As a part of our series called ‘Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO’ we had the pleasure of interviewing Shane Price.
Shane Price is a successful Canadian entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Green Circle Salons. Since its inception in 2009, Green Circle Salons has been building a network of certified salons and providing them with a comprehensive pathway to green solutions including recycling, and the repurposing of hair for the manufacturing of oil spill booms, emergency bedding, the creation of bioplastic and other ongoing sustainable research applications. Today, with the support of over 16,000 sustainable beauty professionals, Green Circle Salons reclaims and repurposes over 1 million pounds of beauty waste every year!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Prior to launching Green Circle Salons, I received my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Shortly after college, in 2001 I began running a small company based out of Fukuoka Japan called Canadian Discoveries. Its focus was creating unique outdoor and experiential learning programs for small groups travelling from Japan to Canada. Shortly after selling the Canadian Discoveries concept and moving back to Canada, I happened to be in a salon and saw firsthand the amount of “waste” that was being generated and sent to landfill. I became curious about what was possible with all these resources; what unique opportunities we could unlock? How could we flip this challenge upside down to create a series of solutions? As salons carry out their services and beautify guests, we are destroying the beauty of our planet. And when I really thought about it, I realized that while a salon creates true beauty every single day, a salon is also WHERE A WORLD OF SUTAINABLE BEAUTY begins. I recognized that the two weren’t mutually exclusive and in fact deeply connected and decided to launch Green Circle Salons.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Just after launching Green Circle, the Gulf Oil Spill happened in 2010. At that time, we had about one thousand lbs of hair sitting at our facility in Ontario. With some fancy footwork and in collaboration with a charity in the US, we were able to ship the hair to the Gulf where volunteers created homemade adsorbent booms that were then used to pick up the oil that was washing up on the beach. It was inspiring for our Member Salons to see hair clippings being used in such a positive way.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It was less of a mistake and more of a funny experience but in the early start-up days of Green Circle, I had a pair of brown leather shoes I’d been wearing for about 5 years or so (prior to launching Green Circle). Anyway, with all the walking I was doing between salons, I eventually wore holes in the bottom of both shoes. I couldn’t afford to buy a new pair at that time as I had fully invested everything I had into the company. My girlfriend had noticed that my socks all had holes in the same peculiar place in the soles. I waited a long time to tell her about that as I was, in many ways, ashamed about it. Once I told her, we laughed about it and she was more than supportive! The lesson learned: Have the courage to believe in your “why”, and trust that “grit”, learned only through experience, perseverance, and unimaginable circumstances, will give you the confidence and wisdom you’ll lean into many times throughout your career as an entrepreneur.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
To be honest, I’d have to say that it’s my team, our community of salons, and my family that I’m most grateful for. It’s always been important to me to surround myself with brilliant and passionate people who are driven a deeper purpose beyond themselves and who are far more capable than I am in their respective disciplines. I’ve had incredible coaches, irrationally loyal employees, and a remarkably supportive family- and ALL of these people I am grateful for.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
I believe that team-diversity is the cornerstone of a future-forward world-class company. A diverse team brings a myriad of skills and perspectives to the table which results in bigger conversations, deeper insights, and broader capabilities. Nature, in fact, offers us the best model to mimic! It is ONLY because of biodiversity that all of life exists.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
Here are the five steps I believe a leader must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society:
Step 1: Focus on Innovation.
In a complex society innovation is needed to grow and adapt to changes.
Step 2: Create purpose and passion.
Without purpose and passion, you cannot ignite a movement. And without a movement, you cannot challenge the status quo.
Step 3: Want to progress and help other people to progress.
Without progress and helping others there is no way to adjust to a constantly changing environment.
Step 4: Focus on ethical standards.
Ethical standards provide stability and fairness.
Step 5: Provide unique value.
Unique value is what will set you apart or allow you to align with the competition.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
A CEO/executive takes full responsibility and ownership for the overall success of the company rather than just leading a team in a certain direction. In the words of Dan Sullivan, the CEO’s greatest responsibility is to give purpose and meaning to other people’s great skills and capabilities!
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
The biggest myth I would like to debunk is that CEO’s have all the answers. I can say wholeheartedly that I don’t have all the answers, but that I’m committed to trying, failing, getting back up and dusting my pants off, and learning every day.
Another myth I would like to dispel is that it’s all wonderful and easy. I never could have imagined the pressure or toll that leading an organization would have on my emotional bandwidth.
The last myth I would like to dispel is that CEO’s are the most important person to the success of a company. CEO’s need to galvanize the team for sure, but it’s the team as an elevated cohesive unit that is most important to success. Without my amazing employees, and support from my family, Green Circle Salons would not exist.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I suppose I thought that my work-life, being a CEO, and my home-life, being a husband and father, would require two separate and very distinct ways of being. What I’ve learned over the years, is that it’s a beautiful thing when one can marry the two. Now, I wake up in the morning, and know that whether it’s going to the office, or staying home with family, I get to show up charged and energized about the world, just as I am.
Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I believe every single person in the world is cut out to be who they want to be. Some of the most successful executives I’ve met never imagined themselves in that role. The best executives I know transform fear into focus, lead with courage, embrace failure, live vulnerably, build trust in their teams and organizations, and develop the future leaders of the organization. If you can’t commit to the above, I’d suggest a different career path.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
Following the steps below has helped me create a fantastic work culture:
- Start with clearly identifying and articulating what values are core to your company. It’s great if you can empower a team or committee to help the management achieve this. Once you think those values have been identified, make sure everyone in the company is aligned and understands what those values truly mean. Then communicate your values often. Hire, fire, and reward against those values. Use your values when faced with critical or challenging decisions. Your team will always understand if you have to make tough decisions, and used the values everyone aligned on, to make those decisions.
- Make sure everyone understands they play a role un co-own and co-creating the culture. It must be owned by all.
- Alignment around the purpose and the vision of the company is critical. Make sure everyone understands what the north star is for your organization, and what the plan is to get there.
- Make sure you’re always hiring for fit (culture alignment) and seat (right position) when bringing on talent.
- Spend as much time on the healthy side of business (people) as the smart (strategic) side.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I need to flip this a bit. We are successful BECAUSE we’re making the world a better place. We have created a groundswell, a global citizens’ movement that is reclaiming our right to clean air, water, and soil. We have developed a simple but powerful strategy to decarbonize the beauty industry. Today, with the support of over 16,000 sustainable beauty professionals, Green Circle Salons reclaims and repurposes over 1 million pounds of beauty waste from our Member Salons every year. And our Member Salons now offer salon guests the opportunity to feel great knowing their hair cut or hair colour was performed in a carbon neutral way WITHOUT contributing to Global Warming.
Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Always look for the best “Who” to do the how. This is a Dan Sullivan concept and I think it’s fundamentally important. CEO’s need to be relentless in “giving purpose and meaning to other people’s great talents and capabilities.”
- You have a unique set of capabilities, so find out early what they are, and then serve your company by freeing up your time to do what it is that you’re best suited for. Too often entrepreneurs try to be everything to everybody. While this might feed the ego and drive a sense of personal worth and value, it does not serve your company.
- Go fail at least once a day. We are constantly surrounded by the erroneous impression that the best entrepreneurs in the world are naturally gifted, innately genius, and have all the answers. The reality is that every great founder or businessperson only achieved success BECAUSE of their willingness to fail, get back up, recalibrate, and keep going.
- Spend as much time on the healthy-side, as the smart-side, of the business. Smart strategies will only get you so far. It’s your culture, your people, and your teams that truly win the day. Identify the core values of the company early, and then live and breathe them every day.
- Have fewer goals and greater alignment. Oftentimes we get wrapped up the importance of doing things for the sake of being busy. Set a few meaningful “needle-moving” goals each year, and then clearly articulate, AND align, your team to those goals. Don’t get good at doing the right thing in wrong direction!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I believe we’ve inspired this movement inside the beauty industry already. We are galvanizing our industry around clean air, water, and soil. We’ve created a groundswell with consumers, as well as salon and manufacturing brands partnering to make beauty beautiful. But as we look to the future, our goal is to build a regenerative model for our industry. To do this, we will transition away from making the beauty industry sustainable, to creating an organization that uses the wisdom of nature to enable the business model of the future; one that builds resilience and restores and regenerates the beauty ecosystem AS WELL AS our LARGER natural and social systems.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The greatest voyage of our lifetime is not the seeking of new landscapes but in the seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
My parents used to say that the sunrise was the most beautiful thing on earth, full of the promise and potential of an entirely new day. I think there is truth and power in this. If we can wake up each morning and NOT put our past (assumptions and limitations) into our present, then there is future-world fully ready to be created.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
Seth Godin. The guy is a genius and has a way of simplifying the story and distilling everything down to its most critical pieces. When I started Green Circle in 2009, I was inspired by his TED-Talk about leading a movement. He gave me hope that it was my purpose, rather than my ad budget, that could spark a transformation of the beauty industry. I now know he was right. Besides, he and I are both Camp Arowhon alumni!