When God Opens a Door
Some amazing things happened in Las Vegas last week, most of which I’ll share with you at a later date. Today I want to tell you about what I consider to be the most amazing of them all. And once again I find myself recalling my Dad’s affirmation that “God works in mysterious ways.”
If you’ve followed these pages you are aware that I’ve had the honor of making presentations for Redken from time to time. These presentations focus primarily on our “story” of change and the subsequent success that has been the result of those changes. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak about personal changes that I’ve made in regards to self-confidence, setting goals for myself, and moving forwards in life; in other words, many of the things that I share with you. Redken has also allowed me to mention my walk of faith in a discreet manner, so as not to offend anyone, which is certainly understandable. Be that as it may, there have been a few occasions when I’ve “pushed the envelope”, if you know what I mean!
When I accepted Ann Mincey’s (Redken’s V.P. of Global Communications) gracious offer to be involved as a presenter at Symposium, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to speak about my faith as much as I would like to. Ann is a very spiritual, grounded individual, and you can sense Ann’s spirituality without her ever mentioning it; she exudes it.
I feel safe in saying that the majority of those signing up for “Success to Significance” assumed going in that her class wouldn’t be about color or cuts because like me, Ann isn’t a stylist. They would be correct in their assumptions, in that our class was going to be about personal grounding practices, moving forward in life, and defining our professional edge. I was okay with all of that, but no mention of faith? My faith is such a huge part of my life… I would follow Ann’s lead, and hope that God’s light would shine through me. Still, I offered God an apology for accepting the invitation. Before you start laughing, let me explain something to you….
There is an affirmation, an intention that I say every morning. I began saying this right after my “epiphany” on November 5, 2006: I am a good Christian, and I spread the good news of what God has done for me whenever someone will listen. Every morning; without fail. And you know what? I try to live up to that affirmation at every opportunity. Oh, I knew that I would have a captive audience in Vegas, but I also knew that I had to respect the company that had allowed a little salon owner from Birmingham Alabama to appear on stage in an event that is two years in the planning. No talking about faith. I would keep my word to Annie and to the Redken nation!
When I offered my apology to God, I added “I believe that you opened the door to Symposium for a reason. I’m going to Vegas with an open mind and an open heart.”
Then God Took Over
The theme of this year’s Symposium was The Professional Edge, and it’s message centered around what salon owners and stylists need to do to find and implement their edge in their salons; in other words, finding their formula for success.
On the first night of Symposium there was a Grand Opening, which was held in the main auditorium at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. This was a huge event, attended by Symposium attendees and all of the Redken team (8,000+ people).
Curiously enough, the grand opening didn’t really focus on “the art of doing hair”. Oh, there was a segment that featured three of Redken’s top artists, but the theme was about the dedication required to be the best you can be, regardless of your walk in life. A martial artist, a guitarist, and two illusionists were the centerpieces of the program. After each performance, the audience was reminded that each of the artists had identified their professional edge and put in the years of work to be among the best in the world at their craft.
Giant overhead screens projected words that you would consider being catalysts in your personal quest for success. Looking up, I thought about the words as they appeared on the screen…..Professionalism. Dedication. Determination. Spirituality.
Wait…did I really see Spirituality? Yes, there it was, plain as day! I was a bit puzzled, as one usually associates spirituality with faith. Had there been a mind-shift at Redken? Had the powers-that-be come to realize that business and faith can actually go hand-in-hand? I drifted off to sleep that night turning that question over and over in my mind.
It was the first day of classes at Symposium. I’d been thinking about this day for months, and it had finally arrived!
Jackie and I grabbed a quick breakfast, and I headed to our classroom. I was the first to arrive, and I took a seat in the very last row to reflect on the day and to offer a few prayers for Ann, Scott Fortner, and myself. Scott is the owner of RED The Salon in Birmingham, Michigan, and like myself, was invited by Ann to tell his “story”. I asked God to bless our room and to give those in attendance spiritual eyes, ears, mind, and heart, so that they may see, hear, receive, and feel what the three of us had to offer.
Ann and Scott arrived, and we huddled together to go over last minute details.
As it was her classroom, Ann would begin the program to lay the groundwork for what we were trying to accomplish through sharing, and to set the tone for the hour and a half that lay ahead. She would tell her story of her early days with Redken, and her subsequent move from Los Angeles to New York City, the site of Redken’s corporate offices. And she would show the audience a plaque that made the cross-country trip with her; a plaque that once hung in her Grandma’s kitchen that reads “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.”
Scott would follow Ann to tell his incredible story of Riches to Rags to Richness. In a nutshell, Scott owned a salon that was unbelievably successful, survived a walk-out of 90% of his staff, and through perseverance and dogged determination, rebuilt his salon to what it once was. Wow! He would also cite his unwavering faith during his journey.
I would be the “closer”, a term used in baseball for the last pitcher in a game. I would tell our story of change, then talk about “grounding practices” that I use every day, which are aiming high, putting others first, and daily meditation.
I’m sorry this is taking so long….I’m getting to the good part, but I felt like I should “set the table” for what came next…..
With Ann’s permission, at a certain point in my presentation, I was going to ask the audience of 100+ if I could speak to them on a personal level about my faith. If anyone in attendance objected, I would just move on to the next thing.
Well, I did ask, and no one objected, so I began to tell them the story of my tattoo (see The Tattoo, posted 12/15/2008). Not only did I tell the story, but I actually took my coat off, pulled up my sleeve, and proudly showed it to them! What an exhilarating and humbling moment that was for me. Astoundingly, I was able to do the same in the remaining five classes; I guess some things are just meant to be.
I’ll close this post with a few anomalies:
In Las Vegas, Nevada, where images of casinos and money are commonplace, the focus of my presentation was putting people ahead of money.
In a small conference room, on a small stage, in “Sin City”, I was able to share with those in attendance what God has done for me.
At Symposium, on Redken’s grandest stage, where business should be the order of the day, God opened the door allowing me to make more than just a “mention” of my faith.
You were so right, Dad. God does work in mysterious ways.
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org