Listen For the Whisper-The Wisdom of Frank Warner

You need to listen for the whisper,” says Frank Warner from Frank Anthony Salon in Chester,  New Jersey. Frank has survived tough times in the beauty business and has sincere wisdom to share. My interview with Frank was profound for me in many ways. First he tells a story about how he was greatly impacted by my father. Second he discusses his love of marketing. Thirdly, and maybe the most important, is what he calls “the whisper.” Personally I call this “an inkling.” Frank’s Whispers and my Inklings, are born of the same sound, a quiet sound, a subtle voice that tells you what is next..


Listening closely to your inner voice can make all the difference in the world. Frank mentions how listening to the whispers has put him in the right place, in the right situation to hear the right information at the right time. He has a morning ritual that sets him up to hear “the whispers.” His ritual, is prayer. Frank has his ear attuned to the quiet voices and it has served him and his staff well.

The Frank Anthony Salon walks the talk. Frank says “the way” is to serve. He tells me about a series events that declare service, kindness and concern. These events include: free haircuts for veterans on Veterans Day, Divas for a Day for cancer patients, hiring disabled employees, declaring kindness to clients and staff. You don't hear about people using a spiritual pursuit to enhance their business. But as there are so many potential moral pitfalls in business, I think it makes a lot of sense. After 49 years in the beauty industry this method has served Frank well.


Other passions and motivations include marketing. He follows the concepts for Jay Conrad Levinson the writer of the book Guerrilla Marketing. Awarded multiple honors for his in salon programs, now he has launched smart and manageable online strategy as well. Kindness and serving from the art, he explains, is really his overarching motivation.

It occurs to me that kindness can be used as a marketing strategy. Isn't it the true intent of great customer service? But Frank isn’t just being kind  to make money, he is sincere in this pursuit. Caring and kindness pervades his entire salon operation.

He mentions my father, Jerry Gordon’s kindness, when he came before the Intercoiffure board for his initial interview for entry to the esteemed organization. Going before the Membership Committee of IC is a nerve racking experience. I have been there. What does Frank remember about the experience: my father’s interest and comments about his internal marketing programs.

I was aware Frank knew my father, but I had no idea of the connection between them or the profound impact Jerry had on Frank. Please listen to the podcast to hear more about Jerry, Vidal Sassoon and many more who influenced Frank.

Listening to the Whisper is sound advice. Whether your deciding which education event to attend, how to deal with clients, staff and which marketing should be used, the whisper can inform, direct and more.  Although Frank’s whisper comes from prayer, I know mine comes from my intuition, my gut feelings. If your listening, you too will hear the whisper, the inkling. Be like Frank, listen for the quiet voice and then take action.

Tony Gordon

Life Cycle of a Reluctant Client

The Reluctant Client

My freind Reid is a classic and yet reluctant client. She is the type who doesn't want to commit to doing her hair regularly. “it is too expensive, too time consuming.”  But the salon environment offers so many more benefits for her, the friendship, camaraderie, the calmness, the rejuvenation, the downtime from the daily grind, release from the psychosis of life, of family, divorce, drug addiction and more. Reid doesn't just come to the salon for hair, she comes for solace.


Reid like so many others wants the results of coming to the salon but not the commitment. At least that is how she intellectualizes the experience. “I hate it.” I didn’t go to salons for years she says, I was young and I let my hair go wild. This is when she was young with three young children a deadbeat husband and a nagging pain that wouldn’t go away. The pain was in her right frontal lobe. It was above the right eye and was always felt when she considered divorce. Divorce was an anathema,  a subject never to be. Now an expert, Reid runs a podcast supporting men in their time of divorce. Reid recognizes the pain as the relationship that should have never been. Is the girly salon she goes to a reaction to it all?

My sister Liz is the same, a reluctant client: too expensive, too time consuming. But being one of five generations of hair stylists-how is this even possible? Granted that she is the black sheep, the only one to not go into hair design as a career. Removed from that salon dominance, Liz is a reluctant client. She would rather be spending her time doing one thousand other things. But Liz too finds herself in need of the salon environment. This isn't just for her hair, it is her familial interactions. She lives in California and waits to get her hair done. She wants that family interaction, so she waits.  Flies into Chicago every 4 months to get her hair done spend time with her stylists; her sister in law or brother. She switches back and forth depending on conversations she needs to have.

While Liz is in the salon, she interacts with the other humans. She meets one that speaks Italian, another tells her a story of how the salon comes to her house to take care of a daughter who cant and wont leave the house.


Modern life has this potential. It is the potential to never leave the house, to become a hermit. Can’t Amazon deliver everything, bank deposits made over the cell phone, even when going from place to place you can hermetically sealed yourself in the car. The opportunity for a solo life is very real, but is this really what humans crave? When confronted with too much technology we use it to create Facebook, with the promise of social interaction. But social media  fails to deliver and just estraines us further from each other.

My future prediction is that places like salons become the go to for real social interactions. Sure you get your hair done, but also you get that mandatory dose of humanity.


Reid will tell you she goes to the salon to get her hair done and Liz will say the same, but too costly, too time consuming; it may be too costly and time consuming not to go. My theory is that human needs drive us to human interaction. The salon is one of the few places left where that can occur.


Tony Gordon

The Upside of Salon Drama

The Upside of Salon Drama 5.28.18

If you are one of those people who say they hate salon drama,  consider my thinking for a moment. Drama is a mixed bag of good and bad, yin and yang. There can be good drama, like when your ex shows up at a party but you are looking really good. Or bad drama, like excessive tweeting.  I find that dramatic people can have some real positives. They are often good at sales. Sometimes dramatic people will bring light to an issue that everyone else hasn’t thought of yet, but it really is an issue. Personally, I get bored easily,  so drama can be quite entertaining!

When I say drama can be amusing, I mean drama lite, it is like Bud Lite, less filling tastes great. I can't help but quietly giggle when someone is overly perturbed at what other people are eating in the breakroom. “Your going to eat that?!” I hear that in the Gordon Salon break room. Or when two employees roll their eyes at a third, after a conversation about some decade long recurring problem. The nature of drama is that it can be interesting. It is what Hollywood is built on. It can get you to high places, consider how Hollywood and the media helped the current President. The opposite of “No Drama Obama,” in every way but it worked. You may feel you want to stop the Twitter train, but others may love it.

Do you work in a salon where the attention seeker can be heard across the whole room? So everyone can hear about their puking dog, their disastrous dates, every personal family illness, political perspective,  etc. Now think about the upside: you don’t have to speak, because they are doing it for you. You won’t have to deal with this client in your chair again because they won’t be back. The salon can save on electricity because the music system can be turned off because you can't hear it anyways.

Consider that some dramatic people are the first to bring up an issue. Now these are the issues no one else was thinking about,  but now the entire staff is thinking about. The Drama Queen (DQ) asks, do you believe the way so & so says, please and thank you? Made up issue, not an issue, but now some of the  none thinking pets of the DQ are now in agreement that it is an issue. Some real issues that are common complaints in salons are always the temperature of the room and the music. Inevitably there is someone in a halter top complaining it’s to cold in here, and then someone in multi layers saying its too hot. The music is always wrong, and that person is always making a big to-do about the music! Oh, wait,  that’s me! I am a DQ about the music, I am never happy, or if I am, it never lasts past one song.


So where’s the upside? The dramatist may be just someone who is more sensitive than others, like a canary in a coal mine. Now I know this may drive you crazy leaders and managers, but you have to advise the self appointed king to come to you first with all issues. I love  comments like, “The girl who started today, she is not going to work out!” It is important to consider that your resident, know it all, could be right. The new girl might not be right for the culture of the salon, but then again are we prejudging? I like to dig into their thinking and bring the DQ back into objectivity. That is never easy for a true DQ. The new girl gets 30 days of rope to climb up to the next level with or to hang herself with. The dramatist could be right of course, but if she convinces everyone to hate the new girl before she can correct her outfits, the new girl quits, and now you have no one to sweep and boss around.


Some DQs, are good at sales. They are very entertaining even while pissing people off. Often they are to scared to stop talking, they must fill all communication voids. Mass talking can often result in a sale of more services and more products. This may be the only true good of a classic DQ. Of course there are attention seekers who don’t sell anything, because they are to busy talking about who has been thrown off the island and are way to excited about that fiction. Those people don’t belong in your business. You want to get those people a new job at your closest competitor. “Poison from within.” as my father use to say.

Salon drama has its upsides. Consider a very expressive hairstyle that gets everyone's attention. That is drama too, but correctly channeled.  Or when a staff member gets big raves for normal behavior, they are more likely to repeat it. Or the client that sings your praises for a simple service on YELP or other social media. And isn’t that part of the point, that social media rewards the dramatic. Welcome to the world we live in.  Just think if you are dramatic enough, maybe you too can be President someday.


Salons are Great

I was on my way to the salon the other day and I was thinking how much I love the salon environment. Salons are a lot of fun to work in. With only a few exceptions people are very happy. The work, the craft, is wonderful and challenging. The people are helpful and uplifting. The clients are so grateful, it is like a love fest. If all that isnt enough, people then hand you money. It is kind of like ice cream on an already amazing cake.

I get why all of my relatives stayed in this business. I am a fourth generation hair designer and although I am not on the floor everyday like I use to be, I still love coming into the salon. I talk to the staff and clients, people are kind and cheerie. Don’t get me wrong, things can go south in a salon awfully fast, but most of the time, everyone is very pleasant. Spirits are lifted and everything is smooth sailing, but when a color goes wrong or a customer service mishap occurs people team up to fix the issue. Good salons are like that.

There is something about cosmetology too. The work is creative, its done with your hands, it makes people look and feel great. But it is something more. It is the coloring, the design that still intrigues me, makes me want to master it, control it. Hair design is a compelling and motivational thing for me. Fashion changes constantly so it is never dull. I love to see what happens in the salon all day and I love to tell other stylists how much I like the work they create. I make a point to tell people, “excellent graduated bob” “awesome color.” It isn't that I just want to encourage the person, sure I do, but it is more than that, i really appreciate the shapes, the colors, the craft, the craft of it all.

And it just blows me away how working in a salon environment, how uplifting and supportive co workers and salon people can be. I think you get very intuitive and empathetic in this industry. Your working with the public and people are going thru a lot, good and bad. It is fascinating how your sense of perception rises the longer you are behind the chair. When you can interpret the type of haircut someone wants by watching their hands, or you just know someone has a health issue by observing something unusual on their scalp that a doctor would have missed.

Of course you make money. There are so many ways to get paid, but overall, everyone can make a living and in some cases much more. The opportunities, just don’t stop, there is always change, and creative people thrive in that environment. Creativity comes the more you create things, like cute cuts, cool colors and more. It is joyful to work in salons.

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