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John T. Capps, III founded the Bald Headed Men of America in 1972 to create a forum where bald people could meet and interact with other bald friends. It has now become a worldwide network of proud bald men and even, women. Networkers of the Bald Headed Men of America believe that what's in the head is more important than what is on top of it, or not on top of it.
John was inspired to set up the bald network, when he became the butt of bald jokes, having lost his hair at a very early age. Sick of the ridicule and derision, his resolve became even more firm when, just out of college, he was turned down for a job by a large Atlanta financial institution. Capps was told that the company was looking for a "youthful, dynamic personality" As a bald headed man, even one just out of school, John didn't fit that mold.
At the age of thirty, he decided not to cover up with a hair piece, to cease denying and apologizing, and to simply live with his shining bald head. He made another very important decision. He not only would accept his baldness, but he would laugh about it - and get other "baldies" to do the same. John figured that the inferiority complex caused by baldness might be overcome with a little humor.
John, who is also president of a quick-printing and public relations company, said that he felt that it was probably best to tackle baldness with a touch of humor, as nothing else was likely to help.
The Bald Headed Men Of America
With the decision to turn to humor as the true remedy for baldness, John came up with what seemed like a crazy idea - to start a club for bald headed men. After all, what's wrong with being bald? The Lord made millions and millions of heads - some He created perfect and those He was ashamed of he covered with hair. A determined John Capps decided to meet the problem of baldness "head on" and commenced the Bald Headed Men of America (BHMA) organization.
Membership in his elite group was limited to those who have a bald spot, chrome dome, or haircut with a noticeable hole in it. Upon payment of a nominal $10.00 initiation fee and annual membership fees, they receive a handsome certificate attesting to both their baldness and their membership in an organization that doesn't "go around fooling Mother Nature."
The "baldies" are more than just a fun group. They are also a serious self-help organization with a mission to help those for whom baldness creates psychological problems.
Networking Something From Nothing:
John started the organization but where was he going to find members who shared his concept and perception. As a third generation baldy, John first wrote to his bald dad, his bald uncles, bald friends and others of hairless recognition. Where did these friends come from? Networking! John had kept business cards and noted "bald" on the back of the cards from other baldies. For several years, he had maintained a list of bald Rotary club members, bald Jaycees, and some bald church and business contacts. It was his bald database.
Once the BHMA was started and the initial invitations for membership were received, the new members were sent sheets and asked to fill in the names of other prospects so information could be sent to them. This networking system is still used today.
The network of bald people knowing other bald people in all walks of life began to grow and the BHMA has been growing ever since...because of lack of growth. John truly networked nothing (a lack of hair) into something (BHMA), his bald headed organization.
Public Relations - The Bald Facts:
As a P.R. person, John recognized that the media would play an important role in sharing both the fun and the seriousness of his organization. He started networking media contacts. Doug Looney, an accomplished journalist who wrote for the National Observer weekly newspaper and later for Sports Illustrated, became interested in BHMA. His bald story appeared on a front page of the National Observer with photographs. A friend of Doug's from Time magazine networked with him and did a bald story for Time in their health section.
Jules Loh, special events writer for the Associated Press in New York City, noted the Time story and made a visit to Morehead City, North Carolina to see firsthand if the BHMA was for real. Jules' respect, coupled with the extensive net work of the Associated Press, provided additional exposure in hundreds of newspapers worldwide for John's now-growing-famous organization.
From that article, individual news organizations had their own writers do independent stories on Bald Headed Men of America. Andrea Higbee, writer for the New York Times, vacationed near Morehead City and discovered for herself the amazing club for baldies. She later did a feature on the club that appeared in her paper.
The success of BHMA was a success for networking. John's networking was really functional and was very well-organized and effective. He had taken advantage of every networking tool available including newsletters, direct mail, the telephone and of course, public relations. His results averaged three radio interviews each week, two televisions interviews per month, five requests for bald material and information from freelance writers per week and one magazine news story per month for the past several years.
The Book On Baldness
Author Richard Sandomir of New York came across the BHMA while researching his book Bald Like Me. About the same time, Dennis Kelley of the New York Daily News published a story on the BHMA. One can imagine the impact two New York writers writing about baldness added to the impetus of the organization and fuelled in more interest and curiosity.
As part of his research, Richard Sandomir contacted the BHMA for information about the club. He attended the annual Bald Headed Men Of America Convention two years in a row. With his personal knowledge of the BHMA organization, Richard completed his book which was published by the McMillan Company. He subsequently did the talk show circuit it and, through net working with other baldies of the BHMA, appeared on various shows including the Sally Jessy Raphael Show.
Networking For Television Coverage
Networking has been good to the Bald Headed Men of America. Through continual contact with media people, John Capps has appeared on such prominent shows as: Donahue, Good Morning America, This Morning On CBS, The Today Show, Night Line, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, Hour Magazine, PBS's Nova television series. Real People, What's My Line, I've Got A Secret and 20/20. Not bad for someone who couldn't get a job because he was bald!
Other baldies like CBS's Harry Smith and NBC's Willard Scott and Joe Garagiola are willing promoters of baldies. They frequently mention the fun that members of The Bald Headed Men of America have whenever they put their bald heads together in a smooth network.
A Networking Secret
When asked how networking has helped build the Bald Headed Men of America to a membership of 20,000, John will rub his shiny bald head and say, "Always responding to individual requests from any and everyone who writes. You never know who knows who and who you'll someday need to know. After all, that's what networking is all about."
It's Not All Just For Fun
Each year at their convention, the baldies take time out from fun and address a serious concern - alopecia areata, a condition that causes loss of hair from all parts of the body. Proceeds from the convention and from individual contributions have been allocated to the Alopecia Areata Research Foundation, a group of doctors working to find a cure. John Capps' unselfish efforts have made many people proud of their "chrome domes." Through humor, John has helped these same people achieve a sense of dignity about their baldness.
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