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15 Years of Monday Morning Wake-Up’s … Time for a Change


Before I share the change, it’s important that I take you on a little trip down memory lane.

I started Strategies on September 13, 1993. I was 43 and a life-long crusader to bring much needed best business practices to the salon/spa industry.

Booth rental was on the rise, commission rates were insanely high, business disciplines were far from adequate, and financial literacy was like the Greek alphabet.

I began writing the first issue of Strategies Magazine in late 1993 and published the first issue in January 1994. We published Strategies Magazine for 14 years — a total of 168 issues. With the rise of the internet, we needed to go to a digital platform. The December 2007 issue was the last. Those 14 years of Strategies Magazine set the standard for best business practices in the industry.

The first Monday Morning Wake-Up email and blog post was January 18, 2008. I wrote them every week for 15 years — except for June and July 2017 — when I was in the hospital and recuperating from being hit by a distracted driver while on a training ride on my bike. I have a plate in my left hip as a souvenir.

After returning to the office that August, it took me a while to figure out why my team was extra happy to see me back. They didn’t have to write anymore Monday Morning Wake-Ups.

There are over 800 massively relevant Monday Morning Wake-Ups on the Strategies blog … all searchable by key word.

I wrote four books:

•  Fast Forward Salon/Spa Business Resource … First Edition published in 2000.

•  No-Compromise Leadership … Published in 2009 and winner of the 2010 IPPY Award for Business/Leadership.

•  Wake-Up! … Published in 2012

•  Fast Forward Second Edition … Published in 2013.

HEADS UP: I have a new book coming out in mid 2023 titled, Here’s My Challenge to You. It contains over 150 business and leadership challenges that will push you to reach your full potential. Watch for launch details.

I always prided myself on consistently delivering a no-nonsense approach to business operations, financial controls, and leadership. Very early on, I called it “no-compromise leadership” and “NO COMPROMISE” became Strategies coaching and training battle cry.

Our very first Incubator seminar took place in Spring 1994 and quickly became recognized as Strategies flagship seminar. Although many saw Incubator as a “Team-Based Pay” seminar, it was far beyond just “how to pay.”

Incubator was, and always will be, about the Strategies Team-Based Business Model, encompassing the essential disciplines of leadership, financial literacy … with a heavy focus on cash-flow planning, the drivers of key critical numbers, operational systems, pricing services for profit, and finally, how to convert to and grow on Team-Based Pay.

Incubator was never just about “the pay.” It was always about mastering business disciplines and no-compromise leadership.

In 2012, I started one of my most important projects — to build our own proprietary cloud-based coaching portal. The goal was to have one online platform that would contain all individual client coaching data, spreadsheets, projects, coach notes and more. We called our portal the Command Center and launched CC1.0 in late 2013.

As with any custom build, you figure out what works and gradually build a wish list of new features and capabilities. So, in 2016, I began working with our developers to build CC2.0. When CC2.0 launched in mid 2017, it was a serious upgrade. But a new wish list quickly grew.

Development of our 3rd Command Center began in Spring 2021. Our goal is to bring new functionality and features using the latest technology available. We plan to begin beta testing Command Center 3.0 in February … with a full roll-out the end of first quarter 2023. Our coaching clients are going to be blown away.

New Command Center 3.0 features will include:

•  All new client Dashboard … everything on one screen including customizable charts (pulled from Scoreboards and Critical Numbers) so you can see your company’s performance at a glance.

•  Update Daily Scoreboards from the Dashboard page … no need to open Scoreboard spreadsheet.

•  All new integrated data forms: No more entering data multiple times on different forms. YAY!!

•  Redesigned resources page called “The Warehouse”: We’re making it easy to search and find the resource you’re looking for.

•  And so much more…

Over these past almost 30 years, Strategies grew into an amazing company … with an amazing team committed to changing the lives of those we coach and train.

As much as I envision myself as a writer, teacher, and coach, I am a business owner and entrepreneur. More importantly, I have always tried to practice what I preach — to build a company that can endure long after my watch ends.

This brings my story back to my bike accident of June 7, 2017 where, had the driver been going just a little faster, and my reaction a fraction of second slower, I wouldn’t be here.

During the months of recuperation, I had time to contemplate the future and what could have happened to the employees and clients that depend on Strategies. I’m proud to say that Strategies didn’t skip a beat during my absence. 

That’s when, in 2017, I decided to begin transitioning the leadership of Strategies to my team. I stopped leading and teaching seminars and limited my public speaking to Strategies annual conference, and a few select events.

I’ll be 73 on February 2, 2023. I’ve been working from home since COVID in early 2020. By work, I mean overseeing the company, guiding the development of CC3.0, and writing the MMWU.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been semi-retired a few years now. My team runs the company. Many of our current coaching clients may know who I am but have never seen me speak. After 40+ years of traveling, teaching, speaking and coaching, I enjoy being at home with Joanne and our 15-month-old Lhasa Apso, Chewy.

I’m happy and healthy. I rode my bike over 1,000 miles this past year and look forward to riding more miles in 2023. I love my life and all that I accomplished. I’m beyond proud of the Strategies team and all the great stuff they have planned for you.

So, even though this is my last MMWU, it’s simply a passing of the torch to a most amazing, passionate, and accomplished team.

The MMWU will live on in our blog and be replaced with something new and exciting. I can’t wait to see what the team has planned to keep challenging you to build the best salons and spas ever. 

For all my readers over the years, I say, “Thank you for trusting me. I will forever remain your business champion.”

I’m not going away. I’m just taking time to enjoy more of life while continuing to mentor my team.

This January 3rd, Strategies will move into our new 8,000 square foot corporate office and Business Academy just up the road in Old Lyme, CT. You’re going to love our new space and the education experience we’re creating for you. We are all very excited.

I look forward to seeing you at our new corporate offices and at our annual conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, on October 1-2, 2023.

The best is yet to come.

Wishing you all happiness and peace this Holiday Season.

Comments (15)

Thank you Neil! You have given so much value and depth to the industry, especially in a time where excellence seems to have died. The excellence, order and just overall "right" way you do things speaks volumes. Enjoy every moment of your retirement. You've done extremely well and will be extremely missed.

Posted By: Taniel SmithJanuary 5th 2023, 10:24:00 am

Neil, Your Monday messages will definitely be missed. You subject content always allowed me to relate your messaging to my target audience.... my team. You were a tremendous support for helping us with leadership. I truly understand your stepping back.... but know you and your messaging will be truly missed. Enjoy! Regards, Priscilla

Posted By: Priscilla PriebeJanuary 1st 2023, 8:22:00 am

Congratulations Neil! What an amazing journey you have taken & changed the industry!

Posted By: Kris CarpenterDecember 28th 2022, 7:24:00 am

You have being an inspiration to me thince the first magazine I had in my hand ,and yes it took me a while to joint strategies Your wisdom and passion from you and the team you build the dedication and timeless presence you gave us is in my view The best than a salon can have as a salon owner ,we will all remenber the Covid saga and without strategies how many of us would have survived .Claire and I wish you the best in your new beginning. You rock Laurent &claire

Posted By: Didier-laurent parisDecember 27th 2022, 3:20:00 am

Congratulations! You have always been one of my favorites!

Posted By: Jill KohlerDecember 26th 2022, 11:16:00 pm

Thank you Neil! You truly are the GOAT when it comes to salon business! Keep rising that bike my friend! Love you! Shawn and Angie

Posted By: Shawn TrujilloDecember 26th 2022, 2:59:00 pm

Oh My! Papa Neil retiring at 73? I have so enjoyed my TBP training even when I took my 3rd Incubator in a beautiful visit to TX as Papa Neil said to me, " so you think your gonna get it this time?" I still learned something new and fresh. Now that 73 just hit me, do I retire or take up biking? I will miss your MMWU

Posted By: Pamela BestDecember 26th 2022, 2:51:00 pm

Omg This is unbelievable that I won’t wake up every Monday and hear what you have to say to me. You are an amazing mentor and I have enjoyed your thoughts and guidance throughout all the years. Enjoy your well deserved enjoyment of life and family. I can’t wait to see you in Scottsdale.

Posted By: Christina JonasDecember 26th 2022, 1:18:00 pm

It’s the repositioning of a new era. I will miss the Monday mornings as it was always a great reminder to stop and listen. And of course it always seemed like you were talking to me and me alone! I’m excited to see your next move!!! Thank You!

Posted By: Laurie MichelsonDecember 26th 2022, 12:30:00 pm

Wow!!! Just Wow!!! Thank you for your sharing your wisdom and knowledge with the world. You are amazing. What a legacy you’ve created!

Posted By: Risa LopezDecember 26th 2022, 12:27:00 pm


Posted By: Sydney BerryDecember 26th 2022, 12:26:00 pm

Thank you, Neil; you are a pioneer.

Posted By: Steve SmithDecember 26th 2022, 12:13:00 pm

Neil, Thank You for all you do for our industry! It's time that we call our Salons... Companies. Training programs are a must and hiring the right fit should be consistently done. Hope to see you again soon!

Posted By: Michael SpitaleDecember 26th 2022, 11:49:00 am

Thank you Neil, what a legacy!!! Sam

Posted By: Sam BrocatoDecember 26th 2022, 11:42:00 am

Thank you Neil, thank you for your leadership and to the contributions to the Industry. Since my first Incubator in 1997 it’s was one of my best decisions to be part of Strategies for our organization. Now getting past COVID shutdowns and my own personal health issues that have been overcome, I’m confident for the future that the choice to be a TB company will be the catalyst for growth and success. I coined you as “the savior of our industry” jokingly yet I believe we will find that to be true! In service, Mark Pardo

Posted By: Mark GonzalesDecember 26th 2022, 11:37:00 am