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Find Your Voice: Jeff South

Laurel Nelson | October 31, 2015 | 2:35 PM

Jeff South, owner of Intrigue Salon in Marietta, Georgia, was already a successful educator for Goldwell when he met Bonnie Bonadeo and heard about Stages.

By opening up his salon space at night for educational events, South also founded and runs Club Intrigue, inviting in global educators and welcoming stylists from all over to attend.

And like all successful people, South knows there’s always room to learn and improve, so he signed up for Stages, expecting to learn more about on-stage presenting.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” South says. “I was a little resistant—I didn’t see the relevance of emotional connection.”

So after his two-day workshop, South marinated the information for a while before implementing it.

“I was going to do a class in Washington, D.C., for Goldwell and decided I’d try to do my story,” he says. “I was a little uncomfortable because I didn’t know if it was relevant, but told myself I would only talk about it for a minute or two and then move on to the technical stuff.”

So South did something he had never done before. He stood in front of an audience and talked about fear. Even though he was a successful, second-generation hairdresser, he explained that he used to dread going into his own business.

He was afraid managers and stylists would leave him for another salon, so he would do as many clients as he could himself. He found himself without any time to deal with his business and in a constant state of fear.

Then, about 15 years ago, he read the business management book, Who Moved My Cheese? South figured out how to be open and trusting with his staff and how to let go of his fear. His mind was free to focus on his business and implement new creative ideas—like Club Intrigue.

When his time on stage was over, audience members came up to him to tell him they felt the same way. South established a connection with a simple story and he is still feeling the ripple effects.

“Those people are still connecting with me—I’m doing a Club Intrigue event in D.C. now, because I had an emotional connection with an owner there, and she’s hosting this event,” South says.

He did another event soon after and briefly considered skipping his story and going right to business, but in the end decided to tell it. “Afterwards someone came up to me and said, ‘I’m so glad you told that story, I’m going through the same thing.’”

Now, South recognizes and appreciates the emotional connection between himself and an audience.

“Before going through Stages, I was just a giver of information,” he says. “Now Goldwell wants me more and more—even for global presentations. Before Bonnie, I was not at the world-class level.”

South has discovered becoming more open and vulnerable has given him more confidence in the salon, too.

“I used to hate getting in front of the staff for meetings,” he says. “Now I’m excited.”

Next up for South? “I would love to do a TED talk,” he says. “Before Stages, I never thought I could do that, but now I think anybody can be an iconic speaker.”

Now that he recognizes the emotional connection other speakers have (or don’t have), he is also able to recognize it in himself and hone his new skill.

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