Kati Whitledge, owner of Be Inspired Salon in Madison, Wisconsin. 
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Kati Whitledge, owner of Be Inspired Salon in Madison, Wisconsin. 

We’ve made it to part four of our leadership series! As a reminder, in part one we learned Leaders Are Influencers. In part two we learned How to Serve as a Leader, and in part three we addressed that Nobody Said Being a Leader Was Easy. And now today, we’re going to dive into why it’s important as leaders to never stop learning and I’m going to share some easy ways for you to keep your education on track!

Every great coach needs a coach themselves. I bring this up because throughout my adult life I’ve had a wellness coach, a business coach, a life coach, and a spiritual accountability partner. It wasn’t until my life coach took me through a values exercise that I discovered that one of my personal core values is lifelong learning. Once I knew this, I could weigh new opportunities or decisions against my core value. I tend to say yes to things if there’s an opportunity to learn. And as leaders, I believe we have to be willing to consistently learn and also become super intentional about our education calendar.

Most of the time, we never just learn something new and have it stick with us for the rest of our lives. In fact, it takes an adult an average of 21 times of hearing something new for it to be remembered. Think about the time you learned about color theory during beauty school. It sort of made sense, but it wasn’t until two years into working with hair color that you finally had that light-bulb moment and it all became so much clearer. We have to consistently learn about business in order to grow our salons year-over-year. We have to learn about marketing every year if we want to dominate our competition. We have to learn what it takes to be an awesome leader regularly if we want to grow and help our other leaders within the salon grow as well.

But like with everything around leadership, pushing yourself to learn won’t come easy. So, here are my recommendations for consistently investing in your leadership education.

Go Big: Choose two big education events per year to help you stretch yourself as a leader. This can be within or outside of the beauty industry. If we’re looking within, I recommend Serious Business. There’s no better platform to work on self-improvement while surrounding yourself with the top salons throughout North America! Those people will become your people, and in my opinion, it’s a must attend. Another excellent conference is Data-Driven Salon Summit, where you learn how to embrace and understand your numbers, as well as leverage them to engage your team. If we’re looking outside of the industry, I recommend Dave Ramsey’s Smart Conference. Other amazing events are Tony Robbin’s Business Mastery, or Disney’s Institute of Leadership Excellence. The opportunities are endless. Plan your two big events and start budgeting to make this a regular experience every year.  

Go Local: In Madison, Wisconsin we are blessed with an amazing world-class university and a technical college. In addition to these resources, we have an active chamber of commerce and a DreamBank—both offer a ton of opportunities to learn, network, and grow. The cool part is, most are completely free! What resources are available in or near your community that offer leadership seminars or talks? What local social media group are you a part of where you could ask the group what events in your community are musts to attend? I believe there will be options if you just look for them. Once you find them, mark your calendar for three to four local events per year—or one per quarter. The engagement in your community alone will be invaluable.

Go Digital: There are thousands of online resources to help you grow as a leader. You're already accessing one of them by reading this on salontoday.com, a great resource for salon business and leadership advice. My shameless plug of course is the Beyond The Technique Podcast, where we provide free business, marketing, and leadership education for salon owners every Monday and Thursday! You already know there are endless amounts of YouTube channels to subscribe to that provide insights on leadership. If podcasts and YouTube videos were the only digital options I shared, it would be enough to last the next ten years of education. The real goal is to create a consistent plan for engagement. I recommend setting aside one hour per week to either watching or listening to the topics of your choice. Prior to starting your one hour per week plan, take some time to peruse through these platforms to decide what you’re going to watch in the coming weeks. So instead of using twenty minutes of that weekly hour to find something you want to engage with, do the research in advance so when it’s your education time, you’re sitting down ready to learn, take notes and soak it in. I challenge you to replace some Netflix streaming time or time you’d normally spend on Instagram, to go through and create your plan for the next four weeks. Are you up for it?

Go Small: Finally, I believe reading is one of the most impactful ways you can educate yourself. There are hundreds of books on leadership-related topics. Reading is empowering, it stretches your brain power, and keeps you young! What if you read six books per year with your leadership team? That’s one new book every two months. One easy way to hold each other accountable to a small leadership book club is to ask everyone to check in every few chapters with their top three takeaways. Some of the books I’m happy to recommend to help you get started are, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, The Five Dysfunctions of A Team by Patrick Lencioni, and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell.

Thank you for allowing me to impart my beliefs on leadership throughout this series. It’s not easy and it’s a massive responsibility, but being a leader is one of the most rewarding roles we’ll ever get to play in this life. And we’re not in this alone. Please connect with me to continue the conversation!

Do you want an easy guide to plan your 2020 education? Click Here to download Kati’s free education planner!

About the Author: Kati Whitledge is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and podcaster. She opened Be Inspired Salon in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Her passion for salon marketing and business grew tremendously and encouraged her launch of Meet Your Stylist, a matchmaking marketing tool used by salon owners throughout North America. She’s also the beloved host and founder of The Beyond The Technique podcast—where valuable education is provided on the vast topics of salon business. Kati’s mission is to equip salon owners and their teams with the most innovative business marketing strategies.