In my latest book, DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution, I interviewed entrepreneurs from around the world. They are the leaders of some of the most compelling global brands and companies, ranging from one to 3,000 employees, with turnovers from $100,000 to $130 million. I call them the Xceptionalists. They hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Bologna, Italy; from Des Moines, Iowa to Galway, Ireland. They run app companies, consultancies, clinics and sprawling technology corporations.
Devon Brooks transformed an ordinary idea, blow-drying hair, into a business empire through xceptional execution during an incredibly difficult time in her life. Devon was in her second year in college at the London College of Fashion, when a phone conversation with her mother sparked an idea. They noted that women needed an alternative to the significant time and money commitment involved in getting their hair blow dried regularly. Research at that time confirmed that having great hair made women feel the most confident and self-assured.
DID YOU FORESEE THE POTENTIAL?
“When I wrote the business plan, I envisioned the brand becoming the ‘Starbucks of the beauty regime’. … Within six months we were opening our first Blo Blow Dry Bar in Yaletown, Vancouver, in the midst of the recession. … One of our first cadets, the name we gave our clients, was a very well known broadcaster. She explained that …she could literally be sharing the most important breaking news story of her career and the majority of the comments the network would receive would be about her hairstyle.“
DID THE TRADITIONAL HAIR SALON WELCOME YOU TO THE MARKET?
“Despite our best efforts … had many neighboring salon owners who didn’t get it. …The funny thing was we weren’t really competition because salons used blow-drying as more of a training opportunity for juniors than a revenue stream. We ignited a market category. I’ve loved seeing new companies interpret this concept and enter the marketplace.
THE POSITIVE SIDE OF COMPETITION?
“Competition gives us choices. And consumers want their say. There is room in the blow dry bar category for all. A week after I submitted my business plan, Sir Philip Green was opening a blow dry bar in Top Shop. I thought it was extremely cool that we were on the same wavelength as him. Ideas are just ideas, what matters is execution.”
YOU’VE CONFRONTED FEAR IN YOUR LIFE?
“I will never let fear stop me from taking action. The most fearless people I know aren’t untouchable. They are those who look fear right in the eye and do what they are committed to in spite of it.”
ARE VALUES A DEAL BREAKER OR MAKER FOR YOU?
“Values are my filter. … I have never experienced regret over a values-based decision. Blo was a fantastic learning experience. It was like an MBA, an incredible high, and a vessel that allowed me to support causes I passionately believe in.
BLO BLOW DRY BAR TAKEAWAYS
• Even a solution to an age-old problem can convert into a business empire. You can blow customers away.
• Articulate a vision, and communicate it to your team.
• Your brand is your vibe. It’s how you make people feel.
• Fearlessness is not being without fear, but acting in spite of it.
• Your values are your filters, deal makers and breakers. Don’t apologize for standing by your values.
• Work and life are not separate. Write your ‘time-out’ into your master plan.
• Intuition is useless without listening and responsiveness.
Taken from Kevin Kelly’s new book “Do the pursuit of xceptional execution” Kevin is an internationally acclaimed leadership and motivational speaker and best selling author. For more information