It’s that time of year again!
When you get bombarded with a billion holiday gift guides of things you’d rather get yourself.
That’s why last year I put together a list of 19 Gifts You Should Get Yourself. It was a huge hit, and this year it only made sense to continue this tradition.
I should point out of course if you are the gift giving type, there’s nothing stopping you from picking up a few of these for your friends and family.
And just a heads up: As always, I have a no pitch policy on The Essential Man. All the things I recommend are items I’ve actually bought, used, and love. (That goes for everything else on my site and emails). Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you decide to use my link. I usually use this small kickback to help pay for the site costs. If you don’t feel comfortable using those links, no worries. I’ve included a non-affiliate link for you to use too. No hard feelings!
A (Useful) Pen I’m Not Embarrassed to Whip Out
Shinola x Fisher Bullet Space Pen
$35 via Shinola
Look, I get that owning a pen might feel unnecessary. But I hate fumbling to unlock my phone and open up the notepad app. I also hate pens that don’t work when you’re trying to sign a check. (You’d be surprised how much the quality of your day can improve when you whip out your own reliable pen to leave a tip.)
I wandered into Shinola’s store in Dumbo (Brooklyn) recently and immediately wanted everything. Of course, I couldn’t drop $800 for one of their amazing bags, so I settled for this.
The Fisher Bullet Space Pen is a classic, and Shinola’s version has a small engraving of their logo on the pen that I don’t mind. What I love most about it is that the cap is half the body, making it super compact when not in use. It’s also extremely satisfying to take on and off.
The Briefcase Alternative So You Don’t Look Like Every Other Dude in the Office
I know, I know. Last year I recommended a more traditional leather trimmed briefcase. Lately, I’ve been noticing it more and more (and so have my clients). I’m going to pretend they all read last year’s gift guide.
This year I’ve been recommending Want Les Essentiel’s signature tote in cotton canvas to my clients looking for a work appropriate bag. While I love their all leather bags, this one is still stylish and much easier on the wallet.
The Pomade My Barber Recommends for Effortlessly Cool Hair
My barber has been giving me a bit of a 90s era Leo/Depp/Pheonix haircuts in the past few cuts and recommended this softer pomade for me. I’m loving it so far.
It definitely a lot lighter than I’m used to, but I’m also trying to be more nonchalant about my hair, so this is perfect. I recommend this if you have long hair or don’t like that ultra-styled look and just need a little something to hold your strays together.
If you’ve been on my mailing list for a while, you know that this is probably the 3rd one I’ve recommended from Baxter. It’s hard to go wrong with their hair products.
Touchscreen Gloves for the Grown Man
As much as I love Uniqlo, their knit heat tech gloves just don’t do it for me. They’re basic style-wise, and loose knitting is no match for NYC winds.
This is why I love Dent’s leather and wool gloves. They’re a classic look and work with touch screens. Just keep in mind you’ll still need to slip your glove off for the fingerprint scanner if you’re poor like me and don’t have the new iPhone.
Because You’re Better Than Drug Store Candles
I know what you’re thinking, why would I want to get a candle that smells like cigarettes? Don’t worry, this isn’t what Malin + Goetz was going for when they named their candle.
The candle is a blend of basil, rye, chestnut honey, tobacco leaves (which smells “green”, leafy, and warm), and bourbon vanilla to create a rich, velvety, smokey scent.
Insert George Costanza Wallet Joke Here
I never liked proper billfold wallets, they always made you carry more stuff than necessary and hurt my back. Turns out science backs up the last one.
I prefer slim card wallets, like this one from A.P.C., to carry my essentials, like my credit card, debit card, and I.D.
When it comes to cash, I recommend a money clip on your front pocket. This classic one from Silver Mulberry Money Clip is a great buy for just $90 and great pairing with the A.P.C. wallet.
If Warby Parker Kinda Disappoints You
I’m going to say it: I’m not a huge fan of Warby Parker. As someone who’s worn eyeglasses since the age of 11, it’s amazing to be able to get a working, stylish pair of eyeglasses for $90.
But like I say, there’s a reason they’re $90. My few pairs of Warby’s have never been able to hold their shape properly. And this is a constant problem I’ve seen among my friends and clients who have Warby glasses.
I’m switching to Cutler and Gross glasses, which not only have a much nicer build quality but have a ton of unique style’s that you won’t see every guy at the coffee shop wearing.
I’ve been really getting into thinner frames with gold lately, like the pair above. But if you’re looking for something a bit more “classic”, they have a nice pair of thick black frames.
And if you don’t wear eyeglasses but still want in, Cutler and Gross make great sunglasses as well.
The Cardigan She’s Probably Going to Steal from You This Winter
I’ve been toying with the idea of making a “house jacket” for myself to keep me warm in the winter. You know, something comfortable to keep me warm that isn’t a hoodie, but also isn’t a jacket. Then I remembered there’s something called cardigans.
I really really love this windowpane cotton cashmere one from Saturday’s. The bronze color is really amazing, the cut is slim and stylish, and that price for some soft cotton cashmere? You can’t beat that.
Juicing for Lazy (or Busy) People
I’ve been on a health trip the last year, and one thing I’ll freely admit is that I don’t eat enough greens.
Athletic Green’s is a superfood supplement that packs 22 essential vitamins and miners, probiotics, 5 digestive enzymes, and all this other good stuff.
It’s not a full replacement for eating proper food, but as Tim Ferriss says, it’s a great insurance policy.
Make Meal Prep Less Ugly
Here’s the deal: I meal prep a week’s worth of food, and nothing is more annoying than ugly plastic Tupperware crowding the cabinets and fridge. It was semi-bearable until you start prepping meals with any kind of sauce (especially tomato) which seems to be impossible to clean out of plastic Tupperware.
Switching to these glass ones have saved my sanity and ab gains. They’re microwavable and dishwasher safe, and look really nice stacked up nicely in your fridge. Note: they are a bit on the heavy side, so you might want to reconsider if you’re looking to bring these to work.
My Trick to Drinking Enough Water Every day
I drink a lot of coffee, which is great cause it’s delicious and gives me that boost to work, but not so great when it comes to hydration.
I’ve tried so many “tricks” to get myself to drink more water, from setting timers to even buying bottled water (sorry, I know). Now I just keep this big thermos near my desk and drink out of it throughout the day, refilling it a couple times.
It has a nice rubber bottom so it won’t scratch up your table or floors and has an anti-condensation design. Keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks/soups hot for 12.
The Secret to More Fat Loss
Aside from diet and training hard, the biggest factor in dropping almost 40lbs this year has definitely been the quality of my sleep.
If you want to know how bad it is when I don’t get proper sleep, it feels like I’m hungover and just got off an international flight. My eyes burn, I’m moody, and I start breaking out. Apparently, lack of sleep is stressful on your body, stress releases cortisol, and spikes in cortisol make you fat.
I love using a sleep mask when I really need to get my sleep in order. This one from Bedtime Bliss is my favorite because of the super soft, breathable material and the contour design, which helps block out light from getting into those annoying little cracks between your nose.
DATING AND SEX
The Three Books That Will Get You More Dates and Better Sex
Mate by Tucker Max ($16), Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex by Nina Hartley ($22), and No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert A Glover ($10) all via Amazon
(Non-affiliate links: Mate, Guide to Total Sex, No More Mr. Nice Guy )
So I’m totally cheating here by lumping 3 books into one recommendation, but they’re so good as a trio I had to. Even as a man that’s about to get married, reading all three of these books had really transformed not only me but my relationships.
Mate is one of my favorite books on dating and relationships because it addresses something that a lot of other dating advice experts on blogs and youtube overlook: what dating is like for women. (aka empathy). By really understanding the challenges women go through in dating, it can help men understand how to approach dating more effectively so both parties are happy. Tucker has done an amazing job at giving men a realistic gameplan to become more successful at dating, not by “gaming” or “tricking” her with techniques, but by becoming the man that women want.
You might remember Nina Hartley from a recently NSFW post It came to my attention from a few people that Nina also authored THE book on better sex. I started reading it last week and I really couldn’t put it down.
(Seriously, I’ve highlighted so many things that it kind of defeats the purpose of highlighting, I might as well just highlight the whole book.)
Nina does a great job of addressing things like oral sex, sex positions, safe sex, seduction, etc from both the male and female perspective.
She also recommends you read the parts geared towards your opposite gender for perspective, which I would also recommend to. There’s really no such thing as knowing too much when it comes to better sex.
Finally, No More Mr. Nice Guy is a book that I think all men should read. Dr. Robert Glover has been working as a therapist specializing in working with men who have the “Nice Guy Syndrome”. Men who are people pleasers who often get trampled over.
Robert teaches you how to identify qualities in yourself, how to value them, and how to properly set boundaries so people respect you.
If you ever felt like people take advantage of you, or if you ever felt like you’ve gotten “Friend Zoned” one too many times, I highly recommend this book.
Get Good at Cooking by Getting Nerdy
If you’re like me, diving deep and getting nerdy about something not only makes it fun, it helps me get better at whatever it is I’m attempting.
If you want a preview of what to expect, watch my favorite video of theirs on how to make the perfect burger at home.
The Knife I’ve Been Using for the Last 12 Years
Confession: I bought my Global knife when I first moved to NYC at the MoMA store because it looked cool. I didn’t really know how to cook then, and I also had no idea if it was a good knife.
That was in 2005. Fast forward 12 years later, I cook a ton and it’s still serving me well. It turns out, it’s actually a really solid knife loved by many chefs.
Get it regularly sharpened and it’ll serve you well too.
Like All Things, Tasting Whisky Needs to Be More Stylish
Norlan Whisky Glass
$48 for set of 2 via Norlan Glass
I’ve recently gotten into whiskey and like all things, I’m a sucker for nice designs. The guys at Norlan are whisky enthusiasts who loved properly tasting whisky in snifter glasses, but preferred holding tumblers. So they engineered a glass that combines the best of both worlds – a snifter you can hold in your hand like the tumbler. There’s no other word to describe them other than gorgeous – they’re like diamonds glasses, and I always get compliments on them when I take them to a whisky tasting.
LIVE AN AMAZING LIFE
The Secret to Living the Amazing Life You Want
Based on his viral post of the same name, the thesis of the book is that we aren’t getting what we want out of life because we give too many fucks about the wrong things. If we want the most out of our careers, relationships, and life, we need to hone in on what we should actually be giving a fuck about.
My synopsis doesn’t give this book justice as Mark goes much deeper into these ideas, giving you practical thought exercises to help you apply his premise.
I highly recommend it. It’s an easy, hilarious, and fast read. And if you haven’t guessed by the title, if you’re offended easily by curse words this book probably isn’t for you. (Or maybe it is? Because if a 4 letter word is holding you back from listening to great ideas, maybe you’re giving too much of a fuck on the wrong thing.)
Once you’re done reading it, I recommend reading James Clear’s great summary of the book. I found it to be an extremely useful outline to help me start applying some of the ideas in the book.
How to Be the Most Interesting Man in the World
Price for classes vary, only available in select cities
“If you want to be interesting, be interested.”
I often see this pop up on dating advice blogs and such about conversations hacks. They’ll comment that this quote means that if you want someone to find you interesting, be interested in them and ask them questions, “because people love to talk about themselves!”
I think this analysis is completely wrong. If you’re a boring guy with no life that asks people tons of questions and listens attentively, you’re still a boring guy with no life.
What this quote really means is if you want to be interesting, be interested in learning, exploring, traveling, trying new things.
We become interesting by doing and experiencing interesting things, which gives us interesting stories.
I recently discovered Coursehorse bored out of my mind one weekend looking for things to do. Think of it like a Craigslist for really cool classes you can take – like coffee cupping, french baguette making, and figure drawing.
I like to live by the rule of always doing things that make for good stories. My Coursehorse wish/waitlist is filled with classes on food plating, pizza making, and traditional sign painting. If I met someone at a party that talked about doing all that, I’d be fascinating and wondering how this person even exists.
Be that person.