“ClipperGuy” Ivan Zoot: The Best Professional Advice I Ever Got

It’s 1988. I’m a beauty school student and I’m at a hair show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, watching a guy who, unbeknownst to me, was a legend at the time in clipper cutting. Not exclusively men’s hair — men’s and women’s, long and short — using clippers.

I’m watching this guy onstage, and I turn to my wife and say, “THAT is what I want to do. I want to stand on stage and teach people how to cut hair with clippers.”

My wife responds with: “Why don’t you finish school first, wise guy?"

The guy I was watching was Jim Jones, and he was the biggest name at the time in using electric clippers. He became my mentor.

One piece of advice he gave me early on in my career was, “You need a video and you need to write a book.” At the time there was no YouTube and no social media. At his classes, in the back of the room, he used to sell VHS tapes of his haircutting demos.

He said, “You want to reach more people. You’re only going to have 100 chairs in a classroom; you’re only going to do so many shows. These other methods will expand your reach.”

That was an incredible piece of advice at the time, with no foresight as to what would happen in our industry. “Reach people beyond butts in seats” was the advice he was giving me.

So I did. I produced VHS tapes and schlepped them to shows. I was the first person in the history of beauty and barbering to post a video to YouTube — I posted this video when the platform was two weeks old.

Over the years, I moved from VHS to DVD to online streaming. Today I have a legendary channel on YouTube; I have an online academy; I have a podcast. I just published my 15th book.

Recording his podcast, "Be a $100,000 Haircutter."
Recording the podcast, "Be a $100,000 Haircutter."  (Ivan Zoot)


The bigger message behind Jim’s advice was this: You have to use new and different tools to teach and to reach. It’s good advice for anyone in our industry, whether you’re trying to be an educator or fill your own personal appointment book.

That advice has stood the test of time and it’ll be relevant in the future as well.


Ivan Zoot is a barber educator, author, business coach, and YouTube personality. He will be teaching two classes at the International Beauty Show-Las Vegas from June 22-24.

Barber educator and entrepreneur Ivan Zoot