Lots of guys grow moustaches on a whim. Only one used his to start an international movement that now raises millions of dollars annually to help save men’s lives: Adam Garone, CEO/founder/mastermind behind the mustache-growin’, cancer-fightin’ charity Movember. Thankfully, this Man of the Moment was happy to share his worldly advice on health, wealth and all things mo.
MM: I’m sure you’ve never been asked this before. Why did you start Movember?
AG: In 2003 we thought, “Whatever happened to the moustache? Why hasn’t it made a comeback?” So in ’03 we grew moustaches for the month of November. My girlfriend hated it, my boss wouldn’t let me see clients, I’d literally be walking down the street and parents would usher their kids away. In 2004 we added the cause side of it. Fast-forward to last year, and 450,000 men across the world raised $31 million for men’s health. We’re now the biggest fundraiser for prostate research in the world.
By the end of Movember, everyone will have moustache envy. When you’re out socially, all the attention is on the guy with the moustache.
MM: Are you surprised by either the social phenomenon or the sheer dollars raised?
AG: I wake up every day and think, “My life is about a moustache.” There’s a global movement. The funds are amazing. What’s more important is getting men engaged. I met a young guy last year who told me he grew the worst moustache ever. He went home for Thanksgiving and the conversation turns to his dodgy moustache. He and his father talked about how his grandfather had prostate cancer. He told his dad he’s twice as likely to get it. His dad started getting screened. Those conversations are saving lives.
MM: How often should men get a check?
AG: Men of all ages need to get an annual physical and talk to their doctor. Around 40 is when you need a prostate exam every year.
MM: Why are men afraid of getting prostate checks?
AG: Men aren’t engaged in their health like women are. We take it for granted. About 70 percent of all cancers are created or influenced by lifestyle choices. The best way to beat cancer is to prevent it. If you get it, catch it early. We’re trying to get men knowledgeable about their health.
MM: How do you tell an ironic hipster moustache from a Movember moustache?
AG: It gets really tough. I rock a moustache pretty much all year and people often come up and say, “Hey, it’s not Movember yet,” which is awesome! We’re actually in trouble if the moustache comes back. Then there’s nothing special about growing one. You can always tell a Movember moustache, because the guy looks awkward. We often use the line out of Fight Club, “You just look and you know.” Walking down the street the first couple of weeks of November you see this other guy and you give each other a nod as if to say, “I know what you’re doing.”
MM: How does a guy know what style suits him best?
AG: Our advice to first-time Movember moustache growers is to start clean-shaven, spend the first week growing your beard out, and start with that blank canvas. Grow the handles all the way down the cheek because if you start high, you can’t really go down. It takes a couple Movembers to get it right. It took me maybe three to get my style down.
MM: What do you say to guys who are on the fence?
AG: Rocking out a moustache is the best conversation starter at work or socially. For single guys it’s the best conversation starter. Women love that you’re doing it for men’s health. [Editor’s note: see video below.] This is your chance to bring prostate cancer to the forefront of the community. One in six guys are going to get it. We can do something about that.
MM: How does a man deal with moustache mockery from his mates?
AG: Growing on your own is not fun. So create your own wolf pack, or moustache pack, with a few buddies. Use strength in numbers. By the end of Movember, everyone will have moustache envy. When you’re out socially, all the attention is on the guy with the moustache.
MM: What can Movember teach guys about being better men?
AG: When you grow a moustache you go on a personal journey. Movember teaches men self-confidence, no matter how you look. Wear the moustache, don’t let the moustache wear you.
MM: Any parting words of wisdom?
AG: Pursue what you’re passionate about, be patient, work hard and anyone can create a movement. Anyone can make the world a healthier and happier place. That’s an amazing opportunity that all of us have to seize.