Leave Your Mark: How To Use Your Emotional Intelligence To Make A Difference With Jay Williams

beauty industry customer experience emotional intelligence empathy salon leaders social comparison Feb 21, 2021
THS 34 | Emotional Intelligence

Stylists are, more often than not, empaths. Their acuity when it comes to emotional intelligence carries unlimited potential in making a difference in customers and even in the world, but it often gets underplayed and underappreciated. For years, speaker, entrepreneur and industry thought leader, Jay Williams has dived into these potentialities that emotional intelligence brings to the beauty industry. Through his books, Leave Your Mark: The Thinking, Behavior and Skills of Great Salon Leaders and  This vs That: Better Thinking, Better Choices, Better Leader, Jay embarks on a mission to help stylists become more attuned to their natural gifts and use them to leave a mark of their own. Listen in as he shares the salient points of discussion from these books with host, Ryan Weeden.


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Leave Your Mark: How To Use Your Emotional Intelligence To Make A Difference With Jay Williams 

I have somebody very special and I am excited to pick his brain, to learn more about what he does, share it with our industry and with the world. His name is Jay Williams. He is a speaker, entrepreneur and author of the books, Leave Your Mark: The Thinking, Behavior and Skills of Great Salon Leaders, as well as This vs That: Better Thinking, Better Choices, Better Leader. Jay, I want to welcome you to the show.

I'm excited to be here.

You seem to have had quite a storied life. You've done a lot of great things as an entrepreneur, speaker and author. I want to dive into as much as we can. I know that one thing that we want to highlight is your book, Leave Your Mark: The Thinking, Behavior and Skills of Great Salon Leaders. Can you tell me about that book, please?

I’ll start with the title. I've always believed and I don't know if I heard it or it’s something inherent that you want some return for your time spent in life. If you think of the movie It's a Wonderful Life, it's Jimmy Stewart. If you watch it, that was the whole premise. It’s that thought, “Did I make a difference in people's lives?” For me, it's something personally that I wanted to do. It sounds altruistic, but I don't know if it's altruistic or narcissistic that you want to be memorable in someone's life. That's where the title came from. To be in an industry that the people have such a deep connection to people, and are there for major moments in their life, it went hand in hand.

When you look at this industry specifically, and you look at a stylist and you think about the times that they're there in people's life, it's from the cradle to the grave, so to speak. Whether it's your child or someone else's or a major moment in your life like a wedding, a date, a divorce or whatever the case may be, the title became more important as I got involved in this industry. I was seeing people on a day-to-day basis over a period of time that had left their marks with people. The stylists with the client, and then the client reciprocated or validated it with their loyalty to the stylist.

The book was something that was very important that when I got into the industry, I got a chance to see firsthand. It's not every profession. It's probably limited to a handful depending on your mindset, but for stylists that they have this opportunity to leave their mark every day. That's good and important work. That's where the title of the book came. For those who somehow got engaged by the concept of, “Yes, I want to do it. How do you do it?” That's what the book was about. It was almost this roadmap of how people do leave their mark, and then defining what kind of mark you leave because it could be a stain or something less than, or God forbid, but you don't leave any mark at all, and what an opportunity it is. That was the idea behind the first book, Leave Your Mark.

You're leaving your mark with this because not only did you take the time to create this book and write it to help other people and other stylists better their lives and the lives of their clients by leaving their mark. You're also contributing 100% of the proceeds to help end child trafficking.

The idea with the book was that it had to be congruent with what I was saying and what I was doing all the way through. Being involved in the beauty industry, women are the primary population. You see women who are creative and you see women who are entrepreneurs, they're moms and managers. In America, we're somewhat blessed in that there's the opportunity that comes from that. With the book, Leave Your Mark, there's an opportunity. How do you perpetuate these with women that are our role models who are doing good things? That was the connection in building this out.

The next thing was this human trafficking and Ryan, I thought this was like a third world problem. About several years ago, someone came to our church and they were talking and I was listening. Not that I wasn't interested, I thought that was somewhere else. At one point the guy said, “It's happening here.” I was thinking, “You mean here like Las Vegas or Los Angeles?” I live outside Philadelphia. They said, “No, right in Pennsylvania.” Our road infrastructure makes it ideal for trafficking human beings. Even at that point, I was certainly shocked because I thought it was human beings from another country. Not that they may be less important, but I wanted to drive home and it was hitting home. They said, “No, it's kids. It's people in our area.” I was able to get involved at a different level there.

I'm a guy of faith as well. I always prayed this, Ryan, “God, don't ask me to do anything I'm not good at. Can you please pick something I'm good at to bless others?” The book came out at the timing of it. There was an opportunity to perpetuate the perception of women being strong in the contribution and fostering where that was going. Unfortunately, with human trafficking, that's predominantly women. With the book, 100% of the proceeds go to an organization that's literally in our backyard. They've acquired a property, built a home and have multiple businesses so that there's a complete solution. They can take someone in, provide help to them, get them employed so that they can develop a resume and get another job.

You have full control of the thing that accounts for more than half of your success. That thing is emotional intelligence.

One of the other things I'd like to give a shout-out to at the same time, I met this gentleman that had an organization called JusticeAndSoul.org. Some of you reading might recognize it. His name is Matthew Fairfax. He's out of Seattle. We've simultaneously been able to contribute there. He's doing some incredible work in Cambodia. He has built a school and a salon, so not only could they get out of that loop with human trafficking and learn a skill, they could get a job as well. To your point, for everybody who bought Leave Your Mark, simultaneously, they were leaving a mark at the same time because those monies could go towards the school or supporting those causes.

As you said, we think it's a third-world problem. I've come to understand and see more of maybe transparency that it is happening everywhere, and it is in our backyard. In fact, the US is one of the worst countries for human trafficking, and that's true. It was mind-blowing for me to hear. I started following my hero, Tim Ballard. Are you familiar with Tim Ballard? I think it's OUR Rescue. His organization goes in military, Navy SEAL or something. You don't want to mess around with that guy.

I listened to him on the Joe Rogan podcast. His story moved me to tears if we're being completely transparent. You're not thinking here in our country that we’re even consumers of that. One of the things that's great that this has become a conversation was that I didn't know, but there are stylists who are educated in spotting human trafficking. For those of you who are reading, it could be as simple as you’re going into maybe a nail salon and seeing large pallets of food or backpacks, and things like that.

There's much more to it, but one of the things that was great is that there are several stylists, and the state was doing something at some point to educate, I don’t know if that's still the case. That's why from a societal standpoint when you look at a stylist, the fact that they're going to see somebody 6 to 50 times a year and that they're there for every major moment in someone's life. It's 1 of 6 professions that’s legal to touch someone. They do have unique access to people, and their thoughts and their emotions. Someone's sitting in the chair and they're at these special times or they feel vulnerable because of the touch. From a societal standpoint, stylists have a great opportunity to spot things. You could see how everything made sense to pull all these pieces together.

I heard that some of these handlers would bring their traffic victims into salons to get them may be pretty, fixed up or something for I don't know, something terrible. Which is why in our industry too, it is very important that we do learn about this and know that it is happening all over the place. We should be trained to be able to spot some situations that don't look right, that we can step in and do whatever we can to help prevent that or help stop it further from escalating.

I couldn't agree with you more. One of the things I talk about in the book and I put it in both books because foundationally, it's imperative to your success. We're going to have a conversation and some of it will have a compelling human case, some a compelling business case and hopefully both. Stylists generally are empath, more often than not. They take on the energy and the thinking of the people around them. When people sit in their chairs and they're sad or happy, those two extremes and everything in between, they pick it up.

What I write about it in the book is about emotional intelligence. I'm not the one who discovered it. What I do is lay the groundwork for a stylist where there is value in emotional intelligence. Statistically, science has proven that 58% of your performance, regardless of your profession has to do with your emotional intelligence. I shouldn't say regardless of your profession. Seventy percent of the time, people with a higher emotional intelligence outperform their counterparts with the higher IQ. The exception may be a doctor. Ryan, if you needed life-saving heart surgery and you have me and you have this woman who has her degree from Harvard. I'm a nice guy.

I’ll go with her.

That's an example of where emotional intelligence doesn't supersede. Seventy percent of the time though, emotional intelligence does come into play. When working with stylists, we're adept at developing our technical skills hiding in our coloring skills and rightfully so. Anything I say about emotional intelligence is not to diminish your IQ or your technical skills. By the way, your IQ is your ability to problem-solve. It's not your knowledge. There's a common misconception there. In any event, let's say technical skills. It's to double down on your EQ, your emotional intelligence. The good news is that your emotional intelligence can grow and grow. Your IQ is fixed from 15 to 50. The good news is you have 100% control of the thing that accounts for at least, what studies show, 58% of your success.

When you look in our industry and it could be any industry, but because of where you and I were having the conversation, a stylist now wants to make a difference and leave their mark. Even if you go, “Jay, I'm just here to cut hair,” and things like retention, referral, rebooking, reviews, relationships and recommendations that are important to you. Let me give a working definition for anyone who's reading and may not have come across it. Emotional intelligence is simply your ability to identify and understand emotion in yourself and others, then adjust your behavior accordingly.

It doesn't necessarily mean that you're an emotional case.

No. Our industry would be leading the path. You bring up an interesting distinction. Have you ever met someone who says, “I'm in a bad mood?” Because you can identify it, that's not the full definition. You are thinking about in our business, if someone came and say, “I'm in a bad mood. The reason I'm in a bad mood is I got in a fight with my spouse because of money.” Now, you identify and you understand it, but you don't change your behavior, that's not emotional intelligence. It's identifying that “I'm upset.” It's understanding it's because of money, and that's adjusting your behavior to come in and go, “I'm just working for tips here. I'm going to be kind in general and attentive. I'm going to be the best experience in their life.” That's emotional. Over and over, studies have validated that people that have the ability to identify and understand not only themselves but others.

Let’s say your client comes in and maybe they're a little quiet, distant and defensive. Somebody can identify it, and then understand, it is not enough. Some people go, “I won't talk to them. I won't bother them. I'll just get them in and out.” Someone with high emotional intelligence would check in with them and tell them, “I don't want to assume anything, is everything okay? By the way, emotional intelligence can show. Some people have it innately, which is great. For other people, the good news if you are reading, I wouldn't say I always had high emotional intelligence, but you can learn to grow it.

I remember this one story. I was in Atlanta and there's a young girl and we're talking about this. She shared the story that she was new to the floor. She would get walk-ins or somebody who's double booked and they had to accommodate someone. It was a Saturday. It’s really busy. Someone said, “Can you take this woman?” The woman was somewhat disheveled, her hair and makeup. She's in sweats and her eyes were swollen. As she was relaying the story, she said, “I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what to do. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, ‘Are you okay?’” She said, the woman began to sob and sob uncontrollably. She said, “When I came in, it was to get my hair. You probably didn't know it was for my wedding, which was today, and it was called off.” She's young, in her early twenties or so. She said, “Can I just give you a hug?” Again, high emotional intelligence. Something is wrong. Can I fix it?

She said, “We had the best conversation." When she left. She said, "If you don't mind, I’ll have my best friend come over. She works here and she’ll do your makeup. You’ll look so beautiful.” She said she looked amazing and smiled when she left. She said, "I didn't think much about it. About three days later, she walks in with a dozen roses and two bottles of wine.” She said she remembered her, but not really. The woman said, “I want to thank you. I was here the other day. What you knew is my fiancé called off the wedding. What you didn't know is that I was on my way to commit suicide. Based on the way you treated me, I reached out. I got some help and I'm in a much better place.” The little girl said, “Honestly, I didn't know.”

It illustrated the point that when someone sits in your chair, people are broken these days. They're broken financially, emotionally, freedom-wise and maybe sexually broken. We don't know where we're going to find these people. For people who have high emotional intelligence, it can be in the moment. That's what it is. It’s this mindfulness to be in the moment about what's going on emotionally, and then make the adjustments. Not everything's going to be a life-saving scenario, but what if I made your day? What if I put a smile on your face? What if I left you just in a better place than I found you? I think I'm going to say service provider but let's talk about stylists. It's clickable across the board. It’s that you may get to a point, it may not be enough of a differentiator. Meaning that someone else is doing it or they have that same education. Your emotional intelligence, the thinking, skills and behaviors that come along with it become a point of difference.

Neuroscientists have narrowed it down to this. One study said that on average, people with higher emotional intelligence are $29,000 more a year than their counterparts. They broke it down even further that each increase in your emotional intelligence score equates to $1,300 annually. There's a compelling case that if you're not interested in humanity, Ryan, you wouldn't do it for that reason and you just want to make more money. I say it jokingly, but there's an opportunity to create a scenario that's good for you and that's good for them as well.

Let’s say somebody is reading this and they're wanting to have more emotional intelligence. They want to be able to sense what's going on with their clients better, and they feel like it's a skill. You're saying that a lot of hairdressers automatically have that more so than other people in other industries. How can you teach emotional intelligence to somebody? How can somebody get better at it?

I love that you asked this question because if we're just talking about IQ, I throw my hands up in the air because there is nothing you can do. What you can do, the first thing is there's a book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and I highly recommend it. It was written by two doctors and it sits on my shelf. It's one of five books I constantly reference. In the back of the book, there's a code that you can take a complimentary assessment once you buy the book. It will give you foundationally where you are. In the feedback they give you, they let you know what you can do to raise your emotional intelligence. Six months later, they have it automated. They reach back out again, so you can see where your progress is.

If somebody is a reader, I recommend the book. Some of the chapters are half a page long. Their emotional intelligence is high when they wrote the book. That would be the number one book. I work outside the industry. I do the exact same work. They're just different stories. What ails stylists and salon owners, ails humanity. If you put them in a room where they didn't discuss their professions, it's the same challenges. That's why in the book, I wrote it that way. I would encourage you to buy the book and I'd use it as a book club. It will begin to show you and using stories from your industry on how you can grow it.

There is a direct correlation between how you show up and how people experience you.

The first thing that you could do is to be self-aware. We've all been around people. Maybe we've been guilty of it, where we do things that you look and you go, “Do they even know what they're projecting when they talk that way or the tone of their voice or those words?” People aren't even self-aware. The initial step is this self-awareness of the words that you use, your tonality, and then how people respond or God forbid, how they react to that. There's a word mindfulness that’s floated out there. Here's what I'm talking. Mindfulness is that you have this elongated perception. I'm a big basketball fan. Michael Jordan hired a mindfulness coach back in the ‘90s. What it gave him was an elongated perception, even if it was a second or two. That's why it's imperative when you're with your clients or you're interacting, is that you stop and listen. More often than not, we're giving scripting or, "Here are the eight steps.”

We're in this mindset is what we say. Very much, it's what you ask, whether it's during your consultation or whether as a leader and you're getting a resolution to something. Even in your consultation, it's not what you say, it's what you ask. What it's doing is it forces them to be engaged. It forces you to be engaged because now you're thinking about your intentions to ask a question to gain understanding. To answer your question, buy the book. They'll give you a complete picture. It’s written very clearly and concisely, Emotional Intelligence, 2.0. The second thing is, stop and pause where you are in life and especially when you feel emotionally challenged.

You can be very excited too and I encourage you to stop and go, “What am I excited about? What gets me excited?” so that you can replicate that, and that you can redirect your emotions to that point as well. Also, realize what's upsetting you at the same time so that you can identify it when it happens. As an example, if somebody is constantly late and you find yourself flying off the handle at them, not the stylist. I mean other people not in our industry. You find yourself flying off the handle. Emotional intelligence is, “Let me stop and understand what's going on.” You stop and you go, “I get upset when they're not here when they say they're going to be here.” What that is that they made a promise and they broke that promise.

What happens is it's an integrity thing, “They don't do what they say they're going to do, and ultimately I can't trust them. What I'm upset about is the trust.” That's someone with high emotional intelligence. Now they realize, “Normally I fly off the handle, but I need them to be productive when they come to work because we're fully booked. The front desk called out sick. Let me do this.” Tell them, “Come in, you know that I love you, and know that we’ve got to have a conversation at the end of the day too. What can I do to help you get back on track?” That's a leader with high emotional intelligence. It was a win-win in the sense that they didn't demoralize that person. They didn't set them up to be in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

They realized, “I need them to be productive and the clients to be happy.” Someone without a high emotional intelligence doesn't stop to identify what's going on for them and understand it, and adjust their behavior, “Ryan, you're late. You know that's unacceptable. We need to talk. In the meantime, I want you to get back, put your cape on. I want you to get to that client.” Not that anyone who is reading has ever done that, but realize what it sets in motion. I would love to give you something clear and concise. I don't want to mislead people. This takes work. It's rewiring your brain to stop.

How important is it for stylists to work on themselves?

There's a direct correlation between how you show up and where you are, and how people experience you. To answer your question directly, if on a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 10. I've seen people whose lives aren't in order, but yet clients love them. However, I haven't seen somebody with low emotional intelligence and their life is in disorder. What they'll do is they'll come in, they'll go, “My life is a complete mess. My relationship is breaking. I'm not paying the rent. I'm still hungover from last night.” Something clicks within them and they go, “It's show time and I'm here. That person is paying me, and now I’ve got to live up to this. It's not about raising my prices. It's about my delivering the value of what I'm charging.”

For anybody who wants to continue to grow their retention, as I said, their referral, rebooking, reviews, relationships, and the trust in their recommendations, whatever those are, that it's imperative. On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 10 that you are emotionally intelligent, and that you're growing to become more emotionally intelligent, especially in this world that is so emotional. Generally, when there's emotion, especially a strong emotion, at the core, a human being has had a value violated. When somebody reacts very strongly emotionally, there's been a value. It could be respect or authenticity. There are over 4,400 of them but something's happened to breach the trust as well. That's why I want to shift people's thinking saying, “You're just emotional.” We hear that all the time. Our emotions serve as well. The emotion of fear helped us avoid the saber-toothed tiger.

On the fundamental level, the challenge with that emotional brain is it hasn't evolved over time, and it doesn't even differentiate between real and perceived danger. We treat the saber-toothed tiger in that anger and emotion over someone being late to work. We react the exact same way. In the book, This vs That, I talk about some of these choices. In fact, the book is about choices. Responding versus reacting is one of them. The second book is all about communication and what you do to raise your emotional intelligence. There's a social psychologist, BJ Gallagher and she did this study and she found that 80% of the people who were failing in their current roles are failing due to a lack of interpersonal skills. If you stop there, whether you look at a doctor, lawyer, politicians or stylists, they're failing due to a lack of interpersonal skills. This is the number one thing to work on.

There's a study done in our industry. It is informal, but they ask clients why they leave a salon, 8 out of 10 left for non-technical reasons. It's not the cut or the color. To answer your question, the single most important thing that you can do as a leader for yourself, and then you can model for your people is that you hold them accountable. Your goals are based off of this emotional intelligence because more than ever, you're going to need that now. People are so emotionally charged and rightfully so. What else have we had to make? Financial, health and freedom decisions, with everything. The people who are surviving are the people that can put this into context and turn this into a positive.


I'll give you an example. Since we're talking to people in the salon industry, you can see this with doctors and lawyers. Any service providers crosses over. Some of the high emotional intelligence behind the chair realized, “I'm stressed out. I don’t know if we're going to be open. We’re seeing 30% less people. I don't know how I'm going to pay my bills. My kids still have to go to school or they have to attend. I have to pay full tuition. They're not going whatever is going on.” Somebody walks in and they got all this emotional thing. We've all had clients where they hate their job. They hate their wife. They hate their pickup. They hate country music. They hate everything, and what do we do? We say, “How's it going?” Someone with high emotional intelligence will say, “What's the best thing that's happened since I've seen you last? What's the one thing that's gotten you through?”

Someone with a high emotional intelligence can identify an emotion, “I see this coming. I'm not going to try to change your mind,” and they adjust their behavior. What they do is they use a question to redirect in the brain where their thinking is. These are people that I've seen being successful in a sense, not only financially, but being able to navigate through their days. They’re successful at managing their emotions, their client's emotions, their peers’ emotions, and their owner's emotions. You could go down the line there. Let me preface it for anyone who's reading. This is not a cure-all. It will not make you immune from anything that you're going to encounter. It will give you a framework or a mechanism to navigate through this.

Nobody's perfect, but it's going to take constant work on ourselves to be able to show up at our best service stylist for our clients. It's important that we do that inner work and it's very hard. I feel like to tell our industry that they need to work more on themselves with the way they show up. I feel that most stylists feel that they need to work on their skills, get better at their coloring and get better at their cutting, get better at their highlights. That's where they spend all of their focus. That is important. It's important to do a great service for everybody that sits in your chair. If you're not showing up positively, if you're not being able to control the conversation, use words that are going to steer it in the direction, and being in a mindful way. You need to put the focus on them and make it about them so it's their experience.

I love that you brought that up and what you said was it's about them and it's their experience now more than ever. In our industry, not only are the owners and the stylist primarily women, they're the primary breadwinners and caregivers. If you're working in a salon and even in a barbershop, whatever the case may be, but your clients come in, they're dealing with the weight of the world. They are. They have to come in, they wear a mask, and things aren't familiar. It's disorienting to us. Don't lose that thought. Do me a favor because my mind goes all over. I want you to keep it about the client and their experience. I want to share this with you because as you guys read, I don't just want to give you behavior. I want to shift your thinking for you to understand what's going on because if you don't like it and understand it, it's tough to deal with. We may not like it, but if we understand it, it may help.

Neuroscientists have found that the brain seeks out duration, path and outcome. How long is something going to be? If I do everything I'm supposed to do, what will the outcome be? Can you see how disruptive 2020 is to people? We have no idea how long the virus is going to last. They're saying to wear a mask and social distance or you can get together with some people and you can't with others, but if you do this, we should be okay. We may have a vaccine. We're confused. We have no idea how long it's going to last and the path we're not even clear on. Even if we do what they say they're doing, will that change? What would the outcome be? Will I come back to a business that's 100% or go back to the business at 70%? This is disconcerting to people and now they come and sit in your chair.

As a stylist, and this is what I've experienced firsthand, it's about humanity. It's not just about stylists. It's these kinds of conversations, “What did you guys do on your vacation?” “We went to Disney. We stayed at this sports theme resort. When we got there, our room wasn't ready and we had to wait. I was upset and they were apologetic that they bumped us up to this.” They completely hijack the conversation. Now, more than ever, it is about them and you need to be there for them. When people share with you, you're going to hear heartbreaking stories like, “I don't know that my marriage is going to make it. I hate to say it, but I don't like my kids. This home that we've lived in, we're not going to be able to stay in it. My job, I don't know what's going to happen.” We can't say, “I know how you feel. The same thing is going on for us.” You will excel in your client experience by being there for them, talking about them, sharing with them and tell them, “You've gone through a lot.” This is a little nuance thing. You don't need to validate that things are bad.

You can acknowledge it because if people say, "This is the worst,” it's not. There are things that have gone on worse. If you don't feel that way, then it'd be disingenuine to go, “Yeah.” You can say, “It seems like it's taken a toll on you or it's a lot to navigate. What's the one thing that gets you through?” They go, “I started reading. I started doing yoga. I found a new Chardonnay. I found God,” whatever you found. People with high emotional intelligence, this is the work they do. For those clients, I'm not minimizing cutting and coloring, I'm saying you can do the perfect cut and color and they don't feel special, different, better. It diminishes and dilutes the entire experience. I've seen people, not my best work but clients go, “I love it. I love you and I'm going to be back.” I think it's imperative now that I'm not minimizing your work. This is interesting to me. What is the definition of a good haircut? Everyone who’s a stylist and a cutter down has cut hair and gone, “This is the best work I've ever done. I should be on the front of the Vogue.” What does the client do?

“Can you fix this? Can you fix that? It’s a little bit longer on this side.”

You go, “No, this is perfect.” Haven't you ever done a cut that you go, “Dear God, just get me through the cut. I swear, I'll retire tomorrow. I'll stop.” The client goes, “I love this.” What I've learned is it's very subjective. What's not subjective is the way that they feel. I am not minimizing the trust you build on your capability and results. I don't want you to disproportionately not focus on the way that the client feels in the experience because that will build loyalty.

It's almost like focusing on delivering what they want, not necessarily what you want. I had to cut a mullet for somebody, my first professional haircut. It was one of those moments that I was not proud of. I was working at Supercuts and I jumped into this high-end salon straight out of the gate from Supercuts because I had this whole plan and it worked out. I got this quick experience doing fast food haircuts and I got good at it. I'm like, “I'm going to lie my way into a nice salon.” I went into this nice salon and got the job.

The perfection of the cut is subjective. What’s not subjective is the way your client feels after the experience.

One of my first haircuts was this nice woman who came down. She said, “I'm excited to get my hair cut. I want to keep it long, nice and feminine in the back. I hate it when it gets in my eyes and I don't like it on my forehead that much. I don't like it when it touches my ears, but I don't want it to look like a mullet.” I sat down next to her and I said, “It's the textbook definition of a mullet.” She's like, “That's fine, just do it anyway.” With everybody watching around me because this is my first haircut, all the stylists that were working there for years see me cutting this mullet. I took the time to cut this perfect mullet on her and she was so happy. She was like, “This is the best haircut I have ever had. To me, I'm thinking, “Don't tell anybody I did this.” That's all about delivering for them, what they want. Not saying like, “No, I'm not going to do that. It's below me.”

Here's the thinking. You're not here to judge, you're here to help. You're judging whether it's below or above. To your credit though, is that somehow that became the primary filter, “How do I help?” You did a consultation and that's what I mean. Your thinking was there, “I want to help her. I want her to be happy.” No one needs to tell you the behaviors you needed. You knew you need to ask questions. Were they eight steps? Were they scripted? No. You found out what made her happy. Even when it may have contradicted maybe stylistically the direction, that’s someone with high emotional intelligence to identify, “This isn't vibing with me. I understand because this is what I wanted to get away from.” Yet, your behavior was to go back in with her and say, “This would be what a mullet would be by definition,” but you still got her collaboration. You got her commitment and her buy-in. She felt that you’re listening and you care.

When you break down that story, you could break down any consultation that way. It's a series of questions and feedback. That’s what it is. It starts off with your intent to give what you want. They said, “I want to be happy and pretty,” and to your credit, you say, “How do you define that?” She began to define it for you. The lying, I can't speak to you, Ryan. We have to handle that on a different level, but I admire your belief in yourself to talk yourself into that. What we need now more than ever is I don't think we need scripting. We need to shift our thinking. If we can shift our thinking about what we do.

I have met stylists who believe that they change people's lives. Every time they come in, it's an opportunity to do it. If everyone doesn't take it that seriously, I've met people who say, “Jay, it's a haircut,” and they do well as well. I think if you're either coming out of school or you're stuck in your career, you feel there's some rut and you want to re-energize yourself. The conversation we're having about checking in on your emotional intelligence, about revisiting your consultation, and asking questions. I write about this in the book, This vs That, curious versus courteous.

We ask a lot of the questions to say, “How's it going? What do you think? How's the last haircut for you?” It doesn't solicit any specific information. Curiosity goes deep. I want some feedback on the last haircut. The first thing I want to ask you is, “How did it look on day three? I know how it looks day 1 and day 2.” I want to ask you, “Where was your comfort level in replicating that look?” After that, the next 28 to 31 days that we saw each other. “If I was going to be of help to you to give you a greater comfort level, and however you replicate the look or extend the look, where would you want to have a greater comfort level? Is it around the products? Is it around the tools? Is it around how you use those things?”

That's where the consultation has the greatest opportunities to learn some of these emotional intelligence skills and to learn how to ask questions to solicit feedback. I don't hear that verbiage and terminology when consultations are taught. I hear a little bit more scripting. The reason I know is that when I talk to stylists, I ask them, “What do you think the primary purpose of a consultation is?” They say to sell the product. I say, “What emotion do you attach to selling a product?” This is after interviewing over a thousand stylists. The top three emotions are anger, anxiety and apprehension.

How are you going to do something well if those are your three emotions? Can you imagine going into a marriage that way or parenting or any activity? I know we've moved around in the conversation. What's consistent in the movement of conversation is all these things involve emotional intelligence, and give you an opportunity to leave your mark, to make a difference with people. That can show up in how you brand and that brandable experience for your clients. That's the opportunity there. How do you create an experience that's so compelling that money becomes secondary? I don't throw that out loosely. I've seen more in eight months of people creating experiences, and making money secondary to the experience. It could be your local place that will deliver to you.

Some of you can relate to this. There are weeks we didn't go anywhere. The battery died in my wife's car. I called the mechanic. He said, “Why don't I just drive by to your house? I'm about 3 miles away.” He could have told me to tow it, but there's this emotional intelligence. There's this customizing. It's a brandable experience. I did have a thought to take my car to the dealership, but the price became secondary to how he made me feel.

Strategically if you're looking at 2021 and you want to double down on a focus, this is the thing with goals. I'm doing a lot of work now because companies are focusing on goals for 2021. They're shifting the goal. The opportunity is to shift your thinking, not shift the goal. As a stylist, I would hold onto your goals and shift your thinking. If you had the goal, average ticket, retention, whatever it is. What do I need to do to shift? What thinking do I need to shift? If you can look at the client experience and you begin to incorporate this emotional intelligence, science has already shown what it'll do for you from a financial standpoint, and all of the little key performance indicators.

It also makes your job more fun. Once you start to put the focus on them, as opposed to yourself, it takes the pressure off. It takes the fear out of it. It takes the anxiety out of it. If you're fully working on being in the moment, listening and responding with empathy, as opposed to just waiting for your chance to speak, then it's a whole different conversation.

I love that you articulated it that way because any work that I do, the premise is, it's not what you say, it's what you ask. Think about if you went to a party. I was talking to someone, they go, “I get social anxiety in work situations because I go up to people and I don't know what to say.” I said, “What if you thought about what you could ask? That’ll change everything.” When I go to a party, I don't feel any pressure. Here's the thing, human nature, everything does go back to building our significance, our self-worth and our sense of belonging. That's where values come into play. That's why we're drawn to people in situations that feed those things. We're repulsed and angered by people who violate those things.

That's why speaking is so important because it's that speech that could determine your significant self-worth, your sense of belonging in this community, position or whatever the case may be. It's the number one fear in America, which is probably no surprise to anyone. Death is number seven, if you're going to ask. That is on the list. The reason I shared that with you is that when you ask questions, it shows the dynamic. Instead of going to a party and going, “What can I say that would be cute, funny, charming and engaging?” I just say, “My name is Jay. How do you know the host?” To your point, it eliminates the anxiety. The greatest point of anxiety that I find with stylists is around selling products. I'm not here to give you a retail class. I would never do that.

What I would say to someone is, “What questions can you ask?” Instead of bringing 2 or 3 products say, “Here are the 2 or 3 products that I'm going to use. You can smell them. I'm putting them in the basket and putting them on top.” I can already see from people's body language what's going on there and so can the other person. It’s just asking them a question. The one question that you could ask I believe is, “Where's your comfort level in replicating the look that we created?” The next 3 to 4 weeks I see you, the next 28 days or whenever the booking is. It’s on a scale of 1 to 10. If they can’t answer that question, I would say, “Where's your comfort level that you have the products that you need?” It's interesting. People go, “Shampoo and conditioner. My conditioner is not working. My shampoo is fine.” All of a sudden, it's a conversation. I go, “Tell me about that. How well did it work at one point?” “When I first got it, it worked well, but now it flattens my hair.” You can see it’s natural.

As opposed to trying to sell the benefits of it.

The brain is not even there, but by asking questions, it redirects the conversation. The brain, unless it's uniquely qualified, think of FBI, CIA and Navy SEAL, that type of individual, the brains we train, we answer the questions that were asked. If I asked you how long you've been married, how long you had the podcast, how many kids do you have? Your brain instantly answers these questions. Someone with high emotional intelligence realizes that, so they ask questions to guide them where they want to go.

As opposed to, “Do you want to buy some products?”

Yes, and then there was that awkward moment. You had brought up something that was interesting about how we show up. There's something in psychology called the Social Comparison Theory. Here’s how it works. When people don't know how to respond, they look for the highest-ranking individual in this situation. Probably the easiest example is for the readers, I'm sure you travel quite a bit. Have you ever been on a plane where there's turbulence? If you're like me, you get a little nervous. What's the first thing you hear? “Hi, this is your flight attendant. We're experiencing a little turbulence. If you put your tray in an upright position, we will be suspending the drink service. It will be just momentarily.” What do you do?

You will rob yourself of any joy in life if you compare yourself to other people.

You want a drink.

That’s always the case, which drink helps you to calm down. I was looking for a different answer, Ryan but that’s the right answer too.

That’s in my mind that goes first. I'm like, “They understand that we're going to get through this, but I wish they had gotten to me first with the drink.”

If they're perceptive, they'll have one right on their side and hand it to you. Through the story, people can relate that there is a calm that happens. If you've ever been on a plane, which about a couple of years ago, I think it was Iowa City that I was flying to in a smaller plane, and this was the announcement, “We're experiencing a little turbulence. We're going to ask that you get in the crash position and your flight attendant will walk you through it.” At that point, not that I'm more ready now, but I was certainly less than ready to die. Where I was sitting in the jump seat was the flight attendant, and I looked over at her and I said with a smile, “Should I worry?” She’s goes, “No. You’re okay.”

It’s the social comparison theory. I looked for the highest-ranking individual. For stylists, it's imperative how you show up because when you uncomfortably make a product recommendation and they can tell you're uncomfortable, now it's an uncomfortable situation. If you're emotionally not in a good place, you get angry, you're short with them, or you defend and explain, they defend and explain. They mirror this behavior. It's important as a stylist that you understand this Social Comparison Theory that you can heavily weigh how they show up by how you show up.

When you smile, the questions that you ask, how you respond, not react, to situations will heavily influence. Have you ever recommended a product to someone and they say, “It's too expensive?” Your first thing is, “Maybe we can give you a discount or maybe you could get this product.” They go, “I don't know if I want it.” What's happening is you're defending and explaining and they mirror that behavior there. As a stylist, the Social Comparison Theory is imperative. As people come into your salon, you have to be in a great mood either to match theirs or to flip the other people.

There are many nuggets of information here that you're sharing. I want to say that you're making my job easy. This has been such a good conversation. We're talking about how stylists in the hair industry show up for their clients, to be mindful and to focus on them as opposed to themselves. In the world of social media, which is very narcissistic in a lot of ways, “It's about me and me. Look how amazing my life is. Look at all these things that I've done, selfie.” How can we take this you versus me approach and make it about others but still deliver and practice mindfulness? How do we do that in this narcissistic social media world?

I'm going to be vulnerable with you. I struggle with social media for that reason. In theory, the selfie, the definition is a picture of myself and it is, “Look at me.” That's why you're putting it out there. If you didn't want people to look at you, you wouldn't put it out there. In itself, it is not bad. I have not learned how to navigate it. Probably for you, there is a benefit to be using social media. I need to break things down and it is not bad. What my struggle is I can't shift my thinking around it. Social media in itself is not bad. There's a lot of good that it does socially and certainly for business and for families.

What I would say for myself is that I could not regulate my emotions. Someone else is doing what I'm doing. I'm like “Why do they hire them instead of me? I know them,” or “They traveled there.” This sounds familiar. What happens is this comparison. Just a small nugget, you will rob yourself of any joy in life if you compare yourself to other people. For some reason, I still can't even regulate that myself. I am on social media in Facebook and Instagram because from a business standpoint, it has been beneficial for all the reasons you know. I am not on there socially. What happened was, is it good? Is there a good that can come from it? Yes. Do I want to do it? No. Does it need to be done? Yes. This is where the power of asking questions even of yourself, understanding how the brain works, that you can redirect the brain to get the information you need.

The question I asked myself, I already know why I don't want to be on social media because I can't regulate all the emotions. It was interesting but not useful to me. I had asked myself a what question. In the book, This vs That, I talk about what versus why, and I'm talking about questions. A what question or a how question I asked, “How can I be on social media and not expose my insecurities on a daily basis?” I came to it just like that. “I'll hire someone to do it.” Once you realize how the brain works, these things become very easy. For social media, what I would say is if you're struggling with that or it feels like somehow incongruent with what you're saying and what you're doing yet you need to be out there, is to ask yourself, “How could it happen so that I could project the brand I want to do and do it in a way that's comfortable and congruent with who I am?”

You have to be true to yourself and that's where I struggle. Now, it gets done and people have different filters. I'm thinking, “They look at me.” Trust me, they are not. They are not looking at your hair or your smile, which would be funny to anybody who can't see me because I have a shaved head. They're not focusing on that stuff. They're focusing on something different and I've learned this. This has been my takeaway for the last several months. Things are what they are. It's your thinking that drives your emotion around it. Going on social media to me is this huge thing I just bared my soul to. For this other person, “It's what I do.” That has been my learning from these few months.

I shared a story and it might be a nice way to wrap everything. I tell the story in the book is that there's a church. It'd been around for 96 years, no neighbors to the left or the right. One day, a for-sale sign goes up. The exact same day, a sold sign goes up. One of the members goes down to the township, finds out who their neighbors are. It turns out it's a strip club. If you're with me in this story, there’s a strip club and there's a church. The member goes back and their thinking is, “This is immoral. This is wrong.” Their emotions were anger and resentment, and their behavior was to get together a group of people who would picket and petition.

There's another member of the church and her thinking is, “We're just here to help.” There were compassion and understanding of those emotions. Her behavior got together a group of people on Saturday nights. For two hours, they cook eggs, pancakes and bacon. They would serve the unserved at 2:00 in the morning. They ask you, “What's the difference in that story between picketing and pancakes?” It was the people's thinking that drove their emotions and behavior. For those of you who don't go to church, it's like any business. They want to get more people in that church, more butts in the seat. Which thinking do you think got that in performance?

A church next to a strip club, it is what it is. I bet everybody reading the story is like, “There's no way anything good morally can come from this story.” Ryan, that's what I've doubled down on is that things are what they are. It will be my thinking that will drive my emotions, that will drive my behavior, that will ultimately affect my performance. When I work with groups, teams and individuals, I don't start with behavior driving your performance. I start with your thinking.

Jay, thank you so much for being here on the show. How can people find you and how can they get your book, This vs That and Leave Your Mark?

Two ways. For the book, This vs That, I'm not good at social media. It feels narcissistic. That being said to get ahold of me, you can go to JayWilliamsCo.com. That'll take you to the website and we can connect that way. My commitment is that I will get back to everyone within 24 hours. I want you to know that. That's where you can also get both books. This vs That, if you're reading and that's on the forefront of your mind, you can go to ThisVsThatBook.com and you'll get the book there. The Leave Your Mark, 100% of the profits of that go towards stopping human trafficking. It checks all the boxes for what we do and who we are as people, including leaving your mark.

Jay, thank you for leaving your mark on this show.

I appreciate you having me and a genuine thank you because for people like myself who've been doing this for a few years, we didn't have people like yourself that we could get our messaging and the things that we're passionate about. I know you guys do this for free. I'm very grateful to reach out to your audience and you trusted me, and hopefully trust them with me or me with them. Hopefully, I didn't do anything to ruin that in the process.

This has been fantastic and I do want to get you on again sometime in the near future.

I would love that. Thank you.


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