October 2009

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


Balancing High Tech Skills with Personal Interaction

As I travel the highways of our amazing profession, I am often challenged to stop and take stock of just exactly where I am in relation to where I want and need to be in my journey.

With so much in my possession in the ways of experience and just plain road miles, I am often caught spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror and not focusing on the road up ahead.

The past is a place where collective experience is a powerful learning tool if we choose to apply its lessons learned. But the trick is to not let the past define our current reality.

This is never more apparent than in the world of new technology. Understanding generational differences and how they apply to the use of new technology has given me a greater understanding of how to achieve success with these new and valuable tools and better reach my desired audience to our mutual benefit.

As a ‘Baby Boomer” I grew up in a world where personal power and contact was the key to success. Interpersonal relationships were made and cemented by the ability to interact on a verbal and visual level.

Business and personal relationships were sealed with a handshake or a hug. I can readily relate to kind words with a smile. But I have learned to grow in our current business and social climate where winning the world one handshake or business card at a time is no longer the only way to excel.

Where I used to count my highest achievement after networking at an industry gathering by the height of the stack of newly acquired business cards, I now go beyond the physical address on the front of the card and go directly to their web address. This not only tells where they are, it tells me (through their web page) who and what they are.

This gives broader depth and scope to develop a deeper relationship based on greater understanding. We used to work the room now we work the web.

The challenge for our generation is to embrace the new technologies of the web, social and business networking sights to enhance our already established traditional skills both personal and business.

One recent example of embracing the now came to me through my association with Esche and Alexander Public Relations.

At a one-day seminar at a hair show three years ago, I was learning how to develop a comprehensive public relations package. With the focus definitely pointing to the web as a new major resource to expand and promote our brands, the presenter’s ability to connect with us defined their success that day.

Fast forward to 2009 – so much has evolved with Esche and Alexander; while they still rely on their experience and personal one-on-one relationships, their current success is the potential thousands they are reaching through their blog at www.beautyPR.com.

This is a great way of illustrating how with the enhancement to our already established skills of the new technologies such as blogging, we can reach a broader client base to unlimited new horizons.

Another great example of expanding our current horizons through business networking came to me while attending The Cosmetology Educators Association (CEA) convention this summer.

There I was made aware of the “Beauty School Network,” a business and resource networking site for beauty schools, students and educators. An example of using networking sites specific to the needs of a particular audience, in this case our future beauty industry professionals and the schools that serve them.

With the advances in technologies of business and social networking come some challenges to those who were raised in the era of these technologies. On the flip side of those who are adept at the social personal skills, there are those that rely on texting and emailing rather than talking.

While being tech savvy may come as second nature to them we need to coach their generations on the need to balance high tech skills with those of personal interaction. Since the beauty profession is a one-on-one business they may need to be skilled in the areas that to us come more naturally as part of our collective experience, personal interaction. The point to remember is technology is here to enhance our craft of hands-on and personal touch skills, not to replace them.

To be truly abundant in today’s beauty business it will take the balance of utilizing today’s technologies as well as continuing to grow our personal and professional development skills.

Jerry Tyler’s column Blue Highways is his “Road Less Traveled” perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. Jerry Tyler has been a stylist since 1975 serving as the former artistic director for Vidal Sassoon Academy and currently as Director of Education for Carlton Hair salons. He is also a licensed cosmetology instructor and has served as President of the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.