S1 E5 The Wizard Council

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Welcome to episode 5 of Anthony Presotto’s Business Insider Podcast.

200pppnewIn this episode:

This episode I am chatting with my good friend Russell Mayes. We talk about The Wizard Council, Education and Mentoring for stylists. Russell also shares some great stories from his younger days. I list some of my favorite education online at the moment, which there are links to below. Check out the link for Russells MODERN/CLASSIC haircutting education DVD’s. I love them and still refer to them after 8 plus years. Highly recommended to hairstylists of all levels.

I would love to hear your feedback and maybe any thoughts you have on training, and who is your current favorite educator?

Websites mentioned in this episode:

Transcript:

Today I have the opportunity to catch up with a dear friend of mine, Russell Mayes, some of you may know Russell from his online forum, hairmaeven.com, or his latest venture, The Union, which is a group of awesome guys who are providing independent education to stylists in the United States, and that’s what Russell and I are talking about in this podcast, the Union Wizard Council, free education, paid education, and his current project, mentoring 10 stylists starting out in their career.

Okay, so Russell tell us a bit about the Wizard Council.

Russell:  The Wizard Council was originally a group of guys you know, John, Allen, Authen and Mark, Ruth and myself  that got together and we started thinking about how it’s inspiring for us, the three of us to get together and just kind of talk hair, and sometimes there’d be somebody there that needs a haircut and we’re just kind of jamming just in hair, and we thought that that’s what really makes the industry great and it’s that connection that you have with other like-minded hairdressers, and so we originally started that well maybe we could do like a…there used to be a…something here in the United States called a National Cosmetology Association, NCA, and I think they’re still around but not in the capacity that they are today…they used to be…they had little individual, little groups in every city across the country and you would have a monthly meeting and sometimes they would do presentations and they’d get together with different people and it was just a monthly membership you know, you had your own little council in every city across the country and then they’d have a national meeting where everybody would come together.  It was a really great grassroots kind of thing that built a lot of camaraderie in the industry, and I thought that that would be a really great thing if we got together a group of like-minded people, so I thought if we could do something kind of like that where we would have just like some cool people get together and we would just all share.  And it grew to where we ended up trying to make a natural coherent presentation of independent education that wasn’t really product-based or anything, and it’s just kind of grown.  This was our third event that John called “The Wizard Council” because he had been reading a lot of Lord of the Rings, he has a son that he has been reading Lord of the Rings to so he just said “Aw, that’s awesome!” so…I think we’re actually going to change the union to Wizard Council because it feels so on-point for what we are trying to do.  And so this one was…Michael Levine was coming down from Canada to just a vacation, he said “Hey, we should get together and do something”, and he thought he would come by to my salon and just do something, he had no idea I was going to throw an event around him coming down and so we kind of surprised him with this whole event.

We had 80 people in the salon that would really only hold about 50 in it, it was just fricking packed with people, and I was shocked at how many people we had, and it was a really great turnout, and I think that it shows that there is a lot of, if not necessarily hunger for education, but hunger for that connection and that camaraderie and the uplifting of the reputation of the industry that is really kind of lacking today because it’s become such a sailor’s shtick everywhere you go, and education is nothing but care and stick from a product company that they’re offering and everything has been deluded and convoluted, and so we’re just trying to present quality here from our perspective.  And so this one was about… instead of the hair colour complementing the hair cut, we had this really great colourist called Allison Gaza, she’s working with Davines and so we decided that we would have some models and she could do anything she wanted, we just wanted bright intense colours, some muted, some not muted, some subtle, some really extreme, I think you saw the pictures from them.  And we just wanted bright colours and we wanted the haircut to complement the hair colour as opposed to the hair cut being the biggest prong in the fork, we wanted the hair colour to take kind of front row with this.  And the greatest part of the whole presentation is when we brought all the colour models out, there was an audible gasp “Huh!” in the audience, and that was so great for her to see that kind of reaction to the colour that she did, and some of the colour was absolutely gorgeous and beautiful and it was all done in a classy way, and none of it was just for shock value, it was all pretty colour, even though it was bright, it was all still pretty.  So I liked that…

Anthony: …I saw the…looking at the photos, they were really…for bright colours they weren’t just in your face, they were nice, which is something you don’t see.

Russell:  They weren’t the punk rock, it was glamour.  Glamour dominated…a really bright primary coloured style, which I think is very difficult to do, it’s easy to just colour somebody’s hair pink and undercut it and disconnect it and “Oh, I got cool hair!”, but I’m so bored with that, I’m so bored with education and I use air quotes with this “education being all about let me stand up and show you what an awesome hair cutter I am by undercutting and disconnecting it and trying to out-Sassoon Sassoon”.  If I want to copy what Sassoon has done…don’t get me wrong,  I think Mark Hayes is a genius and brilliant and one of  my absolute favourite hairdressers of all time, and he did a magnificent work, but if I just copy that…you know I just kind of like “Why copy it?  Do something a little different, do something in your own style”.  And I’ve seen photographs you know on Hair Break that I look at and I think, “That is a direct copy of what Sassoon collection did a couple years ago”, and it’s just kind of … it’s kind of lame in my humble opinion, not that the hair I do is all that edgy and great, I tend to do a real…I try to do pretty hair, I’m over disconnected, undercut, asymmetrical shit, I’m over it. Let’s do something that’s even on both sides, let’s do something that’s connected and blended through or…it’s just so easy to make a statement and have some drama by undercutting and disconnecting an asymmetrical…and making something asymmetrical.  It’s difficult to have that same drama in something that is connected and even and balanced and all that stuff.  And so that’s always the mindset that I take when I’m trying to do hair for presentation, I want to do something that’s pretty and I want to do something that has a little bit of drama to it in some way to capture someone’s attention.  And sometimes I hit it and sometimes I don’t but…what was the question?  I got lost there.

Anthony: So did I, but yeah it’s really true and..

Russell:  I feel like Michael in his first interview where he’s just starting “What was the question again?”

Anthony:  I think pretty hair and elegant hair is very much in focus of…I know with the clients I do…I’m doing hardly any disconnected, undercut, and I’m even at the point of starting to turn those sort of people away, it’s just not the space I’m in, it’s just not what I want to do, I want to do pretty hair, I want to do something that looks beautiful and maybe I’m just getting too old to be edgy…

Russell:  It’s fun to do…no, no, no, not at all.  I mean it’s still fun to do but if I’m going to present something to another hairdresser and to my group of peers, I can’t do just something that I’ve always done or have just do the same stuff or copy someone else’s stuff without changing it some way, shape or form or do it…the edginess of an undercut, disconnected, asymmetrical thing you know with bold things is no longer edgy, it’s…to me it ‘s no longer interesting you know like when I see stuff, I’d rather see that beautiful blow out kind of Veronica Lake kind of finger wave thing, that is so difficult to do, I mean I wish I could do that Veronica Lake kind of sexy wave thing, that is magnificent, that captures my eye even though it’s not new or edgy or that’s like “Wow!” that captures my eye.  If I see another volka, I’m like “Naa, whatever…next…”, it doesn’t capture my eyes.  So sometimes I tend to not put things out because it’s just kind of like the same thing I’ve done before, it’s my comfort zone.  The only time it’s really worth putting something out to my peers is when it’s out of my comfort zone and then let’s see what the results are. And it’s a scary thing to put yourself out there and…cause you’re always think “I want to put this out, but it’s not perfect”, and you think everyone’s going to shit all over it and poo poo you but you know, you do what you can, and that’s the scary thing about putting your own work out and your own content out, it’s never good enough.

Josh posted something from Ira Glass, it was about your level of taste and your level of skill not living up to that taste level, and that’s the path that every artist is on, you have this idea and this vision of what you want but your skill level can’t get you there and so you’re always disappointed with your work and I don’t know that that ever really goes away, I mean I’ve done hair for quite a long time, I hesitate to say it cause then you’ll judge me based on how old I am, but I’ve done hair you know 28 years, 29 years, and there has been very few haircuts I ever look at and say “That’s good”, I always look at it, you know, the critical eye and think “Oh I could do it better here, I could do better there…yeah I like that part there…”, there’s always something that’s a little bit off.  And one of the things that I’m trying to do now that I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks is my last client of the day I will look at it and say “Okay I’m going to do this hair for myself, it’s not for the client, it’s not for the salon, it’s the last one, I can run behind if I want to, but this is one that I’m going to do for myself”.  And I’ll take my time and I’ll really try to do something that makes me pleased, that makes me proud, whether it’s blowing it up better than I usually do, being a little more meticulous about it ….using a different tool, fine-tuning the cut a little bit more and really paying less attention to the client and more attention to me as an artist, that’s something that I’ve been trying to do in the salon lately.

But you know like I…like you and I, we’re both salon-based hairdressers so…it’s…maybe that changes the lens that we focus the hair business on because we work in the salon and we deal with the client all the time whereas I mean I know some guys who’re just platform artists, they just go around and teach, and it’s real easy to just get off into that world of trying to impress hairdressers as opposed to trying to impress a client, they’re really different mindsets.

Anthony:  Most definitely.  That sort of leads into my next topic…is education, the quality of free education out there.  I remember I was talking probably a couple years ago and I really love the comment you had that everybody’s got a camera now so everybody’s become an educator, and it seems to be true and even more so than…I guess I’m seeing more education appearing that’s not so bad, I think everyone has got a camera, there’s a lot of people putting out stuff that is not necessarily good, it’s free, a lot of it tends to be, from my point of view, “Let’s see how I can shred this hair up, but I have a really cool technique to do it”.  It’s not necessarily producing good hair.

Russell:  I think that a lot of hair dressers, and this is myself included, I’m not distancing myself cause I see it in myself too, I think that everybody in the hair business is a little insecure, especially in the United States, cause the United States, being a hairdresser is not a real glamorous job…I don’t know what it’s like in Australia, I know in London it’s kind of…it’s a well-respected craft.  You know in America it’s kind of like a step above being a waitress in a coffee shop, not that there’s anything wrong with being a server, I’m just saying it’s not something that people really look at or glamorize unless you’re one of the few celebrity hairdressers that does Britney Spears hair or something.  But I think a lot of hairdressers they strive for that credibility and that being okay, being okay with my career and okay with myself and having some respect, so one way to gain respect in the business that “I’m an educator, I teach other hairdressers how to do hair”, so it’s kind of a title that I’ll slap on my chest and say “Oh that makes me better than the average hairdresser so you can trust me”, sort of like segmenting yourself from others so that you kind of have a little credibility, cause credibility is tough to gain in the business because once you do a haircut, the haircut‘s gone and if she’s not making it look good then you don’t have a whole lot of credibility.

So I think that that a lot of young guys coming up into it are striving to kind of gain that credibility and so they’ll start sharing stuff and if I share stuff on the Internet, I think it’s really great, but sometimes if I share it from a place inside of me that is lacking and that I’m trying to fill that lack of with…that insecurity in myself, I’m trying to fill that with other people saying that it’s good or okay…does that make sense?  I’m trying to fill it from a wrong position itself, instead of trying to give something, I’m trying to take something.  So I’m sharing it not with the intent of sharing it, I’m sharing it with the intent of taking something from the audience to fill the hole in my heart and I think that that’s where a lot of bad…bad hair comes out on some videos and some pictures and things like that and it’s not about the craft or doing the hair or sharing something, it’s me filling the hole in my heart, so if they can come from a position of “Oh let me share this thing that I think, that I learned”, then I think it can be really great.  And it can be something very very simple, it doesn’t have to be “Oh I’m going to be the hair professor and drop some knowledge on you and blow your mind”, it can be as simple as “Okay, this is how you’re going to hold some scissors”.

I saw Christian Awsom for instance did a little how-to-hold-your-scissor tutorial that I thought was really great, and I think that is probably the best video that he did because it provided clear, concise information that can be really useful.  I mean I know the information, I know how to my scissors correct, but I can still appreciate and respect it, I mean he put it out for the right reasons.  Does that make sense?

Anthony:  Most definitely, and I think yeah, that there is a lot of that happening now, which is really great, yeah and I think it does…

Russell:  Who is good that you like?

Anthony:  Who is good?

Russell:  Yeah, what education have you seen that you’ve like?

Anthony:  That I’ve really liked?  I’m always impressed by everything you do.

Russell:  Aw!  I wasn’t fishing for compliments… Yeah, I am…

Russell:  I’ll pay you five bucks for that one.

Anthony:  I forget how long ago we first met…Hair Maeven, I watch your DVDs and my learning curve was just so steep from then on.  Like you said, I look back over the first 15 years of my career and think “Shit! I was really bad.”  You all deserve a refund, but yeah, so like…I like your stuff, it’s great.  DJ Muldoon I really like a lot of the work he puts out, I…

Russell:    DJ a really clean haircut.

Anthony:  He’s just absolutely brilliant and it’s…it’s unfortunately the times he has a lot of  his education on it’s…doesn’t work well here in Australia, but it’s great stuff.  Joshua Flowers, surprising me, he’s coming up with some great stuff, actually…he’s…something he said on his last video was really great was “We all learn and get to a point where we learn to cut hair and from there on its more about the tricks and tips we can learn to make our job easier”, and I thought “You know that is so true”.

Who else is producing great stuff?    Guys over at Free Salon Education are doing some stuff that’s not bad.

Russell:  Yeah…you know, yeah…Matt… oh my goodness…

Anthony:  I can’t remember his name either… for everybody listening, I will put a link…I’ll put a link in the show to all these guys we’re talking about so you can go and follow up with them and find out more.

Russell:  I’ve never met Matt but just from his videos he seems like a really genuine cool dude, I like him no matter what, even though I’ve never met him.

Anthony:  Yeah, me either, I haven’t even had a chance to speak to him but I love the videos they do, they do some good stuff and…yeah and I think it comes from like we were saying, a place that’s…that is about education and sharing, not necessarily about filling that void or seeking validation of the work they do, which is really really good.

Russell:  It’s a scary thing that when you go out and you start to share your philosophies and the way you think about things because somebody will…and eventually ask you a question and you think “I never thought about that”, and then when you start thinking about it you realize they pointed out a hole in your technique, and so it’s that realization of okay, let me kind of protect myself and defend myself from…and it makes it difficult to share but it does make you a lot better when you go and you share your stuff and you share your opinion and as long as you just present it and say “Hey this is just the way I do it, take the good, discard the bad” you know versely “Take what’s good, use it, what you don’t like, chuck it…”

Anthony:  Exactly, and I want to say I’m reading a few different …books here and there’s a lot of philosophy there that’s taken out of martial arts that’s very life-important.

Russell:  Without a doubt, without a doubt you know, especially…and it could really apply to pretty much anything you know because it’s taught a lot about self-reflection and I think anybody that spends a lot of time in self-reflection it makes them a better person, and that’s part of the path of being a great hairdresser, and when you first start doing hair you’re learning technique, “Let me learn how to do what the client asks for…let me learn how to cut hair so that I have a clue…”, and then as you get good at doing hair and you can please the client, you start getting good at the personal-relationship side of it, “Okay, let me build a personal relationship with the client in the chair and deal with that part of the whole salon interaction”, and then you start, after you get good at that and being able to have a conversation and make them feel good and warm and fuzzy inside, you start thinking about “Okay, what am I doing to hold myself back”, you start reflecting on yourself and how you are preventing yourself from really growing.  That’s the hardest stage is admitting to yourself “Where’d I screw up?” and admitting to yourself “Yeah, I shouldn’t have said that to that person, I’m an asshole”, and it’s hard to admit that but that’s part of the obstacles that we have to hurdle over down the road of the hair-dresser life, it’s tough.

Anthony:  Most definitely, and  it’s a constant struggle because I find myself now you know, I’ve put a lot of effort into training, a lot of effort into my personal skills and I still suck up, it just happens.  You have a bad day, something pisses you off in your personal life…and it’s hard to keep it separate and you do take it into the salon, and you think “Yeah I really shouldn’t have done that or said that”, and those are the days you probably should shut the door and go home.

Russell:  And it’s tough because then if you go home, “Are you sick?”  “No, not really, I’m just having a bad day”  “Oh well suck it up chumly”, you know.

Anthony:  That’s exactly right.

Russell:  Not a whole lot of sympathy from the client you know.

Anthony:  You know what we kind of…exactly and yeah, when you go into the salon pissed off people don’t want you cutting their hair that day, not at all.

Russell:  Well, they don’t want you not cutting it because they really don’t know when they’re going to get in there.  I warn them, I tell them…I tell them if I’m having a bad hair day where I’m not cutting good hair, I’ll tell them, “I don’t know if you want me cutting your hair today, I’m a little bit off today”.  And some are going to be like “Okay I’ll just wait til you’re on…”  I stopped doing that because then I had clients call up “Is he on today?”  “Oh yeah, he’s on”, so…

Anthony:  So you put a call out looking for students to mentor, how’d that ….how’d that go?

Russell:  I…you know I’m working on a new website you know Hair Mentor, because the mentoring aspect here in the United States is really lacklustre and it’s…there’s a huge vacuum of people to share and pass knowledge there and not everybody has an opportunity to go to a salon and apprentice someone’s that’s really skilled or knowledgeable, or even cares.  There’s a lot of you know…burnt our folks out there that don’t take time for themselves like what we were just talking about, and it’s hard to give of yourself if you don’t have a lot in your own heart to give.

So I’m trying to do this Hair Mentor website but I’m thinking “Okay, what’s the best way for me to share the…have you learned of the 80/20 Rule where 80% of your work comes from 20% of your effort, so I’m thinking “What is the 20% that I can give somebody that will give them 80% of their success? What are the key things that I can really focus on to teach somebody and mentor somebody so that they can make a living?”  And there’s so many people that go to beauty school, they get out, they go try to find a job, their either get a job assisting shampooing hair and making minimum wage and can’t make a living, or they go work in a…a service salon and they don’t make enough money to really grow, and no one’s really showing them what it takes to be successful.  And so, so many people just die on the vine as soon as they graduate beauty school the first couple years, I mean it’s a massacre…a massacre, I mean there’s no telling what the percentage is, some people say it’s high as 90%…98%, I wouldn’t doubt if it was 98% in the first five years that are no longer in business and it’s not because there’s a lack of wealth with the craft, there’s a lack of knowledge, a lack of anyone showing them.  So I put out a little post on Facebook that said “I’m looking for 10 people that’s willing to go through a mentoring programme with me and they got to be local”, and so I got…I got 12 or 13 people signed up, I only took 10, and I asked them ‘Why do you want to do hair?”  I don’t expect anything profound, but what I wanted to hear from their why was something about servicing somebody else, something about giving to somebody else as opposed to it being “Oh I really love doing hair, I love making people look good…I love this…I love that”, I wanted it to be more of “I want someone to feel good about the way they look”, I wanted it to be from a perspective of making the client feel good, giving the client a good service, giving the client a self-esteem boost or making them happy.  And so anybody that answered that in that vein, which was most of them, came in and I started out last Monday was my first week and I did it with the basic haircut, B-layer…you hold everything down, you get cut it one layer, hold everything up in the middle in the Mohawk section, you cut it all in the centre, I covered about an hour of some hair-cutting theory, how to control weight and movement and just how to cut a straight line sort of thing, and we did the haircut and we all…I did a demonstration and they did it.

I learned a lot from that first class of teaching these 10 people what is so second nature for me… section, comb, clean, pat, I mean I just do it automatically and naturally get it clean from roots to the ends.  It’s so hard for someone new to come in and create the physical dexterity that’s required to be able to cut a clean straight line and keep their mind where they’re supposed to be and know all these things, and they’re not even carrying a conversation on.  So it’s going to take a little bit of time, so I think that they all did fairly well, they…I didn’t have anybody that didn’t want to be there so that’s certainly helps.

Anthony:  Yeah.

Russell:  I think they all did well but some of them could not follow, I mean it’s…cut it down, I did everything, I showed them what to do and then next thing you know they’re going from horizontal sections to vertical sections and their sections are not parallel and they’re going all over the place, so I think…I’m beginning to develop the philosophy that educating young people today, you cannot give them War and Peace or cutting the Sassoon way, you can’t give them a bible of hair, you know, and expect them to read it, you have to feed it to them in Tweets, they can only understand or comprehend a hundred and 60 characters at a time.  So give it to them one Tweet at a time…one Tweet at a time…one Tweet at a time, then they’ll be able to retain it because everything is so sensory overloaded today that it’s hard for people to focus. So I think that this next class what I’m going to do is I’m going to have everybody get their doll head and we’re all going to section it the same way all at the same time, and I’m going to take a section and then they’re going to take the same section…I’m going to take the next section, they going to take the next section, I’m going to comb the next section and cut it…so we’re going to do basically the Tweet haircut, one Tweet at a time, one cut one section at a time, and hopefully that can…that can start to get some repetitive…and I think we’re going to…twice.  So repetitive, you know, repetition is the mother of skill so…it’s really opening my eyes the difficulty that it is to train someone that’s young in the business and how there has to be a lot of self-motivation to strive to be excellent that I cannot teach them because…I was talking to an educator about a child’s brain and as they develop and how young adolescents develop, and there’s a certain…growth that the brain goes through where they can’t comprehend algebra, they can understand two plus two equals four, but they cannot comprehend two plus B equals four, what is B, they can’t understand that, and then as the brain develops they do it enough, then all of a sudden a light bulb goes off and clicks “Ah, I got it!”, they can understand these abstract terms.  Hair cutting is a lot like that, you start and you struggle, and you struggle and you don’t get it and you don’t get it, and you don’t get it and then all of a sudden on day, pop! It clicks and it’s like “I got it!”  And it’s tough because you’re taking a three-dimensional shape that you’re cutting on somebody’s head, and you’re compressing it, it’s a two dimensions of your finger.  And then after you cut it into your two dimensions of your finger you’re releasing it and the three-dimensional shape is not collapsing.  So to make that leap in your mind of three-dimensional shape compressed released and collapsing, that’s a lot to take in and it takes a while for people to learn that.

Anthony:  It certainly does…I think…

Russell:  I know.

Anthony:  Here in Australia…

Russell:  Does that make any sense at all?

Anthony:  It does.  Here in Australia we have…I think it’s now a three-year apprenticeship, so the numbers that go to like a beauty school are very minimal compared to the people that are doing it in salon apprenticeship with going off to beauty school once a week or a month or whatever, and it is, you know you’re dealing with young people, their attention span is very limited, I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and “I grasped it straight away, why can’t you?”  And that was…that’s been one of my biggest things with educating people…apprentices in the salon I guess, people in general it’s not so bad because you see them for that period of time and they’re gone, and apprentices are there five, six days a week, and you know if they frustrate you, they frustrate you for days on end.  And it’s true you know…it’s yeah, I guess it’s teaching them in Tweet sections, yeah, that’s really….

Russell:  It’s tough…

Anthony:  What’s the…what’s the level of experience of the people you’re mentoring at the moment?  Is it less than five years or…

Russell:  Oh yes, yes, all under five years, I’d say probably most of them are around two years, year and a half, two years, they’re all out of school, they’re all…most of them are apprenticing in a salon, there might be a few that are doing hair in a salon but it’s on a very limited basis.  A lot of apprentices are still going through their apprenticeship program and still trying to get their feet wet you know, still trying to search and find that voice that they have to share you know and it’s hard to share that voice if you don’t know how to sing or talk, so it’s like we’re trying to learn how to talk in the hair business so to speak…losing my hair.

Anthony:  And just thinking back to…educators hairdressers alike, I’ve been watching a little bit of stuff from Alan Belfield Bush lately and one thing that I really admire that he has tried to do is create a universal language for hairdressers, which is something I’ve found very very difficult now that I’m attending educating through Politure…I’ve become a Politure salon looking at different education online and videos now… everything has a different way of describing it and it’s usually the same thing, and that must just drive people new to the industry…and I know it drives me crazy and I’ve been in it for a long time, so I don’t know how it affects people that are just trying to get their head around something when is all new to them.

Russell:  And there’s times when people use terminology that’s completely the opposite of terminology that somebody else uses, and so it’s very very confusing and I think sometimes it’s confusing for no reason.  When I’m teaching a class I use very little terminology at all…I don’t ever really talk about over direction unless I’m trying to explain something to someone that thinks in over direction kind of terms, I pull it straight up to the ceiling, straight down to the floor, forward, left, right, tee to my parting, it’s always like I try to cut out as much terminology as possible.  Terminology can be a barrier to communication cause if we don’t communicate using the same terminology, then nobody understands, so I always try to cut as much of that out as possible.  It doesn’t really matter in the end, it doesn’t matter you know if it’s triangular graduation, square graduation…it doesn’t matter, especially someone that’s new to the business doesn’t need to get into the esoterics of terminology, they’re just trying to do a fricking haircut to make a client happy.

Anthony:  That’s exactly right, yeah.

Russell: So I cut all of that…as much of it out as possible.

Anthony:  That’s great, and that’s what I find I tend to do, I find it easier just to, like you said I mean to pulling it up, pulling it out, pulling it towards this, doing that, sectioning it this way, sectioning it that way and it saves me a hell of a lot of confusion let alone trying to teach somebody that hasn’t been doing it for 20 odd years.

Russell:  Yeah…it is simpler, it’s more straightforward…it’s simpler, it’s more straightforward,  it’s more concise and somebody can get his…can just grasp it.  If I’m teaching you engineering and I’m using engineering terms or… see even when you go to the doctor, the doctor says “Oh you’ve got manginogritis”, like “What the hell is that?!!  I don’t know.”  You say “I don’t even… something…whatever”,   “You got a cold.”   “Okay, I got it”, but it’s…they can use terminology and just you become swimming because you don’t understand what the terminology is, you have to say “Oh speak English.”

When Michael came down for…when Michael came down for Wizard Council, I mean it was really great having him here and he is such a cool dude, you know he came down and just rolled with the punches and just…you know whenever you’re doing one of those shows it never goes off like you hope it does, and it’s like we were expecting maybe 40 people, 45…50 was…we were doing good at 50 and when we started there was a line of 30 people lined up out front buying tickets to get in, which we did not expect at all and so the place was packed and I mean we were running behind on getting people in and getting things over and stuff like this, and oh I mean it was…you know you always know how things are supposed to go so when it’s over  you think “Oh, what a disaster”, but hopefully that the people that were there enjoyed it and they had some great hair, so…

Anthony:  Yeah, you had a massive turnout.

Russell: …and he’s such a great guy.

Anthony: Michael’s just awesome you know, I put him on the spot for my first podcast and he was just great and obliging to do that for me and he just…he’s got so much…and we just finished interviewing Van Counsel last week and what an amazing guy….

Russell:  Yeah, Ben’s a cool guy…Van’s a cool guy, when I was  young growing up you know Van Counsel was just popping on the scene with the Aveda and he had a couple of hot salons in Atlanta, and so being from Kentucky, I get out of school and I’m doing like these photo shoots and stuff like and I think ‘I want to go work somewhere where it’s really hip and cool”, so I got in the car, I drove fricking seven hours to Atlanta and I went in and go into a salon and said “Oh yeah, I’d like to apply for a job, I drove here from Kentucky…” and all this stuff and I had a bunch of slides of hair cuts that I had done, and I filled out the application and I had the slides and I had a little resume which, you know…nothing on it cause you know sure I’m just out of school, I’d been a hairdresser for a couple of years and so I put it all say “Great!”  Never fricking heard back from you, that hurt my feelings so bad, I’m like “At least say hey dude I appreciate you coming in but you know, just like nothing”.  So I always, whenever someone comes in, I always try to at least say “You know I don’t have any spots right now, I really appreciate your coming in and all that”.  But I ended up meeting him face to face for the first time when I was doing the interview with Christopher Brooker and he was a cool dude, I didn’t tell him that I had gone to Atlanta and applied in his salon and got snubbed and all that, but he was a cool guy, I liked him, nice guy.

Anthony:  And that was a great interview with Christopher Brooker too…what an amazing guy!  He was just really great to watch.

Russell:  Yeah, yeah, and it…when I was going to edit that I figured  oh I’ll edit this down to the five minutes, just the interview part where…cause I went to the hotel room and I had like 30 minutes, like beginning to end, so I tried to set things up as quick as possible, I didn’t have any lights, I just turned every light on in the hotel room and set up a camera and turned the mike on him and I was just to…you know like nervous about doing the whole thing, let’s make sure to get him, I didn’t have anything for me or the two shot or the microphone or anything like that.  It was…technically it was horrible, horrible, but he was so great and the information he provided was so on-point and honest and sincere, I thought I hope that when I mature in my career that I can be as humble and as cool and as honest and have as much dignity as he has for as much as he’s been through and all his career and life, he’s so modest and humble and cool and nice and I really like that dude, I like him a lot.  So I figured  let me just go ahead and put the whole video up, I’m not going to bother to edit it because anybody that’s going to want to watch the video is going to want to see the whole thing, so let me…so I would want to see the whole thing, yeah, so I just put the whole thing up.

Anthony:  Yeah, that was definitely…

Russell:…the show part was like six hours long, it was like half and a half hours long.

Anthony:  I know, it was incredible, yeah, that looked really good.

Russell:  I had to edit it though, that man can really talk.

Anthony: I’ve got the…I’ve got that from IS…

Russell:  And Horst was there in attendance and it was great to see him…yeah and I like Horst a lot.

Anthony:  There was definitely some great characters in this industry and it’s…you know the last 12 months has been an absolute blast for me getting to talk to so many of them, it’s been amazing, my only…my only regret is I’m stuck on the other side of the world and I’m not going to get a chance to meet a lot of them for a long time but we’re planning on going to the ISSE show next year.

Russell:  Really! Really!

Anthony:  Yeah, apparently they tell me SO Magazine is going to the Ice show so I…I don’t know if I’m allowed say it, whether it’s a secret or not, but we’re also going to the Sassoon Mash-Up after it when it’s on, something like…so yeah Tony Beckerman invited us, so another great man, Tony Beckerman is just an amazing guy…

Russell:  Yeah Tony Beckerman is a cool guy.

Anthony: …the knowledge that pours out of him is just like aw it’s a pity you have to stop an interview after an hour because you can just sit there forever, and it just … towards the end of the interview, he was just getting on the roll and it’s like “Aw really, now we got to stop?”

Russell:  You should have just kept it rolling… just kept it going…rolled out a Christopher Brooker six-hour interview.

Anthony:  He had to go and pick up his kids from school or something…or something like that, I don’t know what it was, so we had to stop, it was such a pity, but yeah, he was…

Russell:  Gotch you.

Anthony: You know there’s just been so many that have been so good it’s unbelievable.  Hairbrained are doing really really well, they’re doing some good stuff.

Russell:  Yeah, yeah, I like Hairbrained, I like the guys you know a lot … I think that they’re doing a lot for the industry and trying to bring things together a little bit, bring a little camaraderie in and you know that’s one of the things that makes the industry so great is the camaraderie between stylists, if you can get past the ones with the ego and get to the others, I mean you can have some really great true deep friendships and the sharing that goes on you know it’s really wonderful because there’s nothing that anyone has…there’s nothing that I can experience that someone hasn’t already experienced before me.

Anthony:  Yeah.

Russell: So that if I’m going through something I say “Hey Anthony, I got this issue with this assistant, what do you think?”  And you can say “Dude I had that exact same thing happen to me last year and this is how I handled it and this is how I would do it differently.”  A wealth of knowledge for the people that aren’t afraid to ask.

Anthony:  Most definitely.

Russell:  And it’s so easy to get, you just have to go ask for it.

Anthony:  Yeah, that’s one thing I have learnt in the last 18 months is if you ask, people are willing to share and are happy to.  The only time we get any sort of resistance for anything like that, I guess from more local salons and local hairdressers where they still have this mentality that you’re going to steal something from them…

Russell:  Right.

Anthony: … you know and you know that they’re not, they don’t want to build…and it’s a pity because it would be lovely to have that…+ that network, a local network build up, I feel, and it’s just…

Russell:  Yeah, I agree.

Anthony:  …yeah, it’s…and I don’t know if you experienced the same thing where you are that they just…we’re all in the same business, like you said, we all have the same problems, the chances are we could help each other if we could just put our little egos aside and do it.

Russell:  Yeah, yeah.  I think maybe some of it is fear of being exposed, because I have a salon and I’m running it and I have no idea what I’m doing, I have an idea what I think I want to do but you know it’s kind of like I’m doing the best that I can and so there’s a certain fear that someone’s going to be able to pull back the curtain and expose “Aha! Got you, you don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”  And you’re going to say “No, I don’t.” So…

Anthony:  Yeah that happens every day when I got to wait to cut hair.

Russell:  …you know so it’s, which is tough…

Anthony:  That was one of the things that we were discussing at the magazine was that unlike most people  I entered in this business… my mother was a hairdresser, her aunt was a hairdresser so like you, it’s been a family thing, and I entered this business, not so much because I had any passion for doing hair, it’s because I like the business side of it, so for me it’s always been about the business, which is probably why I sucked at hair for so long, and…and now…

Russell:  Not until you decided it was a necessity did you learn, right?

Anthony:  Pretty much you know, I got to the point…I’d already owned salons, I had staff, ah you know I’m humble, you know I’m not the best hair cutter in that salon and chances are I’m still not probably the best hair cutter I’ll ever have in my salon but I’m getting better and it’s…you know I just wish we’d had yeah, more camaraderie and the ability to share within the community, I probably would have got to the realization that I have a lot sooner, and had people there to help me because I know there’s been some really great hairdressers pass through this area and it would have been great to have learned from them, so yeah.

Russell:  Yeah, that reminds me of I’ve always been …like since my father was in the business and my father knew a lot of people and he was very well respected in business for his technical ability, he had a lot of friends that I knew just from he was my dad, so they were very open and nice to me and so I never really saw much of the shunned side of things until much later when I started to have some success, but I mean I was just kind of the gloomiest and I would just go and ask anybody for help.  And there’s a time when I was in beauty school, I had started doing hair for about a year…just playing around and working in dad’s salon illegally, but I’ll deny it if it ever comes to light again, but you know, I didn’t have a licence and I was just cutting my friends’ hair and stuff like that and he was teaching me and I went to beauty school and when I was getting close to graduating Trevor Sormy was doing a class in Atlanta, you know and Atlanta is 350 miles, 400 miles away, so I hopped in the car Saturday after work, I drove all night, I got there…early early, I went and had breakfast and at 6:00 o’clock I’m at the hotel where the show was at and I’m walking the hotel, looking for the prep room, and sure enough, there’s the prep room, I walk in and people are just getting set up and there’s Trevor and I said “Hey Trevor, how you doing?”  He said “Hey, how are you?”  I said “I’m here to help, anything you need you tell me, I’m here to help you with your hair, I’m your right hand you got.”

He says “Oh great, well come on over here, this is what I want you to do.”

And I sat down and started making these little gel curls that he would make these wig hair pieces out of and I just sat there for hours making these gel curls and then when he had the model and he was putting them on and he’s looking at it and he’d say “So what do you think of that?”  And I’d kind of look at it and I wouldn’t say much, he goes “No, wait, what’s your opinion?”  And I said “I think it needs a little over here”, he goes “I think you’re right”.

So then he’d add some there and I’m thinking “Oh shit, Trevor Sorbie just asked me my opinion, oh wow!” And I was nobody, I was a kid that was excited and I showed up and I asked “Hey, need any help?  I’m here to help.”  It wasn’t like “Oh when are you going to pay me to assist and drive my ass all the way down to Atlanta?”  No, it was I’m going to go and I’m going to…of course I didn’t have a ticket for the show but since I was helping I snuck in the back and got to watch the show from the backstage cause I…I helped, I worked for that ticket.  But it was a great experience.  And then when I you know, left Kentucky and ended up going to New York City and work there, it was because I’d had such a great experience with…Trevor and Vivian McKinder who was always was very very nice to me as well, and so when I went up to John Dellaria’s “Hey John, what’s going on?” And he said “Hey why don’t you come work in New York?”  “You got it”, and that’s…you just go and put yourself in play, that’s a hard thing to do is put yourself in play and it’s that fear of rejection but I was too stupid to realize and I just went and did it anyway.

Anthony:  Yeah, I think you either have to be…

Russell:  stupid…go ahead I’m sorry.

Anthony:  I think you either have to be like that…I think it is, half the battle is showing up and yeah, the other half is just making sure you do and put yourself in play and I think it’s…maybe that’s the benefit of age now, I just don’t care you know, they can reject me all they want, I’ll just keep putting myself out there because I no longer care anymore what anybody thinks or says, I’m going to do what I want to do, and I do, and it’s just opened up an entire new world to me and it’s like wow, I didn’t have that maturity 20 years ago to do that but I do now and I’m glad I do.

Russell:  Yeah, I think that you know just a certain amount of fearlessness that comes with age or you don’t give a shit anymore, just bulldog through it you know.  I think that that’s a beautiful thing, you’re a beautiful man Anthony, a beautiful man, look at you.

Anthony:  Thank you, thank you Russell.

Russell:  Ah just barrelling through…

Anthony: Yes, which is the same thing I do when I started this podcast, I had no idea what I was doing, I just went and bought a shit load of equipment and decided I’m going to start a podcast…

Russell:  And how’s…how’s that going?

Anthony:  It’s going good, and we have…

Russell:  How’s your podcast going?

Anthony:  We had a bit of a slump over Easter, I basically didn’t do anything,  and it’s been great and I’m putting out, hopefully some useful content for people, I’m alternating that with blog posts, so I’m always putting out something there to share, I’m very big on giving as much as I can back to the industry now and whatever I can to help and share with people, which you should know I’ve pretty much done through the Hair Maeven forum anything I can share and help people with I’m always glad to, and this is just the new format, it’s…I’m a terrible writer, I hate to sit down at a keyboard and have to write something, I’m really…it takes me a long long time to get any content out, where being a hairdresser we’re taught, so having a podcast like this I can sit and talk and talk and talk and talk and I can produce wonderful content without any problem whatsoever.  Any plans to release some new videos?

Russell: Yeah, I think that there’s Hair Mentor gig…I’m trying to par it down to about 12 classes and I think that I’m going to release that as an online course and as a DVD set, you know a set of…six DVDs or something because not everybody is going to learn it online and if I go to a trade show I can’t sell an online membership, I have to have something physical to sell and I think that there’s something to be said like for me, I mean maybe I’m just old but I like the idea of going and getting a physical DVD, so I have the information and I can keep it, whereas if it’s online, shit I’ve lost stuff online, you lose pictures and stuff online and where has it gone?  I don’t know, can’t get it again.

I produce a podcast once a fortnight. So check back soon. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes.

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About Anthony Presotto

Currently one of only two Australian hairstylists who are members of the Hairdressing World Expert Panel, Anthony Presotto is on a mission to empower salon owners, sharing his expertise as an author, international speaker and salon business strategist.

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