ZIGGING & ZAGGING Toward ERGO
Through life, people acquire different skills and areas of knowledge. Some of these are gained out of practicality, some by necessity, and others simply for amusement. Over time, some of these skills and areas of knowledge appear more useful than others, and many seem useful only in specific circumstances. But, it’s not always best to judge what you’re capable of at face value.
In the 1970’s, Robert Reed was a disc jockey for the rock radio station KNAC. “I learned about a salon where I could get a rock and roll haircut and all the wine I could drink,” said Robert in an interview with élite Magazine, “The results were fantastic, and as a starving disc jockey, I needed a salon where I could trade my production services and my voice for free haircuts.” One day while attending a hair show, Robert was approached by Jheri Redding, a hair care industry legend. “I like the way you handle yourself,” said Jheri, “you should work for me.” Robert did, and after years of working at different jobs in the industry, Robert created the company that would make him a hair care legend himself.
In August, 1994, after years of noticing that hand injuries were an all too common problem for hair stylists, Robert Reed founded ERGO Research, a Valencia based company, centered on ergonomics. Ergonomics is the study of physical movement in the workplace, with the goal of creating a safer and more efficient work environment. ERGO has created a number of styling tools over the years, such as brushes, irons and dryers, always keeping ergonomics in mind. In keeping with their focus on hairdressers and support for salons, ERGO sells their styling tools exclusively through salons and advanced academies.
However, improperly designed tools isn’t the only reason for hand injuries among stylists—improper knowledge of how to use these tools is also common. To solve this side of the problem, ERGO created the education program the “Art of the Blow Dry,” which shows hairdressers how to more efficiently and effectively blow dry their customers’ hair. A second program, “Art of the Big Finish,” has recently been introduced as well. This success, however, was not achieved by chance.
“You pick up new abilities, and put them into your ability bank,” Robert said, discussing how he went from being a starving artist to the founder of an influential business in an industry he had originally no plans on working in. He did so by employing what he calls zig-zagging. First you zig—picking up skills and knowledge in a particular field or position. Then you zag—using what you’ve gained in a separate field. This can lead toward unique, yet effective, solutions to problems that may otherwise seem impossible.
In many ways, moving through life is like climbing a tree. There are many branching paths, and ultimately, some of these branches will allow you to climb higher than others. But where some see set paths with irreversible outcomes, others, such as Robert Reed, see countless opportunities to jump from branch to branch, and even from tree to tree.
photo by Joie de Vivre photographie