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Last updated: October 20, 2017

Winn Claybaugh’s Top Truths About Creating a Positive Salon Culture

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Find your passion, go beyond your comfort zones and transform yourself and your business. These were the themes and goals behind ‘Game On’ Millennium: The Experience‘s 3-day business conference. Kicking off the second day of this incredible event was Winn Claybaugh, Dean of Schools for Paul Mitchell and author of Be Nice or Else. “I’m so excited, that sometimes I even make coffee nervous,” laughed Winn as he began his inspirational talk about passion. “I’m passionate about our future professionals—I’m passionate about the next generation,” he said.




Creating an Ideal Salon Culture
Bringing the next generation of professionals into your salon means you have to create a culture that will attract them to your business. How do you do this? By making a positive change in yourself. The “old school” way of leadership focuses on control—it doesn’t work. “New school” leadership is about servicing people—praising and acknowledging them. It’s not just about YOU—it’s about the team. As Winn says, “Culture eats vision for breakfast. You need to build a strong culture.” Your team is your family, you need to build a positive, safe environment for everyone. Until you do this, your culture will continue to be negative and you won’t attract positive employees who will help your business grow.


So many other professions have strict rules that dictate their culture. “Not many dentists go to work thinking, ‘Yes! I can’t wait to start my day!’ They don’t have the freedom that this industry allows. They can’t work with a family member and aren’t allowed to date a co-worker. That’s their culture. “TGIF was NOT invented by hairdressers. It was invented by people who hate their life five days of the week. We love what we do as hairdressers,” laughs Winn. And, he continued, “Spouses can come and go, but your mannequin is with you for life!


Become an Effective Leader
A leader, by definition, is to have influence over other human beings. As Winn pointed out, you can have influence over someone standing in line at Starbucks. Even if you do not have the position or skills, especially if you’re new, in the salon, you can have more power over someone who has been in the salon for 20 years. “Yes, you can lead a horse to water, and you can’t make him drink. BUT…it’s our job as leaders to add salt to their diet!” As a business leader, you have the power to create a safe, loving environment for everyone. And this safe environment starts by being an effective leader—praising staff for their hard work every day and saying thank you when they go above and beyond.  


“I don’t think we ever reach that point where we don’t value praise—it’s a basic human need—we need it every day,” he notes.



To be a positive, effective leader, you need to decide who needs to be in your life. If you have negative influences constantly surrounding you, you will never be able to improve yourself or your business. According to Winn, there are three types of people in the world:


1. Visionary. People who want to do the right thing. These types of people are the first to arrive, last to leave. They get noticed. They don’t have the attitude that ‘it’s not my job.’ They do things because they need to get done. They say ‘yes’ to everything.


2. Fence Sitter. These people can go either way, depending on the day. They are either for you, or against you at any given time. Their commitment is tied to their emotions. Most people are Fence Sitters.


3. Resister. These people brighten up a room—by leaving it! They walk around miserable. They have already quit your business, they just haven’t physically left yet. They focus on the negatives.


“You attract how you feel—if you feel people are out to get you, you will attract people who are out to get you,” states Winn. This goes along with the basic principles of the Laws of Attraction—what you put out there is what comes back to you. “If you are an ego-driven leader, who manipulates others, you will attract ego-driven stylists. Without improving our personal lives, we lose credibility as a leader. At the end of the day, your people want to perform for you.


“If you have bad people in your life, then “next” them. Next! and move on to the next person,” states Winn. “Because the next person that comes into your life may be exactly what you need, but you won’t meet them and attract them to your business until the negatives forces are gone.” 


Where Do You Want to Go?
Think about today. Where do you want to end up? How much money do you want to make? “Money can’t make you happy, but it can buy you a better form of misery,” Winn laughs. He provides this example: if your neighbor pulls up in the driveway with a brand new BMW, what do you do? Do you immediately rush out to congratulate them? Or does jealously take over? “If you can’t be happy about someone else’s prosperity, you will never make more money,” says Winn. “The universe doesn’t play favorites. What you put out in your conversations is going to come back to you.”


Rather than allow for drama and gossip to consume your business, find ways to alleviate the problems. Think about where you want to end up, and then think about what you need to do today to support it.


The Good News
You can change these behaviors. The best way to improve people’s performance within your business is to lead by example. “Don’t focus on them. Focus on YOU. Get rid of the things that prevent you from being happy. Divorce yourself from all the garbage. Negative energies influence people. Choose to forgive. Choose to start fresh. Choose better not bitter,” says Winn.


Life is a choice. Today can be the day that you start to feel differently.