Have a Mentor-Be a Mentor Robert Lobetta & Adam Federico


Inspired by Adam’s recent social media post about the importance and significance of Robert Lobetta in his career success, Melanie invited both luminaries to chat about the important role mentors have played in their lives.  Both candidly shared their highs and lows in their journey, naming people that were instrumental in their success. They also share their concepts of what mentoring is about and how to successfully nurture a mentor and mentee relationship.  Listen to the full show by clicking the link below, or by tuning in to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, or on your favorite podcast app. Excerpts of the conversation edited for clarity and length follow:

Robert, tell us about your journey?

It is hard to condense over 50 years into a concise story, but I will do my best.  I was never into hairdressing. By accident I got a job at Ricci Burns on King’s Road in London. Surprisingly, he hired me and became my first mentor. He taught me about the importance of fashion, photography, and art. When I left, I went to MichaelJohn in Mayfair where I learned the importance of teamwork. After that I opened my own salon three different times, and all three times, I failed to make a success out of it.  My pride got in my way, and I did not listen to my mentors. Then along came John Sebastian and Geri Cusenza from Sebastian.  This is where mentorship came into my life again. I appreciated their guidance.  When Sebastian was sold, and Manolis Lekkas became the leader of the company, he helped me by giving me tools to work in this new corporate environment.  I realized my knowledge was to be shared and it was time to give back. Mentors were instrumental in my life and still are.  My biggest mentor I have now is my wife, Kay Lobetta.

Adam, what has your journey been like?

I grew up in the industry, my family has cosmetology and barbering schools in Northern California and has a heritage of over 75 years in the industry. I always had this natural inclination to play with the fabric of hair, but I wanted to be a musician.  Only when I was in cosmetology school did I finally have exposure to the artistic side of the business.  Yolly ten Koppel from Pivot Point came to dinner at the house and she and I started having a conversation about the opportunities to travel the world, the platform circuit, and the rock star lifestyle I was chasing. After completing school, I went to LA for an apprenticeship and experienced my first true mentor, Gerd Hoher from Carlton International and later the founder of Artease Hair Colors.  After about 5 years my parents wanted to open a salon in conjunction with our schools and they wanted me to run it.  So, I accepted the challenge, came home, and was handed complete creative freedom.  Gerd continued to be my mentor throughout this time. In 1999, I joined Sebastian on the SDA team. That was the first time I met Robert Lobetta.  I remember the first time I heard him speak.  I was mesmerized by him and his creativity. I eventually became part of the international team, having the opportunity to work beside Robert for the first time.  When I decided to take a sabbatical from Sebastian, I was fortunate enough to connect with another mentor, Richard Ashforth, founder of Saco Academy.  I love educating, it is the cloth I am cut from.

How did Robert become your mentor?
I ran into Robert at the same show you were at in Vegas.  We started chatting about the advanced academy, where I was going to take it.  He said that it was time for me to take it to the next level.  That is where the brainstorming began.  I reached out quite a few times and he helped guide me.  I then was offered an opportunity with R & Co, as Director of Content, and I reached out to Robert to help me navigate the new position and how I might go forward.  This is where the mentor and mentee relationship really began for me. I do not know what I would have done without him.

What is important in a mentor and mentee relationship?

It is symbiotic. It is a continuum, a circle of giving, pushing, guiding, and sharing “both sides” of a situation or opportunity.  At this stage in my life, I want to give back.  I have had my moments on stage, my spotlight.  It is now the time to share my knowledge and share the stage with others. I think you also must know that it must be a win-win for both parties.  Each of you should gain from the experience.  Each of you will learn and grow because of it. I have made mistakes in the past.  Sometimes I have pushed too hard and it was a mistake.  I have learned to pull back, admit it when I have made a mistake and re-approach my mentor role in a different way….

Stay tuned for more from Robert and Adam.

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