Expert Advice

Who Made You Want To Be Great?

Patrick McIvor | January 21, 2015 | 10:20 AM
Patrick McIvor at HAIRVOLUTION 2014 in Toronto, rehearsing KMS California models. (photo credit: Michael Crispel)
Photo By Michael Crispel

I have been very fortunate in my career. I have worked with some of the best companies in our industry and I have traveled to 5 continents and 17 countries sharing ideas, but it was always the people that made the difference for me.  In fact, it was people that made me want to be great.  


It started for me even before beauty school, in the early ‘80s when I worked at Jeanswest in the East Brunswick Mall, where there was also a hairdresser named Patty Blue. The funny thing is I never met Patty (or maybe it was Patti), but all the cool people went to her and she was hands down the best hairdresser in East Brunswick. So, when I finally went to beauty school after doing my first year of college full time, my goal was to be better than Patty Blue. That was it. I knew if I was better than Patty I would be able to open my own salon one day and provide a good life for my family.


So, in beauty school I pushed myself and my teacher pushed me too. On one educational class trip we had the opportunity to go to the International Beauty Show in New York City, and there my life took on a new goal for greatness in the form of Tony Beckerman.  It was March 1987 and I sat down in the chairs in front of Image International excited to see a show – and I got way more than that.  Watching Tony on stage changed my life, I no longer only wanted to be the best hairdresser in East Brunswick, I wanted to be on stage and be like Tony.  I can remember sitting there and the exact words I heard in my brain were, “I want to be like him.” I was lucky, this wasn't my first show and there were lots of other artists there that day, but there was a greatness in Tony that I wanted to strive to be like.


After graduating I was immediately offered a position running a salon as manager for Glemby and with any challenges we had, I looked to education to solve them.  Our numbers went up so much that pretty soon I was traveling around our region teaching at other Glemby locations and I had just turned 21. That's when a funny thing happened. I left Glemby and showed up at an education event with Logics where there had been a challenge with a model, and when someone asked, “Who can fix this?” I raised my hand and said I could even though I had never used the color before. This is how I met Leigh McDonald. Leigh took me under her wing and soon I was hired full time as the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island and West Chester County educator for Logics. I was 22 and it was 1989. 


New York City at the time was becoming the center of everything – the super models, the clubs, the salons, everything was hot and things moved fast.  In fact, at the time I could do a full head of highlights in 27 minutes (something today’s associates would laugh about) and that’s what Colleen O'Connor taught me: just because I was fast, didn't make me good. At this time Colleen was a regional technical training manager and she would bring me up to the corporate offices in Connecticut and line up back-to-back people for me to highlight. Then, after I had finished placing all the foils and the client was done processing, she would go through each wrap and pull out every foil that was not foiled perfectly saying, “That one is bad and that one is bad, and that one is bad,” until I was able to wrap perfect heads of meticulously placed foils. Colleen wouldn't let me be anything less than great.


There have been many other people in my life that have made me great through collaborations, both as bosses and teammates, but there were a few people that created moments of time in my life that gave me clarity about which way was great. From Patty, who made me realize that the life/jobs I got after college were not the way I had to go to provide for a family one day. To Tony who created magic on stage that I wanted to be part of. To Colleen who taught me to respect our craft at a time when hair was big and fashion wasn't always beautiful.


So as we begin our new year together, who made you want to be great? And what new exciting direction is that for you to grow, learn and strive for in 2015?

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