I can still remember the day I found myself sitting at a bar in Asia in my early 20s next to an old Australian traveler. We got to chatting about life, love, and (more importantly) what the hell I was doing at the BoogieWalk in Osaka, Japan.
After a plethora of hot sake, Orion beers, and a bunch of life advice from some old dude that seemed to have been everywhere in the world; he says to me stumbling out “Remember, you’re only truly a man if you plant a tree, write a book and have a child.”
“Damn,” I thought, “I’m only 22. I didn’t know any of this, I’m not on my way to doing any of these things. Does it have to be in that order? What else should I know?” By that advice, I was way behind and wasn’t sure I would accomplish any of that.
Well I can honestly say now…have no fear gentleman you have time, we all have time, but while you wait, here are 20 things you should know and be able to do that can get you started on your way to being an all-encompassing, well-rounded, interesting man.
1. Turn a steak one time and one time only
Starting simple, but very important. Don’t get too nervous with your meat by flipping it every 30 seconds. It just makes you look weak.
Once you put that steak on the grill have the confidence in turning it just once to create that perfect crust on the outside and just the right cook time inside.
2. How to do simple maintenance
Own a good toolset and know how to use them. Whether it’s being able to fix your own place or help someone else. You need these skills.
3. Write a good résumé and cover letter.
As much as it can suck, getting a job is a part of growing up.
Being able to do these two things will be the difference between starting your new job and still waiting for someone to call you about a job.
4. Be a generous tipper
Don’t be that guy, I promise…you will never live it down.
Being known as the cheap dude at your local watering hole is just a major no-no. That extra dollar, two or even three can go a long way. It’s always nice for the bartenders to know you for the right reasons.
5. Be able to drive a stick
You would be surprised by this one. The number of men these days that cannot drive a manual transmission is astonishing.
It’s reasonable to not always own your own car in your twenties, especially if you’re still on campus. Don’t get caught in a situation where you need to drive a stick shift and realize you have no idea what you’re doing. It could be quite embarrassing.
6. Cook a great dish
Actually, I would suggest being able to cook three: a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner.
Most importantly be able to cook a great breakfast. It’s where you will score major points with anyone. Pick something you love and perfect it.
7. Be fine in solitude
In our 20s, we often need many people around to fulfill our time. Don’t get me wrong; appreciating friends and community is important, but don’t forget to spend time alone.
Being with yourself is to know thyself.
8. Know how to play chess
It’s the game of kings and it doesn’t take a long time to learn.
It does take a lifetime to be really good though. Knowing how to play will always make you a better man.
9. Play at least three chords on a guitar.
This is a great skill that will surely make you stand out when you want to. It can be difficult and time-consuming but, it’s worth it.
10. Say no to all those credit card offers.
This is a killer in your 20s and can wreak havoc on you well into your 30s.
They prey on you when you don’t know and suck the life out of you when it’s too late.
11. Have the ability to ask someone who is way out of your league on a date
This will definitely help when you get older. Build that confidence in yourself now and you will dominate later.
12. Quit drinking cheap alcohol
This one is definitely better learned early. It’s a bit more expensive but will surely reduce the hangover.
You may only be able to have five drinks instead of 10, but you will also be better for it in a number of ways.
13. Know how to tie a full Windsor knot
There’s rarely a sharper-looking man than one who has a full Windsor.
14. Know how to fillet a fish
This is just a man’s must. A life skill each man should know and acquire over time. Might as well do it early. It’s what will set you apart in this world.
15. Drink scotch
Never less than 12 years old, and always know the difference between single-malt and blended.
16. Be able to make a perfect drink
If you have this simple skill, you’ll never be alone. No matter what you will always be able to take the edge off in any situation.
17. Secure a table in a restaurant.
There are a few methods you can use when they tell you the place is full, but showing your face is usually the best. Perfect your story, be confident, and let them know how important the night is.
18. Navigate your way in unfamiliar places
This is a skill well learned early if you want to be a traveler as life goes on. You need this now.
There is no harm in getting lost, it’s sometimes the most fun thing that can happen, but when the time comes that you need to get where you are going. It is always good to know North, South, East & West no matter where you are.
19. Be able to give a compliment.
This one can take you a long way. Giving someone a compliment is an art form and can be perfected over time.
Always be specific and most importantly sincere; when handing these out. It is also important to not discount the timing and situation in which you choose.
20. Be able to tell a great story.
It doesn’t even have to actually even be true but, it needs to mesmerize and captivate.
Being a great storyteller can make you the center of attention anytime and anywhere you want it.
You’re in your 20s, be a man of action. Learn a few things; put a few things into practice. Test yourself and see how far you can get. Push the limits sometimes, break a few rules, and know a few things that can set you apart from the herd.
It’s kind of cool to live on the edge a bit; otherwise, you’re just taking up too much space.