Expert Advice

Hey... I've Got a Secret

Patrick McIvor | March 19, 2014 | 9:09 AM
Patrick McIvor

Well, I'm sorry to do this, but I am just returning from one of the most amazing moments in my career. As most of you know, those who have followed me over my 29-year-old career in our industry, I tend to be a guy with a lot of energy and a bunch of crazy ideas. The source of those elements, which has been the other secret to our success, along with my wife Leah being the primary secret, is because I am an unmedicated, manic, bi-polar person, or suffer from bi-polar mania, depending on which doctor's diagnosis you want to follow. The funny part about this is that even though doctors made this diagnosis when I was much younger, my parents never shared it with me. I was not told about the diagnosis - the doctor recommended medication for me, but I said no and my parents honored my uninformed request, because they never wanted me to have a “problem”.

For years I knew I was different, but not in a bad way, I just couldn't sit still for long periods of time. If I "had to do something" it was usually a challenge, especially long tasks or things that required a high level of sustained attention. I submit as evidence that I was removed from my first school in 3rd grade and the second in 6th grade because of my general disruptiveness and boundless energy. As I struggled through school, getting mostly C's and D's, it wasn't that I wasn't smart or didn't want to learn, I just didn't want to learn what the teacher was teaching at that time in that grade. It wasn't until college that I realized something was different and I was different in a good way. When I could choose the classes I wanted, (business law, marketing, world history etc.) I went from barely a "C" student to a member of Phi Theta Kappa (the national honor society with a 3.8 GPA). What changed? Not much, I had taken world history before, but when I had to, I didn't want to, when it was my choice, all of a sudden work became fun.

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Years later, just about a week after my 45th birthday (two years ago), I was up late having an unbelievably creative night of ideas. At about two o'clock in the morning I thought, “I think I'm crazy,” not in a bad way, but that night I finally internalized that I was different. So, I ran upstairs to my sound asleep wife and woke her. As her eyes struggled to focus on me in the dim light, as she fought to wake from her sleep, I asked her, "Am I crazy?" And, she looked at me… and looked at me… and looked at me… and finally said, "You're manic bi-polar and your parents didn't tell you." And, with that my life changed.

I always wondered why I had so much energy, in fact that's one of the things people would always comment about after one of my presentations. Then, I realized why I had all these different ideas throughout my career and most of all I realized what a gift our industry has been to me. Heck, when you think about it, what other careers let you be incredibly creative in 30 to 60 minute segments and then let you look forward to something new when another guest sits in your chair looking for you to create something new for them?!

Hey... I've Got a SecretThe other thing I've realized is I am not alone in our industry or unique with this diagnosis. What I do believe is that for many of us, education and learning became a bad word, because when education was hard to do, it wasn't the learning that was the challenge, it was probably all the other ideas at the time that competed with what the teacher had on their agenda. It's not a disdain of learning or being dumb, as my grades would have label me, it was the fact that I had other ideas or wasn’t interested in learning the required topics at that particular time. What I had was a disdain for the one size fits all agenda of traditional schools.

Today it's different, I learned many years ago in probably one of the most corporate environments in our industry when I worked from the age of 21 to 26 years old as the NYC educator for first Logics and then Clairol/Logics under Bristol Myers Squibb, that having a crazy idea is not bad when you get it to the right person. During that time, the crazy idea was the first liquid hair color thickener. I shared the idea with my friend and trainer Karen and her eyes lit up, she walked me downstairs and the next day I was driving home with the first two experimental batches, one of which would become the color thickener our industry came to know.

Years later, another crazy thought happened when my friend Cheryl would call me monthly for formulas for a newsletter, one to three formula ideas at a time. Finally on one call I said I could create 100 formulas! And with that, I was paid to write my first book of ideas of 101 formulas. Next came an idea to raise a stylists IQ on a specific color brand, again Cheryl called the right people and I wrote that book on napkins, little scraps of paper and on my hands, as ideas would hit. I believe that booklet was about 5000 words long. Another idea for a book came to me and again and I called Cheryl, this was a book of ideas for permanent color, and again she called the right people and I was being paid to write my third "book." This ended up being over 10,000 words and was written entirely in a shower over two hours in bullet point on the shower walls in Sesame Street finger paint soap. When my wife and family returned that day, about 10 years ago, there wasn’t any question in anyone's mind that I was crazy… in a good way.

Today, I am returning from our first #GoldwellKmsArrojoOnTour for 2014 where I have had the honor to officially share a sneak preview of my latest crazy idea – again, because of sharing with the right people. This is a perfect example of the right time and the right people, and because of my friends Sandra Humphries, Trevor Attenborough and John Moroney, I was able to go to London and train with one of our top colorists. And upon my return, I had a crazy idea. When EVERYONE said no, it just took the two right people to say, “Yes, let's try” and now we have a BIG secret that I am so honored to be sharing sneak peeks of at our events and will be so excited to share with our entire industry later this year.

This month I wanted to also share a very interesting TED Talk called Embrace The Shake that shares another unique perspective on what happens when you take something that others might label a challenge, but with a paradigm shift become a strength and the catalyst for success others couldn't even think of.


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