pruning – noun

trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to encourage growth.

For any of you who have grown your hair out, you know it’s months of horrible hair, with everything inside of you (and likely those around you) telling you to stop with the madness, and get it cut clean. My own wife is embarrassed by me, telling me I look like Grug.

When I was rocking the man bun 5+ years ago, I was a nomad travelling around the world planning to become an apprentice chef! I didn’t care about keeping it neat or clean. Running a professional agency, I figured I should be scheduling a regular pruning session. A few weeks ago I had my 2nd barber visit, which did not go to plan.

The first cut was fine, I instructed the Barber on what I wanted to do. Keep the top growing, clean up the sides and back blending with clippers. He nodded and got to work on it, to his credit he did notice (as I had a part previously) that one side was longer than the other, so fixed things up so the two sides would grow at equal lengths. I left happy and in recent days, was able to start tying it up.

The second cut was last week, I was expecting a quick blend and clip. Like the prior cut, I sat down and explained I’m going for the man-bun, however this time. The barber to her credit, stopped me and explained a few different options and outcomes.

  1. We could do the same as before, simply clipper the sides and back to blend. Short term, this will show the biggest man-bun return, being able to put my hair up. But with hairs at all different lengths, they’ll never really be lined up through the whole growth. It will look like a man-bun, but the structure of it will always make it sit poorly
  2. Don’t get the clippers out, simply cut it back evenly throughout > this would maintain length and begin to give it structure, but it would be kind of a middle ground result, like a neat Grug.
  3. The final option was the hardest to hear. Because of the past styles and most recent cut, I had hair growing out at all lengths on top. There was no consistency. The solution, prune it back to the length of the fringe on top. This meant I was going back about 2 months in terms of length, it meant I could no longer even tie up the start of a man-bun and in fact it resembled nothing like the style I wanted to end up having. But for the long term, this was going to give me the best chance of success.

Knowing Option 3 was the right one, it hurt, knowing if only I had this same advice back in December I’d be pretty much ready to get the style that I wanted.

Often times, this is the case for new clients. Past agencies have either done whatever the client asked them to do, maybe with a few small tweaks > but essentially making the clients happiness the priority, not the results.

Further in winning a new client, it’s often easier to keep doing what was done before, getting the short term wins. Or try and put a foot in both camps, offering a few changes that reduce the friction.

Ultimately I’ve learned, that like the Barber x Client relationship, while you know what you want. If the expert sees a clearer picture on getting you the result you’re after, it’s always best to trust them. That’s why I’m paying them.

As an agency it’s way harder to be brave enough to say things are not going to work long term the way you’ve been doing it. We need to get backwards to go forwards. We need to prune to encourage growth. This also takes courage by the client, who in choosing you, wants to show the team the wise choice it was. Not 3 months of reports showing declining results!

I’m proud to say in between Man Buns, I’ve learned the power of pruning professionally and cosmetically. The truth is those who are prepared to front up to the short term pain, will be the winners in the long term. And the clients we have these honest conversations with, always end up our best relationships.

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