Patricia Fripp is a true American success story–except that she is British, born in a small English town. “Probably the best thing that happened to me,” says Fripp, “was growing up with an absolutely brilliant younger brother. I assumed I wasn’t as smart as others, which made me work twice as hard. That’s where my good work habits started.”
At age fifteen, Fripp became a hairstylist in Bournemouth, England. To “keep up,” she worked early, late, and through lunch hours, soon earning 30% more income for the salon than the experienced male employees (who were paid three times as much).
Where could she best exploit her talent, tenacity and capacity for hard work? “The Colonies!” she decided. At twenty, Fripp arrived in San Francisco with no job, no place to live, and no contacts. She quickly became known as an innovator, the first prominent woman in the new industry of men’s hairstyling. One day, she looked around and realized she no longer had to rush to keep up with everyone else. She had left them miles behind. She cut the hair of Cavett Robert and many past NSA Presidents and Hall of Fame recipients.
She was asked to share her knowledge and energy by speaking for groups of hairstylists for a hair product company. Next, her clients asked her to address their Rotary and Lions Clubs….then she was asked “How much would you charge to say that to my group?”
First Encounter with the NSA
She arrived at her first NSA meeting in 1977, thinking no one would want to talk to her. After all, she had only spoken before hairstylists and Rotary clubs. But past NSA President Mike Frank quickly “discovered” her and booked her to speak on the same program with Robert Schuller.
Today, Fripp is a successful entrepreneur, magazine columnist, and media personality. She is also a speaker’s speaker. Meetings and Convention Magazine named her, “One of the most electrifying speakers in North America.” She has won every NSA award and designation: the CSP, CPAE (Hall of Famer), and the Cavett Award. She was the first woman to be National President and the only CSP,CPAE, CAVETT winner who has been both a National and Chapter President. She has spoken at more NSA chapters than any other NSA member.
In 1980, Fripp founded the NSA/Northern California Chapter. Because the new chapter had little money, she hosted the out-of-town speakers at her home. After a day of cutting hair in her salon, she would rush home and fix dinner for the speakers and the NSA/NC leadership. Soon, because of her guidance (and possibly her cooking), her chapter was the largest in the world. Their meetings drew more people than the NSA winter workshops. Cavett Robert once joked with her that he’d heard a rumor the National NSA was going to ask to join her chapter.
The NSA/NC chapter continued to thrive. They named a leadership award, the “Frippy,” after her, and on the chapter’s 15th anniversary, Fripp helped them celebrate by jumping out of a cake wearing a Wonder Woman costume.
Currently, Fripp speaks about 130 times a year to Fortune 500 companies and associations around the world. She is the author of Get What You Want and Coauthor of Insights into Excellence and Speaking Secrets of the Masters, as well as many audio and video programs. In her spare time, she is a major fund raiser for the Leukemia Society.
(Fripp’s brother Robert, no slouch himself, founded the rock band King Crimson. He was her date when she was President of NSA in Washington DC. in 1985 )
Fripp’s Keys to Success
Fripp feels that what made her a successful hairstylist has also made her a success as a speaker.
- Choose good teachers and role models.
- Practice harder than everyone else.
- Analyze what you do, and then teach others.
- Don’t take all the money that is on the table.
- Do more than you get paid for.
Of all her accomplishments, what is Fripp most proud of? “First, the fact that, once I left home at age eighteen, I never asked my father for money. Second, that I turned myself from a pitiful victim of technology into a self-proclaimed ‘Goddess of Geek.'”