Why Burnout At Work Happens, According To Science

Nobody loves the daily grind, but some employees are clearly happier than others. People who love their jobs often describe their work as “fulfilling,” or otherwise in line with their natural talents, while their less satisfied colleagues plug away until they eventually burn out. Now, a new study in Frontiers In Psychology suggests that the reason behind employee burnout is a mismatch between a worker’s individual needs and the opportunities or demands of the workplace.

“We found that the frustration of unconscious affective needs, caused by a lack of opportunities for motive-driven behavior, is detrimental to psychological and physical well-being,” said coauthor Veronika Brandstätter of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, in a press statement. That is, employees who crave social interaction but are tied to their cubicles—and introverts who hate the limelight but must lead daily meetings—live with “hidden stressors” that can culminate in burnout.

Burnout is not just the mental state that your mother warned you about—it’s a legitimate psychological (and physical) condition. Psychologists describe burnout as physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that leads to an utter lack of motivation and a feeling of helplessness. Beyond poor performance in the office, burnout has been linked to anxiety, cardiovascular disease, immune disorders, insomnia, and depression. And roughly one million employees miss work every day due to burnout, costing U.S. employers between $150 billion and $300 billion per year.

To better understand what causes burnout—and its multi-billion-dollar losses—Brandstätter and her colleagues asked 97 working men and women who reported feeling burnt-out about their physical well-being, degree of burnout, and the characteristics of their jobs. They then prompted participants to write short stories about other professions, including that of an architect and a trapeze artist, to help determine what sort of motives drive each participant, without having to ask them directly.

When the motives that drove each story’s main characters and the realities of its authors’ workplace were in conflict, the researchers found, the risk for burnout and its associated physical symptoms went up. The findings suggest that workers are more likely to experience burnout when they feel that their current job does not complement their values, goals, needs, and talents—a package of emotions that the authors call “implicit motives.” Further, the study suggests that these mismatches can be repaired by insightful employers to prevent burnout and its requisite financial losses.

“A starting point could be to select job applicants in such a way that their implicit motives match the characteristics of the open position,” Brandstätter says. “Another strategy could be so-called ‘job crafting,’ where employees proactively try to enrich their job in order to meet their individual needs.”

Coauthor Beate Schulze, Vice-President of the Swiss Expert Network on Burnout adds that, to prevent burnout, employers may need even more innovative approaches than that. “We must increasingly take account of motivational patterns in the context of occupational stress research,” she said in a press statement. “And study person-environment-fit across entire organizations.”

Shared Office Coffee Machines Are As Gross As You’d Think

If you work in an office and use the communal coffee maker, chances are you’ve had the following thought at some point or other: Who cleans that thing? Maybe you’ve even joked about it with colleagues, each person laughing with varying degrees of intensity that reflect their own personal level of germaphobia. The uncomfortable answer is:Hopefully someone!

Make that very hopefully, given the results of the “first systematic analysis of coffee machine-associated bacteria,” published recently in Scientific Reports. A research trio from the University of Valencia, in Spain, studied 10 Nespresso machines in both office and home settings and found “significant bacterial diversity”—35 to 67 different genera (or major types), to be exact—just hanging out in the inner drip tray below the discarded capsules. They describe the bacteria’s colonization process as “rapid,” “rich,” and “dynamic.”

So the office machine is as gross as you feared. The good news is that there’s no apparent health risk so long as the tray gets “frequent” maintenance. “The coffee from these kind of machines is perfectly safe,” co-author and biology scholar Manuel Porcar tells Co.Design. “The tray containing the wasted capsules should be cleaned with water and soap, or a few drops of bleach.”

The research team chose to study Nespresso machines given the brand’s popularity. The 10 particular shared and domestic machines tapped for this sample were used, on average, anywhere from twice to 12 times a day. Porcar and colleagues analyzed the drip trays, which catch the drippings of used coffee capsules, with a variety of techniques that included culturing and electron microscopy. Among the loads of bacteria spotted in the trays, two main taxa showed up in moderate to high abundance in nine of the machines: Enterococcusand Pseudomonas.

As a controlled follow-up, the researchers also studied the bacterial build-up in a brand new Inissia Krups machine (also made by Nespresso), which got three uses a day over two months. Regular analysis revealed high variation and instability among the bacteria during the first month, steadying out into a “more balanced bacterial composition” afterward. After two months the tray’s bacterial profile was again dominated by Enterococcus and Pseudomonas—a sign that the machine itself, rather than the user community, shaped the microbial outcomes.

“I want to stress that bacteria accumulate in the leach tray, not in the coffee itself,” he says. “Nespresso coffee is microbiologically flawless.”

Harvard Study Shows Hormones Can Predict Leadership Potential At The Workplace

Finding success at your 9 to 5, or whatever cool job you have that’s not run by “the man,” could be as easy as managing your stress, a Harvard study says.

The study aimed to predict men’s leadership trajectory based on their hormone levels. To do so researchers studied 78 male executives in an executive education program at Harvard. Saliva was used to measure hormone levels. Women weren’t studied because of their low and generally stable testosterone levels. 

Researchers found, Cortisol, the stress hormone, affected the influence of testosterone, the hormone associated with aggressiveness and competitiveness. Basically, the more stressed you are the less likely you’ll be an effective leader.

Participants were asked how many people they managed and how many people worked for them in their respective organizations.

The studies results showed:

  • Men with levels of high testosterone and low cortisol had the most employees.
  • Men with levels of high testosterone and high cortisol had fewer employees.
  • Men with low testosterone and low cortisol also had fewer employees.

Lead author of the study Gary Sherman, Ph.D., told Forbes,

“Stress reduction has leadership implications. It can unleash leadership potential in employees who might otherwise not show it.”

Meet The Man Who Made $2 Billion With Netflix Stock

Advice: Buy all the stock you can right now. Any stock. As much as your bank account will allow. Because you know what? That stock might one day be so valuable that a little-known video-rental company you threw down some coins for in the olden days may end up netting you $2 billion when you cash in all your shares. (Insert Dr. Evil pinky-to-mouth gesture here.)

This latest story of riches to riches (the guy was rich before Netflix; he’s just richer now) involves a hedge-fund manager named Carl Icahn. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Icahn has been in the money business since the ’70s, and the 79-year-old businessman isn’t slowing down. You know what’s so impressive about this coup though? Icahn didn’t buy his shares in 2003 or 2004; he bought them in 2012 at 58 bucks a pop. Now they’re worth $658 and Icahn had 10 percent of the shares. Not a bad sum of money to retire to. And the other 20 billion dollars he’s got laying around is probably just going to make his golden years more sweet.

As Bro Bible points out: Icahn really knows how to pick ’em. (He also owes some of his success to Orange Is the New Black, which helped skyrocket Netflix’s stock prices right back into the stratosphere.)

5 Common Traits of Entrepreneurs

If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, or you already are one, these 5 traits may help you kickstart or improve your entrepreneurial journey towards success. Let’s take a look!

1. Self-Love
First let’s set the bottom line here. I’m not talking about people who are ‘all about themselves’ or whom are ‘conceited’ but simply love themselves enough to not settle for what their lives are at this very moment, meaning they’re always giving themselves permission to want better and for more out of life. They will not let anyone get in their way of their ideas, visions, and goals because they are relentless!

2. Investing In Themselves
Entrepreneurs, and most people, generally know that they are not perfect. They know that to be consistent with themselves, their relationships, and business(es) (etc), they feel obligated to keep improving as individuals in every aspect of their lives. Whether it’s reading everyday, researching their industry, exercising, eating healthy, etc. They do whatever is it that they need to do to perfect their craft as much as possible to be prepared for the next flood of opportunities that come.

3. Take Risks
To every situation at hand there is always 2 sides of the coin, which in this case, the pros and cons of taking the risk of becoming an entrepreneur. Majority of entrepreneurs have at least taken some of these risks already or are going to in the near future:

  1. ‘Taking the leap of faith’ in becoming an entrepreneur
  2. Abandoning a steady paycheck
  3. Personal time and health (working hard/smart = less sleep)
  4. Sacrificing personal money
  5. + More

To become ahead of others, entrepreneurs are always prepared to take calculated risks. “The separation is in the preparation” – Russell Wilson

4. Learn From Their Failures
In life you will fail, there is no doubt behind that. Entrepreneurs know that overcoming failures is a step towards success. They embrace their set backs, no matter how big or small because they see that they don’t always win and they live to dominate another opportunity. – While the school system generally forces you to memorize and minimize your mistakes, it’s hard to adapt from that mindset of not making any at all; that’s how you learn.

5. Inspire Others
The characteristics of an entrepreneur; passionate, resilient, hardworking, positive, vision implementor, motivating, dedication, disciplined, organized, etc. By making big life changes, moving forward, accomplishing their goals, one right after another they are bound to reach out and inspire at least one person. Personally, I was inspired to start this magazine.

Is the Internet Killing Middle Class Jobs?

The robopocalypse for workers may be inevitable. In this vision of the future, super-smart machines will best humans in pretty much every task. A few of us will own the machines, a few will work a bit — perhaps providing “Made by Man” artisanal goods — while the rest will live off a government-provided income. Silicon-based superintelligence and robots will dramatically alter labor markets — to name but one example, the most common job in most U.S. states probably will no longer be truck driver.

But what about right now? If you’re unemployed or working part-time instead of full-time, or haven’t seen a raise in years, should you blame technology?

Yes, says venture capitalist and former Intel executive Bill Davidow. In a provocative piece for Harvard Business Review, “The Internet Has Been a Colossal Economic Disappointment,” Davidow makes a strong claim: “For all its economic virtues, the internet has been long on job displacement and short on job creation. As a result, it is playing a central role in wage stagnation and the decline of the middle class.”

Just look at how Amazon is disrupting brick-and-mortar retailing. And even though tech firms such as Google and Facebook generate huge revenues, they employ comparatively few people versus industrial giants of the past, such as IBM or General Motors. In the 1970s, General Motors employed more than 600,000 people, 10 times more Google and Facebook combined.

To accept Davidow’s broad conclusion, though, one also has to believe workers across many sectors would be a lot better off today if the internet had not been invented. That’s an unlikely counterfactual. Just look at how the labor market has been doing. The U.S. economy has generated 3.3 million jobs over the past year, the best 12-month performance since 2000. And accelerating job growth has pushed down the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent, within the range the Federal Reserve considers full employment.

Now it’s true that the low jobless rate has been accompanied by declining labor force participation. If you’re not “participating” in the job market by actively seeking work, you aren’t counted as unemployed. Indeed, if the labor force participation rate was where it was in 2007, the jobless rate would be 10 percent. But most economists mainly blame lower participation on Baby Boomer retirements and the slow recovery — the latter is typical following financial crises — not the internet.

Of course, the 2000s overall have seen weak job and wage growth. But David Autor, one of the leading researchers on the interplay between automation and jobs, doubts the internet or robots are to blame. As Autor writes in a recent paper:

My suspicion is that the deceleration of the U.S. labor market after 2000, and further after 2007, is more closely associated with two other macroeconomic events. A first is the bursting of the “dot-com” bubble, followed by the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing financial crisis, both of which curtailed investment and innovative activity. A second is the employment dislocations in the U.S. labor market brought about by rapid globalization, particularly the sharp rise of import penetration from China following its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

None of this is to say technology isn’t having a harmful impact on certain workers. Autor’s own research has noted a decline in “middle skill” jobs, including clerical work and some sorts of repetitive factory work, due to automation. But the rise of the machines appears a secondary cause of worker woes, at least for now.

As for tomorrow, who knows? Thankfully, many of the best ideas to help workers deal with advancing automation are also applicable in a “great stagnation” scenario. Expanding wage subsidies like the Earned Income Tax Credit is a smart way to make work pay more, and Davidow is right to recommend it. Same goes for eliminating excessive occupational licensing regulations that make it hard to start the sort of businesses — interior design, hair-dressing, beauty treatment — that are robot-resilient and provide a first step up the opportunity ladder.

There’s no economic law that technology always makes workers better off, even in the long run. We should be preparing now just in case it doesn’t.

Corporations’ Newest Productivity Hack: Meditation

Since I started meditating two years ago, my practice has been shamefully sporadic. When I do manage to stop what I’m doing and sit down, device-free, I find following my breath to be a relief from—and a contrast to—what happens at work. But as David Gelles observes in his new book, that contrast is dissolving, perhaps for the better.

In Mindful Work, Gelles, a business reporter for The New York Times, catalogs the nascent trend of establishing employee well-being programs that promote mindfulness, an activity that is perhaps best described as doing nothing. More precisely, mindfulness means drawing one’s attention to the sensations of the present moment, and noting, without frustration or judgment, any mental wanderings that get in the way. It can be done anywhere—at your desk, on the subway platform—and at any time. Decades of research suggest that setting aside time for mindfulness can improve concentration and reduce stress.

Gelles first reported on the rise of corporate mindfulness programs in 2012 for The Financial Times, when he described a rare but promising initiative at General Mills. In the years since, similar programs have popped up at Ford, Google, Target, Adobe—and even Goldman Sachs and Davos. This adoption has been rapid, perhaps due to its potential to help the bottom line: Aetna estimates that since instituting its mindfulness program, it has saved about $2,000 per employee in healthcare costs, and gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity. Mindful employees, the thinking goes, are healthier and more focused.

Charity Races Are Losing Money… Gaining Popularity

Has the charity race craze—all those walks, runs, rides, and mud runs done to raise money for good causes—begun to fizzle? The numbers for 2014 aren’t in yet, but a survey of the top 30 programs showed a total drop of $44.5 million in 2013.

Make no mistake. Despite the declines, charity races and endurance events are still big business. In 2013, the top ten powerhouses affiliating with, or holding, such events raised more than $1 billion, led by the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at $380 million, followed by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Race for the Cure at almost $107 million, according to Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. But six of those top ten events saw income declines, continuing a trend despite the improving economy.

Industry pros say the overall participation rates are flat or down only very slightly. So what accounts for the decline in total revenues? It may be that newer, jazzier events are cannibalizing participants from the older, established pioneers. Three day walks are out, mud runs are in.

“People don’t want to do a 5K,” says Tim Brockman, CEO and founder of Event 360, an event production company that works with charities, including Komen and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “They want to go to a neon disco blacklight 5K at night, and the vampire run, and an undie 500.” Events like the Komen three-day walk helped pioneer the business, Brockman says, but many younger people—the ones with extra income and the drive to do something active for charity—don’t want to spend that much time out on the course. “They want to do it on a Saturday morning. It’s more about instant gratification.”

Brockman’s company has seen growth in a new 5K mud run event it has operated with the Multiple Sclerosis Society called MuckFest MS. The MuckFests ran in ten cities and drew just over 30,000 participants in 2014. The company has added an eleventh city for 2015.

Events like MuckFest are contributing to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s declining participation numbers, says Amy Boulas, the JDRF’s National Walk Director. “We did not have that competition before,” she says. “And the younger generation says ‘A walk’s great. I’ll do it once. But it’s kinda boring and lame.’”

The silver lining for walks, however, is that walkers may be more dedicated to the actual cause, and be somewhat older and therefore have more money, and possibly time, to donate, Boulas says. Her retention rate, or the numbers of people who do a walk and then make the charity part of their life, is pretty good, though exact numbers were not given. “Anybody can do it,” she explained of the walks. “There are not a lot of barriers to entry. What I need to do as a fundraiser is ensure my organization has another way to engage you after you have done the walk for two or three years.”

Toward that end, Boulas is exploring so-called “customized” endurance adventures in which smaller groups of people can do many kinds of events, from kayaking to canal skating. “You’ve got to stay relevant the audience,” she said. “And yeah, it’s the younger generation. What do they want and expect? They say ‘What appeals to us?’”

Smile Train, a charity that funds cleft palate surgeries around the world, has taken a slightly different approach to fundraising innovation. Instead of focusing on a short, sweet event like a morning mud run, or an array of different adventures like JDRF, they’re making charity racing a VIP lifestyle.

Smile Train has aligned itself with Ironman Arizona, paying a fee to the race to be the exclusive charity beneficiary (except for the Ironman Foundation itself). According to Sarah Coulam, senior manager of athletics for Smile Train, in the three years since initiating the partnership, the gross dollar amount raised has grown. In 2013, Smile Train grossed $425,000. This past year, it grossed over $800,000 thanks to the charity’s unique customer service practice: treating donors like Vegas high rollers. “Your job as the charity is to give them that extra VIP experience,” she said. “That’s why some [charities] are successful and some struggle.”

Smile Train engages its Ironman racers for nearly a year before the event by hosting both race training seminars and fund raising plans on the website “so that every day they are thinking about your organization. They literally bike, swim, run, eat your organization.”

As the race approaches, Smile Train triathletes don’t just get shorts and a T-shirt. The charity hosts webinars with the race director, VIP tours of the course with Ironman staff—including racers’ family and friends, who are shown where the best spectator spots are located—an on-course training camp, and a post-race party. “We have to be ahead of the curve to figure out what motivates people and how to get people to sign up and believe in the program,” Coulam says. If that means being catered to like Kimye at a Vegas hotspot, so be it.

9 Brutally Honest Reasons Why Your Finances Suck

It seems like everyone is struggling to make ends meet, especially in this day and age where the 35 and younger demographic are have to work multiple jobs, move back in with their parents, take on roommates, and delay the things they’ve wanted to do in their lives (like marriage, kids, vacations, luxuries etc) because they have become wage slaves. The US has over 800 billion in credit card debt and over 1 trillion in student loan debt. Hopefully some of this information will help you to remove yourselves from such statistics.

1. You don’t know where your money is going

I think this is one of the biggest steps to figuring things out. First and foremost, you need to write down everything. Take a look at your income, and subtract from it obligatory expenses. Then you need to see what you’re doing with any money that’s left over. One of the issues here is what do people consider “obligatory.” I know that in this day and age, for instance, everyone needs a phone. Do you need the latest and the greatest phone on the market, or can you manage with a crack-dealer flip phone that doesn’t have a whole lot of features? Maybe you can just switch to a cheaper plan.

There are online programs out there that help you manage your money so that you can get a bigger picture of what’s going on. Three that come to mind (all of them free) are Mint, Personal Capital, and You Need a Budget. When you’re managing student loans, monthly bills, trying to save, and just leisure expenses, it gets hard to keep track of it all. These programs will help alleviate that.

One thing that rings true is that there is stronger effect psychologically if you use cash instead of a credit/debit card. It’s easy to swipe your card, but with cash, you actually see your wallet getting a little emptier with each purchase. It will make you think a little bit harder before you make the next purchase.

2. You don’t work enough

I know the job market sucks right now, so working more is easier said than done. Additionally, there’s stuff like school (and the homework that goes with it), possible childcare, and of course time for yourself. That being said, the benefits of working more (especially more than 40 hours) is two-fold. Firstly, you’re making that much more money. Secondly, you have less time/energy during the day to go out and spend that money. It definitely would be nice to have one good job as opposed to multiple crappy jobs, but until you get to that point, utilize your time to the best of your ability.

3. You don’t do your homework with your shopping

Someone is always having a sale, especially if it’s close to a holiday. Some companies benefit certain demographics (teachers and military for instance). Sometimes going on sites like craigslist/ebay for certain merchandise is the best course of action. Online shopping in general tends to be beneficial because you can get things straight from the warehouse, and it’s easier to compare prices of various items. Also, sometimes it’s as easy as talking to your friends and coworkers. Someone may be trying to get rid of something that you’re trying to buy, or they may know of some particular location that sells things a lot cheaper than your typical go-to places.

4. You love your name brands

Store brand stuff is always cheaper. I know that store brand soda might not be as awesomely delicious as that Coke/Pepsi product, but if you’re trying to get your numbers in order, this is another way to cut corners. You would be surprised how much people really DON’T care about how up-to-date you are with the trends. Me, for instance, I couldn’t care less about your $200 Air Jordan 4s when you already have them in another color…along with having the 6s, 11s, and 13s. Having dollar tastes on a dime budget is just going to create a lot of heartache.

5. You give in to peer pressure

I’ve had plenty of friends tease me about not wanting to do things that involved spending money. But when we compare notes, I’m doing better than they are. I know people want to enjoy life to the fullest and don’t want to feel like they’re “missing out,” but there should be some significant planning for the future. 1-2 years of sacrifice now will make for a world of difference.

6. You’re stretched too thin

You are out on your own and, you’ve got your big boy pants on, so you want to conduct yourself like one. You get married, get a house, have your 2.3 kids, and get the latest cell phone, the fastest internet, cable TV with a million channels, and the 2 cars, and of course insurance for all over the place. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. Maybe put a good chunk of those things off for a while. I personally believe that someone shouldn’t look into the whole family life (aside from marriage) until their student loans are paid off.

7. You’re not aggressive with your debt

Let’s crunch a few numbers. $25000 student loan with 5% interest rate paying $250 a month. With just the minimum payments, you pay $7283 in interest and it takes you almost 11 years to pay off. An extra $100 a month (probably about the amount you spend on eating out) saves you 45 months in payments and $875 in interest. Maybe the $875 isn’t all that big of a deal, but going almost 4 years without having that thorn in your side should be enough. I don’t know about other people, but I am not exactly a fan of getting a monthly reminder by some company telling me that I owe them money.

8. You’re trying to date (more targeted at men)

Let’s be honest here. As much as we’d love to delude ourselves in thinking that women are our equals and all that cultural Marxist mumbo jumbo, we know fully well that (as Chris Rock once said) nothing dries up a woman’s vagina faster than her having to open up her purse. So you spend all this time, money and energy trying to date and essentially get laid on a regular basis. Before you start talking about companionship and having someone in your corner, etc. You probably have plenty of deep and meaningful relationships already. Even if she actually is comfortable being with paying for herself, all the money spent going out as opposed to being boring and staying home adds up.

9. You don’t understand finance

This is probably the biggest one out of all of them. All these terms like subsidized/unsubsidized loans, interest rates, compounding, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. The language in and of itself can be quite daunting, and it seems like everyone is a guru (even me). I have found that the easiest give-away that someone doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about regarding money is when they start talking about trying to save AND pay off debt at the same time.

A Quick Financial Crash Course: Once you’ve saved up an emergency fund ($1-2k), you need to stop trying to save and start focusing on grinding away at your debts (not including the mortgage). If you have a specific short term goal, then you pay the minimums on your debts and save for that goal, and once your goal is paid in full, go back to your debts. When you get to the point where all you have left is your house payments, 6-8 months’ worth of expenses should be saved up, which should be easy by then because you don’t have all those other thorns in your side.

The overall trend that I tend to see is that people want to live a certain lifestyle and maintain a certain standard of living. This being despite not nearly having the means to afford it. I think one of the common saying that I hear is that people want to live to the same standards as their parents. However they forget how long it took their parents to get to where they are now. Have a sense of perspective. Have a little humility. Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you’re probably going to have to struggle. Don’t make things harder on yourself for longer than they have to be.

Facial Hair Is Back in Style in Business Settings

A century or so after the handlebar mustache made boardrooms look like a convention of Kaiser Wilhelm II impersonators, facial hair has found its way back to the professional setting.

As a new generation of men rises into positions of power in the workplace — helping to relax standards for what constitutes executive style — beards and even Hercule Poirot-esque waxed mustaches are becoming more common in the office.

The secret to pulling off this look, according to barbers and style consultants for businessmen, is striking the right balance of hair and common sense. That means understanding one’s industry and taking into account one’s age, general appearance — and physical limitations.

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“Facial hair can look great, but it has to suit the right person,” said Brent Pankhurst, owner of the Pankhurst salon in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. (It offers haircuts in the style of Steve McQueen, for the tousled tough-guy effect, and Montgomery Clift, for the more classically handsome.) And there’s a facial hair approach à la Michael Fassbender (stubble) or Ryan Gosling (medium length).

“A good barber takes into consideration how a guy looks when he walks through the door, what’s he interested in, and then makes him look as good as he can and gives him something he can manage,” Mr. Pankhurst said during an interview in his über-masculine salon.

In the booming industry of upscale men’s grooming, facial hair is like any other element of executive style. From a simple evaluation in a barber’s chair — Mr. Pankhurst’s chairs are designed by Bentley, with the same leather and cross-stitching as the company’s car seats — to a session with a consultant who dresses professionals and advises on facial hair, fingernail length, what-have-you, the aim is to find what works best for the individual in an environment where individualism may not always be celebrated.

“For example, the fisherman’s beard is a trend, but it will go out of fashion,” Mr. Pankhurst said, referring to the moppy, bunchy beards that can grow inches below the chin. “People will look back on photographs in 10 years and ask, ‘What the hell was I thinking?”’ he said. “Anything longer than a medium-length beard is a no-no for the boardroom.”

Of course, the workplace and the company’s style help determine what’s acceptable. For Joseph Rosenfeld, a personal brand and style strategist in San Jose, Calif., the hipster look of the Silicon Valley executive, combined with the nerd factor, has changed the approach to facial hair in the last decade or so, as the goatee went from an innovation to a trend to almost a cliché.

“When you’re dealing with a base of engineers who create all the different products and solutions in this area, it’s pretty acceptable for guys to wear facial hair in all different configurations,” Mr. Rosenfeld, 45, said in a phone interview. “But you have to be very careful because of the messages that could be conveyed by a beard that looks incomplete or not fully grown. It can be incongruous with a guy who gets the job done.”

Mr. Rosenfeld also sees facial hair as more than just a fashion statement or even something beyond an expression of masculinity or sexuality — especially in the workplace. It can help some workers feel more comfortable.

“Facial hair might give someone a cover if he’s more introverted, or he can grow a beard to put on a better face if, for example, he has pockmarks,” he said. “It’s no different than a woman putting on makeup.”

But especially in the start-up and tech world, many people have become executives at a young age — and with it attendant wealth and self-importance, Mr. Rosenfeld said.

“There’s a bit of ego at that level that they want to do what they want to do,” Mr. Rosenfeld said, citing Mark Zuckerberg’s fondness for wearing hoodies to Facebook’s board meetings and corporate events.

A prototype of the tech wunderkind is Lawrence J. Ellison, who founded the software company Oracle in 1977 and now, at age 70, is one of the world’s richest people. He has long sported some sort of beard-mustache combination.

“Larry Ellison of Oracle has facial hair, but it can look at little rough, like sandpaper on him, and he could be perceived as being abrasive to some,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “I’m concerned about that kind of thing when I work with my clients.”

Mr. Ellison, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

As with any business, discovering what works best for the client involves a continuous quest. At the Ottoman Crew in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London, the 18-year-old owner, Hasan Yaman, manages a group of young barbers. Many display their own styles of facial hair, in a sort of self-experimentation as they cater to ever-changing customer whims.

“About six or seven years ago most young guys wanted a slim jawline cut and, over the lips, something more detailed and more sharp,” Mr. Yaman said. “Now they’re going for a more natural look.” But, he cautions, “when it’s too natural, it’s a bit scruffy and out of hand.”

His old-style Turkish barbershop, complete with lavish gold-trimmed mirrors and sparkling chandeliers above rust-colored leather chairs, is at once cozy and spiffy. The barbers wear red-trimmed vests and serve Turkish tea. Mr. Yaman said it’s all part of the mood for the repeat customer, many of whom come in every couple of weeks for a tune-up, especially executives who want to maintain a consistent and clean look.

“With hair, you can really fix it up, but a beard is more stubborn, so it takes a bit of time and effort. When you comb it down, you still get bits sticking out,” he said. “Mustaches are becoming more trendy now, and I’m even seeing guys curling them up.”

The amount of care and use of “product” previously restricted to hair grooming is now often devoted to facial preening, Mr. Yaman said. “They’re twisting their mustaches and rubbing their beards instead of running their hands through their hair.”

Too fussy, though, is too much, according to Mr. Pankhurst, the Mayfair barber. “The most important thing is not to have hard, clean lines,” he said. “You should always leave it as natural as possible.”

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That is the aim of one of the Pankhurst patrons, Daniel Millar. Mr. Millar, 37, owns a Dubai-based commodities trading firm, Ferrocadia, but has his barbering done back in his native London whenever possible.

“In Dubai, with the locals you see a lot of beard-staches and lots of laser hair removal so that they have these perfect lines on their beards,” Mr. Millar said. “I always just leave a bit of stubble. I don’t like the long-bearded look. I don’t think that fits with board meetings.”

Another Pankhurst regular is Clive Darby, 48, a fashion and luxury consultant, who owns CD Consultancy in London.

“I dip in and out of going heavy on the beard, and I think the perception of facial hair today has changed so dramatically,” Mr. Darby said during a recent interview over drinks in the guyishly swanky Map Room at Claridge’s Hotel. “Men have all those metrosexual things and, just like for the ladies, these become security blankets. You like to put them on and you like to feel good and smell good. Men actually sit around a table and say, ‘By the way, you’re hair is looking great’ or ‘I really like your beard.’

“That would have never happened in my father’s era.”