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Your circumstances and upbringing only define you if you let them. Eric Norris experienced a variety of ups and downs as a child, from domestic abuse to a cross-country bus trip to move in with relatives after his parents divorced.

Fast-forward to today, and Eric is heading up a thriving company in the cosmetology industry. In this episode, Jimmy and Eric will discuss how to raise yourself up from failure, overcome your entrepreneurial doubts, and live out your faith in the marketplace.

Show Highlights:

  • How looking at your customers differently can transform failure into industry domination (16:18)
  • Why equality and fairness are killing your business (18:06)
  • The Jack Welch method of dealing with employees that explodes your profits (18:30)
  • This magical customer service hack helps you learn what customers really want… no matter what they tell you (20:27)
  • How to overcome the mental hurdles to entrepreneurship that keep you stuck in a quiet life of desperation (22:08)
  • These are the best people to help you get clarity when making a life-changing decision, ignore everyone else (24:55)
  • Why “burning bush” Christianity is actually pushing you farther away from God (27:00)

The best way to get in touch with Eric Norris is at NG Salon on Facebook and Instagram.

If you want to recession-proof your business and thrive in any area of life, go to www.uncommonlifepodcast.com and grab your free report today. I share with you the 5 key principles that have transformed and elevated my life – and they can do the same for you too if consistently applied.

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to the Uncommon Life Podcast. Whether you're a startup or you've been in business for 10 years, this show is for you. Each week, you'll get mentored by business leaders who deliver valuable strategies, tactics and tips on how you can pursue your passion without compromise. We’ll show you how to achieve balance while sticking to your core values, so you can have an uncommon life.
Now, here's your host, Jimmy Fullerton.

Jimmy: Hello, hello, and welcome to the Uncommon Life podcast. I'm the host, Jimmy Fullerton, and I just wanted to thank you so much for taking time to listen to this podcast and allowing me some time in your headspace. I know it can get very busy up there.

But, today, I'm sitting down with Eric Norris. He's a good friend of mine and the owner of NG Salon & Tonsorial, and I've known Eric for over 10 years and I have seen him grow, both personally and professionally, over that time. We've both learned quite a bit from each other over the years, and Eric, like many of the people that I've interviewed, had a very humble beginning, but instead of making excuses, he used those early trials to help shape his character and his faith, and he has become a very successful entrepreneur.

I wanted Eric to share his story and how his Christian faith has helped guide him in his life, his business, and with many of those pivotal decisions that we make at critical times. There's a lot of good stuff in here.
And, remember, if you like this episode and this content, then please don't forget to subscribe to this podcast and leave me a rating on iTunes. I would greatly appreciate it. Once again, a lot of good stuff in here, so sit back and enjoy.
… … …

Eric: What's going on?

Jimmy: It's great having you on the podcast, man. I've been looking forward to this.

Eric: I've been looking forward to it myself. Glad to be here.

Jimmy: I know you've got a lot you want to say.

Eric: Yes, I do.

Jimmy: So, you've got a real interesting and inspiring story. First of all, I guess let's just start here. Tell everybody the name of your business and a little bit about it.

Eric: My name is Eric Norris. I own NG Salon & Tonsorial. We're a hair salon and a traditional barber shop in one location, which is probably the only one of its kind in this town.

Jimmy: Yeah, it is. I’ve seen the Tonsorial and it’s definitely a guy-friendly.

Eric: Yes.

Jimmy: Very cool. Very cool. So, let's talk a little bit about your background, how you started out, and I really want to go there.

Eric: Yeah, I was born here in Columbus.

Jimmy: Columbus, Georgia, not Ohio. [03:03.2]
Eric: Yeah, Columbus, Georgia. My biological father was in the Air Force. That took us to Sedalia, Missouri, I believe, where my younger brother was born, and from there to Travis Air Force Base in California. And this was, I guess, I don't want to say a pivotal time, but the time when some drugs were becoming pretty big. A lot of that stuff started out there and unfortunately--

Jimmy: What kind of drugs do you mean?

Eric: Cocaine.

Jimmy: Illegal?

Eric: Illegal, yes. Cocaine kind of morphing into crack and things like that. I think, a lot of times when people think crack, they have this statement, this thing they think of in their head. They don't realize that it actually started out as just the people that did cocaine, a better way to get … supposedly a better way to get high and faster, but, of course, it ended up turning into to what it has.

But, unfortunately, my father kind of got wrapped up in that. There were some of the regular things that come along with that kind of stuff in a family that happened, abuse, physical abuse, not with me or my brother, but with my mother, and it got to a point so bad that we just left one day when he left.

We left right after he left. My mom had put it together, so we went to one of her friend's house, stayed the night, ended up in a battered women's shelter. We stayed there for about three days I believe. We didn't bring anything. We didn't have any clothes. We just wore what we had. Of course, there were clothes and whatnot at the battered women's shelter, but we didn't take anything else, and we're talking about in the ’80s.

My great-grandmother sent my mother money [through] Western Union for us to catch a bus from California, here in Columbus, Georgia where my grandparents lived. My grandfather retired at Fort Benning, so we came here and moved in with them.

That was about a four-day bus ride, which is as a seven- or eight-year-old, I guess, not that big of a deal as it probably was for my mother, dragging the two of us through that. Yeah, we got here, like I said, in ’83 or ’84, and basically I just watched my mom start from there and take us from living with my grandparents to getting her first place. She met my stepdad and they got married, and just kind of built from there.

And so, she kind of had a bit of a slower start because of that, but she did a really good job with providing for us and trying to put us in the better schools on the right side of town.

Jimmy: How old were you when you came to Columbus?

Eric: It was 1983. I was seven, turning eight.

Jimmy: Yeah, I went through the divorce of my parents at that age as well. So, you had to come all the way from Missouri to Columbus and basically start out from California. [06:14.0]

Eric: California, yeah.

Jimmy: From California to Columbus. And so, you started out very, I would say, disadvantaged. Single mother.

Eric: Single mother. She didn't have a job, of course, when she got here. My grandfather was a great guy, but he's not the grandfather that my stepdad is or, say, my father-in-law is that he would run out and buy a whole new whatever you need, clothes, yada-yada. He's just not that type of guy. He’s an old-school military guy. So, basically, our clothes came from people that my grandmother worked with, having kids or grandkids our age. She got clothes from them and that's pretty much how we started out until my mom was able to get on her feet and go out.

But when I think back about it, I didn't think anything of it at the time. I didn't feel disadvantaged. I didn't feel any kind of way about it. There are definitely people who've had it a lot worse than I have, so I don't think it … It's funny how it wasn't that big of a deal at that age for me. I didn’t notice it. I don't remember getting picked on because I had those clothes on. I don't know if we just happened to get some. If my grandmother was connected with the right people, we got some.

Jimmy: I guess you weren’t always this big.

Eric: No.

Jimmy: So, another time in your life where you could've gotten picked on, I guess. Eric, when did you start working out?

Eric: I didn't even start working out until I was 25 years old. I gave up cigarettes. I started smoking at about 16 to 17 years old. Gave those up at about 25. My daughter was two. It just felt like I needed a life change. I say “a life change,” but everything else that comes along with smoking4. Go outside and you can't smoke; you’ve got a kid. It was just a lot to it that I didn't care for, and the, just overall health.

Jimmy: So, you had a kid. You had Marcy.

Eric: I had Marcy when I was 23, and my role of a father has been very important to me since about that age when I started, in my mid- to late-twenties when I really started kind of connecting everything from where I came from, what I went through, and as this child starts to grow on you and you realize, man …
That's when I started looking back on how I came up and I started realizing like, Wow, how? How could this have happened? Because I could never do this to my daughter and I would never want my daughter to grow up in something like that. Those things got a lot more important to me, working out, just quitting smoking. [09:01.7]

Jimmy: Where were you working at this time?

Eric: I was kind of in between. After high school, my mother and my stepfather got a divorce and, actually, my goal was to go to cosmetology school, and so, with them getting a divorce, I was having my eyes on a private school, a cosmetology school here. Obviously, when that happened, they couldn't help me with that, and at the time, this school you couldn’t get Pell and stuff like that. It was a private school, so I didn't expect that.

I spoke with the owner and she said, “Hey, take this. Take this class. This will at least get you in the door and you can come work at my shop, my salon, and you can apprentice or you can make enough money and you can pay for yourself to go back to school.”

I did that, and in between there and getting married you kind of realize in this industry, in the cosmetology industry anyway, there are no benefits. My wife is also in the cosmetology industry, so that's an important part of why I decided to make the decisions that I made. It's just tough to decide that you want to start a family and both of you guys have commission-based income with no health benefits, no life insurance, no retirement and whatnot.

So, I had a little period where I bounced around a couple of places until I ended up going back to school and it was for a nursing. I actually went to school trying to get into nursing. I did not get into the nursing program. I applied for the radiology program and got right in, which turned out to be the better of the two after I got into the field.

Jimmy: Better for you.

Eric: Better for me, yeah.

Jimmy: Don’t want to offend any nurses out there.

Eric: Yeah. So, I did that for 12 years.

Jimmy: You were doing that as a radiologist.

Eric: When I was a radiologist—that's actually a doctor—but a radiologic technologist.

Jimmy: I'm not going to try to say that, radiologic technologist.

Eric: Correct.

Jimmy: Okay. At that time, when did you decide to open up Salon NG?

Eric: That's what I wanted to do. I knew that that's what I wanted to do and it was just from a teenage thing. I was a skater kid, so one summer I talked to my mom--

Jimmy: What’s a skater kid?

Eric: Like to skateboard. We had a little mini half-pipe in our backyard.

Jimmy: Do you still do that now?

Eric: No. And my mom, I told my mom to buy me some set of clippers from Walmart. They said Wahl clippers came with scissors, shears and a comb, so she bought me that, and I just started cutting my friend's hair, cut my brother's hair. This was like 14, 15 years old, and I was surprisingly good at it for no training.

Jimmy: You enjoyed it.

Eric: I enjoyed it. My mom was pretty lenient on what we could do with our hair when we were in the summer and stuff like that, so I spent some time, a good bit of time in salons, getting just different stuff done and just really liked the atmosphere, I guess, the creativity part of it. So, that's what led me to that industry in the first place. [12:14.1]
Like I was telling you, it didn't work out the first time. As I started working, now granted, at this time, my wife stayed with it. I decided to bow out and go into something else.

Jimmy: You felt at that time you needed a more stable income.

Eric: Exactly, and have benefits and all that kind of stuff.

Jimmy: Exactly.

Eric: So, that's what I did. She stuck with it, and she obviously did and has done very well. But I decided when I went back to school and went into radiology, and I was working in interventional radiology. My wife was working in a salon here in town at the time. It was just one of those things where she always loved doing hair. She doesn't really like to focus on the other aspects of that business that it takes.

Jimmy: Running a business.

Eric: Exactly. Even though she was working for someone else, she was a booth renter, so it was technically like having your own business within a business.

Jimmy: Tatum is more about the craft.

Eric: She's definitely about the craft, yeah. And I just noticed some things that I thought were just kind of wow, I guess, that I felt could be done differently and better. So, I became friends with one of her coworkers’ husbands and we just kind of …

Jimmy: Was that intention? You became friends …

Eric: No, that just happened. She was friends with her. They worked in the same salon, and then, she invited us to come out to their house and eat, so we would go out there, hang out with them.

Jimmy: You weren’t going to tell me that it was part of some master strategy to get your foot in the door. It wasn’t about the business.

Eric: It wasn't, but we did talk about it because his wife dealt with the same issues. So, I said, “Hey, there's just a much better way to do that. I think there just needs to be transparency in business and stuff like that,” but I didn't know where to start. Fortunately, he happened to be in the banking world, so he was like, There's not really much to it. I deal with it all the time. That's pretty much what I do.

It just kind of morphed from there and, in 2007, we opened up the salon. That filled that void at the time that I felt like I was missing out on and not doing what I initially intended to do with my life, so it temporarily filled that void of I wanted to be in [the industry]. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to do hair.

Now, okay, I'm not so much doing hair, but at least I have a hair salon, and then, of course, the more I did it, the more I felt a calling and a kind of pull , just a desire to be there more. And as it got busier, it required more of me, starting to get calls at work.

Jimmy: It started as a side hustle for you. [15:00.8]

Eric: It started as a side hustle for me, and then it just grew and grew, and then there was a time to make those tough decisions of what path you're going to take.

Jimmy: But I want to go back real quick, though, to you said you saw some issues in that particular business. I guess they were fairly common.

Eric: Yes.

Jimmy: It made you realize, Hey, these are pretty common issues.

Eric: They are.

Jimmy: What are those? I don't want to get too deep in it, but some of the main ones.

Eric: The hair business is a service industry. You're trying to meet the need of the customer. You're trying to fulfill something that they need and that can't always be done on your timetable. That has to be done on their timetable, if you're going to maintain a business like that.

At the same time, the way I have always viewed this industry is the customers that come into the shop are not my customers. They are the customers belonging to this stylist or barber who they come to see. So, my job, and this is what I think differentiates me from other owners and this is what I saw as that need that needed to be filled that I worked for them. I worked for the stylist. I worked for the barber. It's my job to make their work environment, their hour, whatever it may be, whatever they need to do their job to the best of their ability.

Jimmy: To give them the resources, to give them the tools.

Eric: To give them everything they need and the resources, the tools, everything they need to do their job, and that wasn't being given, and I mean for everything from hours to I said transparency, transparency with commission, commission structures.

Jimmy: It was a big issues.

Eric: Yeah, it was a big issue I thought.

Jimmy: They didn’t know exactly where their commission was coming from and what was being taken out. Transparency.

Eric: Exactly. Transparency is a big thing to me and I think obviously I learned this looking back, but all of these things come from, I try to dance around this word carefully because of the way it gets thrown around in politics, but fairness, and I don't mean that everybody should get this for an unequal effort, but I do believe that if you put in that effort and if you do what you're supposed to do, then you should get what you're supposed to get.

And there are, not just my industry, but there are tons and you hear about it all the time, where it doesn't happen. So that's where transparency is such a thing for me, and in fairness, it’s such a thing for me because I guess dealing with it and how I came up, the beginnings of how I came up, molded me to feel like just wanting that fair shot and the opportunity.

Jimmy: It’s about rewarding the performers. Fairness to me equates to that as opposed to the other term, I guess, maybe equality might be like treating everybody the same no matter how they perform, which is not a good business model. It just isn’t. Sorry, it's just not a good business model to do it that way. So you spend, when somebody shows you initiative and effort, and puts forth the effort and the desire to be better, when you see that in them, you spend more time. [18:19.6]

Eric: A hundred percent. I'm going to invest in them. That's a conversation you and I have had before. If I have those people and they're the go-getters, they're the ones who want to do this, they're the ones who want to do that, yes, they will get more of my attention than maybe some of the others will. It doesn't mean that I don't like or don't value the other people, but I'm going to invest in rewarding their efforts in trying to do better.

Jimmy: Yeah, I believe it was a Jack Welch, former CEO of GM, who talked about investing in the 20 percent that really were the achievers and really excelled, and as business owners, we’ve got to invest our time in the right place. We only have so much time. So, the good thing is that people that have the desire and the will, and hopefully the talent to go along with it, they're going to get rewarded. That's the kind of society we live in ideally.

Eric: That’s right.

Jimmy: Yeah, some of the things, for instance, I know that you're focused on giving your people the opportunity to grow and learn more about the business. What are a few of the things that you do to give them access to that?

Eric: Education being the main thing, because we are pretty much tied to the fashion industry. Things constantly change in our industry.

Jimmy: Yeah, I know I'm thinking that the family entertainment industry is fickle, but I think yours might be even more fickle to a certain extent than the family entertainment industry.

Eric: Right, so education is key for everything from obviously haircuts, but color and technique. Technique is something that changes more than what people realize. The general public might see a highlight as a highlight. We have it happen all the time. They call up and they want a highlight, but then when they come in, what they're actually describing is a balayage, which is, yeah, technically, but it's a totally different technique.

Jimmy: Balayage?

Eric: Balayage, yes, and that's just one example and that's a totally different technique, but the training to do that. And then, of course whatever the latest technology is, and people don't realize how many advances there have been in the chemicals that we use on people's hair. They're changing and advancing all the time. I just took a water-based color line on which you basically mix with distilled water, and in the past, there has always had to be some kind of developer, some kind of peroxide, something kind of chemical to open up the pores of the hair, and this stuff totally doesn't use any of that. It's all plant-derived. [21:13.6]

Jimmy: So, you try to make sure you keep them, as well as yourself as the leader, on the cutting edge of what's going on in your particular industry.

Eric: You have to.

Jimmy: You have to do that in any business.

Eric: In any business, you have to. You have to. People want to go, in this town, people want to go to the new restaurants. People want to go to the next best thing, so you have to make yourself, continue to make yourself the next best thing.
Jimmy: Right. Let's go back to the point when you decided. You're building up some steam in your business. You're getting a lot more customers. It's growing and, finally, you have to make, and I know we talked about this, way back when you were battling that about when you decided to launch full-time, and leave your job and go full-thrust into your business. I know there were some issues or some of the challenges you had and mental hurdles you had to overcome to do that.

Eric: Good grief.

Jimmy: Besides my inspirational chats.

Eric: Yeah, those weren't to overcome. Those were definitely helpful. First, I think, for me, it's the battle within my own mind. Can I do this? Am I going to let my family down? Am I going to let these people down? And not to mention the outside world, your parents, your close relatives who, air-quotes, “have your best interest at heart.” Are you sure this is what you want to do? You have this insurance. You’ve got retirement. Hearing that, and none of it comes from a bad place. It's coming from a place of love, but …

Jimmy: There are things you have to think about.

Eric: There are definitely things you have to think about and it really can get cluttered. It's hard to make that decision when somebody is adding on to the doubts and things that you already have in your own head that you're trying to battle. And then, there's somebody on the outside that's just adding to it, so it makes it really hard, but you have to decide. I’ve told people, I think I left when I was 31, and when I left the hospital, it was I'm at least going to be working 34 or 35 more years. Is this what I want to be doing for 34 or 35 years?

Jimmy: That’s a good question, yeah.

Eric: And the answer, that answer was easy. It was no,

Jimmy: That's what ultimately helped me make my decision when I left my prior life in retail. Yeah, so you had to ask that question.

Eric: And just because you have the answer to that question, though, I knew the answer was, no, it's not that easy. It’s not just walk away.

Jimmy: How are you going to execute it?

Eric: How are you going to execute it? And the steps, the things that have to be done that you know of to execute. There are things that you know of because what you know is nothing compared to what comes along that you didn’t see coming. [24:10.4]

Jimmy: You don't know what you don't know.

Eric: That’s right.

Jimmy: Yes, so you decided to go full-thrust into it. I did want to ask you about achieving clarity. You had all this stuff that it could get overwhelming and you can get cluttered in your brain. How did you achieve clarity about doing it, making that move? Was it a process?

Eric: Is it a process and I think it's very important to learn from people who have gone through things. You take my daughter, for instance. She doesn't know the struggles and the things that I [have experienced]. She has never worn hand-me-down clothes. She has never ridden a bus for four days. She has never dealt with anything like that. Some of those struggles are what helped form or they help strengthen my mindset.

Like I said, this is a looking-back thing, but to get clarity, I first just had to make sure that that was really what I wanted, and not just really what I wanted, but I had to get right with a part that we haven't even talked about yet, which was that, at the same time, a lot happened in my life at 25. I quit smoking and started going to the gym. That’s also the year that I got saved. So, getting right, making sure that my desire to take that path was not solely my desire. It was one that I felt in my heart that that’s what it was for me to do. But then, I was, just as you know, battling -

Jimmy: The realities.

Eric: - is this what I want to do or is this what …

Jimmy: The little voice.

Eric: I have prayed about it. I have prayed about it. And as I've mentioned before and I've talked to you, I was what I call it a “burning bush Christian,” so I wanted to see physical evidence. God, if this is what you want for me, then show me a sign, and I was expecting a sign.

Jimmy: Everybody has done that.

Eric: Yeah, I'm looking for that. I need the elephant to walk across the Veterans Parkway when I'm sitting at the red light, and that'll be the sign that I'm going in the right direction.

Jimmy: Let me just say this. When you're about to make a decision that's going to impact your family, I think it's okay to say it, because I've been in the same place where I was like, God, if you really want me to do this, I need you to slap me upside the head with something and let me know.

And what I've found sometimes in my own life is sometimes, like we did with Launch, for instance, and what I did with this podcast and what I did with real estate way back in ’06, I started taking steps towards something, and during that process I gained more and more clarity or I’d get more and more cluttered. [27:02.1]

Some of the stuff that we've chosen not to do, and we've talked about some of this, was because of the way it might have started out fairly clear, but as we kept moving forward, it got more murky and cluttered, and I lost my piece about moving forward and I came to a place where I had to either say, Let's knock this wall down and move forward, or maybe God is trying to tell me something, and this is not right for me right now. So, in some cases, it's better not to move. It just depends. Everybody's different. But you were in the same situation and you were in a situation where you chose to move.

Eric: I chose to move, but I sought counsel and I think that's a big part, another big part of it. I sought counsel from obviously godly people, yourself being one of them.

Jimmy: What are your values?

Eric: People that share my values, that know me, and the funny thing was and the one thing that you told me is, How do you feel about it? How do you feel about it in your spirit? That's how you communicate with God in your spirit. You’re not going to see an elephant. You're not going to see a burning bush. How do you feel about it?

And the funny thing was that I felt perfectly a piece about it. Despite all of the clutter and all of the different things I was thinking about in my head, I was totally at peace. I was actually excited about it. But that was after looking, trying to see what I felt, how I felt about it. How did I feel about it?

Jimmy: There are two things at play here the way I see it when you're looking at something like a venture, like starting a business of any kind. There are two different sides to it. One of them is you've got to evaluate your resources and know what you're getting into. Like the Bible says, count the cost, so you can know exactly what you're going to need or as much as you can know.

But then you do that. You do your research. You do your due diligence, and at some point, you're never going to have all the questions answered, but everybody has to get to a point where they say, I know the questions that I have that I can't have answers to right now, but I'm at peace with moving forward.

The point is you don't have to have all the answers right up front. Like I said, you do your demographic research like at Launch and whatever business you're doing, and make sure you know what you're going to need, capitalize and all that stuff. But, ultimately, there’s going to be a time when you've got to take a leap of faith and decide if you're making the right decision for yourself and your family.

Eric: That's right. And when you do that, that doesn't mean that everything is still going to come easily or without challenges, without adversity. And that's what happened basically when I added the barber shop in 2013.

Jimmy: The tonsorial.

Eric: The tonsorial side of NG in 2013. It started in 2012, just out of … I had a sales rep bring in a product line and this product line was designed for men, and he said, “Hey, this is a great product for your men that uses a salon. Check it out. Here are some samples, yada-yada. [30:14.5]

So, I decided I was going to do some research on the company, of course, before I brought it on and I did, and turns out, the guy has a pretty interesting story. He started out as a barber, went into cosmetology, went back to barbering.

And as I did my research, I go down these rabbit holes and look at like, hey, barbering is making a huge comeback on the West Coast and in the bigger cities, and in the UK, and lo and behold, here this suite is next to my salon that's been open since I opened up the salon in 2007, and it's just been sitting there. So how cool would it be if I were to add a barbershop and then to cut those two? So, you're talking about minimizing risk and cost, and things like that, what you can do for the family. I was like, This is perfect. It's right next-door. I can knock a hole in the wall. We can have the same front desk. I don't have to bring on more staff for that part of it. So, this is a no-brainer.

But, again, I went to God, and this was at the point when I was leaving the hospital as well. So, here's my chance to not only step out of where I want to be, but it gives me more assurance that I'm going to be able to maintain things financially and whatnot by doing this. Talking to you, how do I feel about adding the barbershop, and I felt at peace with it.

Jimmy: You have a pretty good circle of mentors.

Eric: I do.

Jimmy: I know you have some people in your life that you definitely, the same way from me that I bounce stuff off of, and I've been there and done that.

Eric: Yes, I do, and I guess naming them is not the important thing, but I will say this. You'd be surprised at where you can find them. I think a lot of people think that these mentors have to be these Jack Welch or something like that and they don't. There are plenty of people in town, in the community, probably you know that can give you a ton of guidance.

You just, for one, have to have the humility to ask and, two, I guess just be looking for it, realize that you that you need, you probably need some of that guidance, especially if they've done. They don't have to have a multimillion dollar company. They can have something small that's been running that you see is operating well. I mean, they have tons of information I want to value.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's something that's big for me. One thing I've learned is you don't have to follow the mega rich, multibillion-dollar companies. I know that's the popular thing to do, but you can learn from people in your own backyard who've been there and done that. They might not have a mega million-dollar business. I know it's shiny, bright and shiny, and easy to do that, but you can learn from so many different people in your own backyard. [33:02.7]

Eric: That's right, and you'd be surprised at the number of employers. Your past employers are great, great people, in my opinion, that can give you a ton of guidance.

Jimmy: Everybody has access.

Eric: Right, there shouldn't be an excuse that “I didn't have a mentor. I didn't have anybody I could ask,” because there are plenty of people that you could ask.

Jimmy: Yeah, it's all about being intentional. You have to take the step.

Eric: You have to be looking for it. Like I was saying, you have to be willing to look for it.

Jimmy: Most people are willing to share their story. That's what I have found, especially in doing this podcast. Most people like to share their story and what they've learned, and there's a lot of good information out there that's free. So, you've got to tap into it. You can sidestep a lot of landmines by just talking to people who have been there and done that.

Eric: Yeah. So, back to that. I decided to add that barbershop and the tonsorial side to the NG, and I had it all mapped out and planned out, and went through the hoops of loans and that stuff. And then, I had a plan I felt in my spirit that God was saying, Yes, this is what I want for you. This is what I want you to do, that you're on the right track.

And I had two people in mind that I was going to bring on board with me, granted, this shop had five chairs, so I was going to have three of them, fill it myself, one, and then two others. And this is where I didn't do the right amount of, I guess, probably set up or preparation.

Eric: I had someone in mind that I knew the spot that she was working had some issues that were like what I was explaining about why I wanted to open the salon, and I knew that, hey, I've already been doing this for this many years. Those won't be problems over here, the problems that she was going through at the shop she was working at. So, I was like, I'm going to go after her. She's a great barber. I know she's a doing well. I'm going to go after her.

And then, there was a guy that I remembered from barber school, but I wanted to wait. I wanted to wait and have the shop set up. That way they could see it and they would be ready to go.

Lo and behold, I’d spoken with the guy that I went to barber school with, but I hadn't spoken with the girl. And so, probably a few months before I decided to open the shop, word got out that she had opened up her own shop, so I was like, Whoa, I guess I should have been a little more intentional about trying to solidify this bringing her on board. I was like, okay, it was going to have to be me and this other guy that moved forward. [36:00.0]

I decided to take a class up in Atlanta, and so I called him. He was working at a company here in town and I was looking to make a transition as well. So I said, Hey, I got some tickets. I got an extra ticket for this class in Atlanta. I've got the room paid for. Give me a call. I guess you'll just have to get off work on Monday and we'lll go up there as a Sunday-Monday class.

I never heard back from him, which was odd. This was on maybe a Saturday, Friday or Saturday. I didn't hear back from him, so I decided and I went on up to the class, and I got a call from him on Sunday and he said, “Man, I'm sorry I missed your call. I’m at Grady. And I was like, Oh man, what happened? Turns out he had had an accident in his job and cut off three of his fingers off his right hand. He was a right-handed individual.

Jimmy: I can remember you talking about that.

Eric: It's going to be tough to cut hair with something like that. So, all that preparation, all that piece that I felt, I went to doubting because everything seemed like it was crashing down now, because the people that I wanted to come work here are not coming, and now it's just me -

Jimmy: Reevaluating.

Eric: - and this brand new loan and this brand new barbershop, and just me with five chairs.

Jimmy: What did you do?

Eric: I'm not a plan-B type of person.

Jimmy: It's all or nothing.

Eric: I guess the way I've heard it is I still believed that I was doing the right thing. I still believe that I was doing what God had said was for me to do, but it didn't change the … I wish I could say that I just shrugged it off, but I didn't.

Jimmy: That’s an important pint, though.

Eric: I had [crosstalk] fear still. Once again, I have a daughter. By then, she was getting close to turning 16, in high school and private school. I just can't take away this stuff. We can't lose. I cannot afford to lose this.

It’s the importance of those mentors again. It’s because those are the people I went to, because the last thing I wanted to do is freak my family out. I don't want my wife to freak out. I don't want my daughter to freak out. And then, I don't want to hear the “I told you so” from other parts of my family.

I was basically just leaned my hand into it and leaned into it, and went forward and faced it. I went through that adversity, faced that adversity, went through that adversity, and today the salon never missed a beat. It's still clicking right along, just like it always has, but that barbershop now has grown from having … it still only has five chairs, but there are eight total barbers, so I had to add a day so that everybody can get enough hours to work. So, for me, now I don't even have a spot to work. [39:17.4]

Jimmy: Because it’s free time on your hands.

Eric: Yeah, I wish. I guess the big draw from that is that just because you feel at peace with that decision you've made, you have that peace, that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy. And that was the thing I was talking about. You're going to see things on the surface that you're going to try to avoid, but you have no idea what's coming. And those were some of the things that I had no idea were coming. I never in a million years saw those things coming and it definitely had me questioning, Did I make the right decision? Was this that I think I felt at peace with it or was that just me wanting it so badly that I felt at peace with it?

Jimmy: But you would get yourself reconfirmed. How?

Eric: The importance of the Bible, scriptures in the Bible. I think that's the importance of reading the Bible and studying scripture, because you can go back and you have to have something to recall, and for me, that's what it is. There are several examples of people who have faced way more adversity than I have faced that have done way greater things than I've ever done. Joseph, David, Moses.

Jimmy: Plenty of examples of God leading people clearly into a position, and then they faced obstacles and had to overcome those obstacles, but the idea is to deepen your faith.

Eric: That's right.

Jimmy: So, obviously, in both our lives, our faith has played a critical role and, definitely, all those things have paid off for you because now you're expanding. You're building a brand new facility, which you're going to own.

Eric: I am building a brand new facility, yep. That's in the works and that won't be without the same adversity.

Jimmy: Once you learn that, it's so important to learn, just know going in that whatever you do, there's going to be adversity. Just learn how to embrace it and not try to avoid it, not get crestfallen when things don't go your way. Expect things to not go your way, because that's just the way it is and you grow from those things.

Eric: You do, yeah, and it’s I guess the old adage. Nothing good comes easy and the best things worth having you have to fight the hardest to get.

Jimmy: A lot of the trials and things I've been through in my life, I wouldn't have asked for them, but I wouldn't trade them either. They’re part of who made me who I am today, and the same thing probably could be said for you.

Eric: A hundred percent. I think about it all the time. There are times when I think how far along can I be right now had my mom and my stepdad not got divorced and they were able to pay for me to go to cosmetology school, and then I just never would have … It would have totally taken that hospital out of the equation and all that stuff, but I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have learned what I've learned. [42:14.7]

So, would I take it back now? Absolutely not. Did it seem like the end, the end of the world when it was happening? Yeah. Was I questioning why was this happening? Absolutely, I was, but it's all part of a bigger plan. It’s that preparation.

Jimmy: Right. Yeah, faith is very important. You just know in yourself who you are, what you're passionate about, and being grounded in your faith. Those things really help sustain you through those trials that they're going to come. For people that don't have that, most of them that I see don't succeed. They can't weather the storm a lot of times. I'm not saying nobody. There's not any examples of somebody that doesn't have a certain faith, depending on what yours is, but I just think it's important to have that spiritual component to whatever you're undertaking, so that you can weather those trials.

Eric: That's right, yep. I believe that a hundred percent.

Jimmy: We're up on the 45 minutes here, so I guess we need to wrap this up. But, Eric, how can people find you on social media?

Eric: Social media, NG Salon & Tonsorial (@ngsalontonsorial) on Instagram and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NGcolga). And then just @eric.norris75 on Instagram where my personal page is, which is not too exciting, but they NG pages are where I put my stuff, the shop’s work, our work, and the things that we do, and those are the things I'm most proud of. I like to keep my family life and stuff pretty.

Jimmy: That’s a whole other subject right there. I didn't even get to talk about balance and how big your arms are, and how much time you spend in the gym and do all this other stuff, but that’ll be another topic for another day. But, man, I appreciate you taking time and talking with me.

Eric: Absolutely.

Jimmy: It has been very inspirational. I hope everybody else feels the same way.

Eric: I hope so, too.

Jimmy: All right, we will call that a wrap. Y'all have a good day.

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