Follow the Leaders

Pursuing influencer and mentor relationships is key to building a successful career    

by Gina Rivera

Text: The moment you realize you don't know it all and are willing to seek out others for advice, you will experience a positive turning point in businessI have been a hairstylist for more than 30 years. Long before I ventured into opening my salons or developing my product and hair color line, I was a student of the art. From the time I was a little girl, I loved watching my parents at work in their salon. They were skilled and refined when they worked on clients. I admired their work and would soak up as much as I could when I watched them. Even today, I seek my father’s advice and input when it comes to questions of the craft. He has a vast amount of experience and knowledge, which I draw on to help me improve my work. He has been a constant mentor in this area throughout my life.

When it comes to career growth and development, most beauty professionals focus on things like taking additional courses and certifications, moving to a more prestigious salon, earning more money, and being recognized as a skilled artist among their peers. If you ask most stylists to mention something they are doing to help them advance in their careers, only a handful will mention that they are actively and purposefully surrounding themselves with people who encourage, inspire, and push them to chase after their goals, yet this is one of the most effective ways of ensuring success.

Just as a stylist must learn new techniques and new styles to remain current, it is equally important to surround yourself with the right kind of people who can help you grow your career, cultivate your business, and move forward as a beauty entrepreneur. These people will help you discover new ideas and strategies, give you honest feedback about what you are or are not doing, encourage you when the going gets tough, and generally push you to go after your goals.

I am a firm believer that if you want to see more growth in your career, make sure to pay attention to the people you surround yourself with. Take time to deliberately create a circle of people who push you to be the best version of yourself.

So, what type of people should you surround yourself with? My method was to select people who were strong in areas that I wasn’t. However, that was just part of it. It was important to me that these individuals were also honest and loyal.

Seek the Go-Getters
If you look around your salon, you can probably pinpoint someone who is always busy. Their books are always full, and they always have something they are working toward. These are the people who are highly driven to accomplish their goals. They are not people who spend their time carelessly. Time well spent has value to them because it brings them closer to the results they are trying to achieve. These people are important to have around you because their motivation will help set a standard. Their example will push you to work hard each and every day. Even more so, if you engage these go-getters in a project, they are the ones who will help you make it happen.

three young girls stand facing a brick wall painted with wide white and blue stripes, arms raised above their heads and ankles crossedLook for Positivity
You will also want to surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes. Those with positive attitudes tend to see solutions rather than obstacles. Even more important, attitude is highly contagious. Have you ever noticed that a negative person can bring down the tone in a room in no time? The same goes for those who are positive: They have the ability to raise everyone’s spirits just with their presence. People with positive attitudes are important because they will encourage you during difficult times and help you keep your morale up. They will help you believe you can achieve more. And they will motivate you with their positive feedback.

Search for the Inquisitive
Inquisitive people are also instrumental to success. I am talking about the people who want to understand how things are accomplished. How they work. They question the process with the goal of improving it. They can also look at a situation from a variety of practical viewpoints and identify challenges that may have to be addressed before they even occur. They are also terrific at identifying opportunities.

Creatives are significant too. They are visionaries who bring new ideas to the table and have the unique ability to look at a variety of situations through a multitude of lenses. Their creativity generates enthusiasm and fosters inspiration.

Find a Mentor
I would be remiss if I failed to mention mentors (like my father is to me). No matter who you are, there are always people who have more experience than you. This is not something to shy away from, but to embrace.

There is so much to learn from people who have “been there and done that.” Learning from someone else’s experiences can save you a lot of time—and money—if you pay attention. Most often they have faced their own challenges and successes, from which you can gain knowledge.

Just remember, you must always be humble and ready to learn. As a matter of fact, the ability to be humble may be the most important factor when it comes to career growth. The moment you realize you don’t know it all and are willing to seek out others for advice, you will experience a positive turning point in business.

Finally, make sure to consider those around you. Everyone has unique gifts we can learn from. Work at recognizing people’s strengths and your own areas for growth. Make sure to be sincere in your efforts. Be candid about wanting to learn. And be inspired. Often, great people are passionate about helping others succeed. And consider gifts of your own you can offer to others. Remember, having the right people around you can often lead to opportunities you never imagined—both inside and outside the salon.


This article first appeared in AHP Indie Stylist magazine, Volume 2 Issue 2

AHP Indie Stylist magazine

An image of indie stylist magazine cover volume 2 issue 2AHP Indie Stylist is AHP's bimonthly publication, created to speak directly to you, the independent hair stylist and barber. In this issue:

          ►  Shay's Secrets
                Hairdresser Shay Dempsey shares from his expertise
          ►  Ready for the Runway
                Modern braided ponytail how-to
►  Follow the Leaders
                Pursuing influencer and mentor relationships
          ►  Pinwheel Color
                Up the shag trend with vivid color


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