Are Supplements Unhealthy?

Posted: October 20th, 2015 | Comments Off on Are Supplements Unhealthy?

Your clients look to you for guidance on wellness. The challenge is to pass on information for consideration while simultaneously educating your clients to listen to their body and trust its wisdom.

The recent findings on supplements is a great example of the challenge. After decades of attention on increased exposure to calcium and anti-oxidants by health professionals of different traditions, it’s now coming out that there may be significant risks. Too often there are practices that evolve based on someone’s theory that may or may not be correct.

There are two major sources of the problem. The first is people continue to look for the “silver bullet” that will fix things. The second is the majority belief that one size fits all when it comes to diet, exercise and health. It should be obvious by now that both are counterproductive to achieving what’s best for each individual.

As always, keeping an open mind is very important. But even more important is to always remember that every person is unique, on many different levels. The only consistency that experience has demonstrated is that everyone will react to a change in diet, exercise, or any other change, differently.

Diets are a prime example. Every year there’s a new diet that promises to achieve the goals that the other diets failed at. It’s based primarily on someone’s theory that is backed by results focused research (research that’s conducted to support the theory rather than to test the theory) and then followed with a best seller book and products.

Recent studies on supplements (calcium and anti-oxidants) has revealed that what has become widely held beliefs has risks that are not generally known. Many doctors and holistic practitioners continue to reflexively recommend things that most people will take without any awareness of the potential danger.

As a practitioner what are you to do?

Continue to stay well informed, understand that everything you learn is subject to change and don’t let any belief or thought become a sacred cow. The best thing you can do as a practitioner is to raise your client’s understanding of how their body reacts to different stimuli. Teaching them how to listen and interpret what their body is doing is the biggest gift you can give them.

Being healthy is about being tuned in to what you need and being able to take action to get it. This seemingly simple thing is often obstructed by advertising, opinions and practitioner pressure to give clients quick solutions. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Being healthy requires mindfulness and attention as well as the energy to maintain relaxed focus in moving forward. That is the core of what you have to offer your clients.

Be well and keep up the good work.


p.s. Be sure to read the links on Calcium and Anti-Oxidants. It’s very important information to consider.

Mom and Pop Business Challenges

Posted: October 21st, 2014 | Comments Off on Mom and Pop Business Challenges

It’s no secret. We have learned a lot from growing Spa Tech Institute together since 1988. 

We recognize that there are other people who idealize the concept of working with a spouse while there are others who say “No Way!” Our advice is, it depends on who you are.

It can be the most rewarding and the most challenging experience of your life. It will bring up all of your strengths and weaknesses. If you want to evolve emotionally, working with a spouse will give you lots of growth experiences.

At the core, relationship and working partnerships require some mutually exclusive behaviors. This is why many successful couples have found that clear boundaries are essential to success. Limiting the overlap so that each person has autonomy in what they do is essential but also can produce a silo or compartmentalization within a company. The other dynamic which is particularly hard to manage is critical feedback. Whereas in a relationship criticism is a delicate subject, in business you must give each other honest and constant feedback.

Navigating these areas requires discipline, patience and compassion. Choosing language carefully and using “I” statements are key. Working with therapists or coaches with experience in this area can be very helpful.


Nancy and I met at a Network Marketing meeting that Nancy was hosting. I was a software engineer at Lotus Development and was working in two start up companies at the time and had been in a high pressure time management class all day. Nancy was a polarity therapist, teacher and entrepreneur with her business, Polarity Realization Center in Gloucester.

One of Nancy’s graduates, Margie Flint, brought me to the meeting. The polarity session with Margie was amazing and she was educating me on supplements that might be useful. I was extremely depleted at the time and she was right. The meeting was enlightening.

Nancy and I had very little interaction at the meeting but that night Nancy got a message in a dream that we needed to meet. We got together to talk about business and had an amazing time. We rapidly and unexpectedly fell in love, got married, worked to build a couple of Network Marketing organizations and eventually, after building a house, decided to work together in growing the polarity school.

It was clear to me that Nancy had an exceptional ability that needed to reach as many people as possible. She did excellent energy work but could only work with a limited number of people. Being able to expand this so more people could carry on the work was the driving force in growing the business. The world is in dire need of the level of healing that comes from polarity therapy, massage, and holistic aesthetics. The expansion into cosmetology was another surprise. But in time we discovered the convergence of appearance, skin health, energy work and bodywork was extremely powerful.

Lessons Learned

There’s no question that working together can be a roller coaster. It requires emotional intelligence and a lot of love and patience. It also requires commitment, a solid mission driven orientation and persistence. The challenge of both people being under stress at the same time and having no sanctuary to return to at the end of the day can be overwhelming. Finding balance, particularly family/work balance, can be extremely elusive. Over time you must find a way of creating sanctuary when you are not working.

Another key factor is that there is an inherent tendency for familial patterns with some employees, consultants and customers to exploit the mother/father dynamic. You know the one where if your father says no you would ask your mother? Learning to avoid this requires constant vigilance. You must learn to check and direct the question or request back to the right person.

Consistent communication is also critical. This is why we highly recommend that there is a well developed policy and procedures manual so everyone is on the same page. Your biggest task is to learn to say, “What does it say in the manual?”


If you can successfully navigate the many challenging areas, you will have the opportunity to know another human being to a greater degree than most people will ever experience. You will grow personally and if you are lucky, you will grow something together that brings value into the world. Growing your business is similar to raising a child: There will be stages that they go through and the older they get, the more mature and independent they will become. And hopefully, at the end, you will have had the chance to fulfill  your personal and professional potential.

Of course, we could write books on the subject but ultimately, whether this is the right path for you is something you need to consider very carefully.

We wish you luck and prosperity as you create your future.




Review – Jonathan Douglas Salon

Posted: January 1st, 2014 | Comments Off on Review – Jonathan Douglas Salon

As the skin care industry rushes forward with new scientific advancements and state of the art products, my curiosity is frequently piqued by new research, in this case, Stem Cell research.   In my search for new stem cell facial technologies I made an appointment with Jonathan Douglas, who is giving stem cell facials. Jonathan is co-owner of the Jonathan Douglas Salon.

Surprise!  I didn’t just get a great facial.  I got an awesome massage along with it in a beautiful large treatment room pleasing to all senses.  The Jonathan Douglas saloon houses hair services on the first floor and a large room on the second floor.  The room has a fireplace, couch and two massage tables.  Lying on the perfectly warmed up table with my eyes closed I could sense the light and sparks of the fire as well as the very warm lighting from two lamps.  The sound system was excellent and it was enhanced by small bell sounds and running water.  Although the saloon is on Route 1, the size of the room and the sound blocked out all road sounds.

The Treatment:    Jonathan started with an excellent back massage, obviously done by a well trained therapist with a decade of experience.

The facial was perfect.  Besides the stem cell therapies, Jonathan was very knowledgeable about peels and had several at his disposal.  The peel was followed by a beautiful mask.  While the mask was on, Jonathan continued his excellent massage on shoulders and feet.

Although I was planning only one session, the results were so good and the treatments so enjoyable that I decided to see what the next treatment was like and have since had several treatments, each building on the other.

Jonathan has done an excellent job with integrating Aesthetics and Massage. His business acumen is top notch:  The salon  traffic  supports his aesthetics and massage work and vice versa.

Jonathan graduated from Spa Tech Institute.  In 2003 Jonathan completed Spa Tech‘s Therapeutic Massage Career Program as well as Level 1 Polarity Therapy.  In 2004, Jonathan graduated from the Spa Tech 600 Hour Aesthetics Career Program.

I asked Jonathan a few questions.  In his own words:

Jonathan, how did you ultimately choose the Collin ® G.M product line? 

I went with the GM Collin line after years of looking at and trying products.  I found the line that gave the result that people were looking for (instant).  People don’t just want a facial anymore, they want results for the money they are paying and this line gives them that without having to go under the knife.

Why did you choose to study both massage and aesthetics? 

I studied both because they both go hand in hand.   I feel you give a better facial as a massage therapist. And you now have a customer for 2 services instead of 1 and your customer loves that you can help them for 2 services and not change to another person! 

3. How do you put together your Massage/ Aesthetics treatments? How do you vary them?

I spread them out over the day.  I work on 8 people a day.   I start with massage and toss in a facial and maybe end the day with a facial so it’s not constant pressure on my body!

4.  What advice would you give students choosing a program or program of study (Aesthetics / Massage?)

Do them both and give your customer your all! When I do a massage, a facial or both, I give my customer everything I have in a service and when they exhale you know you have done it!  With all the competitors out there people want a great service to keep coming back, so give it to them. I have had several customers say they have tried massage and facials everywhere and they come back to me because of the service that I give, they get it no where else!

5. In designing your therapy space, what were your considerations?

I designed my therapy space with one thing in mind, what would I want if I was getting a massage! So I added a warm atmosphere with a fireplace, mood lighting, warm feeling paint.  When my customer walks in the room they get that sense of deep breathe and they know they can leave it all behind even if it’s just for a little while. 

6. Other comments?

It’s all about the customer and if they pay for a 60 minute massage then give them 60 minute of rub time not 50 minutes and 5 minutes to get undressed and 5 minutes to get dressed. Remember your customers are your livelihood, Give them everything you can give and make your treatment worth paying for! 

It is clear that Jonathan practices what he said above giving each customer an exquisite experience. 

You can reach Jonathan at:

Jonathan Douglas Salon


Author: Nancy Risley, RPP, RPE, BCPP is the VP of Education at Spa Tech Institute and Founder of Polarity Realization Institute. Nancy loves to follow up with graduates in her quest to keep all curricula up to date and relevant to the changing industry. If you would like to have a review of your business, please contact Nancy at Spa Tech Institute to schedule a time.


Facebook Posting Frequency

Posted: August 20th, 2013 | Comments Off on Facebook Posting Frequency

What Posting Frequency Works Best on Facebook and Twitter?

If  you have a business listing, this is an important issue that is very important due to changes that were implemented at Facebook and Twitter recently. We are reviewing this at the school now. We have many Facebook pages and they are linked to Twitter as well.

A year ago the professionals were advocating posting hourly so you would show in the news feed when people were on. The logic was that people only see a small amount of the traffic. But then Facebook and Google changed their parameters for what is called the “surfacing” formula which is what determines which things you see and which ones are buried.

Less is Now More, Again

Now it’s all about Engagement. The higher the engagement, the higher your posts will rank. The following articles add some interesting insight to the discussion.

Discounts Are King on Social Media

One thing that is indisputable is this: The number one reason people will go to your professional page is if they can get discounts or free stuff.

Key Points to Remember

  • Decide what the purpose of your page is all about. What are you trying to accomplish?
  • People don’t care as much about what you are doing as you think they do.
  • People are busy and don’t want a lot of excess information, but they are willing to engage if it brings them value.
  • What is your Value Proposition?

Given this short list, here are my recommendations for people in the spa, salon and health industry.

  • Set up your page so people have a resource for checking on appointment availability, particularly if they get a discount by using your page to book sessions. You can tie it in with your booking software which I hope you are all using at this point.
  • If  you are posting openings or daily discounts, post each morning. Posting it so they have to engage in the post to get the discount is a way to increase engagement which is a very important thing to do.
  • If you post more than one post a day, make sure that there is a very good reason and that there is a high likelihood of getting good engagement on both posts.
  • Unlike other products or brands who are attempting to increase their visibility and have complex SEO campaigns, your goal should be to create a place for people to get specific information related to what you offer.
  • If you sell products, you may ask your followers if they have a product they recommend or if they have feedback on a product you are considering carrying. Or if you are thinking of opening a new time slot, like Saturday mornings, and would like to find out who would be interested, you may get some engagement on these questions.
  • If you are learning a new technique you may want to post it to let people know or ask if they have had it and what they think of it. You can also check beforehand to see if they have particular types of services that they would like to see you include.
  • Use the Page analytics to see what see what is getting the best response. Keep tuning your strategy to increase the level of engagement. Comments and Likes are your friend for being seen by more people.
  • Posting platitudes and puppies is probably not a good idea.
  • Posting personal stuff also has limited value unless you are the product (musician, actor, celebrity, etc.).

The search and social companies have one thing in common: They are trying to make it so the content is relevant to what the audience wants. If  you post just to get noticed but there isn’t much value, you will fall in relevancy. If you are posting something of true value your relevancy will increase. So focus on giving people what they really want and you will do well, no matter what changes the companies make to their products.


Posted: August 9th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

A graduate recently posted a great question in the Facebook, Spa Tech Career Builders about the value of APTA, RPP and BCPP in light of the fact that Polarity Therapy is still relatively unknown and the view that the APTA has done little to promote polarity.

The acronyms stand for American Polarity Therapy Association (APTA), Registered Polarity Practitioner (RPP) and Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP). The BCPP is an independently administered certification exam that measures minimum competency to enter the industry and call yourself a RPP. The purpose of having an independent exam is to create a level of credibility that other organizations, most notably insurance companies, a credential that justifies authorizing insurance payments for the services. The insurance companies need to justify what they cover and this is the way they have chosen to sift out the thousands of options that exist.

The question is, why is this valuable when APTA has done little to make polarity a household term? What value does it have to clients if they don’t even know what polarity therapy is? And why pay the money to get certified and registered?

This is a core debate that has been raging in the APTA for 2 decades. There are those who see the value of regulation and others who are against it. And it’s a fact that the organization has remained small because of this debate and the direction that the APTA has taken. It’s much easier to regulate than to promote. At the same time, without good research to back up the work, it’s harder to promote. So the organization and the industry finds itself in an awkward position.

The lament of many new practitioners is: I know this fabulous work but nobody knows what it is. It’s true that it is not as widely known as massage, reflexology or reiki. It takes time to gain recognition and polarity is relatively new compared to massage and reflexology. Reiki has the distinct advantage that the very small amount of training required to call yourself a Reiki Practitioner has opened up the field to a large number of people who do the work.

But the biggest issue with Polarity is this: Doctor Stone developed the work, shared it with a few people, and then moved on. Other methods that have gained prominence have usually had a founder who promoted the work for an extended period of time. With polarity there have been practitioners who have adopted the work but there is yet to be a person who has stepped forward with the authority and power to promote Polarity into a brand. And more often than not, the strongest leaders in the field have moved on to promoting their own work which is often an extension of polarity therapy.

That being said, Nancy had a full-time practice with a 3 month waiting list as early as 1983. That was 30 years ago. Polarity was completely unknown at that time. A posting by one of our polarity students on Facebook last week was that he had just gotten 6 new polarity clients. I only worked on men and my part-time practice was full with a waiting list in 1989. This was without APTA, RPP or any other credential. So at the end of the day, a full and thriving practice hinges on one key factor: How well you market your practice, both before, during and after the session. 

But What About the BCPP?

But on to the BCPP and RPP. The key is this: With the new Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) there are opportunities being created for alternative care as well as problems that are going to push more companies into self-insuring. One company that’s ahead of the curve is Parker-Hannifin, an international company with a very forward thinking CEO. As part of their self-insurance program they focus on self care, prevention and education. This has opened up opportunities for practitioners that have taken a national certification exam in their profession. It still requires the individual to market themselves internally to the potential clients but once the employees have chosen their alternative therapies, the company reimburses them for their sessions. This can only happen with modalities that have national certification. 

Thanks to some very forward thinking and hard working people in the APTA, the organization has developed the national certification exam process for polarity that has opened up these doors. The exciting part about it is that Parker-Hannifin is keeping very good tracking statistics and finding a very high value to working with alternative therapies. These results will likely be the supporting documentation that drives the insurance industry well into the future.

The key to the future for individual practitioners is to understand that you must earn your place in the world as a care provider either through working for a company who markets you or by doing your own marketing. Your attitude, demeanor, enthusiasm and dedication is what will define your success. Some people are succeeding while others are not which demonstrates that success is possible if you do the right thing. Many people who are struggling blame the industry instead of understanding that they have to learn more about marketing their practice. If you are an independent practitioner you must be good at marketing. There are no alternatives.

Additionally, the thing that will move the profession forward is completely dependent on the actions of each individual. There will be some who take on the challenge of elevating the profession and others who wait for others to do it for them. It comes down to a simple personal choice: What is your mission and how are you going to execute it?

Whether you choose to take the path of getting credentials that open additional doors to work or decide to work independent of any reimbursement structure, it’s possible to have a successful practice either way. But it’s important to understand the importance of marketing and then learn everything you can about how to market your practice. There are a lot of resources available on the professional websites as well as through the school. The biggest challenge is to embrace the time and energy that goes into marketing, particularly if you have a block to marketing yourself or your practice.

As always, we recommend RYSE or ARYSE to help move beyond blocks and to move into your success. That’s what it was made to accomplish.

Be courageous and change the world.



p.s. Are you looking to learn more about marketing your professional practice? There’s a lot to learn. Let us know your questions.

Facebook Marketing Changes

Posted: March 18th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Does Anyone See Your Facebook Posts?

It appears there has been a shift in the Facebook “surface” formula that is good to know if you want to build your social marketing effectiveness. The “surface” formula is what Facebook uses to determine what surfaces on your news feed and what remains hidden. Understanding the formula is critical to having your Fans actually see what you post.

Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that he wanted the Facebook news feed to become the news media of choice for members. I think Facebook has seen erosion as people get tired of seeing what people had for lunch or cute pictures of puppies or inspirational sayings. To combat this Facebook must maintain relevancy or lose viewers.

As of the past week here is what we have seen happen with the activity on our postings.

  • Video is getting the most views of anything. Facebook found that people are more likely to click on videos than anything else so they are making that the driving force of content.
  • Posting links from articles that are relevant to things that your fans follow is getting an increase in views. It appears that there are also considerations for the publication it comes from and how much it has been getting shared on Facebook by other users.
  • Posting links from blogs is the next highest activity level. Having a blog as well as posting links to articles from other relevant blogs will help your posts get seen.
  • Photo albums seem to get slightly higher viewing than individual photos.
  • Events are important for staying connected with your existing fan base but the viewing is hard to determine.

That’s what we are seeing now. It will probably change in 3 to 6 months as they adjust the formula based on how people respond. I will continue to post when I see changes.

Keep up the good work.

Kris Stecker, President

Spa Tech Institute, School of Massage, Polarity, Aesthetics and Cosmetology.


Massachusetts Professional License and Fee Changes

Posted: January 10th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

This week the Patrick administration submitted a proposal to change some aspects of the Division of Professional Licensure to streamline certain areas as well address some fee issues. The intention is to make it easier and less expensive for small businesses in the state. The changes can be seen at the Governor’s website.

A few of the most important changes affect massage license fees as well as barbering, cosmetology and electrology which will now all be under one board. The change in the fees for massage are not yet delineated but this is the time for all massage therapists to get involved to push the board to advocate for the renewal fee to be reduced or the interval for renewal to be increased. The Board of Massage information on meeting schedule as well as agendas are posted online.

Some of the meeting is open to the public and some is closed. But it’s possible to request public discussion on topics that are important to the massage community. The reality is that very few people attend board meetings. Whether people believe that their professional organizations are involved (usually through a lobbyist) or other people are taking care of things, the bottom line is that if you don’t get involved then you can’t complain if you think the fees are too high or the regulations are misguided.

That’s why if you belong to a professional organization it’s also good to make sure that they are watching out for your interests as well. In Massachusetts, for instance, massage practitioners are paying much higher and more frequent fees than other professions pay but to date, there has been no visible activity by the professional organizations that represent massage to lower the fees.

Since the current proposal came from the Governor, there will be a lot of focus by the various departments in the state to move it forward. This is the time to renew your involvement and push both your professional organization and the Board of Massage to advocate for a more reasonable fee structure.

Get involved!


2013 Spa and Salon Professional Outlook

Posted: January 5th, 2013 | Comments Off on 2013 Spa and Salon Professional Outlook

Bright Future for the Spa and Salon Industry

It appears the industry is set for additional expansion into the future. According to a report by GIA (Global Industry Analysts) the world health spa market is supposed to grow to $77.2 billion by 2015. But what’s really interesting is the finding that a lot of the high end medical treatments are in less demand while the stress and health related services like massage, facials and fitness have increased.

Of course this makes perfect sense. People are finding that the biggest benefit is long term support rather than expensive cosmetic services that may have a higher risk factor. But also, the high end services are not repetitive. They tend to be done selectively whereas facials and massage sessions produce the best results with repetition.

Dual Licensed Spa and Salon Professionals

This is great news for people with dual licenses who are focusing on health and wellness. It continues to support the idea that the public is discovering that prevention is far more valuable than intervention. Understanding the value of long term maintenance is also showing up in the healthcare field. A recent US News and World Report article on Integrative Medicine recognize the benefits of massage and polarity therapy in the integrative model.

I couldn’t agree more that, “As the American healthcare system grows progressively stressed and truly patient-centered care becomes increasingly difficult to find, more people than ever before are looking for alternatives to the conventional healthcare model.” What is yet to be seen is how the healthcare delivery system will be affected by the Affordable Health Care Act adding millions of new dependents to a system that is already struggling.

There are already progressive companies looking towards self-insurance that include more integrative therapies and they are seeing very positive results. As the information goes mainstream existing insurance companies are likely to finally figure out what people in the wellness industry have known for years.

So keep up the good work everyone. Keep building your skills and prepare for being the leaders of the new healthcare revolution.

Be well and Prosperous,


To learn more about a professional massage or aesthetics career go to Spa Tech Institute.


Massage Therapy and Smoking

Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Comments Off on Massage Therapy and Smoking

How does being a smoker affect your career as a massage therapist?

This is a very delicate issue that affects clients and smokers alike. It’s important to not be judgmental. Everyone has their own path in life and no one is in a position to pass judgement on anyone unless you have walked that path.

That being said, being a smoker or having clients that smoke presents challenges to a successful career. We will start with clients who smoke.

There are two challenges. The first is to understand how you can give the person the greatest benefit. Being able to support them in getting healthier is your primary responsibility. However, the only time you should address the issue of smoking with them is if they sincerely want your help in changing this aspect of their life, either by cutting down or eliminating smoking from their life. If they ask for this support, you need to proceed slowly and carefully and work to understand their needs, stresses and past experience. The emphasis needs to be on helping them to get stronger so they can make change and learn how to make change. Based on the Law of Attraction (What you focus on you get more of) you will want to focus on how their life would be if they didn’t smoke. If you focus on quitting smoking that can often lead to reinforcing the energy of smoking.

The second thing that you need to deal with is the residual smell that can fill your space. You need to have a good strategy for making sure the smell is completely cleared from your space, linens and clothing before you see your next client. For this reason you may need to schedule smokers for the end of the day so you can air out the space and have clean clothes. You may also want to invest in an ion and or ozone air cleaner to run during the night. No matter how you handle it, just understand that non-smokers and reformed smokers are usually very sensitive to the smell and can harm your professional practice.

The more challenging situation is if you are a smoker. Again, there is no judgement on you. That is your situation and this is about strategies to learn to minimize the impact it has on your professional practice, not to scold you for being a smoker.

If you are a light smoker who is very careful about when you smoke in relation to your sessions, always being careful to wash your hair and having clean clothes that do not smell of smoke, is essential. One suggestion is that if there are smokers in your home, that you keep your session clothes at your office so you can change into them and put your everyday clothes outside of your office in your car or somewhere the odor will not get into your space.

If you are a more dedicated smoker who smokes between sessions, in your car and home and you cannot eliminate the odor from your clothes, you will probably find over time that the majority of your clients are also dedicated smokers. Sometimes this works particularly well for them because they are more comfortable going to a therapist that’s a smoker so they don’t feel judged or uncomfortable.

Of course, there are several considerations that you will need to take into account. First, smokers tend to make up a small percentage of the population in this part of the world. This chart shows the percentage of smokers broken out be state. The rates vary from 13% in the New England states up to over 22% in several of the central and southern states. In New England and California, being a dedicated smoker means that you may be restricting your market significantly.

The other question is whether smokers are less likely to seek massage since they may be less dedicated to being healthy. My guess is that smokers may have a higher level of stress and are risk takers which may actually make them a more likely candidate for the benefits of massage. If that’s the case, it could offset the clients that are harder to retain due to sensitivity to the smell of smoke.

Again, this is not judging anyone. It’s just trying to share some ideas that may help you to be more successful. Whatever your path, know that being a massage therapist is about helping people to deal with life and be healthier. By being a massage therapist you are making a significant difference for a lot of people. Thank you for doing this work and keep up the good work.


Kris Stecker

Spa Tech Institute, Schools of Massage, Polarity, Aesthetics and Cosmetology

Leading with Heart

Posted: October 4th, 2012 | Comments Off on Leading with Heart

I just returned from Tempe where I spent a tremendously inspiring day with Jerry Johnson and his team.  Jerry and his partner, Jessica Wolman are the owners of 20 cosmetology schools and a product company, to name a few of their ventures. I was there to learn about a school management software package they are developing. In addition to the information on the package I got a wonderful bonus: An education on business and leadership.

But how did Jerry get from growing up on a chicken farm to cosmetology and to his current success? The answer is profound because it’s at the heart of most business success.

It was a beautiful October day (100 degrees) in Tempe and the building I was dropped off at looked like a warehouse, not a school. As it turned out, this was where the business offices and product manufacturing occurs. I started by meeting with the head of Operations and then met with Jerry. In my mind I’m thinking, “This guy is a heavy hitter. I better get to the point and use up as little of his valuable time as I can.” It wasn’t that he had an air of being a big shot. In fact, he is very down to earth and humble. But he also carries himself with confidence and always seems to be thinking, “How can we make things better.”

I ended up spending most of the day with Jerry and various  team members as we visited three of his campuses in Tempe. Every school was lavish, with lots of granite and other stone, beautiful design features and high-end equipment. The clinic floors had a beautiful open feeling to them with a lot of space. One was in a mall and the other was an entire building. There were inspirational flares and interesting details to engage the imagination.

Jerry  is an excellent negotiator and has built an extensive and diverse business.  But the thing that stood out was something far more important. Jerry loves his people. While meeting in the morning he had to excuse himself to give a long time client attention in his one chair salon at his corporate headquarters. Then as we toured the facility all the employees, from the people packaging product up to his top staff, were happy to see him and he showed a deep caring for each one, often asking them about various things that were going on in their lives.

As we went to each campus, the same pattern of caring about the employees was repeated over and over again. It was clear that at the heart of everything he is doing is one principle: Honor, respect and take care of the employees, students and customers in all that you do. It wasn’t work. It was natural. It’s who he is. And it was evident in all aspects of the company as it trickled down from management to the customers and everyone in between.

Of course, Jerry would be the first to tell you that there are good and bad days and there are times when tough love is required. But at the core is a belief in the goodness of people and a desire to help them reach their potential. This is the platform that creates success that is sustainable.

The lesson for our students and graduates is this: Be sure to look for this quality in the employers you work for as well as to set it as your standard when you become an employer. By following this basic principle you will enjoy what you do and build something of lasting value.

Kris Stecker, President
Spa Tech Institute Schools of Massage, Polarity, Cosmetology and Aesthetics

p.s. Thank you Jerry for being an industry leader and for your generous sharing of time and information. I have been enriched and look forward to working with you in the future.