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Want to Be a Platform Artist? Sam Has Some Tips

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Sam Villa

Author Sam Villa | Founding Partner of Sam Villa


]Sam Villa platform artistMy first after-school job as a teenager was to coach the elementary school flag football team. I took that team from its record of 0-10 to 10-0 in two years. I think that was my first clue that maybe I had some talent to teach. In college I continued to coach teams and stay involved in a lot of athletics. This same instinct showed up when my dad took me to my very first hair show, where I saw Vidal Sassoon on platform. I knew then that I wanted to be up there someday teaching hairdressers, even though my dad told me that teaching was “no money and all ego.” I wanted to prove him wrong. What I discovered is that if ego drives your teaching, you won’t get very far. At Redken it was Christine Schuster, now senior vice president of education, who helped me to understand how to conduct learner-focused education. Redken also put me into a classroom with author/motivator Blair Singer, and that’s when my platform career really took off. After that point I began teaching from the perspective that the lesson was all about the learner, not the teacher. My coaching background kicked in, and all I had to do was develop great questioning skills. Then with every point I wanted to teach, I could guide the learner to identify options and select the option that’s most appropriate. I incorporate three components into every presentation:

  1. Content. I don’t have to have all the answers, but I do need a pretty good mastery of my content. Like most people I still feel scared before I teach, but the more in charge of the content you are, the less nervous you’ll be.
  2. Message. In addition to teaching a specific technique or style, I’m always delivering the message that we all must stay open to new ideas and directions. Whether I’m in front of a small class or a huge audience, I respect everyone’s personal style and all of the things they’ve learned before they came into my classroom or presentation. I try to package the information I’m providing in an easy way so that they can understand it and immediately apply it to their clients. But just as I’m constantly researching where the direction of hair is going, they have to stay open to what they’re going to see and hear and be willing to change their habits. The reason we’ve gotten where are today as an industry is that we’ve broken the rules. So it’s not that I’m better than they are, but on that day I’m the messenger so they have to open themselves to what they’re seeing and hearing.
  3. Motivation. As important as it is to teach the skill set, it’s just as important to motivate the learners. If I fail to motivate them, they’ll just go back and do the same things they’ve always done. At the end of every session, I have the students write a promissory note about what they will do differently when they’re back at their chair. They address it to themselves and seal it. Four weeks later, I mail it back to them so they can be reminded of the commitment they made to themselves to change their habits.

    Audiences are more intelligent than ever and expect a lot from education. Redken has inspired me to help salon professionals not only through the words that I say but by truly serving them. Redken provided me lenses through which to see the wonders that happen all the time in the world of education. Try it sometime!