Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Hildamay Cruz

Red Banner with HOF EpisodeIn this episode recorded in May 2019, we interview Hildamay Cruz. Hildamay is the Manager of IA601 and is one of two managers who was recently named "Manager of the Year" at the 2019 National Huddle. In this podcast, we hear about her rise to stardom, her immigration from Cuba as a child and the roots of her strong work ethic. (We also learn how she was nicknamed Kangacruz).

Chad Jordan and Hildamay Cruz

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
May 24, 2019 Hildamay Cruz Manager Winning "Manager of the Year" at the 2019 Huddle

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Hildamay Cruz: Ready.

Chad Jordan: All right. Hey, everybody. This is Chad Jordan, Director of Marketing at Sport Clips, and I've got a ... I was going to say it's going to pack a punch, this podcast today, for a number of reasons, and for those of you that have been following us on social media lately, and have seen the shenanigans we've been up to in the Omaha area, you might be familiar with our guest today because she is one of the... I was going to say rising star, but you've already won that award, one of the brightest stars in the Sport Clips' universe, and so, very pleased to have her on the podcast today.

Chad Jordan: So we're going to get into some behind-the-scenes stuff and talk about some of the fun that we've had, specifically, the last couple days out here in Omaha, but I want her to introduce herself, and then we'll get into a little bit about her story.

Chad Jordan: So, young lady, give me your... how about you give me your name, your store number, and I don't know, rattle off some of the awards that you won at this year's Huddle for me.

Hildamay Cruz: So, I am Hildamay Cruz. I'm the manager of IA601, and at the Huddle we won the Overall Rising Star Award. We won Rising Star Net Sales. We got Rising Star Runner-Up Paid Back Bar. We got Rising Star Runner-Up Take Home Per Client, and we won Chairman's Gold Paid Two Years Open.

Chad Jordan: Well, that's awesome, first of all, that you said all the "we(s)" that were won. I don't think you mentioned the award that, specifically, is the one I flew all the way to Omaha, Nebraska, to celebrate with you, and that is you were named manager of the year, along with Christina Miller from TX118. But manager of the year, IA601, and you guys have been open a whopping how many years?

Hildamay Cruz: Two years.

Chad Jordan: Two years. So in two years, you have taken that store to a... I really think it's a level unseen in all of Sport Clipsdom, is that a word? Sport Clipsdom? The kingdom of Sports Clips? No one has done, to my knowledge, and I've interviewed a lot of people, I don't think anybody's done what you have done. So we want today, this is what we want to do. We kind of want to unpack, I don't think it needs to be a secret, what you've done.

Chad Jordan: I want to find out the keys to your success, what has made your store so great. I've met your team, I know that's a big part of it. I've met some of your mentors, and so we'll talk about Tessa and some of those others. So I know there's a lot of great factors, but I kind of want to uncover today if we can some of the things other stores around the country can do to not just stumble upon success but to aim for it and hit it.

Chad Jordan: So that's... are we cool, if that's what we do today?

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: So, you... and, for those... why don't you wave at the camera there. Hi everybody. If you're watching us on YouTube you might see over my left shoulder is, it might... actually now that I say it, it looks a little creepy. There's a kangaroo head on a broomstick, and yeah I guess I didn't think that through, but at any rate we call Hildamay, we call her the kangaroo. And at Huddle when she was announced as the winner for Manager of the Year, in fact I just re-watched the video this morning, she... it was like a scene from the Oscars or when somebody wins and they weren't expecting to win and they were hoping but they really weren't sure, and they... she... like the Oscar, she lost her mind, and began jumping and saying "oh my gosh, I can't believe it!" She tried to grab everybody at the table to take her up on stage with her, but she jumped literally five, ten feet in the air and just... she would not stop.

Chad Jordan: She was a bundle of energy. So we nicknamed her the kangaroo, and her name is Hildamay Cruz, so Hildamay Kanga Cruz is what we came up with. So the celebration we did at the store, first of all, we'd left some clues that we were gonna have some sort of themed...obviously we had Krispy Kreme doughnuts that we brought. Who at your store guessed that there was gonna be some kind of kangaroo costume flare?

Hildamay Cruz: Honestly, it was not at my store it was Angie Roberts, my team leader. She was like, "did you get the clues?" And I was like, "I heard doughnuts!" And she was like, "Enjoy en-joeyyy." And I was like... I looked at my husband, and... I honestly did not even know who Joey the Kangaroo was.

Chad Jordan: Oh my goodness. Okay.

Hildamay Cruz: I am not going to lie.

Chad Jordan: All right, all right. Well you're millennials so...

Hildamay Cruz: I'm not going to lie.

Chad Jordan: You know, not knowing that Joey is the name of the baby kangaroo... especially from Winnie the Pooh, but... so, okay, well so there was a little element of surprise hopefully when the kangaroo came hopping into your store and we brought you guys, yeah we did bring you Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Little baby Joeys, kangaroos, for every team member... did everybody get one?

Hildamay Cruz: They did. Those were adorable.

Chad Jordan: Okay, all right, okay. And then you, whether you wanted to or not, we gave you a kangaroo costume to change into, so thank you for doing that. Then you proceeded to give me an MVP haircut as a kangaroo, so... so great photo shoot yesterday, it was a ton of fun. Tell me about when I left, what was the aftermath? Was everybody just kind of like, "this guy is out of his mind," or what were you guys... what were you guys... what was going through your guys' minds?

Hildamay Cruz: Honestly everyone was just super excited and happy. They were like, "this morning was so cool, it was such a fun morning." And I think maybe other people would think it would be crazy, but I am definitely the extra one out of my team so they were just like, "we would be surprised, but we're not, because it's you, and Chad is just as extra as you."

Chad Jordan: And you're so extra I walk in, you have #scissorpose balloons, there were graffiti that got all over the cash reg... the kiosk... I mean there was graffiti everywhere. I mean, not graffiti, confetti.

Hildamay Cruz: Confetti?

Chad Jordan: Confetti! That would have been something, graffiti. That's the next time I come, let's make sure you... no, Dan and Angie Roberts would kill us. So you had confetti everywhere, scissor-pose t-shirt that I don't even know how you guys... who drew that hand? That there's a... you know, I'll put this on the podcast page, but there's a scissor-pose t-shirt. Tell me about it.

Hildamay Cruz: So, my assistant manager Megan, she is the creative one out of the team. So I come up with the ideas, but I'm not creative. So she is the one that, when it comes to all of our contest boards, everything that has any sort of creativity, she does it. And she's amazing at it. And I was like, "I have this idea, I really want to do it, is it possible? Can you actually get the scissor-pose hand? Can you do that?" And she was like, "I'm pretty sure I can do it." And she did! And it was perfect. I was like, "oh my gosh! This is literally perfect! It looks just like his hand throwing up the scissor pose!

Chad Jordan: It was great. It was great. It was so unexpected.

Hildamay Cruz: So total credit to her for making it happen. It was really cool.

Chad Jordan: And for those who don't know, the scissor-pose is the Sport Clips' official when we take pictures at a store visit, or hanging out, or at a convention, or anything... you know, there's rock, paper, scissors, ro sham bo... and so we throw the scissors-pose for Sports Clips. So that's our official #scissorpose that we do.

Chad Jordan: So we had a great time, and seriously, the reason... I live in California, but the reason I flew out to Omaha was to see you. Not just for this podcast but to see your store. I had to get to the root of exactly what makes you guys so special. I was thinking, "maybe it's... maybe they're...you know, there's some locations they're in the perfect shopping center, or they're just right... you know it just happens to be they're almost lucky in that way where they're placed perfectly."

Chad Jordan: And you definitely have a great location, but man, when I walked in, your team their energy... it wasn't just me visiting, it was the energy of your team, I think every single one was super friendly... they came, most of them, weren't even working. I mean, you didn't have fourteen people, I mean maybe you do have fourteen people scheduled. I don't know, okay.

Hildamay Cruz: Nope.

Chad Jordan: I don't think you have that many stations. They came in early, I mean we came at 8:30, 8:45, and they were there. So, tell me a little bit about your team and what makes them click so well.

Hildamay Cruz: So, what makes them click. I would say just how much they all care about each other. I feel that everyone truly not only being coworkers but friends, that's what makes them click. Everyone cares about-

Chad Jordan: You say friends, I mean what do you guys do stuff outside of normal work hours or what's going on?

Hildamay Cruz: We do. We do a lot of team outings, we celebrate all of our achievements a lot, and I think it's getting outside of the store and actually hanging out without the uniforms, without the haircuts, without our tools, and just bonding. Just bonding. Everyone really cares about each other and everyone appreciates each other. I love that not only do I try my best to make sure that they know that I appreciate them, they do the same thing with me and with each other. And they just... we all joke around, we laugh, we have funny insults for each other and stuff too, I think it's just how much everyone cares about each other and how friendly everyone is with each other that makes it so special.

Hildamay Cruz: And I think that has a lot to do with the culture and my store. From the very beginning, when I was thinking about how I wanted to be as a manager, I thought about, "how do I want my store to be?" And the number one important thing to me was being in a really good work environment where everyone loves working. And I think that I was able to do that by focusing on caring about each of them individually and in return, each of them care about each other individually, and it just makes work... it just makes it fun.

Chad Jordan: So you care about them individually. Can you let me know how... how does that... what does that look like? I mean, do you do special things, do you know your girls... they're all girls? All ladies? Do you know them so well that you have different things set up for each of them? Is it kind of a cookie cutter "one size fits all" you do the same thing for all... you don't want to play favorites... or what? Give me... when you say care individually for each one what do you really mean?

Hildamay Cruz: So, I meet with all of my girls often. And when I meet with them it's not... it's every week, every other week, just depending on my schedule and their schedule. And I ask about them, not just how they're doing at work or talk about their numbers, but about their life. You know, how is everything going outside of your life and is there any goals that you have personally and I get to know a lot about them just on having a conversation with them even if its something that I didn't ask.

Hildamay Cruz: But every time there is a special anniversary or birthday or just someone buying a car, when it comes to those kind of things, I celebrate them all individually. I don't just get a cake for everyone, I get something personalized that means something to a certain stylist or something that I know that they've talked about that they need. Or when it comes to caring about them, I think about what would they need, what would they want, what would they like? Like for example, one of my girls, I'm not going to mention their name, they have never had a purse. Ever. But a nice purse. And I was thinking, it was her... I didn't get this for her birthday, I actually got this for her, just because it was one of my assistant managers and I wanted to show her that I appreciate her, and I thought, "what would she like?" You know, what would be something that she would just be really excited about, and I thought, "you know what? She doesn't have a purse."

Hildamay Cruz: So I went and I got that for her, and when she saw it she was like, "oh my gosh! This is my first real nice purse!" And it wasn't about being materialistic and getting her a purse, it's just... it was about something that I think she would appreciate. And something that I think she would use and that she would be excited about. So that's what-

Chad Jordan: It's heartfelt. I mean, you touched her heart, and so this is such a key that we're finding. You used that word "culture," by the way, my favorite word, right?

Hildamay Cruz: It's mine, too.

Chad Jordan: But that's such a key to retention, you know? That you know your team so well, you care about them, not just... I don't want to say nine to five because you guys work more than nine to five, but not just at work. But outside, and you know her so well, and whether she was an assistant manager or another team member, I highly doubt she's ever going to go, "you know what? I can go find a better place to work. I need to go spread my wings." She's super loyal to you, and that's not why you did it. She's loyal because you guys have genuine care and affection for her.

Chad Jordan: Did you hire... anybody come from you, what store were you at before?

Hildamay Cruz: I was in Papillion, NE104.

Chad Jordan: NE104. So, did you... so this store is two years old, and you did the G.O., you did the grand opening, you hired team members, right? Did you bring anybody with you, from NE104?

Hildamay Cruz: Not from NE104, but I did have... both of my assistant managers actually came from different stores. One of them came from NE106 and one of them came from NE109. So both of my assistant managers opened that store with me.

Chad Jordan: So, talk to me about that really quickly. Was it a challenge, because they had been under a different manager, and now you... you're a rookie, deer in headlights, kangaroo in headlights, a little bit that first couple months... did you find that it was kind of tough transition for them having to adjust to your style or how did you navigate that?

Hildamay Cruz: So I remember our first day of training and we had a pep rally, that's how we started it, and I had already kind of talked to them over the phone and text messaging and we had a dinner, kind of a welcome dinner, for everyone on the team. But our first pep rally, I went over kind of my vision for the store with them and Tessa, my operations manager, too. Which she actually was brought into my team after transferring over from Arizona, and I met her, and right off the bat, we just... we clicked. And it was, you know, "this is what I have in mind," and she's like, "that's what I have in mind," and-

Chad Jordan: Let's make it happen.

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, let's make it happen, so between me and her taking charge of that pep rally and letting everyone know our vision, what we thought, and you know...when I say our vision, is you know, we get to start this store how we want it from day one. So we need to make sure we make how we begin this store extremely important.

Hildamay Cruz: You know, we want to follow the Sport Clips' system. We want to follow the five-point play. We want to make the best out of every client. We want to just have a really really strong start. And both of them were actually like, "I'm actually really excited!"

Chad Jordan: That's what we want!

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, they were like, "that's what we want," and I don't think they thought that's what they wanted, because in the past, I mean being in a store that's been open for a while, sometimes you can kind of lose...you know, you can kind of lose the, how would I say it? You just lose the-

Chad Jordan: The hunger, the intensity, yeah.

Hildamay Cruz: The hunger, the motivation, the-

Chad Jordan: The edge.

Hildamay Cruz: The five-point play, the edge, so I think they were both just so excited to see how excited I was and how excited Tessa was and to see the vision that we had and they were just completely on board. They were like, "this just seems really cool, like I'm so excited to be a part of this team." And ever since then, they've been on board, and they haven't lost that motivation and that drive, so it actually wasn't a challenge at all. It was very, very exciting.

Chad Jordan: How many team members have you... let's see. You have 14, 15, 16 team members at your store? Something like that?

Hildamay Cruz: 15.

Chad Jordan: 15? Okay. And how many of them have been with you, kind of "ride or die" the entire two years?

Hildamay Cruz: So, the entire two years... so, Tessa, for sure... Megan, Halley, Chanel opened with me too, so Chanel... so that first grand opening week I would say it was them four. And then I hired the next month and I still have girls that were with me a month after we opened, so quite... yeah.

Chad Jordan: And everybody listening, all the managers out there, are going, "what? How is that possible?" I mean, just because that's so rare that you have the team... most of the team that you started with now two years later. So you have not just success here, you are finishing your bachelors... is that what you're doing? Give me a little bit about what you've... you are a high achiever and a high performer, so you don't just work in the store but you are working on an education as well, so tell me a little bit about that.

Hildamay Cruz: So, I got my license in high school, so I got my cosmetology license senior year. I took my-

Chad Jordan: In Texas?

Hildamay Cruz: In Texas, I'm from Dallas. Yep.

Hildamay Cruz: So in Texas, I started cutting when I was 17 actually, so... I was working at a full-service salon and I was also going to school just because it's always been one of my goals to finish school and get my degree. Obviously I have so many opportunities here, in America, since I'm from Cuba, and I want to take advantage of all of them

Hildamay Cruz: So I have... it has taken me a lot longer than I expected, just because I've taken some breaks. So, when I was working at the full-service salon, my husband joined the Air Force, and he was stationed over here in Omaha, and that salon wasn't as flexible with my schedule as I was hoping, so I took a break and I ended up... let me see, I'm trying to think... this was kind of a long time ago... so I took a break and I focused more on school, I wasn't cutting hair, and I was working for an insurance company.

Hildamay Cruz: And that was totally not me.

Chad Jordan: Uh-huh (affirmative), I bet.

Hildamay Cruz: That was totally not me, so I kind of focused on school, and focused on that job, and I was happy with... you know, moving along in school, but I felt like I missed my career cutting hair. So I took a break from cutting hair and I focused on just school. Once I got married and I moved here to Omaha, I decided to apply at Sport Clips because one of my friends was like, "hey, this is a really cool place." He gets his... he used to get his hair cut there.

Chad Jordan: Oh, so it wasn't a stylist who recommended Sport Clips?

Hildamay Cruz: No, it was actually a client.

Chad Jordan: What? Oh, okay.

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, it was a really good friend of ours that lived in Papillion, and he said, "hey this is a really cool place and-"

Chad Jordan: Well, I've got a great idea for recruiting, just keep giving killer haircuts to clients who are happy and then when they find out someone's a stylist they'll recommend them to come work for Sport Clips.

Hildamay Cruz: Yep.

Chad Jordan: That's amazing, okay.

Hildamay Cruz: So I started working for Sport Clips, and I was still going to school, and I took a break when I was in the process of moving here and planning a wedding. I took about... I took a semester off, once I moved here I finally started working at Sport Clips and I was still going to school, and I was moving farther along actually in school this time. So I was like, "oh my gosh, I'm going to be done next year." So then everything's going great and then the Roberts encouraged me to apply to be a manager-

Chad Jordan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Hildamay Cruz: So, I thought to myself, "I really don't want to take a break from school, but I don't know how I'm going to be able to open a new store," and you know, I had no idea what all it was going to take to open a new store, but I knew it was going to be a lot, so I took a break again. I took about a one year break, it was the first year that we were open, and I'm glad we did.

Chad Jordan: I was going to say, in hindsight [crosstalk 00:21:08] aren't you thankful that you did take that break?

Hildamay Cruz: I am very thankful that I took the break, and whenever I was offered the position, the Roberts told me, "we want you to know that we don't want you to stop going to school. You know, we want to encourage you to finish your degree." So then, once I finally felt like my store was great and smooth and it didn't need me as much as it needed me that first six months or so, I finally told myself, "okay, I'm going to do it, I'm going to go back to school."

Hildamay Cruz: It was really hard, because many people would know that, once you stop going to school it's so hard to go back. It... oh my goodness, it's so hard to go back. So finally, I was like, "you know what? I have come so far, I can't not get my degree." It's always been one of my goals, and I would beat myself up over it in the future if I didn't finish.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, you were this close...

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah. I'm this close, and I've already spent a lot of money, so I've got to go back and finish. So this past semester was actually my first semester going back full-time, and it was one of the hardest semesters that I have had, but... because of now I'm a senior so its all upper-level courses, but I am finally getting to the... very very close to the finish line! So in December I do graduate with my Bachelors-

Chad Jordan: That's amazing.

Hildamay Cruz: -and I'm getting my degree in Organizational Communication and Leadership, so Communication Studies, and I'm just... I'm super excited that I did not stop. You know, I'm excited that I kept going and that some way, some how I'm still able to manage my store and my team without them feeling like I'm not putting my attention toward them because I'm going to school. You know, it's hard but I love that I'm able to balance both and still let the team know that I'm there for them.

Hildamay Cruz: And they're so extremely supporting, they are just awesome. You know, some team or some people can say, "well, you know, she focuses so much on this or she's putting so much of her time on that," but they are all so supporting. I bet you when I do graduate they're probably all going to be there.

Chad Jordan: Oh, yes, and there won't be a dry tear... a dry eye in the auditorium when that happens, I know. It's like, you know, your store is like a family. And you're all sisters, or aunties, or whatever. And so what I hope as you're talking... by the way, I can tell you're a Communications major because you're flowing very well-

Hildamay Cruz: Am I?

Chad Jordan: Yes, yes.

Hildamay Cruz: It doesn't feel like it!

Chad Jordan: You're doing amazing. But I hope other managers or stylists that are listening to this episode are going, "you know, that's what's missing in our store." If it is missing. You know, maybe that's the missing key. Maybe that's the missing element. And they're beginning to put the dots together, that if they're not seeing the success that you guys have seen, which again I'm hoping is replicable, I hope others can duplicate it. And it doesn't need to be a one-in-a-million shot here, this isn't the lottery that you won. You actually went out and worked it. This is not luck for you guys to have... I mean, when you said all the awards at the beginning, and "we, we" it wasn't... you never said "I." And so I had to do that one, but the manager...even Manager of the Year.

Chad Jordan: None of that is luck. None of that fell into your lap and I think just over the course of the last five minutes you describing how you... you're going to school and you didn't want to give up on your dream and all that kind of stuff... December's going to be huge. So, and is, Emmanuel?

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, my husband's actually graduating with me too. We're both graduating in December.

Chad Jordan: So have you guys been like cheering... has it been a competition or have you been cheering each other on? How does that work? Because he's in the home stretch too, so-

Hildamay Cruz: I don't think it's been a competition, it's just been a lot of just pushing each other. I mean, I didn't want to... I actually, to be honest, I didn't want to go into the semester full-time, and I told my husband when I was looking at my degree plan and looking at each class description, I was like, "oh my gosh, this sounds really hard and this sounds really hard too." And I actually almost dropped one of my classes, but I needed it to graduate, and I was like, "If I drop this class-"

Chad Jordan: Now wait, you were going to drop it because it looked hard or because you got it-

Hildamay Cruz: Yes, because it... with all of the other classes I was taking, I thought it was going to be too much. And I'm sitting here, and I was like "mm-hmm (negative), I think I'm going to have to drop this." And he was like, "you haven't even started the class." And I was like, "yeah, but if you read it, it just... it seems-

Chad Jordan: Intimidating.

Hildamay Cruz: It was so intimidating. And he was like, "No, you're going to take your classes, and if you feel like you are overwhelmed, I understand, but you haven't even started it."

Chad Jordan: Wow.

Hildamay Cruz: So, you know it was kind of just-

Chad Jordan: That's great encouragement.

Hildamay Cruz: A little bit of that. And I did the same thing with him. He was taking Business Law and he was like, "this class is kicking my butt. I think I'm going to drop it," and I was like, "what are you going to do if you drop it? Take it next semester?" And I said, "okay, so you're taking it now, so you might as well just keep going. You just need a 'C', which he actually got a better grade, but-"

Chad Jordan: Cs get degrees!

Hildamay Cruz: Exactly.

Chad Jordan: Story of my life.

Hildamay Cruz: So we just both motivate each other. I think we're just both excited to be able to say that we were able to do it together.

Chad Jordan: I love that, and what a great life lesson for both of you. You not giving up just because something looks challenging, and then him not quitting even when it feels like that's the easier option. And then obviously for you guys to be there for each other, so that's tremendous. I don't want to get away from something that you had mentioned, that you grew up, that you were born in Cuba, and you came to the U.S. when?

Hildamay Cruz: So, when I was six, my dad won the U.S. visa lottery-

Chad Jordan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-speaking of lotteries, right?

Hildamay Cruz: Yep, speaking of lotteries, so it's basically like the mega millions. They have it in a lot of communist countries. So how...it's completely random.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, how... I don't know anything about this. So describe... what is that?

Hildamay Cruz: So the U.S. visa lottery, they actually still have it, it's changed in some ways, but its... you basically fill out an application and you put your name and some of your information, that's what my dad did, that's what he did, and you basically go through a process of selection and it's random. So once you do get selected you have to go through a lot of processes to actually be able to leave the country, but my dad... he's actually... he's very...I wouldn't say, well he's lucky in that sense, yes. I will say that he's lucky because he won the lottery, but he just has a really good, I don't even know what word to describe it, but he's just a very good person and he tends to run into luck a lot. Even after the U.S. visa lottery.

Chad Jordan: You make your own luck, right? That's what they say.

Hildamay Cruz: So yeah, my dad won the U.S. visa lottery, so my mom, my dad, and my grandma all got to come.

Chad Jordan: So, do you get a limit of the people, or does all your kids... like if you had six kids could they all come, how does that work?

Hildamay Cruz: So it's everyone in your immediate family.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Hildamay Cruz: Everyone in your immediate family, so my dad, my mom, and my grandma all moved to Texas when I was six, and we moved to Texas, to Dallas, because we had family there.

Chad Jordan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-and not because of the Cowboys?

Hildamay Cruz: Go Cowboys! But that wasn't why, I wasn't a Cowboys fan yet, so we moved to Texas when I was six and we moved in with my uncle because obviously we were from Cuba and in Cuba you don't have a lot of money-

Chad Jordan: No kidding.

Hildamay Cruz: So we basically-

Chad Jordan: What was your dad's occupation?

Hildamay Cruz: So, over there he... I mean in Cuba, you do a lot of things to make money. So he made pizza, he worked for my grandpa and they worked actually at a cigar factory. So, you-

Chad Jordan: Oh, hello. Okay.

Hildamay Cruz: Yep, so he worked at a cigar factory. That's what he was doing then, and then when we came to the United States we moved in with my uncle, so there was a lot of us in a small apartment, and little by little my dad... he started a minimum wage job, as a cook, and he just worked his way up. So he went from that apartment, we finally six months later we had our own apartment. It was a one bedroom apartment. Then we had a two bedroom apartment, and then my dad bought a house.

Chad Jordan: Wow.

Hildamay Cruz: And yeah, so you can say it really feels-

Chad Jordan: The American Dream.

Hildamay Cruz: -like the American Dream.

Chad Jordan: Oh, for sure. That's amazing.

Hildamay Cruz: Yep, so...

Chad Jordan: And are your parents still around?

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, they are. They're in Dallas, yep.

Chad Jordan: Okay, okay. That's tremendous. So what was their reaction when you face timed them or called them from Huddle saying that you had won Manager of the Year?

Hildamay Cruz: My dad and my mom were... they were like, "we knew it." And I was like, "well, I didn't know it." They said, well they were saying, "we knew you were going to win awards." Because you know, I had a feeling we were going to be very close to winning the Rising Star. I had a feeling we were going to get-

Chad Jordan: What are all these? So for people that aren't affiliated with Sport Clips, "Rising Star" means what?

Hildamay Cruz: So, I'll actually go back not this past Huddle but the previous Huddle, which... so that Huddle we were shooting to get the Shooting Star. So the Shooting Star award is basically when you are a brand new store that's opened. Every store that opened around the same time that your store opened gets to qualify for these awards... basically, being the best new store.

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Hildamay Cruz: And last... that previous year we got runner-up Shooting Star. And I was like, "well you know what? Next year we're going to win the Rising Star. And this is, you know, I think this is what we need to do. And if we work together and if we-"

Chad Jordan: What do you mean? That was general, "this is what we need to do." Can you be more specific? [crosstalk 00:30:51]

Hildamay Cruz: Yes, so the five-point play obviously is number one. Making the best out of every client, just being passionate, being motivated, and I think what helped us is my girls don't only focus on their individual goals as far as their numbers, they focus on our store's goal. So you can ask them, "what's your goal individually? What is your store's goal?" And I feel like a lot of stores, kind of from what I have seen, their teams are, not that they don't know, but their teams are focused more on themselves and them individually. And that's completely fine, but when you're focused on your store's goals as a whole and you all know what you're shooting for, and you know what the Rising Star is, and you know what the Shooting Star is, and when you know what the Logan Trophy is, everyone's going to be so much more motivated to get there.

Hildamay Cruz: And whenever I was at the Huddle and I won the Rising Star, each of them knew exactly what that meant. Each of them knew what the award was, what we all did to get there, and like I said it was making the best out of every client, everyone knowing what the goal was. We made a big board that said Rising Star, we made a goal with like our-

Chad Jordan: I want to say, Back Bar? How are you guys?

Hildamay Cruz: Paid Back Bar? Very good. So-

Chad Jordan: How? How are you good?

Hildamay Cruz: We average-

Chad Jordan: You're lucky, let me guess. You're just lucky, you won the Paid Back Bar lottery.

Hildamay Cruz: Oh, we're so lucky. And you know what's funny? Is that everyone... a lot of people that think about, that I've kind of heard, you know, about our store... how does [inaudible 00:32:23] do this or how do they do that? Like, "oh, they're so lucky. Oh, Hildamay's so lucky." And it brings me back to you talking about luck. It really isn't about luck, people are not just coming in the door and they're just like, "I'm going to do this this and that, and yeah. You know, I'm going to pay all this money and-"

Chad Jordan: "I won the MVP and I want product, and you know, I need it-"

Hildamay Cruz: That's right. You know, that's not what it's about and its not about lucky. Each of my girls are not lucky, and my store's not lucky. Each of them work so hard on just making the best out of every client, and when I say that, its they want to shampoo the clients. You know, for them, for those clients to have that good experience. They want to educate them on product, because they want the clients to know what they should be using and what makes their hair look as good as it does, or when they bring in a picture like, "Oh, I have exactly what you need to have your hair cut look like that."

Hildamay Cruz: And it's... they're passionate about their jobs, their haircuts, their education when it comes to educating them on products, when it comes to doing Back Bar and upselling not only for their own benefits but for the benefits of the client, because they truly have the absolute best experience. And that's obviously going to have them come back.

Chad Jordan: I hear frustrations from managers sometimes about they don't sell enough retail, and its a struggle with Paid Back Bar or getting their clients to know about online check-in, or any of those sorts of things. So what advice would you give managers that, and they're not complaining, but they're frustrated at the lack of growth they've seen in some of these key areas.

Hildamay Cruz: I would tell them to start with "why." I actually read that book-

Chad Jordan: The letter? The letter?

Hildamay Cruz: Y? W-h-y. Start with "why."

Chad Jordan: Porque? Right?

Hildamay Cruz: Porque, yes, you're right, "why." I would tell them to start with "why." And I didn't think about, I've read "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek, the book, and I didn't think about this before I read the book, that's just what I did. Anytime that I would tell my girls about something I told them the reason of why we should do it.

Hildamay Cruz: I'm like, "Hey, I have this idea and this is why I think we should do it. This is why I think it's going to be successful." So when I talk to my girls and when I coach them, and when I coach them on retail, when I coach them on Back Bar, I start with "why." I tell them, you know, if you actually show the clients what you used, if you tell them how much they need to use, and if you show them how to do it, they're going to want to buy it because you showed them and you took that time to work with them individually.

Hildamay Cruz: And whenever my girls offer the MVP and the client says no I'm like, "hey, why don't you let the clients know why the MVP is so good. Why it's so awesome, why it's good to get a shampoo, why they should buy into this experience. And I think them letting their clients know why, "hey did you want to do the MVP today? It's our signature service, it's awesome, you're going to love it." Or if they say no to the MVP, my girls don't stop there.

Chad Jordan: Oh, I know, I was there. I had to get... I wasn't going to leave... [crosstalk 00:35:26]

Hildamay Cruz: They don't take no for an answer! And they, you know, they don't stop there. If they say they don't want the MVP, "okay, well we have an awesome shampoo, just a wash, if you want to get that hair off, if you want to double check it, and make sure your hair's nice and clean, and we'll even style it afterwards." So they let the clients-

Chad Jordan: And it doesn't sound rude. Or it doesn't sound like it's hustling when you do it. It sounds very natural, like its in the clients best interests like "why wouldn't I want... yeah I guess I need that, you're right."

Hildamay Cruz: Exactly. Yeah, so I kind of coach them on why we do what we do, and they coach the clients on why they should buy into what we do. So that's kind of how I look at it, is just if you let them know the reason of why we do what we do or why we're encouraging them to sell more retail or to know their product, they buy into it. And it's not that you're manipulating them to think in a certain way. You know, in my opinion, if I tell someone to do something I'm not telling them to do something for my own benefit, I'm telling them so that they know what's in it for them. You know, what's in it for you. What's in it for your client. What's in it for our store. For all of us, overall. And I... yeah, so I would just encourage them to start with "why." To sit down and think about what you want the outcome to be. What you want the outcome to be with your team member when you're trying to encourage them out of your frustration-

Chad Jordan: I'm not crazy, right? It's to the manager's benefit to have all the team members do all that stuff, right? Isn't it a reward to you as well? I mean not just that you feel good, but it actually helps [crosstalk 00:37:03] you make ends meet even better.

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, it does. And at the beginning when I became a manager I thought, "okay, why do I want to do this?" And I remember at my interview, you know, the Roberts obviously one of questions they ask is "why do you want to be a manager?" And at that point I had absolutely no managerial experience, I didn't even know how to do a schedule. I knew nothing. I was a stylist, I wasn't an assistant manager. And I didn't think that I was only with the company for a year and a half, I didn't think that that interview would actually result in me getting the job, but I was like "well, you know what? I think this would be a really good experience." Like my first professional job interview, I think it would be a really good experience.

Hildamay Cruz: But I sat there and I'm like, "well why am I going to this interview? Like do I really want to be a manager?" Because they encouraged me, you know, it wasn't something that I wanted to do, I thought I wanted to do, so I thought "okay, if I did want to be manager, why would I want to be manager?" And I sat there and I thought about it and I was like, "you know what? I think I would want to be a manager because I want to give everyone the experience to work for a really really good place and to be happy working and to enjoy what they do."

Chad Jordan: You want influence, then.

Hildamay Cruz: That was exactly what I was going to say, I want to influence them to want to be better and to do better and I look back and I reflect on the past two years and it makes me so happy that I know that I have been able to do that.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, and you've done it so well, that you couldn't help but win all those awards, and hop your way on the stage, and so... what I want to do right now, I've got a list of ten questions, and I'm going to ask you in just a second, and those are just for fun. But I want to ask you two rounds of questions, and the first...let's see, let's go to this one first.

Chad Jordan: What do you know now, being a griseled veteran of two years as a manager, but having won Manager of the Year and all that kind of stuff, what do you know now that you wish you would have known when you took the store, and when opened the store? And looking back you go, "if I had known this sooner, I could have even gotten there faster," or anything like that. What's something you look back on, this would have been cool to know, and the reason I'm asking, just to give you time to think a little more about it, is because other managers out there are going to be in your shoes getting ready to open a store or moving to a new location or becoming a manager for the first time. And if they had known this hitting the ground running, maybe it would make their lives easier. So what would you say that it'd be?

Hildamay Cruz: I would say I wish that I knew that just because you are the manager, or you are the boss, you don't have to change the way that you are. You don't have to go into this position and think, "this is how I'm going to be as a manager, this is what I'm going to do, this is how I'm going to be." You don't have to be a different person.

Hildamay Cruz: You need to figure out how you are as a person, and your good qualities as a person, and you need to use those for whatever goals you want to accomplish with that team in that store. You don't have to play a "I'm the boss now so I just have to be this authoritative person because if not, no one's gonna listen to me." You need to just figure out what your goal is and you need to be who you are.

Chad Jordan: Oh, I love that.

Hildamay Cruz: Just be who you are, be who you are, and care about your people and you will be successful as a manager. If you are authentic and you genuinely care about your people, it doesn't matter what you don't know, because you will figure it out. But you have to be in it for the right reason. You have to be in it for the right reason.

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Hildamay Cruz: I was thinking of how to rephrase that, but there's just no other way to put it. You know, if you're in it for the money, if you're in it... that's fine, but you also have to be in it for the good of your people and the good of your team.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, one thing I know about stylists: they can spot fake. You know? And whether it's hair color, or whatever, but they can spot if the manager is fake and the team members will not respond well if they feel like someone's in it, like you said, just for the money or just... it's a job.

Chad Jordan: You guys are stylists, you guys are amazing, you could go get a job anywhere, but why would you want to work at Sport Clips and specifically why would somebody want to work at your Sport Clips location and you, as I walked in their yesterday... I'm sorry, as I hopped in their yesterday, I could tell. Your store loves you, they love working with you and for you, you've created just an amazing culture there. I see it on social media but actually to get to see it in person was a treat for me.

Chad Jordan: So, okay, I love that lesson. Be you. Don't go changing for your store. Incorporate who you are into how you lead, and that is something that you've represented well.

Chad Jordan: My next question, and this could be... you could answer this as many times with as many options as you want, but... who have been some of your biggest... I don't want to say cheerleaders, who have... who's influenced you the most over these last couple of years or maybe your entire Sport Clips career? Who do you really owe your... I know you've been great at deflecting your success, but who would you want to make sure that you recognize who's made the biggest impact on your career here?

Hildamay Cruz: So, that for me is such an easy answer. But there is more than one person.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, that's what I figured.

Hildamay Cruz: But... so Tessa Lee, she is my Operations Manager and she is absolutely amazing.

Chad Jordan: Did I see her at more than one store yesterday?

Hildamay Cruz: You did.

Chad Jordan: Okay, either she's cloned herself or-

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, she's a work horse.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, she was at two, three, four locations yesterday.

Hildamay Cruz: Her... So when we first opened my store, like I said, we automatically clicked, and we had the same vision. And having that same vision has motivated me to keep going and being a manager, it's so easy to be excited that first month or that first year, but to keep that excitement, that is what matters. And having someone that's there to push you and to keep you consistent, I feel has a lot to do with it. But Tessa, she had the same vision. She had the same goal. We both lead by example, which I think is extremely important. You can manage and you can lead in so many different ways, but don't ever ask people to do something that you're not going to do yourself. And that's something that I have stuck with since day one because she is that way and she motivates me to continue to lead by example and continue to encourage my team members to also lead by example, and she has helped me so much.

Hildamay Cruz: I didn't even know that I would be even qualified to win all the awards that we have won. I knew that I wanted to have a really good team, but I had no idea. And Tessa in the past, she's been extremely successful in her Sport Clip's past too, she actually is a Manager of the Year, she won Manager of the Year.

Chad Jordan: I'm kicking myself, because I should have scheduled podcast time for her. So, Tessa. I'm going to say "if you're listening." Of course you're listening to Hildamay, or watching, you're... I need to get you on the Hall of Fame podcast, so we will figure this out, because she's is a hall of famer as well, and like you said. You probably wouldn't be where you are today without her and her amazing story, so.

Hildamay Cruz: Definitely. Just how genuine, how hardworking, and how caring she is about everyone. She honestly she doesn't do anything for attention or for anything that has to do with anything other than wanting to help people. And she has helped me so much, last year at the Huddle I told her-

Chad Jordan: Which was your first Huddle.

Hildamay Cruz: Not the-

Chad Jordan: Was that your first Huddle?

Hildamay Cruz: Actually, the Roberts are really awesome so I got to go when my store wasn't even open.

Chad Jordan: Wow, okay.

Hildamay Cruz: So this was actually my third Huddle. So my second Huddle, in San Antonio, right after the awards ceremony I told Tessa and I was like, "Tessa, like I really want this. You know, I want to win the Rising Star award. I want to get Manager of the Year. You know like, what do I need to do?" And she was like, "you're already awesome! We just need to figure out what we all need to do together to get you there." And to be honest, I... you know, we stuck with wanted to win the Rising Star, but I had no idea... no idea that I would actually win Manager of the Year.

Hildamay Cruz: I wanted to at... you know, at that Huddle, because you're so pumped, you're like "that's so cool! I want to win stuff too!" But she pushed me and I know she had a lot to do with me winning Manager of the Year too. And yeah she's just awesome. And I just... I reflect now and I think "everything that I said that I wanted and that I wanted to win, I didn't think that I would!" But I did. And it-

Chad Jordan: She was in your corner, pushing for you.

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, and she was in my corner every single step of the way, any time that I had any issues, any conflicts, anything that I need help with, she has never not answered her phone. She is awesome, and she's my biggest cheerleader. She's amazing, and she does that not with me with everyone. She gives everyone the same layout to be successful, but its up to you to take it and its up to you to do the right thing and its up to you to want to be successful.

Chad Jordan: And that's what a team does.

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: So, what... any other group of people, maybe, that you want to mention?

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah, the Roberts. I mean the Roberts are-

Chad Jordan: So Dan and Angie Roberts, they're the team leaders, that have eight, nine stores-

Hildamay Cruz: Eight, and they're working on the ninth, yep, that's supposed to open this summer. So they were the ones that encouraged me to apply to be a manager. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't even be a manager. I had no idea I even wanted to be a manager.

Chad Jordan: What makes it so great to work for them, to manage for them, what makes them so special?

Hildamay Cruz: So what makes them special, and they'll always say this, is that they don't only want the clients to have a championship experience. They always say that they want their employees to have a championship work place experience, and they care about everyone, all of their managers. They would be able to tell you all of their team member's names, and they have about a hundred, and they know every single one of them.

Chad Jordan: Wow.

Hildamay Cruz: They are... yeah, they treat you like family and they are... they're just amazing. They support you every step of the way too and they're in your corner too. They... I mean, I read the nomination that they made for me, and I was like balling.

Hildamay Cruz: And it was because, a lot of the things that I do I don't do them for any sort of recognition or for people to see, but to see that every... it was a really long nomination, but to see that they notice and they see everything that I do every day for my team and for my girls, and they... that they notice it, even with how busy their lives are, and with everything else that they have going on, it just shows that they truly care so much about their managers. And that's why I love working with them. They are just... they are the most genuine and the most humble bosses I have ever worked for, and they... they're so encouraging. They're encouraging and motivating.

Chad Jordan: I loved when you won, because it made me remember back in January, I think it was January, Angie emailed me saying "oh my gosh, we've got to get a nomination in for Hildamay, and what's the process? What do we do?" And I was like, "I don't know, that's not my side of things," so I said, "I think you need to contact this person," and then I didn't hear anything more, she might of said thank you or whatever, but so when... I was like, they figured it out. They traced it down on how to get the nomination in and again, you're so deserving.

Hildamay Cruz: And of course, my parents. My family, my dad. He is also the hardest working person that I know, and he's always said, "I want you to be better than me. I want you to take advantage of all the opportunities that you're going to be given, and I want you to take advantage of them." And you know, that's where I get my work ethic from. It's not easy to have a good work ethic. It's not easy to have a strong work ethic, and again, it's not easy to always do the right thing, but with how I was raised, it is easy for me. You know, it's easy for me-

Chad Jordan: It's in your DNA.

Hildamay Cruz: It's in my DNA, and it's... you know, it's because of my dad and my mom, I always say I get my sweetness and my good work ethic from my dad and I get my character and my sassiness from my mom.

Chad Jordan: Oh, okay. Nice.

Hildamay Cruz: And my grandma too. I mean, my family... they support me so much. And I'm their only child and they were okay with me moving to Nebraska and with me moving away from them because they knew how happy I was and how much I love my husband and now, even if now that my husband already finished his six years in the Air Force, and we could be moving back to Dallas, and they would love for me to be back in Dallas, but because they see how successful I have been in my career and how happy I am, where I am, they're okay with me not living close to them.

Chad Jordan: What do you call your mom and dad?

Hildamay Cruz: I call them mom and dad.

Chad Jordan: Oh, it's not mami or papi or-

Hildamay Cruz: My mama and, yeah, papi actually.

Chad Jordan: Okay, all right so, I'm telling Mama and Papi... Omaha's awesome! Whether you're watching or listening to this, I highly recommend you just check out homes in the area, because at some point maybe Hildamay and, does he go by Manny or Emmanuel?

Hildamay Cruz: Emmanuel.

Chad Jordan: Maybe they'll convince you guys to come up here and be closer to your baby girl. So that's my shout out to your parents. But, listen. This has been amazing. Too good, actually, because I don't want it to stop, but I need to get to my ten questions... my ten bonus questions that I'm going to ask you, but I have... we talked about retail a little bit, and it's American Crew month, when we're recording this podcast for the Help for the Hero Month, so I want to do a live read, I want to talk to all the stylists out there, the team members, the managers, about what's going to be going on with the Harley Davidson.

Chad Jordan: Okay, can you give me a second to do that?

Chad Jordan: All right, so here are the ten bonus questions that I've got for you. And by the way, I saw the Roberts because we're going to be recording their podcast, they're like hovering around out there like vultures just waiting to come into the podcast booth, but that's all right, you got first dibs.

Chad Jordan: You, actually, you're going to work today, right?

Chad Jordan: Yeah, I wonder if you'll be cutting any kangaroo hair today. Ten questions for you. And these are random, off the wall, won't make any sense, but we're going to go for it. Ready? Number one. Which super power would you most like to have?

Hildamay Cruz: I have always wanted to be able to teleport.

Chad Jordan: Oh, okay.

Hildamay Cruz: It would make it a lot easier-

Chad Jordan: Yeah, for commuting-

Hildamay Cruz: To be able-

Chad Jordan: To get to see Mama and Papi?

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah! It would be so much easier! And so much less expensive.

Chad Jordan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- I like it. What's your personal motto?

Hildamay Cruz: It might sound corny, but I would say always reach for the stars. No matter how hard that goal seems, just reach for it and try your best to do it. So reach for the stars.

Chad Jordan: You're walking that out for sure. Other than where you live now, where else in the world would you most like to live?

Hildamay Cruz: Anywhere with a beach.

Chad Jordan: Okay, you miss that about Cuba?

Hildamay Cruz: Yeah

Chad Jordan: And Omaha couldn't be further-

Hildamay Cruz: And I wouldn't live in Cuba again, I would love to visit though.

Chad Jordan: The Florida Keys, maybe. They've got beaches there. Who is a celebrity you'd most like to meet one day?

Hildamay Cruz: I would say Ellen. I think that [crosstalk 00:53:12] she's super inspirational [crosstalk 00:53:13] and inspiring.

Chad Jordan: That's who I have so many people say they want to meet. So we're going to... I don't know... we've got to have a Sport Clips day [crosstalk 00:53:22] at Ellen, in her studio.

Chad Jordan: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Hildamay Cruz: For sure, "oh my gosh."

Chad Jordan: For sure and oh my gosh, or oh my gosh?

Hildamay Cruz: Oh my gosh.

Chad Jordan: What sound or noise do you love?

Hildamay Cruz: I love the sound of waves.

Chad Jordan: Okay, that's why you want to live near a beach. What sound or noise do you hate?

Hildamay Cruz: I would say glass shattering. I don't like to hear glass shattering.

Chad Jordan: Like when you're in a restaurant and they break the plates or-

Hildamay Cruz: Yes!

Chad Jordan: What profession, other than your own, would you have been good at or at least have wanted to try? And you're getting a college degree in Communication and I think you had some Marketing experience in your background, and insurance agent and whatever you were doing, so what profession would that have been?

Hildamay Cruz: So, every since I was younger, I've always wanted to have my own talk show.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Hildamay Cruz: So I would say that would be one of them.

Chad Jordan: Well the Communication degree might come in handy!

Hildamay Cruz: But, actually, since I've gotten to talk to you more, I think your job is pretty darn cool!

Chad Jordan: Okay, watch it lady! Back off!

Hildamay Cruz: I know you're all about job security! But I just love how... I love your passion for culture. And I love how much you love your job, so...

Chad Jordan: Well, all right, well thank you. We'll see if we can create more opportunities around here.

Chad Jordan: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Hildamay Cruz: I would say my store. Just being able to make the vision that I had for my team and my girls happen, and just actually being able to influence them, and to see where they are now versus where they started, and seeing that I actually have made a difference and that they are all successful because of our team.

Chad Jordan: Shout out to IE601, Council Bluffs.

Chad Jordan: If Heaven... last question, if Heaven indeed exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Hildamay Cruz: I don't know what I would hear Him say, but I would say thank you to Him. Just thank you for giving me such a great life. I don't know what the future has in store for me but I know that with how young I am and everything that I've done and accomplished and all the opportunities I've been given, I'm just so grateful for them. I just want to say thank you.

Chad Jordan: Wow. That's an answer to that question I've never heard before. So, and you're unlike anyone I've met before. You... you know, maybe kangaroos shouldn't be your spirit animal, maybe a unicorn should be, because you are a rare blend of talent and passion and luck, no just... no luck involved other than getting to America. But super proud of you and your store. My gosh, what a great group of gals... one of them brought her daughter in because, bring your daughter to work day I guess, but just an amazing team.

Chad Jordan: Obviously your team leaders are amazing as well. But super proud of you. I know, especially you're getting your degree in September, the sky is the limit for you. Especially here at Sport Clips. I don't know, like you said, I don't know what the future holds, but I know it's a good future for you. So thank you for joining us on the podcast.

Hildamay Cruz: Thank you for having me!

Chad Jordan: All right, and thanks everybody for listening, tune in next week for another great episode. Thanks so much.