7 Lessons I Wish I Learned In Cosmetology School

7 Principles Life & Business For New Stylists

Successful behaviors and habits give you the best chance for victory at the end of your road."

Certain things you just can't learn in school. Hairstylists, nail techs, and estheticians attend beauty school wanting to provide a professional service to the world. They learn the proper techniques but graduate and become licensed with no clue how to navigate the world of business for themselves. 

Trade schools would have a hard time keeping up-to-date with the evolution of commerce even if they tried. Internet technology creates new opportunities to do business and frequently affects consumer behavior. What worked 3 years ago is not what's working today. 3 years from now it'll be different.

Some things you just have to learn for yourself.

Most advanced education in the industry focuses on techniques, products, and styles to keep up with new trends. 

There is almost no path for stylists to learn critical entrepreneurial skills like marketing, advertising, decision making, time management, consumer psychology, goal orientation.

Many stylists end up employed by someone else. The ones who strike out on their own have a high chance of failing in their first few years. Fewer of them will thrive without the necessary knowledge to grow a business of their own. I'm not saying assisting is bad, i believe it's very valuable. So is working for Supercuts, by the way. How you make money and how much of it you make isn't nearly as important as how well you progress toward your long term goals, particularly in the early stages.

Everyone knows the first few years of business are cutthroat in any industry. People who find early success usually face some damnable obstacles after the first few years. 

Some things can be shared. There is a lot of great free education online, but piecing bits together to assemble an entire system is difficult.

Free stuff is not without value, but it takes time to sift through regurgitated and outdated material to get to the golden nuggets.

Life is funny that way - nothing is free, it either costs money or it costs time. You ought to develop the ability to discern what information is valuable based on its matter, not based on who is saying it or how it is being presented.

Respect to those who are doing a good job providing value for free: Matt Beck @freesaloneducation on Instagram, Eric Taylor is great @loveerictaylor from Salon Republic. They give for the sake of adding value to the community. There are others that share up-to-date knowledge on a regular basis for free - no catch.

OK SO WHAT

Most stylists will struggle and leave the industry after the first 2 years. Of the ones that do make it, only the top tier make serious money. As it is in nature, so it is in business. Only the top percentile of any population thrives in a given environment. Some sustain themselves, but many inevitably die out. Natural selection plays an unmistakable role in business.

So why do I care? Who am I to say? What's it to me?

I've been reflecting lately on the last 10 years of my life, half spent as a hairstylist and the latter half spent running a digital ad agency. I started beauty school straight out of high school pretty much. There are so many lessons I've learned that cost me money and time and pain. I've observed them in my life and business and in the lives and businesses of my clients over the years as well. 

I didn't start with any business education. I took it upon myself to invest countless hours and dollars over the years in mentorships, masterminds, online courses, conferences, seminars, and books, which has also contributed to the knowledge I've gained and the principles I've tested and adopted in my life and in my business. 

Certain principles have guided me in times of prosperity and sustained me in times of restructuring and pivoting.

These principles can help you progress faster toward your goals. They will help you understand the game, and give you the tools to create leverage for yourself. They will teach you how to think, much more than what to think. Most importantly they will help you limit your exposure to downside risks in business.

By not knowing the rules of the game, you are putting it all at risk. Your income, your license, your reputation. 

Being a stylist is like playing high-stakes poker: The buy-in is 2 years of your life you spend going to beauty school and $10k-$20k you invest into it. 

 

That's just to start - working in the industry requires constant investment. 

You can risk it all by playing the cards you're dealt, or you can hedge your bets by drawing some new cards.

You are far more likely to succeed by playing the same cards played by the great achievers and successful businesspeople of all-time.

Adopting these principles shifts your mental paradigm by correcting your faulty behaviors. This will reduce your chance of making mistakes, or at least hedge your bets against the various inevitable mistakes you will make throughout your journey. These principles will also help you see opportunities where you may have missed them before. They will help you see opportunities for leverage and give you the right mindset to follow through on them.

Adopting these principles is about removing malfunctioning thinking. It is about giving you the controls to your own mind.

There is no guarantee to win the long game in business. But you can guarantee successful behavior that'll give you the best chance to taste victory at the end of your road.

New stylists enter the market brimming with hope, eyes wide with opportunity, and most of them fail in the first few years. 

Most people are risking everything they have to start a career as a stylist.

There's so much I'd like to share.  But the following core principles should inspire new perspective and give you a solid foundation for what to practice and observe as you pursue your career.

If there is interest I will update and add to these principles on this blog over time. 

I also plan to record videos for those who aren’t in the habit of reading articles online.

I'd love to share more principles and concepts for success in life and business.

If there is interest I can share more practical marketing tactics and strategies as well.

Teaching is an important phase of learning, and I am a lifelong student in this game of life and business.

7 Success Principles Of Life And Business For New Stylists

Have an open mind when viewing reality

Story:
I spent my teen years playing music in hardcore rock bands. I desired nothing more at that time than to become famous and tour the world playing music. Each of the bands I was in did well despite our youth and lack of professional knowledge. But the downfall of each group came each time by us failing to see the game for what it was instead of how we wanted it to be.

If a manager, record label A&R, or listener gave us critical feedback about a new song or latest performance that didn’t line up with our own preconceived beliefs, we rebuked them for it. Eventually our delusion would catch up with us when we ran out of people who cared about our progress (or lack thereof.) We made plenty of excuses about why things didn’t work out for us, but the truth is we were stuck in our own subjective view of the world. We couldn’t see the world around us accurately. We could only see it how we wanted it to be. Instead of adapting our way of thinking to reality, we tried to force reality to adapt to our individual way of thinking.

Subjective reasoning is how the human brain has evolved to think, because it helps us make decisions that align with our own desires. 

It doesn’t serve us well in complex social environments, because reality doesn't depend on one person's view. People are all acting according to their own free will. Each pattern of thinking is based on one's own unique experiences. Reality is a system of individual perspectives that harmonize together in a given situation.

Analogy:

One of my favorite parables that explains the importance of developing objective thinking is the blind men and the elephant. This parable exists in many different forms around the world for thousands of years.

A group of blind men happen upon an elephant while wandering in the desert. The men gather all around it and start feeling it trying to figure out what it is. One guy feels the tusk, the other feels its tail, another feeling the hide, and another has the snout of its trunk in both hands. They start describing what they think it is. The man touching the tusk said "this thing is cold, hard, and sharp, like a spear." The man touching the side said, “It is tall, flat, and solid, like a wall." The one holding the trunk said "it is like a big snake." And the one feeling the tail said "this thing is like a rope obviously. I mean I kind of get the snake thing, but it is obviously just like a rope."

They get mad at each other and start arguing because each seems to be misrepresenting what they have in front of them.

The truth is that neither the one touching the tusk, nor the tail, nor the trunk, nor the side, would be able to discern the objective truth - that what they are actually touching is a sum of its parts - and that is an elephant. The moral of the story is that what we see is subjective truth, and is only a partial truth.

The story goes on to say that another man who was not blind shows up, stops this blind group of men from arguing, and says hey fellas, you are each wrong and each right at the same time. It is as you say by its parts, but when you look at it from far away you can see the whole thing to be an elephant.

(pause for effect)

Have you ever been the third person in an argument between two people, and maybe they asked you what you thought? And you look at them like ‘you are so dumb!’

Aren’t you able to see both sides equally, and aren’t you able to see how both people have it partially wrong? It may even seem funny to you. But to these two people, they do not think it’s funny. They're pissed! And there you are laughing at them because the truth of the situation is so obvious to you. Neither of them can see the whole truth, only their partial truth.

That is what you need to be able to do in your own life to navigate in business. To see things objectively instead of subjectively. To see things as they really are, not as they are from your point of view.

We tend to perceive the world in a very one-sided way. 

Only sometimes can we peer over the fence and see both sides of a situation, especially when we are one of the participants.

When you’re observing a friend fight with their significant other you laugh inside, you chuckle at them, because of how silly it seems to you. But if it were you in their shoes, you would feel exactly how they feel.

Details:
Taking an objective viewpoint on things is critical as a businessperson. It will help you navigate through difficult situations with greater ease. You can take yourself out of any situation for a moment and look at it from a higher level.

Doing so preserves mental and emotional energy so you come home with some still left in the tank. To play with your kids or go out with friends or hit the gym, whatever you like to do.

The amount of business you do is directly linked to how well you get along with people. The better you are at communicating with people, the more clients you'll have.

My greatest strength as a hair stylist was my knowledge of cognitive biases and how to appeal to people's interests. It helped me get along with new people right away. I had it down to an exact science when I was in the shop. It was probably pretty beautiful to watch, as other stylists complimented me on it all the time. 

I could read people’s expressions in an instant. I knew within seconds what to say and how to say it to get them to relax, relate, trust, and like me. And when a problem arose I didn't take it personally. I looked at it objectively and solved it without trying to protect my feelings or opinions. 

Develop an objective way of observing situations that occur in your life. To make the right decisions, you must be able to view the world accurately. You must learn to see from outside perspectives. You must also learn to see your own personal biases and errors in your patterns of thinking. Great achievers in life and business are able to make decisions that harmoniously coincide with reality. You must learn to see the world objectively to make accurate decisions in your life.

Realise that life is not happening to you, it’s happening for you. When a person interprets life from their own subjective view (personal perspective) they fail to consider 99% of what is going on all around them. Everything is seen as an obstacle, rather than a challenge or an opportunity to learn something new.

Here are some of my favorite resources that I recommend to learn more about developing an objective world view:

Resources:

-How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

- The Science of Being Great by Wallace D. Wattles

- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

- The Greatest Salesman In The World by OG Mandino

- Influence by Robert Cialdini 

- THE 5 LOVE Languages Gary Chapman

- Video lecture from Charlie Munger, the Psychology of Human Misjudgement on Youtube

I recommend you go out and read these books, whether you order them on amazon or buy them at the bookstore or rent them at the library or listen to an audiobook.

These books with change your mind forever and greatly improve the quality of your interactions with people. 

Teaching myself to enjoy reading and creating a daily reading habit has completely changed my life.

If you’re not a reader, I recommend audiobooks. You can listen in the car while you commute to work, or with your earphones as you work out at the gym, or while you do house chores.

All that matters is you get the information in your brain and start practicing it and observing it in the natural world.

When you go into business everyone tells you about how risky it is. That you’re risking everything to go into business. As a stylist that’s no different, except people don’t seem to give as much grief to stylists because there’s always employment opportunities like Supercuts, or working from your house.

But most people don’t get into the industry to be an employee. Most people are in this to create a life for themselves that they love. Make their own hours, set their own prices, serve the clientele that they choose. It is just as much a business as any, and in business you can lose everything if you don’t know what you’re doing.

All-time great investor Warren Buffet once said, "risk comes from not knowing what you are doing."

The concept of objective reasoning is essential for anyone who wants to minimize the amount of inaccurate decisions they make in life.

Story:
Toward the end of my time behind a salon chair, I started doing digital advertising consulting. I knew at the time I wanted to run my own digital ad agency, but I had no previous business education. I had so much desire though, that I just couldn’t bear waiting any longer. Once I got to about 3 or 4 clients, I made the leap and left the salon I was working in at the time. I cleaned up my home office and called it work the very next day.

The first three years of running my digital ad agency were a financial and emotional roller coaster.

It affected every area of my life in both wonderful and terrible ways.

I spent countless dollars and hours learning from the most prolific bussiness people and achievers in the industry, but failed to develop one of the most vital skills a businessperson needs to be successful: Self-responsibility.

Some people are naturally self-responsible. Usually these people do really good in school, refrain from partying and alcohol abuse, and have a practical approach to goals.

I grew up just about the opposite type of person - wildly creative, social, and ready to dive headfirst into any adventure that came my way.

After my first few years in business, I finally got burnt out from the roller coaster ride I was on.

I liked the high parts like having money, a prolific social life, traveling to meet new clients, and enjoying perks that came with new business opportunities.

But emotionally I could not handle another low point, which included losing lots of capital and multiple clients at a time, 18-hour work days, and huge financial obligations.

I knew I had to make a change, and I knew my greatest shortcoming was my lack of self-responsibility.

I watched interviews and read articles from successful businesspeople about how they live their lives. What I learned was the majority of them live pretty normal lives outside of running their business. These great achievers get 8 hours of sleep, attend their children’s sports games, and some even make it home for family dinner. Some of them don't, but they choose their outputs all the same. I knew I must be doing something wrong.

I felt like a mouse spinning on a wheel, working harder and longer and not making any more progress. My bedroom was a disaster. My diet was poor. My personal and business accounting was mixed up for so long that I literally had no idea how much money I had in either.

When I did sacrifice work for leisure, I felt every minute of it when I made it back to the office.

I had to make a change, and by the time I got to the place where I realised it, I was entangled in a huge mess.

I realised one of the most critical business lessons: To sustain success, you must be extremely self-responsible.

I started by writing a list of all the things that stressed me out in a day. Started cutting them out one by one. Then I wrote down an easy to follow daily routine that would allow me to enjoy my life with the least amount of stress.

I then convinced myself that the way I do one thing directly reflects the way I do everything.

I started making my bed first thing in the morning. I started washing and putting away my dishes immediately after use. I started making sure my bedroom was clean before going to bed. I started writing down the next day’s goals before going to bed and leaving them out on a tidy desk. I started treating everyone like my best friend, maximizing every interaction. I started going the extra mile each chance I get.

I cut out unnecesary tasks, and even cut some clients that didn’t align with the long-term vision.

Things didn’t get better financially right away, but they stopped getting worse. I became happier almost immediately. It took about a year to clean up the mess I’d made of my life and my business.

Waking up in the morning hopeful again instead of anxious. I was again looking forward to seeing my clients. Getting 8 hours of sleep, eating healthy, and enjoying a much simpler social life.

I was able to trim the fat from my professional life and get back to living with inner-peace.

This is self-responsibility. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your business.

If you can’t take care of your business, you can’t take care of your clients.

If you can’t change yourself, you can’t change the world.

Self-responsibility is a lifelong pursuit. The better you get at being self-responsible the more you realize how much of a positive impact it can have in your life.

Story:
It is possible for you to win on your own, but why wait? Why risk? Get around people who are winning now and you will start to win now.

There is no faster way to elevate your life than by getting around people who are already winning in their respective fields. If you hang out with 3 people who are beginners, you will feel like it’s okay to stay a beginner. If you hang out with 3 people who have a habit of winning, you will feel like it is time for you to start winning on a regular basis as well. And chances are you will start to win very fast.

The people you surround yourself with will rub off their skills, habits, and thoughts onto you.

You will subconsciously believe that you are a winner if you coexist in a tribe of winners.

I’ll give you a perfect recent example from my own life. One of my training partners in my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school is a guy named Manny. Manny is about the same size as I am, only a few years older, and started jiu-jitsu a few months after me. Training with Manny is unlike with any other person I’ve ever had the experience of rolling with (what we call sparring in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.)

Manny is from Jalisco Mexico, where he spent his youth bull riding. Now if you know anything about bull riding, it’s not an easy thing to do. I’m not at all knowledgeable about bull riding. But I’d imagine it’s even more difficult to do in Mexico than it is in the United States.

Manny was also in the Marine Corps, which adds to his mental toughness and physical conditioning.

anthony-manny-moores-bjj-elite-team-bjj-naga-belt-champion-2019

Recently Manny won the North American Grappling Association tournament in Irvine, CA, which is quite a tremendous accomplishment. Even more tremendous? The guy wasn’t even in the gym for weeks before the tournament, because of a few nagging injuries. He went to Disneyland, hiked with his family, and worked every day, something with cars. He showed up, competed, and won without much preparation at all. 

Manny’s gift for grappling is truly remarkable. I’ve seen him submit black belts as easily as he submits me. In the few months Manny and I have been training together, my jiujitsu skills have improved tremendously. I’m no Manny, but learning to survive against him and give him honest competition in training has changed my skills and my mind.

There’s a new level of self-belief and readiness in me that comes from hanging out with a guy that is pretty much unstoppable. I’d be remiss to exclude we have an incredible black belt coach who we get to train with every day.

The point I’m trying to make is by getting around people who achieve at great levels, your abilities and your self-belief naturally increase. How much and fast they increase will depend on how great are the people who you surround yourself with.

A well-used expression in business is “your network is your net worth.” I’m not sure who came up with it and I can’t even remember whom I first heard use it. So many prolific people adopt it and preach it. I do know it to be true, as I have seen this principle at work countless times in my own life and in the lives of others.

Sometimes making a few friends who are doing well in life is all it takes for you to start doing well in life.

The caveat is that the principle works in adverse ways, as well. No one who is winning a lot in life should want to hang out with a loser, they’ll only bring them down.

Start to find ways you can add value to peoples social lives and through your conversations.

There’s an additional rule for this principle, which I learned from Tai Lopez, a well known celebrity entrepreneur and social influencer. He calls it the law of 33%.

The basic concept is to have the most rewarding social life you should spend 33% of your time with people who are 10 years ahead of you, (where you want to be 10 years from now) 33% of your time with people who are on your same level, and 33% of your time with people who are struggling or just getting started along your path. This way you can learn from the best without feeling like a total loser and have them rub off on you, you can have friendly competition with your peers and keep a pulse on how well others in your shoes are doing, and you can help bring up people you care about who are struggling or new and put them onto the game. 

Think about how much money you’re making now. Imagine you were best friends with Warren Buffet and you had lunch together every day. How much do you think your income would increase in a year? If I had to guess, I would say quite a bit.

Don’t take pride in how new your phone is - take pride in whose contacts you’ve got in your phone.

Story:
When I was about 23 years old, I reached the peak of an existential crisis. I was dealing with a form of survivor's guilt from being in a car crash when I was 19, and struggling with my coming of age evolving from adolescent to adult. In those 4 years I became totally depressed. I pushed all my friends away including my girlfriend of 4 years at the time. My music career had come to a halt. I was cutting hair but didn’t like the place I was in at the time. I knew I was looking at life the wrong way, but I didn’t know how to find the right way.

The therapist I was seeing at the time, an older man by the name of Evan, offered me some perspective that I will never forget. He might have just been making conversation at the time, but it was what I needed to turn my life around.

He said something like ‘Let’s assume for a second that God doesn’t sway the course of reality instance by instance. Let’s assume God set up rules in the beginning of time that are constant, and the only reason why unpredictable things happen in life is because we do not completely understand these rules. If that's true then the more we learn the rules of reality, the better we will understand how things work and why things happen.'

He might not have meant it to have such a big impact on me, but from that day on I realised the change I had to make in my own life. I had to start observing life like a scientist. I had to begin to learn about each aspect of life as it applied to me, and even document my findings along the way. I began to see life as a great experiment. I began to see myself as an architect of my own future instead of... maybe a blindfolded surfer in God’s private wave pool.

You have to start believing in the significance of your journey on this Earth.

You can either assume your life is totally 100% important, or you can assume your life is meaningless. What I’ve discovered studying business owners is the ones who are successful believe they are creating their own meaning in life. By their desires, their goals, and their actions. 

If Albert Einstein spent his entire life on the couch eating potato chips, what meaning would his life have had?

If you stop doing what you are doing right now and give up on everything, would you still accomplish what you set out to do by going to beauty school? There’s no way.

You can’t live a fulfilled, meaningful life by letting life happen to you.

Details:
If you want to live a meaningful life, you have no choice but to believe that everything you do has a significant impact on the outcome of your life.

You are the architect of your destiny, the scientist of your life’s great experiment.

Start treating your life as such. Document the process. Keep a daily journal and write your discoveries. Journal what you learn each day, what feelings you have about your experiences, information about the people you meet and the opportunities or challenges that come your way.

Over time you will form scientific conclusions from this information that will help you make important decisions in your life. Record videos of you practicing your work. Talk about your experiences on a regular basis. It will amaze you how much progress you make in life by having a scientific approach to it.

Know where you are going. Know the road by the destination. (Reverse engineering)

Story:
In 2016 I went to my first yoga retreat in Joshua Tree, California. I had no idea what to expect going into it, but it was like heaven on earth to me.

On the first day I attended a workshop class about finding your purpose. But I think for you it will help to solidify in your mind what your long-term goals are. 

The teacher, a young yogi in his 30s, shared his story and then passed out some paper and pens.

(I recommend you follow along here with a paper and pen, as it will be helpful for you.)

He told us to write down our 3-5 strongest skills. They could be technical skills or soft skills. They can be related to beauty services or they could be an everyday life skill. 

Then he told us to write down our 3-5 strongest interests.
Here you can include some industries you have previous experience in if you don't have 3.

You might be really interested in your family life. Maybe a sport. The world of beauty is probably one for you considering you are either a stylist or attending cosmetology school. Whatever it is, write them down.

Today I would choose networking, music, spirituality. 

Then he told us to write down what 3 behaviors we would use to define our childhood. I chose playing music, playing pretend superhero, and socializing.

The object of the exercise is to choose the 3 that cross over each section the most. If you don’t have any that cover all 3 sections, sum up which 3 seem the strongest out of all three sections. Then create a Venn diagram with three circles, and write those 3 factors in the circles. What you are looking at is the perfect cross section of your life. For me today, that would be music, networking, and communication. 

Take the 3 things and combine them into one sentence to form your own life purpose statement.

For example mine would be something like, “My life purpose is to create and share music and communicate helpful ideas.”

Since you are working toward a career in the beauty industry you can say "In 15 years I want to be ___ by____ with____ "

Keep your sentence between 10-15 words.

If the exercise doesn’t work for you because your 3 don’t seem right, start over. Remember it’s just an exercise not fortune telling, it’s meant to be fun and to help you.

Keep crafting your sentence until you have something you like.

Then write that sentence on a piece of paper and keep it on your nightstand, under your pillow, or in your wallet. It will help guide you. The time should come in a year or two when you will need to do it again because we are constantly growing, changing, adapting to the world, which is also ever-changing, growing, and adapting. 

It’s important that you know where you are going if you want to get somewhere specific.

Most people who start a business are following a principle called 'reverse engineering.'

Reverse engineering means taking your end goal, and following the trail step by step backwards until you get to the beginning. That way you know which steps to take on your way to your goal.

Let’s say you’re building a house from scratch. On the first day, you should find a picture of a house that you want to build. Then you should get some blueprints of that house that specify the dimensions, the amount of beams, the materials for the roof and the base, etcetera. If you start building the house without knowing what type of house you want to build, you’re going to end up with a very funky looking, unstable house.

If you want to know how Oprah got to where she is now, guess what? You can Google it. You can buy her book for $10 at Barnes & Noble right now.

You wanna know how Warren Buffet became the wealthiest investor of all time? There's countless hours of video on Youtube of him talking about his journey, his thought process, his decision making. You can learn from his partner Charlie Munger. You can find out the specific details in his book. You can read their company’s quarterly and annual reports. In fact you can write these people a concisely-worded email and they might reply. Everyone reads email.

You can't know everything, but you can know anything. You can learn it for free and instantly. So decide where you want to go and start working backwards from there writing down each step in full detail.

Reverse engineering will greatly impact your life. It gives you a roadmap for any goal you want to accomplish.

Want to lose 30 pounds? Write down the number of pounds you want to weigh and a realistic timeline for achieving that goal. It’s common knowledge that a healthy amount of weight to lose is 1-2 pounds per week. So you can divide 30 by 2 and see that with consistent, moderate effort you will lose 30 pounds in 15 weeks. You will have achieved your ideal weight in just 3-4 short months. 

Want to open your own salon? Calculate how much it costs. Work your way back from there.

Reverse engineering is an extremely powerful tool. It is a mental model used by great achievers and businesspeople to reach their goals. 

Go ahead and apply it to what you are working on right now and see how much clearer your path becomes.

Story:
I never was a good student in grade school. I wasn't interested in academics. I had a terrible time motivating and staying focused.

Graduating from high school was like escaping prison. The thought of going to college for 4-6 years was like a nightmare to me. I chose beauty school instead.

I took an active interest in beauty school curriculum because I was genuinely interested in the subject. I had the liberty of choosing which skills and techniques to adopt and excel at. It was the first time I had a positive experience learning a study outside of music.

There has always been a special emphasis on advanced education in the beauty industry. There are plenty of advanced education resources in the industry. Education is an integral component of the beauty industry because trends are always changing. New service trends spring up every few years and new professionals enter the industry every day.

The great philosopher Socrates said “education is not the filling of a vessel, but the lighting of a fire.”

The public school approach to learning is very rote, or memorization based, leading people to believe education is something to complete.

That is simply not reality.

Henry Ford, founder of Ford motor company said “anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80, and anyone who keeps learning stays young.” While that may sound cliche, it is important to realize that there is no limit to how much you can learn. The brain functions like a muscle, and without constant use will shrink and atrophy like a muscle. The mind is a learning machine - in fact, it is a neural network of around 300 billion neurons.

What does that mean for you? It means you have so much potential. It means there is no limit to what you can learn. It means you have a natural responsibility to learn for the rest of your life. About how to be the best version of yourself. About how to serve your family, your community, your clients, and the world in greater ways every day. If you don’t adopt this responsibility the world will continue to get more complex around you. The world is constantly learning and evolving. You can bet there are other stylists in your area who are learning every day and if you stop they will pass you by. Those who continuously learn will take the best clients from those who do not learn.

Remember that I didn't go to college, I was terrible at learning, and had no strategy for it whatsoever until around age 23. At that point I realised if you want to become a great learner, it starts with developing a habit of learning. You have to get curious and start learning new things daily. 

All-time great theoretical physicist Richard Feynman is most-known for his approach to learning and teaching complex ideas in a simple way.

One of my favorite quotes of his: “I know nothing, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.”

How much time we have in life is unknown to us, but what we do know is that our time is limited.

So if you are going to become a stylist, you ought to put forth your whole being into it. You ought to invest your mind, body, and spirit into being a stylist. The only way to live in harmony with your destiny and your path is by consciously putting forth your entire being into what interests you. Otherwise you are wasting your life, and your life is precious. It is everything to you. 

Realize that your mind is a learning machine.

One of the most devastating risks in any business is getting caught not playing by the rules. I’ve seen it absolutely destroy a business. A devastating loss in business often affects the business owner’s personal life just as bad or worse.

It's a scary thought looking back on how many stylists and salon owners I've met over the years who didn’t know all the current tax requirements, state board laws, license requirements, labor laws, health codes and safety risks.

If you are investing into a game that could cost you your entire quality of life, isn’t it worth the time to go over the rules?

If you and your friends decided to play a game of monopoly and each put in $10,000, wouldn't you pick up the manual and read the rules? Surely I tell thee, you stand to make millions from the hair industry.

I was definitely guilty of not playing by the rules in the early years as a hairstylist. And in the beginning of doing business with my digital ad agency as well I let a lot slide in the beginning and just got started without preparing the right way. I thank God it didn’t cost me big like it could’ve. I was willfully ignorant of what I needed to be accountable for legally. I didn’t take it seriously until I started making a lot of money and employing labor. I realised I was going to pay for it dearly during tax season if I didn’t get on top of it.

I realised it is actually not that difficult to learn and put in place all the legal requirements of running a business. It takes a little time, but that time is nothing compared to the grand scheme of your mission if you are trying to start and grow a successful business.

The peace of mind is worth the time. Feeling prepared for anything in your business and feeling like you are even more of an expert in your field is definitely worth the time. And the information is out there on the Internet right now for free. Setting up your business the right way is relatively cheap. And it will save you lots of money during tax time.

Anyone who is self-employed is liable to pay business taxes on their income. And the self-employed stylist is personally liable for any lawsuits that may happen. That means if someone sues you for an accident in the salon, the settlement is personal. If you have a registered business license, even if you are operating as a booth-rent stylist in someone else's salon, your personal finances are somewhat protected because it's your business that's being sued. 

This principle of knowing the rules of the game you are playing is about being rational in your approach to your goals.

If you want to be a success in the beauty industry, the chances are so much more likely if you know all the rules.

If you don’t know the rules, you have so many unknown risks surrounding you.

It’s like walking blindfolded through the dark trying to find the door. Knowing the rules of the game might not move the chair out of your way or pick the legos up off the floor, but it will take your blindfold off and give you a flashlight with working batteries.

Know the rules of the game you are playing.

The most common trait shared by all the great achievers, billionaires, and successful businesspeople is observing human nature. Observing how humans behave in certain conditions.

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, carried around a notepad and was known to study random grocery and department stores, interview employees and customers, and measure display racks and shelves.

sam walton calls the cops on angry karen

Kobe Bryant studied sharks and cheetahs to improve at defending and shooting the basketball.

Every entrepreneur of the countless I've studied and modeled made a great effort to learn human nature and consumer psychology. To understand what motivates buyers. To learn what are the desires and pains of their customers.

Looking back on mentorships, online business and marketing courses, and books I've read, I don’t think a single one of them has excluded the importance of observing human behavior as it relates to people buying your product or service.

Think about it like this, you have this special service that you want to perform. There are millions of people who need the service on a regular basis, which is awesome. If you were the only hairstylist in the world there would be no problem getting a full list of clients and charging as high a price as you like. But there are also countless other people who are offering the same service in many different ways. And there are so many related services that people spend their income on. After all, most people are operating on a regulated budget. So you need to learn what motivates people to buy your service. You need to learn what gets their attention in a crowded marketplace. You need to learn what convinces them to walk through the door of a salon. You need to learn what they truly desire, and what they fear happening to them as a result of lacking your service.

Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a crowded street fair, market, or shopping mall. You look one way, you see a river of people. You look the other way to see another river of people. Can you tell what type of people are shopping? Can you tell what they are shopping for? Can you tell why they are shopping at that specific time?

Now imagine you’re standing on top of a building or a 20-foot ladder watching the same exact setting. Can you see what types of people are shopping now? Can you see how big their bags they’re carrying? Can you see how many of them have children, how many of them are in a rush versus how many are there to just window shop? What stores are they walking into, and why? About how long are they spending in each store on average? 

Learning to observe consumer behavior will prove to be one of your greatest strengths in life and business.

Observing your market is one of the greatest if not the single greatest principles you can learn and apply to your professional life. It will help you understand your market in such great ways. By your market I mean the pool of potential customers you have to sell to, and your relation to that pool of customers, and your competitors within it. 

You can consider your social life in the same way. Learning to observe human behavior will help you navigate and leverage your social environment. You will begin to recognize behavioral patterns and personality patterns very quickly in the people you interact with and know how to adapt to them for your benefit. You will learn how to use words, tone, and body language to gain the like and trust of people you meet and the people close to you.

When you have a habit of scientific observation you will advertise much more accurately. You will offer services and products that are much more attractive to your customers.

You will experiment with much more relevant price points and promotional offerings. You will form very similar analyses of your market as the top 1% in the industry, because you are being just as curious and investigative.

 

I chose to share these 7 principles because they apply for everyone no matter what direction you are heading, and because you will suffer greatly without them.

I am more than happy to share more principles, concepts, strategies, and tactics to help you navigate life and business.

But I believe that there is a lot to be gained from mixing your own cement - Formulating your own understanding of the world around you.

I want to share enough to keep you from making terrible career-ending mistakes, but I don't want to rob you of developing your own self-belief and enlightened perspective. I want you to be independent instead of constantly seeking advice on the Internet.

Gather a handful of concepts and go out into the world to test them for yourself.

Discard the ones that don't work for you and when you are ready for more, pick up some more.

You can find more in online courses, books, mentorships, or conferences.

You can discover them through real-world testing and interviewing people who have already done what you are trying to do.

You can meditate on your life and on the lives of great achievers and take inspiration from that.

Just know that I am here for you if you have any questions at all and I am happy to share, it is a gift to me to share.

Playing Music After A 5 Year Hiatus

What's it like to perform live music again after a 5 years hiatus?

Last weekend I performed a live looping cover set at The Wakehouse, an outdoor events venue and restaurant bar in Reedley, California. I'd been preparing a live cover set for a few months and decided to perform it for the first time at a farmer's market type of event. Full disclosure, The Wakehouse is my most longstanding digital marketing client and my hangout headquarters.

It was the most natural place for me to play again.

I wasn't really prepared to perform my best, I just wanted to set up and hear my stuff on the big speakers and shake out my legs, feel a stage again. I did okay, I got through the material and people seemed to dig it. The first few songs were rough, I struggled to play the parts under pressure. But I shook it over time - veteran mental notes came to me in my time of need: "Just keep pushing through the material. Don't stop the music. You'll pick it up along the way." I didn't even finish the set particularly strong, but I got the material out and people were giving me very specific compliments, so I think that means they're not lying. I've naturally got lots of improvements to make but overall I'd give my performance a 70%.

 

Now I'm tweaking my sound a bit, improving it based on how the mood translates to a live environment. I'm basically picking out from my live set the best drum parts and building a slightly different style around them. Same thing with the instrumentation - removing some instruments I didn't end up using very much and replacing them with instruments that I'd like to experiment with next in this next iteration of my style.

There were a lot of rudimentary rhythms, guitar and bass parts, I can't have that in my next outing. Each part needs to have something specific to say. And the song selection needs to be refined. At this stage I'm thinking of taking the timeline further back. I'd like to cover a "40's-50's-60's" set of songs in my next outing. Maybe keep a few appropriate songs from this past set, which was mostly 90's hip hop and pop songs, that might fit the new styling.

Right now I am using a guitar and bass guitar with a few pedal effects, a Novation Launchpad Pro for performance of the percussion and softsynth instrumentation, and to control the arrangements with Ableton Live 10. I'm playing, recording, and looping all the parts as clips into Ableton and then controlling the starting and stopping of them with the Launchpad Pro. The instruments and mics are running through a multichannel mixer plugged into the macbook via USB. In the future I will add more organic instruments and a percussion setup. I will be immediately adding a foot controller and probably another midi effect controller of sorts.

I'm a week or two away from being ready to book more shows. My plan is to book different types of shows and feel out each one to see where my music feels/sounds best. The small local artist showcase shows, restaurant gigs, those daytime cafe gigs, small club gigs opening for an outta towner. Whatever I can get my hands on.

In the beginning you've gotta get a lot of reps in. Yet you've still gotta try to not suck in the beginning either, or you've got a long road of winning back the respect of the people. It's a much shorter road to solvency if you're good at the beginning rather than if you're bad at the beginning.

That's all. This post is meant to catalog how I see this point in my music performance experiment. But if someone does read this who is interested in doing a live music performance at some point, it should give them whatever they need to just go for it. And make note of the process.

Let me know your thoughts!

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Anthony@anthonypolanco.com