March 2011

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


We're Not in Kansas Anymore

Recently, while spending two days at the International Salon and Spa Expo, I realized how many opportunities there are for our newly licensed industry partners to consider.

Couple all these potential options with the added anticipation and expectation that the first year in their new career brings, and you have a very exciting, almost overwhelming situation.

This first year has the potential to make or break these new graduates. Will they become our future success stories? California alone licenses 30,000 in our field each year. When you add in all the licensees nationwide, the numbers become truly staggering.

As I walked the show floor, it was apparent to me that leaving beauty school behind and venturing out into the great unknown can be compared to the movie The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy leaves her "black and white" Kansas of security and familiarity, and through means beyond her control, ends up over the rainbow. Much like the Land of Oz in Technicolor, our future professionals are presented with a new reality as they leave school. Judy Garland summed it up as she gazed for the first time at her surroundings and said, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."

The same awe that filled Dorothy fills our new professionals. However, they can also experience anxiety, stemming from not quite knowing how to adapt to their new surroundings to not quite knowing how to take that first step towards their desired career goal. You can almost hear a collective whisper that says, "I'm here, I'm ready, now what?"

I always tell the people I mentor to have their end destination in mind before beginning their journey. Having a clear idea of what you want to get out of the journey will help you decide which route to take. Sadly, many times I hear of new professionals that left the journey early because they ran out of gas or got lost along the way.

That is not to say that we will remain on the same route throughout our journey. In the course of developing our career path, we may decide to take an alternative path towards the desired end goal. One of the great things about our craft is that we can change job descriptions at our own will. That being said, once we claim it, we need to own it.

Knowing who we are and how we want to be perceived will define our success. In the end, the definition of true success in this industry comes down to how well we build a demand for our individual brand. How we are perceived is how we will be received. We have to have clear vision of our target market or audience; we must know who they are and what their expectation is. Then, in order to assure future success, we must deliver a value beyond their expectations. In this equation, perception is reality.

Having a solid fix on your desired market will also tell you what you need in order to meet the expectations of your client. It will tell which skills are needed to acquire to assure maximum success. Being constantly aware of new shifts and changes in the market helps determine our positioning in order to meet those new needs and desires.

Each week I drive on the coast road in Palos Verdes to pick up my son from school. There is a stretch of road where the ground shifts 10- 18 inches per year. This forces us to make adjustments on our route, as well as makes us aware that this road's path will never be the same again.

You cannot follow old maps in a changed landscape. Just like that road, our industry is constantly shifting and evolving, so in order to stay ahead of the flow, make sure you are not stuck in the same gear, ending up stalled at the side of life's highway.

We must maintain our integrity in all areas, especially as it concerns who we are as a brand and what we offer to our waiting market. In other words, there must be alignment between what we say we are and what we provide in our delivery. All true "built to last" brands and businesses are aligned in this regard. We have to be what we want the client to see.

The true high performers in life and business always exceed their perceived value. This assures their clients' expectation is always below the service or product they deliver. They are always seeking ways to extend themselves beyond what is expected, consistently adding value to their brand identity. Continual and constant attention to detail is a hallmark of both successful people and businesses, and assures their continual and constant growth.

Remember, the first days in your new career are critical, and with perseverance and determination, you can create a firm foundation from which to build your career and reap your well deserved rewards in the future.

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 Industry Relations 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.