2013 Enterprising Women: Bonnie Bonadeo
President and Founder, The Beauty Agents and Beauty Goorus Consulting
Co-founder, Naked Audience Productions
For more than 30 years, Bonnie Bonadeo has been "connecting people with the power of beauty." Her experience in the industry started as a stylist, which eventually led to managing salons, working for some of the world’s most notable manufacturers and distributors, and producing some of the industry’s most celebrated events, including NAHA, Beacon, Symposium, ISSE and Beauty Changes Lives. In the past several years, Bonadeo followed her passion for the industry in a totally new direction—founding The Beauty Agents, a speaking bureau and training company, and Beauty Goorus Consulting, then co-founding Naked Audience Productions. She is a certified Emotional Intelligemce Speaker and Facilitator and specializes in leadership and branding programs. Bonadeo volunteers her time to Look Good Feel Better and student mentoring programs and she is recognized by the consumer media (Cosmopolitan, Oprah’s O Magazine and the New York Times) as a go-to beauty expert and is a frequent blogger on modernsalon.com.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
It started when I was five and I rallied the entire neighborhood to go to this church with me so I could win an eight-pound cupcake! I won and I shared it with everyone, but I also then realized that I could be very persuasive with others. I have always had an independent and creative spirit anchored by my gift of communication skills and ability to engage others. I am discovering that it is not great technical skills or a high level of education that makes a good entrepreneur. Instead, it is the ability to engage others and take risks. I had good training for most of my life working for others and when I finally took the leap I created three companies in three years—all to fill a need and buy all the cupcakes I want.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
What is the current and motivating need for others, and how can I fill it? If there is pain in an area, where can I create pleasure for others? I continue to stay nimble and flexible as the needs may change, but as long as I stay within my core brand message of connecting people, I can and will figure it out!
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
The struggles are always around the right resources when I need them—money, time and people! Being an entrepreneur means going with the ebb and flow but also knowing I can’t do it all and having to decide what is the most meaningful priority in this moment and accepting that is enough for now.
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?
I became a Certified Emotional Intelligent Leader and Facilitator two years ago and wish I had that knowledge sooner. What always makes a good leader is the ability to understand the art of asking questions. Having awareness around intentions vs. action and coming from a place of carefront vs. confront! My favorite quote is, “People don’t do things to you, they do things for themselves.” Ponder that one for a while and you will come from a very different place as a leader when you don’t take it personally and ask the right questions. Improvement for me is based on knowing how to use the skills I have learned in Emotional Intelligence and stay in alignment to them every single day.
How do you set goals for yourself? For example, do you prefer more small accomplishable goals or fewer large goals? How do you hold yourself accountable?
I always loved the analogy of the big rocks vs. the small rocks in the jar, and if you don’t place the big rocks in first the small ones can take up all your space in the jar and you don’t get to your big goals. So I create my goal list with big rocks and small rocks. I remind myself that any action forward with my big rocks is one step closer to accomplishing them—they do not happen overnight and require planned attention. I then hold myself accountable to people, projects and processes—it is a masterful juggling act and flexibility is essential as one or all three will alter your view daily!
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
Not to beat myself up for making mistakes or not doing all that I had planned to accomplish in a day, a week, a month and a year. I still don’t understand HOW to balance my life but I do understand WHY it is important and I will continue to strive to find balance daily.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
My parents—my father is loyal, hardworking and tough—and yet as I grow older I am amazed at the simple beauty of his words and wisdom he expresses to me. My mother, whose amazing role of caring for the family all her life, has really found this courageous place to ask for what she wants and know she deserves it! They continue to provide for me still in so many ways, (like watching my dog when I travel) and I am truly inspired by them.
As you grew your company, what, if anything, has held you back?
It comes down to two emotions, fear or love. Fear of the unknown—will it work, will they like it, is it good enough, am I good enough? Like the artist who is afraid to show their work to the world, I know as a human I have underlying fears that can stop me or keep me stuck. If I am in fear I have to ask myself the questions to get into love, do I love this idea, will others, am I in love with my work today to make this decision now, and if not, find something that I love to do that will generate those feelings? I have a “quasi BOD” that I call on to share ideas or to release anxiety with. We have a very simple formula called the Theory of Seven to move past it, Whatever is going on we ask each other how will this affect us positively or negatively in seven days, seven weeks, seven months or seven years from now. If I can get to any answers in this process it helps to move my pile of rocks forward.
What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
Do they believe in my vision, and can they take it and make it their own? You know you have someone special when they are willing to follow you with only a big vision and little resources, but it starts with a vision!
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
“You are the best boss ever.” Of course, I didn’t believe that at the time and many could argue that as well, but I try to be real with others and accept my strengths and weaknesses. Someone else said to me, “You never seem to hold a grudge—you speak it, release it and carry on from there like it doesn’t bother you.” Of course it does, but if you don’t try to resolve these feelings it leaves the big elephant of emotional residue in the room that you will only have to deal with at another time, guaranteed!
If you were training another woman to take over your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
Stay in touch with WHY you are doing this. I have wanted to give in and give up many times, but look for the small miracles that keep answering the WHY and keep going, and of course ask for help!
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
One of my favorite times thus far was when I was producing NAHA (North American Hairdressing Awards), that event was such a gift to me to give to others and share the passion with others in our industry. My mission with NAHA was to get more attention on the artists behind the work rather than the work itself, because that is where the real stories exist, with the passionate people and their ability to challenge themselves and inspire others. That same passion has led me to my affiliation with Beauty Changes Lives, and co-creating Naked Audience Productions and how our presence and abilities changes people’s lives, including our own. I would not remove any pages, my struggles and successes have added to all that I am today.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
I wish someone else would write it, but I am taking that on too: BEaUty, A Journey of Self-Appreciation.
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
Teaching teachers, and teaching others as I am now. The industry has become a beautiful foundation for sharing the knowledge and growing others, and my reach is now growing outside the industry but I will never completely leave beauty.
What are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
There are several big rocks: The Beauty Agents has expanded with a Business Resource Directory for opportunities to support growth and profits from companies that offer solutions, and support a partnered division of Executive Recruitment.
Naked Audience Productions (NAP Events) three-day Certification Trainings. STAGES | Educator, Speaker & Platform Artist Training L.E.A.D. | Leadership Education and Development. SALES | Launching in Fall 2014
These programs are not your typical informational trainings filled with techniques and how-tos, they are transformational programs designed to subtract vs. add so you can get to the truth of who you are as a speaker, leader or sales person and really Master the Art of Authentic Communications.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
I don’t see retirement as a place to stop, only to have the choice of where I am going next to share my knowledge or the knowledge of those I represent. I am certain that the next 20 years will have more insights than the last, and if I am as lucky as I am now, I will get to share my experiences with many more … globally.