Salon professional success is never owned. It’s rented. Rent is due every day that you stand behind the chair. Quality hairdressing requires total focus on what’s in front of you. You can’t daydream nor make a mental list of what you need to pick up on your way home as you cut a design line. You have to be on. You must be present, day in and day out. How do you motivate yourself to stay present? And do your best? I mean, it’s too easy to wander off, isn’t it? Here’s how I’ve learned to be up for whatever the salon day throws at me:

Every day, I compete with myself, with whatever I’ve done up to the moment. It’s a daily, powerful motivation that works for me. The goal is never is to be better than you nor anyone else. Nah., I tried that brand of motivation, but I quickly discovered that fearful motivation is toxic and stumps my creativity. Competition does not bring out the best in me. I do something for the satisfaction of doing it well,  not to win because we’re all winners, come on.  When I chill and act without fear, it all seems better--hair, writing, coaching, teaching, daily yoga, or walk. I secretly always compete with myself because I want more.  It’s easy to get hooked on the good stuff.

I admit I bore easily with repetitive tasks—shampooing, blow-drying, foils, exercise, dieting, etc. I struggle with over and over, don’t you? Fortunately, I heard about the idea of competing with yourself from a competitive swimmer ex-boyfriend. When asked if he won the four-hundred-meter butterfly race, he said he got a personal best. Really, what’s that, I wondered? It’s a time I’ve never attained before. But you didn’t really win, I asked again?  Yes, I did, he replied. I’ve never done what I did—it’s the best win.  What a concept, I thought. It helped me ride the often-repetitive nature of a long beauty career.

How to deliver your best creativity daily? Here we go:

1. Set the intention to do better before every consultation. Sounds silly? It isn’t. She may be your fifth client today, but for her, it’s her only shot. Make it a good one. You better believe that right before I started writing this piece, I took a deep breath and said to myself out loud,   “I am going to write something better than last time.” I also set an intention when I wake to make this a better day than yesterday. I call this showing up for life. Don’t be absent. Show up.

2. Recall what you did last time and aim to do it better this time. A client who was with me for years wore a chin-length bob and tinted her hair jet black. Not an easy look to pull off, but she had a small head, great eyes, and beautiful skin—she also wore the little black skirt, fabulous shoes, and the tiny handbag. Her whole aura would put me on creative notice the moment she walked in. So each time, I tried to cut it better, dry it smoother, with the corners perfectly hugging her jawline. Sometimes I was happy with it—sometimes not.

3. Charge your worth and stop discounting your self-worth. Charge for your years on your feet, special trainings, classes, events, and the many hours you agonized during the Covid locked down.  If that isn’t enough, charge for your patience and listening skills. You are so worth it. Yes, you are.

If you set your prices a little above market rates, you will never deliver the ordinary. Clients walk in expecting your best. No way can you be distracted. You remain mindful of your quality and attitude. Your work and creativity soar—every time.

Finally, your creativity is a product of all that surrounds you—attitudes, collaboration, kindness, fresh air, the music you hear, news about war, political rants, and the food you eat. It all comes into play. Fill up with the best choices your time and pocketbook can afford. I do.


Carlos Valenzuela is a beauty consultant, raconteur, success coach, ex-salon & beauty school owner. Author of The Thrifty Cosmetologist, money smarts for salon pros, and Letters to Young Carlos, a novella about a gay boy growing up along the border in the 1960s.
Carlos presents his money management series for the salon professional at the International Beauty Show Las Vegas. June 20-21 & New York City July 25-26  Learn: To Keep More of the Money You Make, Build a Rainy-Day Fund, and How to Pay Off Debt. 

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