Ivan Zoot
Ivan Zoot

So you want to become a platform educator? No, you do not. You really do not want to be a platform educator. You THINK you want to be a platform educator. You do not really understand what it means to be a platform educator. You do not know what is involved in being a platform educator. You really want what you believe are the benefits of being a platform educator. You do not really want to be a platform educator. You are not interested in doing what it takes to be a platform educator.

You want to make “big” money. - There is no real money in being a platform educator. The pay is quite low. You think it is a big money job. It is not even a job. All but a very small number of platform educators are contractors. It is not a full time job. There are zero traditional benefits.

Most platform educators are busy salon professionals or shop owners. Nearly all platform educators can make a lot more money NOT doing the hair show. The weekend hours in the shop would generate far more income for them than doing the hair show ever does. No one I know makes more on a hair show weekend than a busy stylist makes in their shop. Skip the hair show and work in the shop for the weekend for the big money.

You want the glamour of travel – There is very little travel in being an educator. All but a very limited few ever go to the airport. Many never leave their home zip code. Most educators work very locally. They do classes in local salons and help out when the show comes to them. They seldom go to the show.

When you do travel there is very little glamour in business travel. Those of us who travel full time for work do get good at it. We have found ways to reduce the hassles and smooth out the inconveniences. Flight and hotel status can save some of the wait time in some of the lines and get a few small benefits from time to time, but overall travel is hard, tiring work and long, uncomfortable days.

If it is a Sunday and Monday show you will be flying in on a late Saturday night flight after a nearly full day in the shop. If you have a prep day on Saturday you will fly in late Friday night. Then you will be up at the crack of dawn to look at models and spend a full day in a back room working harder than you work in the shop (and for less money).

At the end of the show you will jump in a taxi (typically with 3 other people) and make a mad dash to the airport so as to not miss your flight home. You have clients at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and you CAN’T miss that last flight.

You were out to dinner late Saturday and Sunday night so you did not ever get to relax in that hotel room. You ate dinner in the restaurant in the hotel so you never got to see that city, nightlife district, skyline, riverfront or ocean view.

If you want the glamour of travel go to a hair show as an attendee or just work hard, save some money and take a nice vacation.

You want to work on stage – Look up on that stage. That haircutter is a star. That looks so cool, so glamorous. Sure it does. It is supposed to. It is a show. It is not real.

A one hour haircut and style demo on stage is a magical thing to watch. What you see has absolutely no connection to the work and effort required to make it happen. You do not see the hours of backstage prep. You do not see the hours of trend and concept meetings. You do not see the emails, phone calls, skype sessions and training meetings that go into a show stage presentation.

You do not see the months or years that the educator toiled as an assistant, or a backstage prep team member. You do not see hours spent standing next to a superstar just handing them bobby pins. You do not see the hours spent shampooing hair color for a big name celebrity colorist. You do not see that the shampoo area in the back room at a show is not the shampoo area at a salon. The bowl is wiggily. The water is cold. The floor is wet and slippery.

Lunch? No one had lunch. A few people on the prep team had a slice of cold pizza or a piece of a sub sandwich from the model room. You had a Diet Coke and a Snickers…again. You want the glamour of being on stage? Learn how to play a guitar and get a spot on Star Search.

You want to give back – What do you want to give? Who do you want to give it to? When you work as a platform educator you are not giving anything back to anyone.

You will go to a meeting. In the meeting the marketing director will explain the sales objectives for the show. You will be told what to sell and how to sell it. You will be reminded how many you need to sell this weekend. Throughout the weekend you will be reminded of where you are in relation to this goal. This is not education. This is sales.

A major brand has spent major money and has big goals and obligations to deliver to senior management in exchange for the money invested in this event. The first word in trade show is TRADE. Your number one job is to engage with attendees so they will TRADE their money for the company’s goods. Period. There is no giving back. All trade show sales are final. If you want to give back volunteer your time at the cosmetology school where you graduated. They will appreciate the help.

You want to learn – Trade shows are all about learning, right? See the section above. You will not be learning much once you get to the point where they let you present on stage. In order to be allowed up on stage to present a major program at a major event you really should be the smartest one in the room on your particular subject. You need to be the expert. If you are really good at presenting it is because you have presented this material so many times that you know it inside and out, forward and backward. You know this stuff so well that you can deliver it on autopilot.

You may be sharing what you have already learned. To truly share and teach you must understand it on an entirely different level. Yes. You learned quite a bit to get the position, but, once in the role, you are not to be doing much learning. If you really want to learn, stay home and get online. Trade shows are not the best places to learn in the beauty industry. Today, the internet likely is.

You want to network with the big names – You want your name and face in the show program with the big talent. You want to hang with the big boys. I have appeared in show programs right next to Martin Parsons, Sam Villa, Nick Arrojo, Beth Minardi, Robert Cromeans, and many more. Sure, I have met them all. Are we buddies, pals or friends anywhere other than facebook? Nope.

If I am on a stage presenting they are doing the same thing at the same time. If I am in a classroom at a show, so are they, right down the hall. I might see them at the airport coming or going. I might have a drink with them in a hotel bar. They are having dinner with their team. They are back up to their hotel room early. They are up early the next day. There are at this show to work.

Truth be told, more often than not the only time I do get to say hello to folks like these, and it is never more than a fast hello, is very early in the morning in the hotel fitness center. The true champions of ours and any industry are up early and get in some hard exercise before their day gets started. I almost never bump into show attendees in the hotel gym early in the morning. They were up way too late last night at the party. If you want to see me at a show when I am not on stage, come on down to the workout room, but be early. Or shoot me a message on social media.

You want FREE stuff – Yes. You can get a lot of FREE stuff. That is a real and true benefit of a relationship with a manufacturer. FREE samples are great. They will bury you in FREE stuff. A big piece of this mountain of FREE stuff is in exchange for the fact that they are NOT giving you much money (see first point above). FREE stuff is easy. FREE stuff is cheap.

You cannot pay the rent with FREE stuff. You cannot put FREE stuff in your tank. The kids cannot eat FREE stuff. All those things require cold, hard cash. You are better off being busy in the shop and going shopping for all the STUFF you need and want. It will not be FREE, but it will be what you need and want and what you have worked hard for.

You STILL want to be a platform educator?… see my next blog posting for the how-tos for those who STILL want to do this.

Happy clippering.


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