Being Tall vs. Great Game? Take the Game.

Penelope Trunk wrote a provocative post today, about how tall people are generally more successful at work and make more money. In her post, she begins by arguing that good looking people do better in life than not-good-looking people. No doubt. You can’t refute that. Midway through her post, though, she switches gears and says that tall people are the folks who are more successful.  She is equating tall people to good looking people. Okay, I guess P-Trunk likes tall dudes.

Of all the tall people I’ve meet through work and other avenues, the tall ones are ALWAYS the awkward, gangly types. I’m talking 95% here. Yes, I’ve bumped into a few tall VP’s and CEO’s who are decent leaders, but they weren’t the leaders I would follow to hell and back. In fact, I generally find white, male (tall) management types soft and unattractive. The men and women who are TRUE leaders are always the medium sized, highly intelligent, highly socialized, often times physically attractive folks (but not always).

I draw my conclusions from being a professional sports coach, where I’ve coached well over 1000 athletes, and also from working in various tech businesses. Overwhelmingly, the people who are “tall” are not the leaders. The leaders, the ones who are really compelling, are the medium sized peeps. These leaders have traits in common, and here they are:

1. Excellent articulation: True leaders have an excellent capacity to express themselves and put thoughts into words. Not only do they communicate well, but they know what to say and when to say it. They also know when to shut up and let their people talk. In social artistry, we call this calibration. Good leaders are well calibrated.

2. Excellent Empathy: You vibe with your people on an emotional level and have compassion. More than anything, having empathy will bring you followers. This is always combined with #1 above.

3. Excellent body language: Every social artist knows that body language can make up for nearly every physical “deficit” he might have. Only 5’4?No problem. Don’t fidget. Don’t slouch. Stand up straight and project like you’re the fucking man. Great BL will blow away a tall sloucher any day of the week. See my personal example below.

4. Attitude: You’re confident, occasionally cocky, and project an attractive attitude. You’re also cool as a cucumber.

5. Presentation: Not as important in a sports environment, but critical in business. Dress well and sport a great haircut and you’re halfway there. Seriously, simply outdressing everyone gives you a huge edge. Also, don’t just dress well, but dress uniquely.

6. Walk the walk: No question, you have to be talented in your niche and produce the goods when needed. Don’t think for a second you can bullshit your way to success. If you’re a pretender, everyone will know it.

That’s basically it. Forget plastic surgery and lifts to get yourself over six-foot. If you can deliver the goods and cover the items above, it won’t matter how tall you are, and to a certain extant, how good you look. Almost every great leader I’ve ever met was neither tall nor good looking; he or she simply knew what they wanted and fucking OWNED it.

Interesting Personal Example: This happened to me after I wrote the post. I met with a potential freelance client for dinner. He was 6’5 and weighed probably 240 lbs. A big dude. He was also out of shape and had terrible body language. I rocked up with my alpha body language, projected cool, spoke with authority, and blew the guy away. Seriously, my vibe was so alpha that he couldn’t look me in the eye until midway through dinner and he keep playing with his hands. I made in-roads over dinner and by the end he was my BFF. By no stretch of the imagination am I a tall dude.

P-Trunk, I still think you’re hot even though you’re tall and gangly. Don’t get a nosejob, that would be super gay.

  • Eathan

    Well said. I’ve always noticed the leaders are the dominant, average height people. They have very strong personalities and excel in being communication. Being tall doesn’t make you a leader, it just makes you tall.

    FYI.. P-Trunk is hot!
    .-= Eathan´s last blog ..LF48 Is Nervous =-.

  • Honey

    I read P-Trunk’s article. It sounds to me that what she is saying is that taller people are generally considered better-looking, and better-looking people have more confidence, which is where all the benefit REALLY stems from. Which is what you’re essentially saying here and it makes sense.

    I think that anyone on the freakish end of the spectrum either way is going to have problems…if you’re less than one SD from the norm then you can learn strategies to compensate…and if you’re more than one SD from the norm on the tall side then you are likely to just sort of inherently receive these benefits.

    The BF is VERY self-conscious about his height…he says he is 5’8″ but he is more like 5’6″…5’7″ in shoes. He wore lifts on our first date because I was his first date after ending a 4-year relationship and he wanted to feel confident. He said his biggest fear on our second date was that I’d be like, “weren’t you taller on Friday?”
    .-= Honey´s last blog ..Crummy Weekend =-.

  • Janak

    I don’t think tall helps you so much as short hurts you.

    I’ve also decided that P-Trunk is a shining icon of all that is wrong with the world.

  • Lance

    To be perfectly honest, I think everyone has SOMETHING that is holding them back. If you’re tall, maybe you’ve got horrible BL. If you’re short but alpha, maybe you’re an a-hole. Whatever it is, identify and work on it. I’ve met very few people who have everything dialed in.

    What’s wrong with P-Trunk? She’s a great blogger.
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Being Tall vs. Great Game? Take the Game. =-.

  • gas card

    I think somewhere in the middle, and just average height is just about right, well regardless I do agree with you I would rather take game any day over being tall. The harder question would be, would you rather have good looks or Game. I think I would still choose game, because often times in life even the person who is not good looking, who is able talk a great game is definitely able to get by. That’s how guys with low looks are able to score hot girls, because they are really good at expressing themselves socially.


  • Eric

    Man Lance this was just what i needed today. Being only 5″7″ i constantly have to work on my BL, due to bad habits in junior high and high school.

  • Lance

    Eric, my pleasure, glad it helped. Be the man and own it, you’ll never have to worry about being tall or short.
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Being Tall vs. Great Game? Take the Game. =-.

  • The Dateable Dork

    Being tall isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – coming from a 5’8″ woman, close to 6’0″ in heels. I totally agree that confidence and professional competence are what make great leaders in business, and height probably has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    As a side note, my boss is super tall and totally kicks ass at his job.
    .-= The Dateable Dork´s last blog ..I’m turning into a zombie =-.

  • The Virgin

    Hmm, very good question. Yeah, I would agree that being good looking is far more of an advantage than being tall, face it, the good looking guy is going to score more success over a 300lbs fat guy (or 6’7 ugly guy) no matter how “confident” that guy acts. Common sense.

    Some tall guys are gangly like you say, but others I’ve seen carry themselves very well. I guess ultimately the advantage of being a medium sized guy is that you’re not too short for the tall, and not too tall for the short 😉

  • dadshouse

    I don’t know where Penelope Trunk gets her data or forms her opinions, but in Silicon Valley that’s a crock of shit. Here, how you think trumps looks. Maybe she is attracted to tall men. Who knows?

    In terms of dating, I like shorter women. 5’2 to 5’6. I’m 5’10, and I find women who are taller than about 5’7 just don’t fit my body as well.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog ..Father and Teenage Daughter Go For a Run =-.

  • Lance

    Haha, yeah, I totally agree that what you do with your head creates a lot of attraction. I think this is ESPECIALLY true in the work place and in networking…looks don’t mean crap, knowledge and expertise means everything. Anyway, I love her posts because they’re provocative.
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Get Fit and Improve Your Dating Prospects =-.

  • Odzyskiwanie Danych

    This just seems wrong. I can’t see how this woman reached her conclusion? I understand that good looking people are generaly treated better but tall ones? I don’t think so.

  • Cash Back

    Actually tall people naturally do command more respect as people look up to them. Lance you sound like you’re just generalizing from a few awkward tall guys you’ve met. If you’ve got two people with similar attitudes, but one is tall and one is short, who do you think would make the better leader? As for getting women, there are a hell of a lot more women who prefer tall guys compared to short guys.

  • Lance

    Cash, thanks for the comment. As I said in the post, my survey sample is 1000+ athletes, plus numerous tall “leaders” from working in various companies. It’s a decent sample size.

    If you have two people with similar attitudes, one tall and one short, I’d say whoever steps up and has better leadership quality is the better leader, regardless of height. My argument is that being tall doesn’t “naturally” make you a leader. Leadership is a skill and can be developed regardless of the physical.

    Yes, generally women prefer taller guys, but that’s the subject of another post!
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Get Fit and Improve Your Dating Prospects =-.

  • Med Assistant

    Fascinating article. I do believe that women in general are attracted more to taller men, but there are always exceptions. A short female wouldn’t necessarily want a tall guy for a number of reasons. As far as leadership and other attributes which make contribute to one’s sexual appeal, I don’t know that there necessarily is a correlation in height. I completely agree that presentation is key.

  • Abe

    Nice article. I’ve done some study of body language of my own and played around with sending different messages of it. Body language is truly powerful!