Lessons I Learned Behind a Hairstyling Chair

In 1971, Werner Erhard, who founded the EST training, was sitting in my hairstyling chair. I asked him what business he was in. “The motivation business,” he said. (At that point, he was still motivating people to go out and sell encyclopedias.)

A few months later, again while I was cutting his hair, he told me that he had just attended a course called Mind Dynamics. He had found it so exciting that he was learning how to teach it.

It sounded too good to be true…but I agreed to attend his first seminar. His bottom-line message was so simple: “You are responsible for your life.”

I’d been raised to believe this, but he pushed the idea from the back of my mind to the front so I would act on it. At the time, I had no idea that one day I’d be speaking for a living, and that I’d be passing Werner’s message along to my own audiences in my own words.

What did Werner do that we can all learn from?

1. Werner was a showman.

When Werner Erhard as at the height of his fame, I was cutting the hair of one of his life long friends, a man in show business. “Was Werner ever in show business?” I asked. I’ve never forgotten his reply: “No, Werner never was, and, yes, Werner always has been.” Show business may be the answer to getting your message across.

2. Werner made himself an object of interest to others.

He built his EST business success by getting many people to talk about him and their experiences at his seminars.

3. He trained others to teach his message.

He created a mini-empire, teaching basic, simple truths that made a difference in people’s lives and that others could pass on. He staffed his organization with excited, dedicated people who believe in what they were doing. (Of course, he didn’t pay them very much. I know, because I recruited several of his former employees. Anyone who had worked for EST found it easy to work for Fripp!)