The Truth Behind Bow Tie Friday

We are the culmination of our habits. As Brian Tracy says, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” It stands to reason, that if we’re not where we want to be, our habits aren’t leading us where we want to go.

In my pursuit of living a rich life, I’ve made it a point to redefine my habits—an intentional choice to swim upstream. I’ve learned that if you want to redefine your life, you must redefine your habits.

For the past seven years, I’ve carried on a Friday tradition of wearing a bow tie. I call it Bow Tie Friday.

The Dare That Became a Habit

When I began my insurance career, I came to work my first Friday in a full suit, dressed for business. As I looked around at everyone else is collared golf shirts, I quickly realized that someone hadn’t let me in on the casual Friday concept.

Immediately, I thought it a novel idea to take a different approach. If everyone else was enjoying casual Friday, I would institute formal Friday. I’ll admit, initially it was initially a fight-the-system mentality. Casual Friday felt too common, too mundane. In a culture laced with common habits, why not do something different?

Once I made my suggestion known to the rest of the office, the barrage began:

”What’s formal Friday?” They asked.

Unsure myself, I quickly said, “I’ll wear a bow tie!”

Laughter ensued.

“I dare you to wear a bow tie,” they heckled.

That was all I needed to hear.

The Motivation to Continue

One of the first days I wore the bow tie, I ran into a longtime family friend who quipped, “What’s with the bow tie? You’re not a bow tie guy, are you?” This puzzled and intrigued me at the same time because this guy was part of the white-collar establishment. In fact, he’s the type I’d expect to see in a bow tie.

But by his suggestion, wearing a bow tie carried a connotation that I was completely unfamiliar with.

I can honestly say I still haven’t figured it out and maybe I’m the connotation. Either way, his comments were the affirmation that I needed. I was going to live an experiment. I was going to embrace the challenge of changing that belief system.

I wanted to redefine what it meant to wear a bow tie.

Could I create a habit that would remind me to live differently, to pursue confidence with a certain humility?

While everyone else dressed in casual attire, could I swim upstream, don a bow tie and at the same time, redefine the cultural perception?

I’m not suggesting that I have, but that has been my mission. Every Friday for seven years I’ve worn a bow tie as a simple reminder to live differently—to pay attention to the details.

That’s what Bow Tie Friday is about for me.

The Rest of the Story

As I began to think about the story of Bow Tie Friday, I saw an eerie similarity in my writing.

While the world pursues its own definition of rich, one defined by financial wealth, can we challenge that paradigm?

On my blog and in my book, I try to unravel what it means to live a rich life.

I’ve heard it said that the decision to change happens at an instant and culture changes one person at a time. Culture-shifting change always begin with a vision and are followed by a group of passionate individuals who are willing to live differently.

And that’s where you come in.

When I began Bow Tie Friday, I never intended it to be a thing or anything close to a movement. But as I pay attention to what is happening, I’m beginning to see that Bow Tie Friday is much bigger than I ever imagined.

James, a young business owner in Virginia, is heavily involved in his growing community and he’s wearing a bow tie every Friday. He says that the greatest thing about it is the opportunity it provides for conversations.

Bill, a tie-hating, work-from-home-in-his-pajamas entrepreneur, even donned a bow tie as a tribute to our tradition.

Al began wearing one and leads a men’s study group at his church in Georgia.

But here’s the question: Will you join us?

We must create habits that keep our eyes focused on our vision for our lives. These habits must move us toward the person we’d hope to become. Wether it’s Bow Tie Friday or something else, you must take an inventory of your habits and give an account for how you’re spending your days.

I wear a bow tie to remind myself that being rich isn’t about my wallet, it’s about my heart. True richness in life is built upon our capacity for generosity, gratitude, and humility.

When I can learn to cultivate those characteristics, I am shaped by them and, in turn, I begin to shape those around us as well.

Change always begins with one person who is willing to swim upstream.

Then, another.


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About the Author

Matt Ham is primarily a husband and father to three boys. As an author and speaker, he is dedicated to guiding others toward living a rich life. Through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover fullness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment in both their professional and personal lives.

His first book, Redefine Rich, is a journey of uncovering a deeper, more fulfilling life by shifting your perspective. It is available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon: here

You can order a limited hardback version of the book at

To contact Matt or inquire about his speaking schedule, visit


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4 Responses to The Truth Behind Bow Tie Friday

  1. Claire McLean August 28, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    awesomeness! i listened to your interview on #liveyourlist last night about this and it just gets better with every hearing… its like a paradigm shift in the way to view life and the bow tie is the outward expression of the inward reality!

  2. William D Wright November 16, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    About two weeks ago, I ‘wowed’ my job counselor and a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor by wearing a bow tie and suit into a meeting. (I’ve been unemployed for two years). The tactic worked and this week we start a temporary job (although I’m not having to dress up for it). My job coach assures me though that in six months all my dress wear including the bow ties and my tuxedos will come into use big time. Meanwhile, I will keep wearing them to the Symphony concerts I attend and other things just to keep in sync with life. I have always believed in dressing up for work and it is finally paying off albeit with a few detours. So, I say keep your head high and keep the faith and what you desire will come back to you in greater ways than you hoped for.


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