Catherine’s Circle: Rhoda Olsen Vice Chair of the Board, Great Clips

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Author: Catherine Tabor

I am excited to continue a feature of our Better Outcomes Blog: Catherine’s Circle. As part of Catherine’s Circle, we acknowledge and show gratitude to the people who have supported us. These amazing people, many of them women, have mentored and believed in us and we use this space to showcase their stories and the lessons they’ve learned on their own journeys.

Today’s profile is of Rhoda Olsen, the Vice Chair of the Board at Great Clips and the President of the International SalonSpa Business Network.

Catherine: In your 2017, NAWBO Hall of Fame Inductee video, you said you hope to be remembered “for the culture, built on kindness and collaboration” and also for “discipline, hard work and accountability.” Why are both of those things important to you and how does it reflect on Great Clips’ success under your leadership?  

 Rhoda: Our Vision stars with "Working together" and we are incredibly collaborative with our franchisees. Our first value is "We are kind" and it is a big part of our culture. We also have great data and that helps accountability. 

Catherine: How do you inspire people, particularly your franchisees, to have passion and embrace your philosophy and values?

Rhoda: We inspire people through our relationships and by living our values. The passion comes through all of our interactions and our authentic commitment to help them grow their business.

Catherine: As President and CEO of Great Clips, you grew the company from 1,000 salons to 4,200. How did you develop a team that allowed for that level of growth?

Rhoda: We built our employee base primarily by developing our staff in the system. We have focused on growing and developing staff throughout the system.

Catherine: I understand you’re a visionary and saw the value of data early on in your career. How did you know it was valuable and how does it influence how Great Clips continues to grow the business today?

Rhoda: I love data… I love numbers! We are an emotional business and relationships are critical to our success. I believed we could use data to objectively handle issues and it wouldn't damage the relationships.

Catherine: I’ve read that about half of Great Clips' franchisees are women, many with families and that you are a strong supporter of them, encouraging them to seek balance in their work-life schedules. Why is that important to you and how does empowering career-driven women improve business? 

Rhoda: Our business thrives on the talent of women at every level of our organization. I am committed to mentoring women and focusing on development of women throughout our organization.

Catherine: How do you de-stress after a long day?

Rhoda: I get on the treadmill…then I get on the treadmill again.

Catherine: You’re known to be very philanthropic, both in championing Clips of Kindness within Great Clips and with your involvement in Phakamani Foundation. What are you passionate about outside of business? Do you find you are able to take learnings from your business background and apply them to giving back?

Rhoda: Being kind is one of the things I am most passionate about. It seems like it is a form of philanthropy. My husband and I have a very broad focus on our giving as we support many different organizations. Personally, I tend to support non-profits that help women build their own businesses.

Catherine: How do you celebrate your achievements?

Rhoda: My achievements are reflective of our organization and we celebrate together. We work hard to recognize our team, our franchisees and the salons. It can be as simple as a celebratory breakfast or lunch or an individual recognition award.