Tying the Community Together

Tying the Community Together

United Way's Shannon Reed lookin' sharp in his signature look: a bowtie!

September 12, 2017

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

At next week’s Success Starts Here! Men’s Conference, United Way’s Director of Innovative Strategies for Boys & Men of Color Shannon Reed will have a special lesson to share with attendees: how to tie a tie.

Though seemingly a miniscule aspect of the overall job hunt, Shannon knows how learning a new skill and confidence go hand-in-hand. For a job interview, “presentation is big, because that is your first impression. If we can prepare our men both mentally and physically, they will have a much greater advantage.”

“At some point you’re going to have an interview, so you need to be ready,” says Shannon. “You’re going to prepare for the interview by practicing questions, updating your resume…then it’s time to prepare for your first impression.”

In addition to preparing the conference attendees to be dressed well and make a lasting impression, Shannon hopes that this exercise brings attendees together. “How great is it to have other men in the same space able to help each other, share time, and have conversations with each other about ‘hey, how did you first learn?’” says Shannon.

The love affair with ties (and bow ties…see picture above) started young. “I’ve worn ties all my life. What takes me back was when Boyz II Men came out, they had cardigans and ties. I was like ‘that is so cool!’ I love that look and that influenced my style as a teen.”

Shannon has a passion for clothes, fashion, and style. “Everybody has their own individual style. For me, it’s about patterns, colors, contrasting. The tie you choose depends on your own tastes.”

Ties can be expensive, so Shannon recommends shopping at Goodwill, thrift, boutique, or online stores to fill out your wardrobe. He also suggests window shopping at department stores or flipping through magazines to find the styles you like.

Finally, when asked whose wardrobe he would want to raid, Shannon said “Fonzworth Bentley. His style is different…there’s no matching. I really respond to that.”

“There are no rules when it comes to fashion,” says Shannon. “Even in the corporate world, where there are dress codes, you can always personalize your suit with a tie that reflects your personality.”

“Learning to tie a tie is a small skill,” says Shannon, “but a lot of small skills will eventually add up to something bigger; hopefully, a career.”

Looking for employment or to help someone find a job they love? Learn more and register for the Success Starts Here! Men’s Conference.

Hear from Shannon and his son, Shannon Reed Jr. as they talk about finding success and navigating life as men of color.





Ann Marie Stokman
September 22 2017 at  11:02:19 AM


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