a side dish. I think it’s good advice because you [1:15:07.9] ____ any time.

Walker Lamond: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, because you got to feed yourself, first of all. And you gotta treat yourself right. And make sure the kids know that dad can cook. My mom was the cook in my family, and thank God she taught me a few things, or else I’d be getting takeout every day, which is awful.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, some good ones just kind of quickly. Don’t sabotage the family portrait. Smile, please. I’ve had so many pictures ruined by my kids when they were little ’cause they were being goofy. Don’t ruin it. Another one. Attend lots of weddings. Your friends will be there, and the food is always good. I think that’s good advice, too.

Walker Lamond: I can’t wait till my friend’s kids start getting married so I can go back on the wedding circuit. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. So my wife’s advice on weddings she loves weddings, too. They’re a lot of fun. But she thinks it’s okay to turn down wedding invitations for people you’re not close with and your friends won’t be there.

Walker Lamond: I mean, how many weddings are you getting invited to that your friends aren’t there?

Brett Mckay: You know, it could be extended family, work associate and…

Walker Lamond: Oh, okay.

Brett Mckay: That sort of thing. Her rule of thumb for attending a wedding is generally whether she would give the bride or groom a hug when she saw them…

Walker Lamond: That’s good.

Brett Mckay: And if she wouldn’t the relationship isn’t really strong enough for me to go.

Walker Lamond: That’s funny. I mean, I have been to weddings where I didn’t know what either the bride or the groom. That’s always a little awkward. But I think you could turn down destination weddings.

Brett Mckay: Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Walker Lamond: Probably shouldn’t be a thing anyway.

Brett Mckay: That should not be a thing.

Walker Lamond: But I would go to a stranger’s wedding. I mean, they’re happening somewhere. It’s a great location. There’s music, there’s drinks, there’s food. I mean, I could sit next to ten strangers and have a blast at a wedding.

Brett Mckay: So we talked about a bunch of rules. Are there any rules that you would add to the collection in the book since you wrote it?

Walker Lamond: I mean, probably a bunch of stuff about technology. Because so much has happened, then I probably not too many. I mean, I did write another book. Did you know that I wrote another book for my daughter? I wrote like a sequel…

Brett Mckay: Yeah, we have it.

Walker Lamond: Which was nice. And so I added some things that I thought were a little more appropriate for young women, and some of those maybe had a little more to do with technology. And probably the one big one is never post a picture online that you wouldn’t show your mom or your boss or the dean of admissions. That’s a good rule of thumb I think.

Brett Mckay: That is a good rule of thumb.

Walker Lamond: And mostly, I think the new rules would probably. I mean, now that I have teenagers, I would probably always come back to just look up from your phones, just call a buddy on the phone, build relationships. I think I saw something on your website recently about social fitness.

Brett Mckay: Yeah.

Walker Lamond: Which is a really cool concept. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I work from home, and so sometimes I… And this year, I actually signed up to work in one of these coworking places ’cause I realized my social fitness was really drastically falling. And I was like, I need to be around people more to keep my practice up. And this is what I think about for my kids, too. And the biggest impediment to social fitness are the phones, period. Full stop.

Brett Mckay: Yeah. My wife and I, we’ve been really hitting on our kids. Like, don’t get on social media. Like, you don’t need to be there. And if you’re gonna be there, there’s certain things we say you shouldn’t do take selfies. And also don’t do those elaborate engagement posts.

Walker Lamond: Oh, yeah, that’s good.

Brett Mckay: And I’m telling. I’m telling my son, Gus, when you’re dating some of the things you kind of gotta figure out is ask your date when it’s getting serious, what are your thoughts about gender reveal parties? And then if she says, oh, I can’t wait to do that, and be like, yeah, that might be a deal breaker.

Walker Lamond: Deal breaker. Yeah. I mean, another thing I think about all the time is, honestly, I think I would love to encourage my kids to maybe be a little more mischievous. I know that seems weird coming from a guy that wrote this book of rules, but, I mean, my feeling about rules was always like, it’s kind of like dressing up. If you’re well dressed, you’re kind of given more liberty to be funny, to be a reverend. You know, you’re not. And I kind of feel the same way now. It’s like, you got to leave a little room in your life to be mischievous, maybe to be a little less scheduled, to be bored. My fear for my kids is so much of their youth is being kind of professionalized and over scheduled, whether it’s youth sports or whether it’s volunteering for the college application. And I’m seeing so much of that now in high school.

And there was an article, man, I wish I remembered where I read it. But about. Maybe it was in the Times yesterday about the loss of summer camps and summer jobs. And a lot of this is my fault, too, because I get caught up in this idea of maximizing your kid kind of like, optimizing, right, to the pressure to succeed is so strong and to get into college and all this stuff. And you forget that the real lessons are probably learned when you’re bored and you have to be resilient, when you’re working a summer job and you got to show up and you got to mop the floor, and all those life lessons are being learned and things that our culture today doesn’t really value anymore. Not a lot of kids are probably putting summer camp on their college applications anymore, which is… That’s a shame. That’s a shame.

So I do think that some of those more innocent pursuits that come out of boredom, that come out of not being scheduled, they’re so important. They’re so important.

Brett Mckay: Yeah, I agree too. Maybe the rule is be a kid. Like, enjoy being a kid.

Walker Lamond: Yeah. Yeah. And which probably reminds me, I need to go home and like, cancel 10 activities for my kid. They’re probably signed up for like, seminars and, ugh, geez, things that are just ridiculous. They probably don’t need.

Brett Mckay: They don’t.

Walker Lamond: So if my kids end up listening to this, I’m gonna walk home to a bunch of eye rolling, which is totally in their right.

Brett Mckay: Well, Walker, this has been a great conversation. Where can people go to learn more about the book and your work?

Walker Lamond: The book is still available, if you can believe it, on Amazon. So you can get Rules for my Unborn Son on Amazon. You can also get the one for daughters called Rules for my Daughter. Rules for my Future Daughter. I don’t even know. Rules for my Daughter. I forget what I named it, which is also lovely and cute. And has a unique perspective because it is a dad talking to a daughter, which has kind of a slightly different tone to it. And then I also do all kinds of other stuff. I’ve got a couple podcasts that I’m doing that have nothing to do with parenting.

They are true crime podcasts that are fun to watch. Another just way I kind of stretch my writing muscles. One’s called Anatomy of Murder. If you like true crime, it’s a good one. Listen to it. Another one’s called Cold Blooded. I’m really just a frustrated mystery writer at heart. And so those are good fun.

Brett Mckay: Fantastic. Well, Walker Lamond, always a pleasure.

Walker Lamond: Man, it’s so good to talk to you. It’s like a walk down memory lane.

Brett Mckay: It was. I really enjoyed this.

Walker Lamond: Thanks, Brett.

Brett Mckay: My guest today is Walker Lamond. He’s the author of the book Rules for my Unborn Son. It’s available on Go get yourself a copy if you don’t have one. I’ve had my copy since 2009. I still take it off the shelves every now and then to just flip through the pages. Think about my grandfather. Think about my dad. If you have a son, get him a copy. Let him browse through it. It’s a great conversation starter to talk about. What are the guidelines you want your son to follow as he matures into manhood? So get yourself a copy and you can learn more information about Walker’s work at his website, Also, check out our show notes at

Well, that wraps up the 1000th episode of The Art of Manliness podcast. Thank you again for your support of the show. Now onwards to episode 1001.

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