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Learn the Keys to Reinventing Yourself

byMillie Haynam | August 1, 2008

Manufacturer Vicki Peters was a champion in the competition arena but wanted more. Consultant and author Janet McCormick was an accomplished salon owner but burned out. Geno Stampora didn’t start out to be a life enhancement speaker. He began as a beauty professional, just like you. Indiana State Board member Diana Bonn was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. We all reach a point in our career where we need to change, grow or die. Maybe you’ve hit a monetary ceiling behind the table, or have a passion within the industry you’d love to pursue. However you arrive at this point varies greatly. What you do at this point however, can change your world.

Where do I start? “To reinvent yourself you need to be prepared to change and update yourself, your skills, and your image,” says Craig Robinson, head of service delivery for business consultants Right Management. “You may also need to think and act differently.” Many top industry leaders simply started with a passion or an event that motivated their transformation. Rediscovering your passions can be an interesting journey filled with many unexpected side trips. I always begin with research that includes new books, new Google searches, and interviewing leaders themselves. All the information and knowledge you need has already been written, you just have to make the time to find it. A few simple exercises can spark areas of interest within your current career field or help you expand to an all new career path.

Begin with a self-assessment. Be brutally honest. It won’t do you any good to skim over the truth. Have you lost sight of what you entered this industry for? Are you too busy being who you are that you don’t have time to think about who you could be?

Robin Fisher Roffer, author of Make a Name for Yourself, recommends you assemble your own “board of directors” for building the brand that is YOU incorporated. It is impossible to see ourselves as others see us, try as we might. By assembling this team and asking them to describe your attributes as well as your faults, you will discover some hidden talents and truths that the world sees in you. Make a list of what your core values are and what you find to be intrinsically valuable.

Identify your passions. Find what makes your heart sing and follow where it takes you. Chris Widener, author of The Angel Inside, Michelangelo’s Secrets for Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love, tells a story of a young man who has lost his passion for life. The piece of marble that became the masterpiece that is David was originally cut before Michelangelo was even born. The marble was turned down by two other artists, one being Leonardo Da Vinci. Only Michelangelo could see what the marble held deep within and it took him 28 months to sculpt David from beginning to end. “No matter what others say there is an angel inside you, waiting to be set free,” Widener explains. What lies hidden beneath the marble in you? Roffer also encourages her readers to find their passion. “Of all the things you might succeed at, those things you are passionate about give you the best chance for success,” she says.

Look deep within your talents. Stay open and flexible and don’t turn down an idea even if you can’t identify how it is relevant at the moment — it may be useful in the future. Ask family members what they remember about you as a child — what you loved, what you were always reading, what you said you wanted to be when you grew up. I remember finding a report card from the fourth grade where a teacher wrote “Never give up your writing.” What did you like in school? What were your favorite subjects? What do others see in you or say is your best talent? What is a current passion that can cross over to you current career? Do you have a knack for teaching? Manufacturers are always looking for talented technicians who want to share their passion with others. Now, Discover Your Strengths, and the new Strengthfinders 2.0 authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton have built an industry of helping people discover their unique talents and strengths. Using a 40-year study by the Gallup Organization, this StrengthFinder assessment based on 34 common talents helps individuals identify their top strengths and how to use them for career development and satisfaction. They pose the question “Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? Their online assessment helps in discovering once hidden, untapped talents and focus on strengths as opposed to building weaknesses.

Network, network, and network some more. You never know in what area of your life your next big idea will come from. Tell others of your journey. Send the message out to the world. Roffer believes, “Everything that you are seeking is also seeking you.” Take the time to truly define what your goals are and what your best life looks like.

Seek out mentors and ask for feedback. Whatever you want to do, chances are someone is already doing it. It never hurts to approach these people and ask for advice — many are much more willing to help than you think. “Finding a source of wise opinion and advice, finding that person who has faith in you, is like finding an anchor in rough seas,” says Roffer. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How am I doing?” You’ve seen the bumper stickers that ask “How’s my driving?” Consider an online feedback page where clients can anonymously rate their visit. Some salons include a survey with every new client bag and offer a discount on their next service if filled out and returned. Ask friends for honest feedback about your career track.

Become a life-long student. Keeping up with trends in all aspects of business is just a fact of business life. The good news is, keeping up has never been easier with the Internet, podcasts, and RSS feeds. Market trends are delivered to my inbox monthly from various websites whose newsletters I have subscribed to. Participate in online webinars to keep on top of industry trends and news. Many are free. Decide what it is you want to learn that’s new this year. Whether it be in technology, business, management, art, music, fashion — anything that you can draw creative energy from.

Remember the Sistine chapel wasn’t painted in a weekend. Success takes weeks, months, and years of persistent, deliberate action. Consider focusing on one principle a week, but remember in order to be successful you must commit to doing something every day to move you toward your goal. While it may seem overwhelming at first, following these strategies and drafting an action plan to guide you on your journey can get you to your destination. Whatever that new destination may be.

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Interviews with Industry Leaders Who Reinvented Themselves (including web-exclusive material!)

Vicki Peters: Competitor-Turned-Manufacturer

Vicki Peters thought she had taken her career about as far as she could. Can you believe she thought she would be in the salon forever? “My competition background had lead me to judge competitions I had won and ultimately to becoming the leading competition director worldwide until 2004 when I retired from the competition circuit,” she says. Training was a natural progression for Peters and soon she was training nail technicians all over the world. Her career path was definitely an evolution. “My career has been unique because I have taken advantage of extraordinary opportunities that have shaped my career,” she says. Peters had long wanted to manufacture her own line of products so she took the opportunity to consult with top companies behind the scenes while she continued gaining higher profile educational positions and writing for NAILS and other industry publications. “Had I not worked for Kupa as a manufacturer I would not have had the skills to have my own nail business and become a manufacturer myself,” she says. She admits to being a risk taker and “flying without a net.” Clearly, the big risks have paid off.

Did you have a long-term career plan when you began in the beauty industry?

VP: No I did not, and had I set goals, I would have gotten to where I am faster. I preach goal-setting in every class I teach because of that. My career has been unique because I have had extraordinary opportunities that I have taken advantage of.

What was your first job in the beauty industry and what was your educational background up until then?

VP: My first job outside of the salon was to manage a nail competition for a show in Las Vegas that later became part of the Nails Magazine’s shows, which I managed from 1989 to 1994. My competition background had led me to judge competitions I had won and ultimately to become the leading competition director worldwide until 2004 when I retired from the competition circuit.

What was your next move?

VP: For 15 years I worked for Nails and Nailpro Magazines and did a lot of consulting and teaching as well.

When it was time to move on, I felt the next step was to develop my own line of products. Kupa agreed and I became part of the Kupa team for four years before I went out on my own and started my own company, Vicki Peters Nail Products.

What inspired the next transition and what was it?

VP: Kupa and I decided to make some changes in late 2007 and with their assistance I was able to acquire my line of products and start my own company. When I went to work for Kupa, this was not in the plan, but savvy business always embraces change. Nothing ever stays the same and you have to go with the flow of what presents itself, which we did.

As far as education, had I not worked for Kupa as a manufacturer, I would not have had the skills to have my own nail business and become a manufacturer myself. I did not have a learning curve, just the opportunity to change and improve the way things were done, which makes me appreciate all the time I did work for Kupa.

Did you deliberately set out to change and grow your career path or did it just evolve?

VP: My career path definitely evolved. I really thought I would work in a salon forever, not knowing the opportunities that would present themselves. My competition experience in the late 80’s definitely played a huge role in the direction I took. I traveled to all the trade show competitions and networked for more than five years and received many job offers, none of which I took. But it let me know I was marketable and I knew the right thing would come along and it did.

Did you work with mentors or coaches?

VP: Yes. Norm Freed was a huge influence in my life and still is.

He always pushed me to think forward in every endeavor I was involved in. I would start a new project and he would ask what’s next before I even had a chance to dig into the project! It was exhausting. I guess that’s what has helped us both stay on top of our game all these years.

What is your advice for newcomers in the industry?

VP:  Depending on how open you are to all the opportunities that are out there, your career is what you make of it. Dipping your toes into the water is the only way you can explore, and if you never dip your toes, so to speak, you will never grow, no matter what career path you choose.

I personally am a risk taker and fly without a net, not knowing what’s next and going with it. Not everyone can do that. But on the other hand, if you don’t take risks you will never know what’s out there. The worst thing that could happen is you fail, so what! So always have a plan “B” in place just in case. My plan “B” is doing nails in a salon. It’s like waitressing, you can always do it to make the rent. For me, trying something new and seeing where it leads me keeps it fun and never gets boring. So set your goals and put a timeline to them. Then just do it!

[PAGEBREAK]

Geno Stampora: Salon Manager-Turned-Life Enhancement Speaker

Geno Stampora’s education beyond beauty school came from the university of life. Opportunities to reinvent himself came often as a salon manager, salon owner, manufacturer’s educator, school owner, and now life enhancement speaker. The realization that the key to a great life is a great income drove Geno to seek out new opportunities to stretch himself. “Living outside the comfort zone is where all growth comes from,” he says. Stampora sought mentors in all aspects of his life and learned early on he had a gift for teaching people and helping them discover their inner talents. “I believe that your life becomes what it does because of the influences around you. Surround yourself with the best and smartest people you know. Move away from the losers and complainers,” he says. One of the best life lessons I learned from Stampora was to reinvest in yourself to keep learning and growing. “My next endeavors will be to reach more beauty professionals through the Internet, video, and audio capabilities. Our industry needs training for success and I am here to do it,” he says. If you haven’t heard Stampora speak or listened to one of his CDs you are missing out on what could possibly be the best coaching session you’ll not soon forget.

Did you have a long-term career plan when you began in the beauty industry?

GS: In the beginning I had no plan at all. I just went out there and thought I was going to conquer the world. Then I quickly learned that the habits of the successful even apply to beauty.

Did you set goals and track your progress?

GS:  Not at first, but my first real growth came after I began tracking my success via retention, retail, and my ability to seek new business.

What was your first job in the beauty industry and what was your educational background to get there?

GS:  I began as a shampoo boy at a great salon in Toms River, N.J. I worked there after six months in beauty school and stayed on for a while after.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

GS:   About 18 months. They were a wonderful group of people there and they all taught me many things. I was a sponge and I loved to watch and learn.

What was your next move?

GS:   I had a dear friend from high school who owned a salon in Virginia, so that’s how I got here. I moved to work with her and her staff.

What made your transition into your next career move and what education did you take to get there?

GS: It was really time for a change and time to grow up and leave behind what was not working for me. I was fortunate to have a boss who understood the importance of continuous learning.

She inspired us to be more and she always put us in touch with the best in the industry.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

GS: I worked as a stylist for about three years.

What inspired the next transition and what was it?

GS: I was ready to try my hand at managing the salon. I was the best in sales and services and I know there were many much more talented people there than me. I thought that I would make a great teacher and I could help them to be more.

Again did you have to take any additional education for the career move?

GS: I was on the educational bandwagon at that point and I had become aware of the importance of learning. By then, I was a student of life. I was taking classes wherever I could find them. I was on a relentless pursuit for mentors in all aspects of my life. I realized finally that the key to a great life is great income, the best of friends and support systems, reading, studying, living outside that comfort zone, and always trying to stretch into new things.

Did you deliberately set out to change and grow your career path or did it just evolve?

GS: After a few years, I opened my first salon and began to grow the people around me. I realized that life was full of mistakes and all about learning new things. I was blessed with the greatest staff, and clients that became the marketers of the salon.

Did you work with mentors or coaches?

GS: I believe more than any other factor in your life, life becomes what it does because of the influences around you. The music, the people, the habits, and the thoughts. That is what creates us. I always work with mentors and coaches. If you want to be more, you must be able to be coached.

Who were they and how were they influential in your career?

GS: I have always believed that we are all mentors to each other. I look for people and books and CDs and movies that can teach me. I am constantly searching my environment and everyday events for lessons. Everything does affect everything.

What is your advice for newcomers in the industry?

GS: This is the greatest time to be involved in the greatest industry ever. I salute you for your good decision to be here. Our industry is screaming out for people who are willing to make the sacrifices that lead to success. My best advice would be to, first of all, be patient. It takes time to build a great business mind. Surround yourself with the best and smartest people you know. Move away from the losers and complainers. They can and will bring you to the wrong party. Make reading an everyday activity as well as good CDs you can listen to on a daily basis. Take care of you first. Have faith in who you are, what you know, and the fact that we can all achieve the life we want, we just have to be willing to do the stuff others won’t do. Most of all, know in your heart of hearts that there is no place like the beauty industry. We are blessed.

What’s next for you?

GS: As you know, I am committed to the bettering of our industry one person at a time.

My next endeavors will be to reach more beauty professionals through the Internet, video, and audio. Our industry needs training for success and I am here to do it.

[PAGEBREAK]

Diana Bonn: Nail Tech-Turned-State Board Member

When Diana Bonn got mad about the MMA issue she began a transformation that would lead her all the way to the Senate floor. “I realized through reading industry magazines I have something to offer others.” Diana did her homework and actually had the issue of MMA put in a House bill. This experience began another transformation for Diana when she decided being on the State Board of Cosmetology in Indiana was her next goal. Once again she did her homework, spending many hours and many of her own dollars doing the research necessary to win the trust of the board and garner her appointment. “I love being on the board,” she says. “It’s the most exciting and frustrating thing that I have ever done.” Diana isn’t quite sure what’s next, but if I had to guess, she’ll do her homework and achieve whatever she sets out to accomplish.

Did you have a long-term career plan when you began in the beauty industry?

DB: My career was in management. I had a college degree and I spent 23 years in restaurant management.

What was your first job in the beauty industry and what was your educational background up until then?

DB: I had the opportunity to purchase an existing nail and facial salon in my hometown. I had never had a manicure, never a facial, nothing. After the paperwork was signed, I started nail school so I could get a license.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

DB: I had a great 10 years, with about eight techs that stayed with me for years. I had a low turnover rate of employees, which is a sign of a busy salon and a happy salon.

What was your next move?

DB: I remember as I read the industry magazines, I kept thinking I have something to offer to others in the industry. Then MMA was coming up everywhere and I started investigating the chemical. I asked questions like, “How do you get a law passed?” And, “How many other states have a law against MMA?” So I started calling all states to find out. I went to my House representative and state senator and had the issue of MMA put on a House bill. I gave testimony to the Senate hearings.

What made your transition into your next career move and what education did you take to get there?

DB: Nails Magazine found out about my fight and I was named one of the top 50 nail industry leaders. I was also asked to contribute to different magazines, judge nail competitions for Vicki Peters and educate with the Electric File Association. I became a continuing educator for my state through a major supplier, contributed to beautytech.com articles, participated in contests for Debbie Doerrlamm, and did events at the Orlando Premier Show.

What inspired the next transition and what was it?

DB: I had one more goal, to be on the Indiana State Board of Cosmetologists.

Again did you have to take any additional education for the career move?

DB: I spent hundreds of dollars and hours upon hours of gathering information for the board to get this trust.

Did you work with mentors or coaches?

DB: I have had many people help me through the years. But my two greatest mentors were and still are Debbie Doerrlmann and Vicki Peters, two icons in our industry who will step forward and help anyone at anytime. These two women have had more influence on this industry than any others.

What is your advice for newcomers in the industry?

DB: Start in a salon where they will train you. Learn your techniques, but don’t forget about the business of running a business. Learn the marketing, the advertising, employee/independent contractor relationships. Read management books. Work for a bad owner, learn from them of what not to do. Suck in the information. Join beautytech.com. Read articles. Go to Vicki Peters seminars. Go to trade shows. Get along with people. Be on time. Dress for success. Give away free things — think of it as advertisement versus a discount. Be different than others — send thank you notes. Sanitation sanitation sanitation. Never bad mouth another salon or tech. Know when to move on.

[PAGEBREAK]

Janet McCormick: Salon Owner-Turned-Writer and Consultant

“One day I realized I was doing the same thing I had been doing since 1980 — and didn’t like it any more!” recalls Janet McCormick. “That scared me to death, as did the fact that I was in my early 50s and had no plan.” These realizations were enough to spark the reinvention process for McCormick. She was burned out as a salon owner and had to make some plans quickly to get where she wanted to be from where she was. “I sat down and very deliberately wrote out a five-year plan to be able to make a living working from my lounge chair with only my laptop and fax machine.” McCormick went back to school and got her esthetics license in 1993, her CIDESCO diploma in 1999, and finished her graduate work in Allied Health Management at Ohio State University in 2001. On her way to being an independent consultant, McCormick was the esthetic education and spa director at a major spa, and consulted for several skin care companies and medi-spas. She encourages technicians to get as much education as they can from different resources. “But most of all, decide what you ultimately want to do, and do something every day or every week that gets you just a little bit closer to it,” she says. She is now a much sought-after writer and consultant and, yes, she works from her lounge chair at home.

Did you have a long-term career plan when you began in the beauty industry?

JM: No. I had no plan. I just didn’t want to scrape teeth anymore!

What was your first job in the beauty industry and what was your educational background up until then?

JM: I was a dental hygienist, and had a bachelor’s degree in education. I had looked around for two years to find a business I could go into, and this business came up as the closest to what I knew as a hygienist: appointment system, recall system, inventory, educating the client. I opened in 1980.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

JM: I spent seven years owning salons in Columbus, then one in Cleveland, and a lease station in Lima, Ohio.

How did you transition into your next career and what education did you take to get there?

JM: I had been training, writing, and consulting while having salons and loved it. So I went into it seriously when I left Cleveland and stopped owning for forever. I had to move back to Lima, my hometown, due to an illness in my family. So I worked there just a few days a week in a lease station, then wrote, telephone consulted and worked from home the rest of the time. I did this from 1994 to 2001.

What inspired the next transition and what was it?

JM: I knew that I needed more substance to my resume to consult and write with the “big boys” so I moved to Columbus and went back to the university to get my master’s degree in allied health management. I wrote and consulted while in the master’s program at Ohio State, and took a position at a large spa system as their esthetic education and spa director while I was going to the university. I left Ohio two months after graduating, moving to Florida.

Did you deliberately set out to change and grow your career path or did it just evolve?

JM: It was pretty much evolution until I was in Cleveland and one day I realized I was doing the same thing I had been doing since 1980 — and didn’t like it anymore! That scared me to death, as did the fact that I was in my early 50s and had no plan. I finally made a plan, and everything from 1992 until now has been pretty much in that plan, with some additions and a few changes. I went back to school in 1993 and got my esthetics license. I got my CIDESCO diploma in 1999. In 1999 I had a book published by Milady Publishing. I got my M.S. in 2001. I worked as a spa director and educator for a large spa system. Finally, I moved to Florida and began totally working from home. That was my ultimate goal, and here I am! Sitting at my computer writing this while looking outside into a lovely sunny day instead of going to work every day, sometimes through piles of snow, and having the hassles of employees and the clients. I knew that someday I would not be able to stand doing all that and I made a plan and did something almost every day towards achieving it! I did it in seven years and I am proud of that.

Did you work with mentors or coaches?

JM: There were no mentors and no coaches in this industry in 1980!

What is your advice for newcomers in the industry?

JM: Get a lot of education in your skills. But I will also add that you need to go outside your industry and get other training, such as taking a speech course at the local community college, business courses, and much more. But most of all, decide what you ultimately want to do, and do something every day or every week. Everyone can achieve their goals, but to do that, they have to get off their nail chair and do something!

[PAGEBREAK]

Maisie Dunbar

Did you have a long-term career plan when you began in the beauty industry?

MD: No. I did not have a long-term plan when I entered the industry.

Did you set goals and track your progress?

MD: No. I did not set goals until one year into the industry.

What was your first job in the beauty industry and what was your educational background to get there?

MD: My first job was a manicurist in a barber shop and the only educational background I had at that time was a license and my degree in computer information systems.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

MD: I worked there six months.

What was your next move?

MD: I moved to a very busy hair salon because I was trying to build my clientele and at that time, men did not get their nails done as they do now.

How did you transition into your next career and what education did you take to get there?

MD: I took CND classes with my local distributor as well as attended trade shows to develop and perfect my skills.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

MD: I worked at the second salon for one year and then the owner move to Florida.

What inspired the next transition and what was it?

MD: After I left that salon, I went to an even busier hair salon, and I rented the back space and I worked day and night to build my clientele. I was at work 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. with no one on my book, but I was very diligent and soon enough people decided to give me a try and once they tried me, customer service won them over and most of them are with me today.

Again did you have to take any additional education for the career move?

MD: I am committed to excellence and part of that is my commitment to education. I will take any business or technique class to improve my skills or to equip me with knowledge. I am still taking classes. I take at least 10+ classes a year — nails, skin, and body classes. With me having my makeup line, I have added another project I have to keep learning about. I love to learn!

Did you deliberately set out to change and grow your career path or did it just evolve?

MD: Yes, I did set out to change my career path. I wanted to be the best if not one of the best.

Did you work with mentors or coaches?

MD: I have never had someone to coach me other than my loving mother – may her soul rest in perfect peace. But there are people in the industry I share my passion and thoughts with: Jan Arnold, Robert Andrews of Robert Andrews Day Spa, Geno Stamporo, and Bruce Johnson of Avatar Salon and Wellness Spa.

What is your advice for newcomers in the industry?

MD: The best advice I have for newbies is to partner with a salon and people who are doing what you would like to do. Remember that success is not going to happen over night. Just stay consistent and practice perfectly every time. Find a good mentor, and never stop learning. Be a green apple and strive to become a red apple. When you stop learning, you stop living.

What’s next for you?

MD: What’s next for me is reinventing my image and business and creating an international market for my cosmetics line Bluffa Jo Cosmetics. Stay tuned. It is exciting.

[PAGEBREAK]

Deb Doerrlamm

Did you have a long-term career plan when you began in the beauty industry?

DD: Absolutely not. I never did and don’t today, I make short-term goals, but nothing long-term. I think that is related to the fact that computers and Internet change daily and it is hard to have long-term goals. When I first started BeautyTech.com I was only really thinking of gaining more knowledge for my own use in my shop — nothing more, nothing less. BeautyTech just blossomed into what it is today.

What was your first job in the beauty industry and what was your educational background to get there?

DD: I had a whopping 36 hours of instruction, 18 by a talented woman and 18 with her know-it-all 19-year-old daughter because the mother took ill. I have worked from home since day one.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

DD: Fifteen years. I wound down to now a single client who is my bookkeeper and has been with me for 18 years!

What was your next move?

DD: Website development. I had a natural knack for it, and word spread quickly that my prices were reasonable and I was honest and could keep each of the companies I worked for separate.

How long did you work at that job in the same capacity?

DD: I’m still doing that now, although I am trying to wind that down because my own sites now have sales and are generating income and I need to concentrate on that to keep that in upward movement!

What is next?

DD: In my case, that is hard to say. I maintain over 70 websites plus several of my own. My husband and I are in the “prepare for retirement” mode now and I am seeking more ways to not be so tied to the computer. I am not having much success at that yet! I read everything I can get my hands on in regards to website development and ask questions everywhere to everyone. I also participate in several groups online pertaining to Internet security, and I have been thinking about moving in that direction slowly.

Did you deliberately set out to change and grow your career path or did it just evolve?

DD: It just happened in my case.

Did you work with mentors or coaches?

DD: In a matter of speaking, yes. Starting BeautyTech was the mentoring I needed to expand my knowledge of nails and enhancements. Back in the day, the likes of Doug Schoon, and other high-level educators were very active on the Nailtech mailing list feeding not only my thirst but everyone else’s on the list as well. My transition to web developer was fed by reading and my incessant questions to the tech support people I had contact with.

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