How baldness made me a better man

I was 13 years old when the nun told me I would be bald.

It was a bright spring day and we were outside St. Joan of Arc Church. Our eighth-grade class was getting ready to go inside to practice for our confirmation as Catholics.

Out of nowhere Mother Tarsilla barked a laugh and said, “Mark, you’re going to be bald like your father.”

This was jarring news, especially since I was just entering adolescence and Mother Tarsilla, the head nun, virtually never spoke to me. I don’t remember if my classmates reacted, but I have always remembered those fateful, stunning words.

Turns out she was right, although for the wrong reason. Yes, my father was somewhat bald, but I would become even balder. The baldness gene comes from a man’s maternal grandfather, and my mother’s father was very bald. (He was also very grumpy, a trait I work hard to avoid.)

But Mother Tarsilla’s words and my baldness shaped my life, for good and bad.

Lesson 1. Watch your words.
The nun had no need to tell a barely pubescent boy that he was doomed to be bald. Why be mean when it’s not necessary?

Others ask WWJD — What Would Jesus Do?

When I’m tempted to make a cutting remark, I try to stop myself and ask, “WWMTS – What Would Mother Tarsilla Say?”

Then I do the opposite, especially when younger people are involved.

Lesson 2. Come to terms with your baldness.
I noticed my first gray hair when I was 29, the day before my first child was born. To get a gray hair at such an early age was shocking, but now I treasure my remaining gray hair. If not for gray hair I would have no hair at all.

In my rebellious late teens I had a full head of long blond hair that reached my shoulders, but it started thinning seriously in my early, early 30s. I quickly went to the comb-over, parting my hair farther down the side and sweeping the strands over the bald spot.

But the bald spot kept growing and the comb-over became more and more troublesome to maintain.

It looked and felt ludicrous. When walking on a windy day I would pretend I was a tacking sailboat as I crossed the street to keep the wind from getting underneath the comb-over and blowing my hair straight up, uncovering the incipient chrome dome I was developing.

Finally, late in my 30s I went to a hair stylist — $10 more than my trusty barber – and asked him to take away the comb-over and let the baldness be free.

I never felt so good. I was free of the comb-over’s quirks, the amount of time needed to build it in front of the mirror, and the fact that it wasn’t working. It was a liberating experience made even more so by the compliments I got from men and women.

Lesson 3. Don’t let haters get you down.
Some people feel obligated to make bald jokes, and I always smile even though I’ve heard them all.

Trust me, there hasn’t been a new bald joke in 30 years. But it’s important to smile and shrug off the remark. Otherwise, people think they got to you and they make even more bad bald jokes.

Instead, I turn the bald wisecracks to my advantage. I own a convertible and I tell people I am “hairodynamically” equipped to drive it.

I also congratulate myself for not pointing out my critics’ protruding love handles or other apparent flaws. Remember: WWMTS — What Would Mother Tarsilla Say?

And when I see longhaired young guys I sometimes point to my head and urge them, “Grow it while you got it!”

Some bald guys take an extra step and shave their heads regularly, but this seems like too much work. Too many razor nicks on the naked noggin, too. I like my low-maintenance hairstyle, three strokes of the brush – one to the left, one to the middle, and one to the right – and I am good for the day.

I know a few bald guys who resent their baldness and bristle whenever someone comments on it. Why? It’s like being angry about your height or your eye color. It’s something you were born with. You can’t change it, so make the best of it.

I’ve also encountered a couple bald guys who snort when they saw a fellow baldy covering up with a toupee. Most folks can quickly spot a toupee, which is a sign of a man’s insecurities.

I never wanted a toupee and I never felt threatened by a guy who wore one. I figured women also would wonder about a guy with such needs and he would be one less competitor for me.

Lesson 4. You’re more than your hair
Speaking of women, there’s no doubt that a good head of hair helps a guy get noticed. But a good sense of humor and other attributes will quickly overcome the hair handicap.

In the end, other things count for much more than hair, which can be here today and gone tomorrow.

What this content creator does

•Write blogs and website copy about heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing for companies in New York, Alabama and Florida. (Job tip: 10,000 HVAC techs will be needed in the next few years as current folks retire.)
•Edit an expert”s blog about healthy ways to age. (Ugly reality: “Sarcopenia” is not our friend. It’s the condition where our metabolism slows as we age. But you can do things to slow sarcopenia’s advance.)
•Write an e-book for an insurance lawyer on hurricane preparedness. (Often overlooked: Many people die or get hurt after the storm passes; they get careless or make bad choices.)
•Ghostwrite content for a website focusing on mental health. (One common suggestion from experts: Almost all of us could benefit from more sleep.)
•Write about agri-tourism in Sebring, Fla. (This area, still much like old Florida, has farms, wineries, distilleries and more, offering visitors a blend of modern amenities and classic experiences visiting farms, rivers and woodlands.

I might be able to boost your web presence. Please contact me markobrienusa at 

I write about plumbing and create content for plumbers web sites

If you’re in the plumbing business, I can create interesting, informative content for your website and help convert readers into customers.


I clearly explain plumbing issues to people who want help dealing with drain clogs, bathroom remodeling, water heaters, pipes and all the other problems that a homeowner may confront. I’ve written about these topics and many others — water hammers, plumbing myths, spring plumbing tips and plumbing suggestions for old homes, among others.


This will establish your site as a great source of valuable, trustworthy information and show that your company is a great choice for someone in need of a plumber. It will separate you from your rivals and increase your business.


I use on-line research and interviews with clients and their customers to present fresh, relevant content that will convert readers into customers. In addition, this content can be converted into an email that you can send to your customers and others in your target audience.


Please contact me at




I write HVAC

I create clear, interesting content about heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that will boost traffic to your HVAC website and help bring you new customers.

I can explain ductwork, SEER, allergens, compressors, BTUs, inverters, split systems, preventative maintenance and other issues for customers and potential customers seeking information — and professional help.

You can see some of my writing at

You will get fresh, original content, not a cut-and-paste job. I provide original research — on-line and via interviews — that will help distinguish your company’s site from your competitors. My informative, quality content will help your company’s site become the go-to resource for people who want to know about HVAC and HVAC companies.

I have 30-plus years experience in content creation, marketing, public relations, advertising and journalism. I have been writing about HVAC for three years.

Please contact me at

P.S. I can also quickly reposition this valuable content to give you a periodic email letter to send to customers and potential customers.

A book you can write

I recently edited a book for a businessman whose idea may encourage you to write, too.

There are many benefits to his approach. Try it. Most folks can write — subject, verb, object — if they take the time. Then contact me for help fine-tuning the book. You soon will be adding another bright facet to your life.

He took about 15 anecdotes from his life — as a Marine, a father and husband, a business owner and consultant, brother, hiker and traveler — and ended each with an appropriate moral.

It’s the proverbial quick read, about 80 pages, and can be published as an e-book or in print by using simple self-publishing technology.

It will work well as an income stream and as a memoir for his family and friends, but it also has great potential for him to draw new clients to his consulting business.

It’s size and topics will appeal to businesspeople who constantly search for books and articles that help them keep their can-do spirit even when times get tough.

It’s a great gift to give to clients and to potential clients who want to know more about him.

And it’s not all that hard to do.

The big thing about writing is getting the words out of your head and onto the page. This takes time and discipline.

But professionals like me can take care of the details and help you become a published author. Let me worry about the grammar, point out holes in the narrative and polish the writing. It’s what I do.

If you want help editing a book or manuscript, please contact me…

2 easy steps to hook more readers for your business blog

As someone who writes, edits and reads business blogs for a living, I have two suggestions for increasing readership and attracting more customers.

1) Stop writing blogs as if you were still in school, when you discovered the formula “Big words + Many Pages = Better Grade.”

That style may have worked in schools where teachers graded papers by the pound, but it doesn’t work in the real world, when you are competing for readers’ time and attention.

Capture some of the fun, passion and challenge that brought you to your business. Write about how you solved a problem — this is why interesting case histories add credibility to a business website — or what you learned from taking a different approach.

Talk shop, but in a down-to-earth tone, not with stilted phrases that suck the life out of reading and story-telling. (Banish “out of the box,” “utilize,” “reach out” and other hackneyed buzzwords from your vocabulary.)

2) Inject some personality into your website. Maybe a co-worker had a baby or won a gaming contest or took a camping trip.

Readers don’t want Facebook on business blogs, but occasional snippets about people’s lives will build links with your customers and potential customers.

In today’s global economy we seldom run into customers at the coffee shop, so we need to establish personal ties on-line where we do so much of our communicating.

A photo of the newest office baby or tales of a wonderful vendor will push your site beyond just a dull recitation of your product or service and give people other reasons to remember you and give them more impetus to want to do business with you.

Contact me if you want help improving content on your website. I blog for a golf course in Florida, an air-conditioning company in Alabama, a health supplement company in Michigan, and more. I love learning about businesses and telling their stories. I am

Long content works

Here’s a looooong post about how long your content should run.

Wisecrack aside, it’s a very interesting analysis of posts and how longer posts do well in many industries. It may hurt writers’ egos — yikes, readers skim and scan rather than read our every word!

But it’s valuable to keep in mind when doing what helps the client’s business best. After all, helping the client is Job 1 for content creators.

How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be? (With Word Counts for Every Industry)

Suit yourself

Let me tell you a quick, upbeat anecdote that can inspire folks who are fighting gravity and weight gain.

I recently was assigned to write several web pages about making alterations for men’s clothes — which amused my wife because I can’t even thread a needle.

Fortunately I had the help of an expert tailor to explain the ins and outs of altering men’s clothes, which can be very complicated. She told me that on occasion she has altered clothes for people who lost large amounts of weight — 60 pounds or more.

She even was able to take a man’s single-breasted coat and turn it into a double-breasted coat after he lost a lot of weight.

What an inspiring coat for that man to wear — a tangible result of his amazing accomplishment and a great example to include in the web copy.

Want to get the last word on your life?

Let me write your obituary — in advance.

This will enable you to capture the most relevant parts of your life in print and help people remember your life.

You also will be doing your family a service, taking one major responsibility off their list, just as some people make funeral arrangements and buy cemetery plots long before they will be needed.

It’s not uncommon for people to have obituaries written in advance. It allows perspective and a better history than one written at the last minute or after the fact by disconcerted relatives.

I have more than 30 years experience in public relations, marketing and journalism and have written many obituaries. I will talk with you and write an obituary that captures the key moments you want to recall about your life, and you will have the final copy to use as you see fit. (Details of survivors and services can be easily added to the copy.)

Contact me at for a free consultation.

How I’m spending my summer

Working. Learning. Writing.

One big benefit of creating content for business is the diversity of knowledge that comes my way, thanks to interviews with clients and the power of Google.

Among the work I’ve done recently:

Ghostwritten a book on clothing for big and tall men — guys over 6-foot-2 and/or those who wear sizes 1XL and above.

Written blog posts for a golf course and social media posts for a barbecue restaurant.

Written blog posts for air conditioning repair companies. (Quick quiz: Does your AC have a solenoid cylinder and, if so, what does it do?)

Helped promote Blue Angels Blend coffee, the first food product licensed by the U.S. Navy Department. This product, one of many created by DeLuna International Coffee of Pensacola, can now be sold in Navy bases, commissaries and museums worldwide, expanding the Blue Angels/Pensacola connection and sending royalties to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs for Navy personnel.

The fun challenge for me is writing about these topics in ways that catch readers’ attention and keep them reading about the clients’ services or products.

If you want help growing your business, I may be able to help. Contact me at and we can have a no-cost discussion about opportunities.