Phorest FM Episode 119: Amanda Olusanya On Developing Individual Greatness & Retaining Top Performers

Top performers: you can always count on them to get things done and exceed expectations. Unfortunately, they also tend to be the first to walk out the door. For salons and spas, the idea of losing them is terrifying.

However, there’s a lot to be said about developing individual greatness. A lot of, no pun intended, great things to say. Sports, for instance, provide several key lessons on the matter. In episode 119, Aveda educator and salon owner Amanda Olusanya (Allen Ray Salon) discusses her research findings and ideas on the topic.


Amanda Olusanya

Amanda Olusanya has always been a believer in education. Drawn to people with big ideas and A-players who don’t want to settle force her to operate with insight, self-reflection, humbleness, and investment. Because her mother owned an Aveda salon, Amanda has been in the hair industry ever since she was born. She graduated from Aveda in 2001, became an educator in 2004, and a salon owner in 2009. Business has become her latest passion, and she invests in people, teaching, and coaching – which also happen to be the main drivers in creating a better life for herself and those around her.


Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode 119. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle Springer. This week on the show we’re joined by educator and Minnesota-based salon owner Amanda Olusanya to discuss first the idea of building people individual to their strengths, needs and goals, and second, ways to gain your salon’s top producers’ loyalty.

Killian Vigna: So, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax and join us weekly for all your salons business and marketing needs. Good morning Zoe.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian. Before we get into the show, I have to say now you’ve been mentioning Phorest Academy for a few episodes already and I have to say, I promised you I’d try it out; I’d do the course. I started it last night, and it is fantastic. Everything is so crystal clear that the screens, I did the appointment screen module, it’s just so much easier to understand how to use the product.

Killian Vigna: So you didn’t feel like you-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And also you have your voice there.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, I have Phorest FM branded all over our new training content. You didn’t feel like you needed to sit down and have someone hold your hand going through the courses then no?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh my God, no. I was sitting down at the end of the day, I know I mentioned this yesterday to you, I was like, “I’m going to do it at the end of the day.” And you were like, “Training at the end of the day, that’s odd.” No, but I enjoy that, it’s a nice way to finish off the workday and then move on to my evening, get dinner or something. So yeah, it was actually really, really good. I’m looking forward to the second module tonight. 

Introducing Amanda Olusanya [01:39]

Killian Vigna: Great stuff. Well, speaking of education – because we love education – our guest today is also another firm believer in education. Welcome, Amanda!

Amanda Olusanya: Thank you so much! Good to be here.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s a pleasure to have you on.

Amanda Olusanya: Yes, thank you.

Killian Vigna: So, speaking of education, Amanda, you’re an Aveda qualified educator, is that right?

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah, absolutely! I’ve been with them since probably 2004, and I specialise in men’s. Education’s always been a part of my commitment to growing and mastery, and it’s always been very important to me, and now that I’m getting into business and a salon owner, I’m taking that same approach and educating myself in business just the same. I think it’s just as important as mastering hair.

Killian Vigna: Well, that’s it, you have to have one of those growth mindsets, and that’s one of our Phorest values here is always be learning. Just keep digesting as much education, as much information as you can… which is a growth mindset, or a great mindset, which is actually a growth mindset, yeah.

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah! Hashtag “Let’s Grow.”

Killian Vigna: [inaudible 00:02:41].

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Would you say that it stems from growing up in the hair industry? I believe your mother has been in the industry for a very long time, so you’ve kind of been born into it.

Amanda Olusanya: Literally, literally! Yes, I was born into it, but if you were to ask me at 16 did I want to do hair my answer, and I told everybody no, I wanted nothing to do with it. Even though I respect my mother dearly, we have definitely taken different approaches to it. I ended up in the men’s, she ends up in kind of a small town, a lot of women. It was kind of the part that I didn’t enjoy about the hair element was kind of the gossiping and the, “Hey, and how are you?” I thought you had to be really fake in order to do hair, so I told everybody I didn’t want to.

So, again, I love my mother dearly but we took completely different approaches on it and I don’t think education was really available to the level that we have it today when she got into it, because back then Aveda didn’t exist and she was going to a really small town school, and she didn’t really get to kind of hone in on her skills the way that I think we are able to today. I would say that part of it’s different.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Fair enough. 

Building people individual to their strengths, needs and goals [03:56]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So, I suppose from previous chats, because we’ve been talking about doing this episode for a while now and I know you have quite a different perspective on building teams and catering for top performers or A-players. You’ve recently published a blog on this actually, and since then you’ve shared with us a more, I suppose, nuanced version of it.

We knew the topic was going to get people talking, but what kind of feedback were you getting? Why did you go ahead and do the second version of it?

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah, well, to be honest, the real reason is just that I took this idea and kind of refined it. Originally it was my opinion, and then I did some research to further my ideas about creating individual greatness. So my original version kind of came across and people took it as if I wanted to create this company around all superstars and just kind of ignore their egos and feed into it. That really wasn’t my point. My point was that most companies are actually built around this 80%, or this standard group, or this baseline of producers, or however you want to call it.

But this is whom we create the policies around, and the handbooks, and the guidelines. Of course, we’re always trying to raise that standard 80%, but there’s also this other group, and we’ll call them the A-players, or the outliers, or the 20% of the group, the top producers, again whatever you want to call it, but I believe if someone is outperforming or hitting their targets and don’t need a lot of direction except maybe where to aim, then I don’t think that we should be treating them like the standard group. That was more my point.

Killian Vigna: So, your blog was initially titled “Don’t Build Teams, Built Stars.” I know when I first came across the blog before I even read the blog, I was sitting there going, this will be interesting. Are you essentially challenging or questioning the meaning of teamwork?

Amanda Olusanya: Listen, at the end of the day, you need a good title, right? You need to get somebody involved and hear your point. So, but what I really want to talk about and start the conversation around is I think it’s really important to talk about what team we’re creating. I believe rather than building this idea of a team and making everyone fit into this idea or this box; I think you really should build individuals into a great team.

So, for example, I think the most brilliant person whoever did this was Phil Jackson. He created superstars and then built a championship team, not the other way around. He took Michael Jordan and allowed him to shine. He allowed Scotty Pippen to shine, and even Dennis Rodman who didn’t shine before he came to the Bulls in ’95. But Phil Jackson saw those guys as individuals, brought out the best in them, and then created a really strong team.

Then when he went over to the Lakers, he didn’t rebuild the exact same team because again, he had a new set of individuals, and saw them as individuals and brought out their strengths to create this really good team. I think in today’s world, we put out these policies in place. We make people feel bad for not being a team player, but through this research I was looking through Harvard Business Review, and if I may quote this, I thought it was really strong, but it said, “Our intelligence is incredibly complex, and as a result a great individual can far exceed the value of mediocre minds. This is why it is absurd to ask the question how many mediocre people would it take to collectively beat Kasparov in a chess match.”

So, what it’s doing is this idea is stating that individuals need to shine, and that’s okay. Not everyone has to be a team player and act as if this contrived idea of fitting into this box. I have also found through this research, again, this opinion sparked my idea for this research, but I thought this was put very eloquently that our brains actually work very well individually and tend to break down in groups. Programmers have been found to work exponentially faster when coding and Mark Zuckerberg famously quoted, “A great engineers worth more than 100 average engineers,” which also sparked a good debate in the business world.

But designers often do their best work alone, and I just watched McQueen documentary, and I saw that come out. I remember him doing his best work was on a floor by himself trying to dissect what he was doing. I think this idea generally holds true, but of course, there are exceptions, but I don’t think we can discount the power of individual greatness and say everyone needs to be working in a team to have a successful company.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Makes sense, I kind of relate to that in a sense that in my own team say in Phorest, I do a lot of writing content and stuff and I realised actually just recently coming back from working in the office full time to working from home, I actually get to produce a lot more work faster just because I’m that type of person that gets really, really off set by interactions and that doesn’t mean that I’m not feeding into the team either.

Developing individual greatness doesn’t mean encouraging egos [09:01]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So, my question to you then is for people who naturally I suppose would have a strong ego, could that actually cause to strengthen their ego further down the line or perhaps if obviously you’ve been using this system for your team and your salon, have you noticed it has actually dimmed down the egos?

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah. Well, a couple of things. I think naturally we do navigate to this point, and I think a lot of salon owners at some point, worked at a salon and left themselves to start their own place. So I think a lot of people, especially salon owners, might feel naturally gravitated toward this idea. I think as far as the ego, in the Western world ego has become this very negative word, and I don’t; this might be a little too philosophical, but by definition, ego is kind of a person’s self-esteem or self-importance, and at the end of the day, I think we need it to survive in this world.

I study and practice yoga, and the idea is ego doesn’t have to be this negative sense. Now, with that said, an unhealthy or an unbalanced ego; that’s what becomes the problem. I am not suggesting in any of this that anyone keeps someone who is disrespectful or treats others poorly. Again through my research, A-players tend to have natural self-confidence and B-players tend to be a little less secure, and they’re the ones looking for that constant external assurance.

So I think at the end of the day it’s about respect and if I could just speak to what an A-player really is, sometimes we associate with this A-player with a narcissistic egomaniac who is dramatic, but studies show a few things about them. Number one, they have a healthy disrespect for rigid rules and what they do is they question authority, but it’s with honest curiosity and usually because they feel like things can be better. They see problems as an opportunity, and they’re usually not complaining, probably because they’re too busy, they’re not back in the break room.

Surprisingly this was interesting to me, but through my research, I found that they’re actually not as motivated by money as we think, they’re motivated by winning. That’s why we see a lot of A-players in startups because they want to be a part of a grand vision and will typically work for equity. Can we give people extra recognition for a job well done? Absolutely. I don’t think it has to have a negative effect on the ego. But often, contrary to this belief is that a lot about liars or a lot of top producers are often overlooked because they’re not attention seekers and we often do this with clients as well.

We’re all kind of guilty of this where this client they come in; they book every four weeks, rebook their appointment, tip well, buy products… What happens is we come to expect this from them, and they raise the baseline on themselves. So sometimes we just don’t stop to thank them. Sometimes we’re giving our attention to those extra people who kind of suck our attention or need extra nurturing. I think if there are any parents out there, I think this has been guilty with children too. The middle child syndrome, they’re often just overlooked, right?

So, now there are times when A-players don’t shine well, right. Often in fact, but the most common things of where they stop shining well or aren’t their best version is when they’re dismissed, unappreciated, they’re compared to their average counterparts or they don’t respect their high authority, or if they have rules that just don’t make sense because the rules, for example, me going through TSA… It’s not my best version of myself. So the idea is defining what an A-player is, and I don’t think ego has to play into that.

Killian Vigna: Well, it’s like you said, the A-players, they are the top 20% of your team. You mentioned Phil Jackson coaching Michael Jordan. Obviously, Michael Jordan is going to have an ego, his ego’s helping him get there, it’s helping him be that all-star. If you look at most sports or even movie stars, people go oh they’re so… it’s that kind of perspective, but they have to be, that’s how they’ve got there. You said that money isn’t always the reward. 

If you’re trying to be an athlete, there’s probably about 20 years of your life where you’ll be broke. So what are you training for, what are you fighting for. I suppose at least with the salon industry; you have a job, you are being paid. So it’s kind of down to how Phil Jackson focused a lot of attention on him but helped him work with a team rather than be the team.

What makes A, B and C-players different [13:48]

Killian Vigna: I suppose where I’m going with this is we’ve talked a lot about A-players and kind of egos and stuff like those, but what is the other side of your team?

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah, well, so just kind of break down if we were to break it down into A, B and C, just keep it easy. The reality is C-players just suck. There’s really no other way around it. Basically, they’re low producers with bad attitudes, right. No one is really questioning this, everybody knows who they are and just make sure you’re not justifying their behaviour or waiting for it to get better because the best you’ll ever make them really, is a B-player.

So, but who is the B-player? The reality is B-players kind of make up the majority of most of our companies. They’re great people. They typically get behind your vision. I’ve heard of them be called the fence jumpers and what that means is they sit on the fence post and if you have a majority of Cs, they’ll go to the Cs, they’ll get behind the vision of the C. If you have A-players, they’ll get behind the vision of the A. So the idea is that you want more A-players then C’s because they will kind of gravitate towards whoever has the strongest vision.

Typically, they’re not the ones coming up with the vision. They tend to get behind the vision. They come to work, and they have great attitudes. I do find them getting really excited about the weekend. They’re the ones who love Fridays, you know? But they need encouragement. They need guidance and produce what’s asked of them them. Again, they make up the majority.

The A-players are the ones this rare few who kind of go above and beyond. They’re probably doing side gigs on their own. They come up with their own ideas. They’ll offer to implement them themselves, and kind of want to kind of push the boundaries a little bit. They far exceed their goals. You give them a target they either hit it really quickly, or they go beyond it.

So, again the conversation isn’t around this majority of great people or good people if you will, the conversation is more around these few outliers, how can we leverage them and pull out more greatness out of them rather than stifle them and trying to put them in a box to fit into this 80%.

Why so many high performing employees leave [15:57]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: You opened your salon in 2009.

Amanda Olusanya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I believe you have said to me that you were a top performer as well. You were one of those A-players. What could your former boss have done to keep you from becoming a competitor?

Amanda Olusanya: Well, I’m not going to write about this if this isn’t just personal to me, right?!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah!

Amanda Olusanya: Yes, I think again, speaking to a lot of salon owners, I think that a lot of them fall into this category as well where they just couldn’t find their own way, so they went out and started their own way because they have their own vision on things. But, yes this subject is very personal for me. I loved my job. I loved my coworkers where I started. I picked that salon, I handpicked it, and I was full force going to get a job at this salon. I admire my boss. To this day, we still get dinner often. He’s one of the most amazing humans, but I did leave.

I started, and I ended up opening my own three blocks away and in fairness, I didn’t do it nastily because again we’re still friends. I ended up moving to Miami because I thought there was more opportunity there. FYI there wasn’t. There was not more opportunity in Miami.

Killian Vigna: You learned.

Amanda Olusanya: But I left for lack of opportunity. Yeah, side note.

But I did leave for lack of opportunity, and really that’s what all it was about and again, through this research and having this original opinion and putting some ideas together, the number one reason that A-players leave is opportunity or lack thereof, I guess. They’ve hit a ceiling. If you don’t have opportunity for them, let them create it. If you don’t have a training program, let them help write it. Create a win-win and again don’t tell them, “No, we don’t have a training program, so there’s nothing we can do about it.” That will drive an A-player kind of crazy.

The other thing about A-players, they absolutely want to be around other A-players, and they thrive in elite environments. They’re really motivated by vision as I mentioned earlier. One thing that owners don’t think about is offering equity. If you have a great employee, I know people might be like, “Equity, I’m not going to give my company away,” but let’s think about this for a second. So, you have a really great employee, they’re a top producer, you don’t want to lose them, and let’s say they could buy into your vision for let’s say, I don’t know $10,000 and offer them 5% equity, or even 1%, but why not? You have a huge advocate behind you for your business now. You don’t have a competitor, and again, we see them in a lot of startups because they want to work for equity.

A couple of other things that they shine in is recognition. It’s not kind of this facaded recognition; it’s they don’t need big rewards and a lot of attention. What they’re really looking for is to be thanked for how much that they do. If they’re pulling a lot of the weight and they’re doing bigger numbers than anybody else, they should be recognised. Here’s the other key though, they only want to be recognised from other A-players, people on their even playing field, or someone above them whom they respect.

I would suggest them, one thing that goes really far with them is to take them to dinner and just thank them for what they do. Again, often overlooked. A couple of other things is number one, goals; they’re usually very goal-oriented. But here’s the key with owners. Sometimes we want to control how they get to the goal, and with A-players you just got to give them a target and let them hit it and give them clout here. Give them space to grow into how they want to get there.

The last thing is to listen. Often they have really good ideas, and if you dismiss them, they’ll usually become very defiant, and this is where we often see A-players feel really frustrated and leave. It doesn’t mean feed their ego, again back to the original question about ego. It just means talking to them equally, on an equal playing field. Again, they’re not an average 80, so don’t treat them like an average 80.

One personal story for this for me… I was about two, two and a half years old and I told my mom… I just didn’t really feel like going to daycare today, so I was going to just stay home and watch myself. My mom was like, “Oh god.” She knew who I was, and she parented to me really well and didn’t stifle that in me. She said, she was running late, and was going, “Oh God, she’s got to go to daycare, she’s two and a half!” She just sat down on the bed with me and said, “You know, I know you can probably watch yourself, but could you go to daycare for me?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure, mom, I’ll go to daycare for you.”

In my mind, I could take care of myself. If she told me that I couldn’t, I would’ve become defiant. So it’s just thinking about again not stifling them into this box that we have created as what we call teamwork, and everybody’s got to fit this 80%.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s insane. At two and a half, I can’t believe that!

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah, I was often ahead of myself!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, well, your mother reacted brilliantly.

Amanda Olusanya: And it hasn’t changed.

Killian Vigna: Listen, offer recognition, provide opportunity, set some rules, give some goals, it’s all there, yeah.

Amanda Olusanya: Yup, exactly. 

The ideal salon team distribution of A, B & C-players [21:12]

Killian Vigna: So, if you’re building a team you said that your A-players are your 20%. Is this usually what a team would consist of? 20% A-players? Or would your ideal team be all A-players? Is there any healthy mix that you can have within your team of A, well I was going to say A, B’s, and C’s but I think you just drew the line under B’s there. Cs are gone, they’re cut.

Amanda Olusanya: Yup! C’s zero percent. You are correct. B’s are about, I would say in smaller companies sometimes it’s harder to attract A-players, and so sometimes we’ll see companies have 10% but I would say healthy is 20 and if you’re really thriving about 30% and yeah, which puts B-players anywhere from 70 to 80 would be the healthy amount. Again, we’re not trying to make every single person an A-player. We’re just trying to take the A-players and let them run so that we don’t lose them.

Killian Vigna: So is there, I know you’re saying okay, so you don’t want to make everyone kind of the A-players, but you were saying it can also be hard to attract A-players to your team if you’re small-

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Can A-players kind of convert B-players into A-players as well or you’ve funnelled yourself essentially?

Amanda Olusanya: Yes. So B-players are often… Yes. The answer is yes. They can come into A-player. They can definitely do that through the right coaching and letting them shine and giving them that little bit of boost so that they can… Maybe they have been stifled throughout their life or weren’t parented, and they were downplayed a lot. So, maybe, but the idea is that most people are sitting where they’re at. One exception to this, actually it’s kind of ironic, but sometimes C-players can actually become A-players, but usually, they have to switch roles. 

For example, if they completely switch roles and again, in hair, this is a little bit harder, but working with my business coach, he said that he has seen people move from C to A, but they have to be in a completely different role. The reason they became a C-player is because they had this really defiant bad attitude and they weren’t producing because they just weren’t in the right role. So, if they are a C-player in one role, you move them into another role, they’re still a C-player then there’s just no hope, right.

But if they’re B-player, yes they can move into A-player, but usually, A-players have a natural drive to them. Usually what’s happening is people have A-players and try to bring them down to B-players, and they try to bring their B-players up to A-players. They just kind of are who they are though, I guess is my answer, if you will. But yes, I would say about 10% can move.

Killian Vigna: Some people you can only just sit and admire, just watch them.

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah.

The impact of this team building strategy on Allen Ray Salon’s figures [24:00]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So working with your coach and building your team this way, have you seen an impact on your margins or your numbers?

Amanda Olusanya: Oh yeah, absolutely! It’s like of course, you see that when you have a top producer come in you absolutely see the margins. More importantly though, you see them when they leave. That’s where you really see the margins effected. I have had experiences on both sides here. I am not immune to having my A-players leave. I’ve had top producers that have amazed me, and I’ve also lost top producers, not following some of my own ideas. Just because I’ve been a salon owner, a hairdresser who’s owned a salon for ten years doesn’t mean I’ve always been a great salon owner if that makes sense.

When I first opened, I didn’t have a lot of this sense. I didn’t really think about it this way. The only way I thought about it was just how I reacted to it. But the number one reason that I have lost people is lack of opportunity and lack of vision. They just simply hit a ceiling, and they couldn’t maybe see where they were going. I actually have a second salon now, and I’m building it, and it’s a little bit bigger. I’m finding it’s easier to apply this when my salon is a little bit bigger because there is a little bit more opportunity for them.

I’ve moved people into education. I’ve moved people into management. I’ve been really clear on my vision the second time around. I’ve been really clear on having this vision and getting them onboard and being really transparent. I’m finding that they become my advocates a lot quicker. Again, actually one of my strengths in StrengthsFinder is individualistic, which is the idea that I see people as individuals to create this team.

So I think again, this is very personal for me, but I have seen it played out in a different way. Even just becoming a little bit bigger allows me more opportunity and allows other people for growth as well.

Killian Vigna: The interesting thing about the StrengthsFinder is not only people usually say, “Oh you have to work your weaknesses to bring them all up,” but actually, you should focus on your strengths, and that is what you’re doing there. This whole blog is just focused right around that one strength you have.

Hiring new staff: using different messages for A & B-players [26:16]

Killian Vigna: So, you were saying that you’re setting up another salon. I was going to say what does a typical ad copy look like for you when you’re looking for new talent, but there probably is no typical one because you like to split the ratio of your team. What sort of traits would you be looking for, skill set aside, if we’re just focused on the traits of a new hire here?

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah, well great question. To the ad copy element, I actually sometimes I’ll run two side by side, and it depends what I’m looking for. So, for example, If I’m looking for more of an A-player, I will use different language, and that’s what it really comes down to is the language that you’re putting out. Again, what you put out is what you get back.

So I think you guys are attaching the ad copy here, so the simplest way to address this question is just use a different language. If you want to attract an A-player, create an ad that the tagline is, how much money you can make, or some reward if you will. Put in there how highly rated you are in Google or awards you won, basically highlight your salon… that you’re a winning salon. Address things like advancement; put a really clear vision of where you’re going and state the opportunities.

So this allows people to kind of get on board with it. Now, if you want to address the 80%, which we do, again, most companies are built around a lot of those, and it’s not bad. You want to use verbiage like community or team, together, flexibility, we’re a family, things like that. That’s going to attract just a different type and what’s interesting is who responds to what. So if you put these ad copies side by side, it’s interesting to see what you get back and which one they’re responding to.

So, I just want to be clear here; there is no right or wrong. I’m just trying to start the conversation around these outliers that can really help make your company grow, and you’re not losing these top players to the chair rentals or opening their own or becoming advocates or leaving for a bigger opportunity.

Learning to embrace outliers [28:20]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So I’m sure this will get people thinking, heads spinning and maybe even just looking at how they hire… If people listening to this episode could only take away one thing, what would you hope that would be?

Amanda Olusanya: Well, I guess not to treat everyone the same. Everyone has individual talents, and they shine the brightest when they get to utilise their strengths. Find those Michael Jordans and help coach them to their personal greatness. To me, it’s all about personal greatness. If you decide for everyone whom you want them to be, you’re going to stifle their performance and average out your top performers. You’re going to take your top guys and bring them back to average. So, my advice is to find your Michael Jordans and let them run. There’s a lot of great people out there who are often pushed down into the average few, and people don’t embrace the outliers.

Killian Vigna: Stop trying to put people into a box!

Amanda Olusanya: Exactly, yeah.

Killian Vigna: I think what you just said there is hitting the nail on the head of what this whole episode is. Find your Michael Jordan, be the Phil Jackson, is actually [crosstalk 00:29:24].

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah, Phil Jackson.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Well, his legacy speaks for him anyways. 

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Amanda Olusanya: He was such a great coach. He really allowed people to be who they are, and I just admire that. I actually just watched a documentary on greatness as well, and it talked about some of the greatest athletes, and a lot of them said that they there’s this thing in sports they call it combine I think.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Amanda Olusanya: Where they go in, and they kind of measure everybody and they say that this is what’s going to make somebody win. If they have all these skill sets, they’re going to be the next Michael Jordan or the next person. But even looking at Michael Jordan for example, he wasn’t the tallest, he wasn’t the strongest, he wasn’t anything. Same with Wayne Gretzky, same with, there was a soccer player they highlighted in the documentary where he had one knee going one way, and the other knee was going the other way. On paper, he shouldn’t have been able to run.

He became one of the biggest soccer players because what happens is when someone has heart, they kind of defy the odds and they start using their disadvantages to advantages. A great boxer had short arms, or there’s a lot of things that we can’t control in a sense, you know what I mean — saying that this is the way that it should be. I think if people can just allow things to happen naturally. Van Council, everybody on this podcast probably knows who he is, but one of this opening lines from a class I took from him was, “If you want to grow, let it go.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Very stoic.

Amanda Olusanya: Right. So if you want to grow, let it go. Yeah, and you can’t just define what should be because that doesn’t create outliers. And outliers are a beautiful thing. I think people are really afraid of them because they can’t control it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s very possible, yeah!

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah. There are three things that every employee looks for in a job that keeps them satisfied, and this is kind of across the board. One is mastery, which is education. One is autonomy, just letting them give them the education and let them run with it. And then purpose, which is also the one that’s vision. Create a really clear, purposeful vision, and people will stand behind you.

Killian Vigna: There’s a lot to be said where people kind of give out about having targets and KPIs but they do give you purpose because if you’re hitting those… that’s your field to hit those targets, to exceed those KPIs, so it does give you that sense of achievement. If you are kind of the C-players then obviously you’re always going to give out about them, but you’re never going to want to do it. But the A player will exceed those expectations.

Amanda Olusanya: Yeah. One thing I want to make clear too that I feel like I might get a kickback on is people talking about maybe like I’m just letting these people run free. Run wild, and there are no rules for the top. I don’t think that’s the idea. In my business, I have what I call non-negotiables. There are parameters that you can’t go past, and one of them is just respect. You can’t disrespect me or your other coworkers, honesty, and don’t be late. I really hate late people.

So, don’t be late, but respect and honesty. I think you can still allow people to flourish by being respectful and things like that. Again, sometimes we see the disrespect coming from people trying to fight for something that they don’t naturally have. So, these are my ideas!

Killian Vigna: Well, that’s great, Amanda. Listen, thanks so much for joining us on the show today. It’s been a really interesting one, and I’m going to go upstairs now and join my team of stars back in the education department.

Amanda Olusanya: That’s perfect.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Thank you so much for joining us on the show today.

Amanda Olusanya: Thank you, guys! I really appreciate it.

Inside Phorest: reflections, upcoming events & final words [33:09]

Killian Vigna: So that was Amanda Olusanya from Allen Ray Salon discussing her blog “Don’t Build Teams, Build Stars.” Really interesting. It’s a good way to kind of figure out your A, B’s and C-players, let go of your C-players first off and then have a healthy mix of kind of that 20, 80% ratio then between the rest. Now to move one, I think we started this episode talking about education, so let’s kick off the second half of our show.

The first bit we have is Phorest Academy. We’ve already mentioned this a few times. We’ve announced early access to Phorest Academy, your one-stop education shop. So what is it? It’s an online learning portal full of fun, interactive, and bite-sized, self-taught training courses covering every area of your Phorest system, which you would’ve heard Zoe talking about at the start of the show. What can you expect to get in your Phorest Academy?

You can get interactive online and on-demand training for Phorest products. You can learn on the go with our mobile app. You have access to a library of regularly added and updated courses. We have three up there at the moment, three big courses and we’re adding more each month. Then we have interactive Phorest systems. So for anyone new to your salon, and you don’t want them playing around with your Phorest system, get them onboard to Phorest Academy and then they can use our demo systems online.

Most importantly, everyone gets Phorest Academy accredited. So you can get your certificate each time you complete a course. So, send us an email because this is for clients only. You can email and just say Phorest Academy.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Perfect, we’ll get you set up for that. If you’re looking for a management course and you’re not a Phorest client, we have a six-week program; it’s free, and it’s hosted by business strategist Valerie Delforge. She’s designed this whole course to help develop your managerial and leadership skills. So each week you’ll receive an hour-long presentation by email that you can watch in your own time. You’ll also receive a workbook that will help you put those new ideas and plans into place.

Finally, whether you’re a Phorest client or not, and whatever you’re struggling with in the salon, if you want to have a chat about it with someone who can help you see the challenge from a new perspective, we have what’s called The Salon Mentorship Hub, which is a place to connect with industry mentors. So you can head over to where you can book yourself in for a free 15 to 30-minute consultation on a topic of your choosing. The latest mentor to join the hub is Australia based speaker, leadership and business specialist Kim Krey. She has 34 years of experience in the industry. She has a wealth of knowledge. She’s managed salons at all levels from single sites to national chains, and she has taken three of her own businesses from startup to successful award-winning salons. She also has a reputation for getting serious results and having a lot of fun along the way.

So to book your free consultation with Kim, or with any other mentor, head over to

And well that’s all we’ve got for this week guys. So as always, if you want to share your thoughts on this episode or have any suggestions, send us an email at or leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We genuinely love feedback and are always looking for ways to improve the show.

Otherwise, have a wonderful week, and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Related links

Amanda Olusanya: Don’t Build Teams, Build Individuals

Click to download both the 80% and 20% Ad Copy

Register for the 6-Week Salon Management Course hosted by Business Strategist Valerie Delforge

Book a free 15-30 minute consultation on The Salon Mentorship Hub 


This episode was edited and mixed by Audio Z: Great music makes great moments. Montreal’s cutting-edge post-production studio for creative minds looking to have their vision professionally produced and mixed. Tune in every Monday for a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, roundups of our most recent salon owners marketing tips & tricks, all the latest in and around Phorest and what upcoming webinars or events you can join.

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