Conversations with ATX Leaders: Christie and David Gonzales

When was the last time you had your hair cut? Behind the pandemic memes about hairdressers and barbers are real employees being guided by real leaders. Christie and David Gonzales, Owners of Academy Hair Design & BeVelle Barber School, join ABBA for a candid conversation as we examine how you lead in a sea of uncertainty.

“We can’t make everybody happy, and everyone wants answers,” shares Christie as she highlights the chaotic nature of the first 20 days of this pandemic in the United States.  Early on during this difficult season, leaders faced many challenges when discerning when and how to make critical decisions.  For Christie and David, in managing their multi site schools, their major concern was for the personal health of their employees.“We knew we could make a shift to online,” shares Christie, but innovating that pivot for their industry was a challenge. “How do you teach hands and hair through ZOOM?!”

David reveals a key question informing their leadership strategy during this season, “How do we thrive as a business in the mist of the pandemic and how can we grow and become the business we are intended to be?” Through their leadership, they created a space for team members to have permission to acknowledge their questions and concerns.  As a result, they noticed an increased participation in a prayer line they had previously developed for staff and students.

“Most growth sadly comes through pain,”  remarks David. “Frustration and pain has produced in me the most personal growth, and in business it’s the same.” As we are challenged to manage anxiety, we have an opportunity to reveal a deeper need. “For me it’s a call from God,” shares Christie.“That’s a sign that I need Him.”

When filtering news and information it can be difficult to discern what is a mandate verses what is a suggestion. “That’s where our community has been very important, as we filter things for one another,” shares David.  At the same time valuing direct information.  “More than ever I’m reading law,” David observes. Christie echos the value in going “right to the source. I’m looking for hard data, not someone’s interpretation of data.”

A pertinent reminder, David challenges older leaders to extend grace to leaders that may not have navigated difficult seasons previously, “We’ve heard a lot of predictions on how things will change forever” but as seasoned leaders, “we have been through enough to know how this unfolds. Younger generations have not experienced that, so they need grace and compassion.”

Wether through patience and grace, or through finances and resources, the Gonzalez’s remind us to lead with compassion and generosity – “Generosity is one of the ways we demonstrate God’s love.” Don’t miss this vulnerable conversation with two amazing Austin leaders.