Interview With A Longhaired CEO

In Advocate by El Rubio19 Comments

The Longhair Professional Series With GB

It’s no secret long hair on men is considered “unprofessional.” There are plenty of jobs out there where you can’t have long hair. To be a man with long hair is to have limited vocational options.

That’s why we created the Longhair Professional Series. It’s purpose:

To showcase successful men with long hair in their professional fields. Talking long hair and business.

We aim to reinforce the belief for every longhair:

“Yes, I can be a longhair and be a professional/be taken seriously/make a good living. I don’t have to be ‘conventional.’”

GB

For this installment in the Longhair Professional Series we had the great opportunity to interview Gudmundur B. Heidarsson, better known simply as “GB.”

GB is the CEO of eDataSource, an email data company in New York City, leading their sales and marketing, product development, engineering, and operations planning. He’s been in executive management and digital marketing with top brands for over 15 years.

We did a video chat with GB from a chilly, but sunny, 68° San Diego morning while the storm of the year was pounding GB’s home in New York with snow and subfreezing temperatures. We reminded GB we were forced to wear close-toed shoes and long-sleeve shirts that day.

“Yes, I can be a longhair and be a professional. I don’t have to be ‘conventional.’”
We had a blast. GB was laid back with his hair down, fun-spirited and keen for a chat in his nordic accent. Just three longhairs talking shop, here’s how it went down.

Background

GB is a nordic native and present-day viking, where long hair is more common and acceptable than here in the states. He’s been in the US over ten years, living first in Oklahoma before moving to New York City.

Asking how long he’s had long hair, GB told us “it’s always been a thing for me,” having had long hair most of his life. When it gets really long he donates 8 inches or more to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, helping provide real-hair wigs to women fighting cancer.

“I grow it out long, eventually cut it and donate to charity. I get a note from the recipient each time thanking me and telling me how much they appreciate it, and that’s a very nice feeling to help someone.”

Gudmundur B. Heidarsson

Business

Of course we wanted to ask GB what it was like working his way up the corporate ladder as a man with long hair. He explained it’s never really been a big deal. He’s had long hair most of his professional life, and while it might garner the occasional sideways glance, most people just accept it. That said, he does tie it up during meetings, so as not to be distracting.

Asked if his long hair has created problems or affected his professional opportunities, GB’s feeling was, “if people care little enough to judge me by the way I wear my hair, maybe we don’t need to be associated or be doing business together.”

When first interviewing with his company he explained that he considered cutting it for the interview, but when it came down to it, in his own words, he just decided to “let it ride.” It must not have been too big a deal, because now he’s the CEO.

GB did say that when long hair comes up in business conversations, it’s never a bad thing to mention he donates to charity. “Saying I donate it also gives me a little more credit in the business world as to why I’m growing it out, makes it a little more acceptable.”

One thing he’s certain about, no one mistakes his identity. “People definitely recognize me, they know immediately who I am.”


Sports and Street Cred

GB is into sports and the outdoors, in particular skiing, running marathons and riding his motorcycle. We talked about skiing different resorts around the country and even made the pitch to bring him out to San Diego and learn how to surf, although he was unsure how his wife would feel about him taking up another sport.

Asking about sports and long hair, GB brought up the point about riding, that he loves pulling up on his motorcycle, taking his helmet off and looking like a badass with all his hair streaming out. We could relate, pointing out it’s much the same with skiing, inspiring the Longhairs post, “9 Places Long Hair Gets You Street Cred.”

And while he doesn’t often see other longhairs running marathons, it’s always easy for his wife and friends to find him in the pack.


Hair Care and #longHairProblems
Hair care has never been a big concern for GB. He does the basics like brushing and tying it up, and as far as cleaning products he just grabs the first thing he sees on the shelf and that’s it. He has, however, experienced his share of long hair problems:
  • Speed Tangles: yes long hair looks badass flying behind you on your motorcycle, just be ready to have hair tangles from hell that might prove easier to cut off and start over rather than brush it out. Except even the charity won’t accept tangled hair.
  • Helmet Hair Nightmare: you’d think wearing a helmet would help keep your hair in place. What actually happens is you get hot and a little sweaty, then individual hair strands start creeping down the forehead, around the ears and directly into your eyeballs going 40 MPH and you collide with a guy from Texas on those super-lame little short skis in a complete yard sale with shorthairs jeering from the chairlift.
  • Wet Hot Blanket Head: when you’re running a marathon it’s all good for the first half-hour until you get a real sweat going and it comes undone. Hot, sweaty, matted hair starts encroaching on your eyes, mouth and face. Just what you need during a marathon: a wet, hot blanket wrapped around your head stopping you from breathing.
Moral of the story? Even CEO’s have #LongHairProblems.

We had a great time rapping with GB, we’ll stay in touch and reconnect with him down the road. Until then, just know there’s a badass longhair CEO for a high-tech email data company out there riding his motorcycle like SOA and whipping by on his skis with a long flowing mane trailing behind him.

Do you know a longhair we should feature in the Longhair Professional Series? Email us at greathair@thelonghair.us.

“Where I came from long hair is much more common and accepted”GB

Comments

  1. I’m 19…I always wanted long hair since childhood..but I couldn’t do it till now. (many obvious reasons)
    now I decided I’m gonna go for it.
    And I want to go to the domain of data science jobs and the other similar jobs.
    Any advice from anyone..to tackle it smartly with fewer issues as possible.

  2. Thankfully for my job in law enforcement I can grow long hair due to a very loose policy. Not a uniform cop but plainclothes so a lot more discretion.

    1. Author

      Sounds like progress, happy to hear this and thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi guys! I’m in the Bay Area, 27 years-old and I am looking for employment upon graduating with my BA. I have had long hair for a little over two-and-a-half going on three-years, & my Dad would really appreciate it if I cut my shoulder length curly hair. Mind you, I’ve resorted to putting it in a bun instead of a ponytail now for almost a year. The other caveat about my hair is this: I have a low tapper fade that goes all around my head starting at my hairline above my forehead and on the side of my head and in the back. My Dad does not like my fade. He thinks & believes that the fade on the side of my head makes people weary of me and he believes employers will be turned off based on first impressions when they will see my hair. I love, respect, care, & highly appreciate his advice, I truly do; but I also really like my hair. I see what he is saying, but I grew my hair out for so long and I’m really attached to it. What should I do?? Thanks & I hope to hear from you. FYI, here is a picture of what it looks like. Not me just to be clear, got this picture off the internet.

    https://menhairstyletrend.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/wonderfull-man-bun-undercut-2019.jpeg

    1. Author

      YO FB! Glad to hear from you amigo, I’m also from the Bay.

      Lots to unpack here. First of all, glad to hear that you respect and appreciate you dad’s advice. I have been running this company for over five years and my dad still wants me to cut my hair lol. j/k, he kinda gets it now.

      If he’s anything like my dad, he just wants the best for you. At the same time, things are a little different than when he was 27. A lot more employers are more open to longer hair (especially in the Bay Area).

      In my experience, the best thing you can do…is do your best; in terms of your actions, behaviors and your character. Some people will respect you for it, others will harbor opinions based on your appearance.

      We can’t tell you whether you should cut it or not. That decision is yours alone. If you decide to let it ride, however, I would explain to your dad that you understand and value his opinion, but share the reasons why your hair is important to you.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

  4. For people with long hair, when you go on a job interview —- any job interview — wear it in a pony tail, this way the hair is not the first item that will be looked at, the people who interview you will look at your face. If you are going for a Professional job —- still use the pony tail, and — dress sharp as in a suit, dress shirt, tie.

    I’m 61 years old, I have shoulder length curly hair. when my hair is wet, it flows past my shoulders. My hair was long the last 50 years, I had “many” jobs over the years — grocery stores, warehouses in the old days, and I work in Information Technology since 1980 — all — with long hair !! And I always followed the rule — for any job I went to — wear it in a pony tail !!

    I live in New Jersey — NJ is more open/mellow — I never experienced, heard of issues from anyone over the years.

    Now a good possibility that some jobs were not offered to me after an interview because of the pony tail — their problem!! not mine !! but I was never out of work because of the hair, and I would not — cut my hair, as that is what I like. Since 2014, I was prompted to “Manager” of IT —- with — the shoulder length hair!!

    Once I start a job, I will “test the water” —- eventually, I do remove the pony tail, and no problems.

    The type of company is also an issue for anything — out of the ordinary. Some companies want super polished people — male and female — whether hair, tattoos, nose rings, can all be —- taboo.

    Where I work people are — “mellow” — nobody past or present would look down their nose. Our only rules are —- no nose or lip earrings, no unnatural (purple, green, orange) colored hair, that is all.

    if you want long hair — do it —–

    Bob

    1. Author

      HEY BOB! Wow great to have you on our website and thanks for the comment. 50 years of long hair, you’ve got more tenure than most of us combined. Great tip here and very practical. Appreciate you sharing. Thanks again for comment and please comment often!

  5. I appreciate this page but I have a question or two. I am a 17 yr old physically fit male and I have always loved long hair. I am on my way to the workforce here soon and I want to go into sales. I was wondering if the same mentality should still hold true before you gain profesional skill in your field? You said “give to the cause once you feel like you’ve proved yourself professionally” and I feel like that adds to the stigma. As an independent, diligent, able bodied worker I don’t see why even in the beginning of my career my hair should effect my ability to work. I would also like to get your input on how you change somebody’s mind in say an interview when they have a long hair predisposition, what would you say to make them forget about how your look completely other than I have lots of expirence because I do not. Thank you for your insight.

    1. Author

      Yo DG thanks for writing in amigo. It might be harder to enter the workforce brand new with long hair and no experience. But shoot, give it a try. It all depends on where you apply, I’m sure some places will not mind but others might. Like I told my 17-year-old brother, there are times in life when you have to pay your short-hair dues.

      What would I say if I were entering an interview? First, I would have it neat and tied up, hopefully it will go unnoticed. If it becomes and issue, you’ll have to feel it out. Could I give it a try with my hair and prove myself with my work?

      Please let us know how things go man, we’ll be interested to hear. Hope you don’t have to cut it!

    2. Hey Dominic, I realize I am responding to your comment over a year after you posted. That being said, I have been in a sales position in the construction industry for a little over three years all while having long hair. Of course, like with anything some people will always be turned off by appearances but the key to any good sales person is their ability to network and build lasting relationships with people built on a foundation of the clients trust in you and your word when it comes to their needs. If you want to work in sales, always present yourself in a genuine manor and put your clients needs first and ensure every one of your clients gets the feeling that they are your top priority regardless of how congested your work load becomes. This will make for some long days and on occasion some long nights as well but you will find success whether you have long hair or not. Best of luck to you.

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  7. Grateful to read this. I think the main issue we have in the states is that not enough people do it, compliance out of fear perpetuates the stigma. A great deal of that stigma comes from the fact that baby boomers who came of age in the 60s, see long hair as a cartoonish reminder of their misguided, perhaps drug fueled, irresponsible youth. I believe that it would never occur to them that Gen Xers let alone Millennials might have different reasons for having long hair that have nothing to do with counter culture.

    I have noticed that in particular my friends who are from europe pay no mind at all to my long hair, it is an immaterial feature to them professionally, whereas my always American friends tend to react a bit like wow that’s brave, hope it doesn’t hurt you.

    I’ve always wanted to have long hair, in my senior year of high school and freshman year of college I did not cut it, finally breaking free from the gentle nudgings to the contrary from my military upbringing. However, as I headed back home for the summer after my freshman year of college, thinking about finding work for the summer to pay for the next year I found myself in a conversation that really punched me in the gut in a way. It was with a fellow student who was from west africa. He had been an exchange student in high school but then had to spend a couple years and a few thousand bucks in bribes to get an adult student visa to study in the states.

    I was humbled by his love of the American dream that would push him that hard to come back, overcoming the corruption and lack of freedom of his home country. But then he asked me a simple question: “will you cut your hair short to get work when you return home this summer?” to which I said, eh, I don’t really want to, I love it and I want it longer but… realistically yea i will probably have to. Though he asked the question rather plainly and matter of fact-ly his reaction was one you’d expect from someone who had just found out that their dog had died. I was heartbroken to, feeling like I had let him down.

    I returned home, did not cut my hair and was propped up in front of a family friend I had worked for before, he took one look at my hair and sent me to wash busses, out of the public eye. Granted it was the hospitality business but anywhere else in the world seeing a man at a hotel front desk or working in a shop or restaurant with long hair would be of no note whatsoever. I let it ride.

    As time wore on I began to cut my hair, shorter and shorter until eventually I was on the east coast where it was preferable to look like I could be in the military than anything individual. From there I returned to the west coast but by gaining a high level technical job with a major law firm, interviewing in a nice suit with a white shirt and short short short ugly hair.

    After working there for years, my resume becoming very well rounded and suddenly my 39th birthday approaching it hit me, just as it did GB, if you are judging my ability to do high level data analysis after decades in the field based on the length of my hair? I have zero interest in working for you or with you, chances are you are an idiot about a lot of other things too.

    So that was it, 8-ish years ago I stopped cutting it. I started finding my identity, trying to find out why I wanted long hair in the first place, ultimately my viking heritage really resonated, I felt more like Thor than John Lennon, and then one day reading up on the subject and the history of my ancestors a line really nailed it for me: Men wore their hair long, collar, shoulder or longer, whatever suited their daily needs and personal appeal, however, only slaves wore their hair short. I went out into the world that day and saw a see of fellow professional men with tightly cropped tops, buzzed down to the nub in neat tidy controlled edges and realized, they were in shackles. They wear a flag that says “I will always do exactly what I am told to do”. When your work is labor or in the military, there is no harm in that, in fact its critical in most cases that orders are executed without question. However, I literally get paid to think, as do most of the people in tech rich cities like this. So now I employ a reverse bias, the degree to which your hair style conforms to business norms tells me how much I can count on you to just employ published “best practices” and how much I can count on you to solve unruly never before seen complex problems with verve.

    So you younger guys out there watching from the bleachers, I ask of you this: give to the cause, once you feel you have proven yourself professionally, join me, stop letting your employer decide what kind of hair you get to have. The more of us there are out there, commanding a room, pony tail and all, the smaller this issue will become. 🙂

  8. This interview with Mr. GB has greatly enlightened me. My Mom suggested several times that I tie my hair even if it’s currently medium length. From now on, I will tie my hair and I know I will get used to it. 🙂

  9. Glad to read this, makes me a bit happier with the business world, but he is an exception. That’s the problem.A lot of people will still ftown at him. But he’s the CEO, haha. Great post!

    1. Thanks man. It’s more common than you think, there is quite a few big time long haired CEO’s out there.

      1. I’ve seen videos of Viking festivals in places like Hafrsfjord and Gudvangen, and I have noticed plenty of men and some boys who are part of our community. Let’s raise a to Gudmundur. Skal!

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