The Hair Stylist’s Syndrome

August 21, 2012

11:00 am

“Ok, so what are we doing today?”

Let’s not mince words, this is one of the most terrifying questions that can be asked, and unfortunately I hear it once every 6 weeks (give or take).  I refer to, of course, the question offered by my hair stylist inquiring as to how I’d like my ‘do done.

“Can you make my head appear in such a way that I’m more desirable to the opposite sex?” is the answer I want to give.  Instead, what ultimately transpires is a series of frantic gestures implying that I want my hair shorter (as if there were another option) and disjointed fragments revealing that I have no clue.

I could start the conversation by saying that I had my last cut a month and a half ago; please remove hair accordingly.  But, I don’t know what I want – I generally lack style in all capacities.  That’s why I went to a stylist.  You tell me what I want.  Sell me on what you think would make me look less bad.  My satisfaction (and your tip) depend on it.

I could take 30 minutes of my day to flip through a GQ to get some clue about what looks good, but frankly, I’m a busy guy.  If given a half hour of freedom, there’s a 0% chance it’s being spent inside a fashion magazine.  I’m willing to buy the $40 haircut as opposed to going to the $8 barber to alleviate this concern.  “You’re the expert.”

Are you the expert?

Are you in the business of selling expertise?

More importantly, are you the expert not selling expertise?

Are you the chef asking your patrons what ingredients they’d like in their dinner?

Are you the doctor asking what medication your patients would like to take?

Are you the financial analyst asking your customers what equities they’d like to invest in?

People go to the experts, because they’re busy trying to become experts in their own field.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to know everything.  It’s more profitable to know one thing really well, and to turn to you – the expert – for everything else.

If you’re in the business of selling expertise, in most cases, the fewer options you can provide the better.  Apple’s retail stores outperform the average retail store by 17X(!).  Something you won’t find in an Apple store, is choice.  “You want an iPad?  Black or White?  16, 32, or 64 GB?  Okay pick your data plan and get out of here.”

You buy from Apple because they’re the expert – and because they’re the expert – they know what you want, give or take a couple of very basic variations.

So please, stop asking people how they want their hair cut, and start telling them.  All involved parties will be better off for for it.

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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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