Brett: My name is Brett McKay and my wife, Kate McKay and I run a men’s interest website called the Art of Manliness. The thing I enjoy most about running AoM is seeing that men out there actually get something out of our content. It makes our week when get emails from men who tell us the site has really helped them become better men. Emails like that. That’s what makes this all worth it.
Alvin: What particular skills or talents are most essential to being a man today?
Brett: It’s not so much about skills or talents as it is about essential inner values. You can be a guy who knows how to change a tire, karate chop an attacker, and ask out a beautiful woman, but if you’re also a lazy bum who leeches off his parents, cheats on his exams, and treats others like crap, then you’re not much of a man. The outward skills are important and fun, but the essential thing is to cultivate your inner values. Virtues like courage, resilience, integrity, industry, and loyalty constitute the core of manliness. Whether you’re a firefighter or an IT guy, if you strive for those virtues, you’re a man.
Alvin: Tell a story, or name something you’ve done or experienced which became your largest step to manhood?
Brett: My rite of passage into manhood was my two year stint in Tijuana, Mexico as a missionary for my church. I was 19 years old, thousands of miles away from my family, and learning a new language. If I had a problem, it was up to me to fix it.
I learned how to work hard, how to interact with people from different walks of life, and how to deal with failures. I dated my wife before I left for my mission and we wrote each other while I was away. When I returned, she noted that I had manned up big time compared to how I was before I left.
Not a day goes by I don’t think about my experience in Tijuana.
Alvin: How has “The Art of Manliness” project affected your lifestyle?
Brett: When we’re covering “how-to” stuff, I often try to test out whatever it is I’m researching. So I’ve gotten to attempt a lot of new things and hone my skills. I’m learning right along with our readers. And it’s really helped me focus on improving myself. I try to practice what I preach, so I’ve become pretty self-aware about what I’m doing (or not doing) to become a better man. It also helps that my wife calls me out when I fail to do stuff that I just wrote about the other day!
Alvin: What personal advice do you have for men navigating their way through manhood?
Brett: Find a mentor. Find a great group of male friends. Read about great men from history. Those three things can give you the motivation, inspiration, and guidance you need as you navigate the journey to manhood. But the leaven to this recipe is action. Too many men are sitting around on their butts expecting they can think their way to the man they want to be. Manliness is earned and it takes consistent hard work to achieve.
Alvin: What has been your greatest experience thus far with the “The Art of Manliness” project?
Brett: Getting to work with my wife every day on something that’s meaningful and helping people. You can’t beat that.