Michelle Zambrana|May 10, 2012

Style icon Vidal Sassoon wanted to change the world with a pair of scissors. From his humble beginnings as a shampoo boy to international success, his recent death at the age of 84 marked the end of a life propelled by innovation.

It may not be as simple as lather, rinse, repeat, but the key learnings that PR pros can take away from Vidal Sassoon’s many successes are timeless.

Lesson 1: Set realistic goals

When Vidal Sassoon opened his first salon in 1954, he said, “I gave myself five years. If I couldn’t change anything, I was out of there.” This gave him a direction and incentive to succeed.

Whether you’re dealing with a start-up client that requires all your billable time or your own personal goal to achieve CMO status by age 35, it’s important to not only set benchmarks for your success, but to also establish a realistic timeframe that you adhere to.

Lesson 2: Be versatile

Shampoo boy. TV personality. Entrepreneur. Vidal Sassoon’s passion for styling didn’t occur coincidentally, but the many hats he wore before fame were necessary stops along the way. Not every path to success is paved equally. Today’s internship is tomorrow’s full-time hire. That part-time job that pays the bills also pays for certification courses or a conference.

Moreover, as PR pros we have to keep up a diverse and ever-evolving skill set. At various times, we may be copywriters, editors, strategists and designers. No job description really ever mentions all the additional roles we make take on to make it all work. Embrace any opportunity that allows growth and enrichment; it may lead to the next big thing.

Lesson 3: Be confident in your work

When it came to his customers, Vidal Sassoon called the shots. If customers tried to touch their hair while he was working on it, he would hit them with a comb.

While that is a bit extreme, the point is that he was confident in his ability to deliver results. And, at the end of the day, Vidal Sassoon’s livelihood was based on the client’s satisfaction with their appearance after a cut, style or shampoo.

Every client that visited his salon was a walking advertisement for his work. An unhappy client meant he did not do his job. The motto Vidal Sassoon most successfully campaigned with rings true for any client-based profession: “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”


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