barberWhile still in high school, Terry Sumerlin realized that his family would be unable to send him to college. So he attended Barber College and by the time he was a senior in high school he barbered in a barber shop in San Antonio, TX.

The years in that shop brought Terry his own brand of education and wisdom. Wisdom from listening to others and an education about people that would be vital in his eventual profession. From those formative years Terry developed the term “Barber-osophy” that describes his wisdom gathering as a young barber.

Early in life Terry’s desire was to be a preacher and he spent 25 years doing just that. Then he realized that he could serve God in other ways also and his life changed direction. Terry is a people person and being in front of folks and encouraging them in positive ways is where his heart is.

Teaching the Dale Carnegie® course for 6 years gave him the incentive to be a public speaker. His mentor/instructor at that time was a public speaker and Terry asked him what it would take to be in that profession. He said, “What have you done?”

This was certainly a good question, but one that almost upset this aspiring leader. But realizing that he was probably not ready to put himself forward as a speaker and that he had no credentials that would propel him in the desired direction, Terry began to think, “What if I wrote a book?”


From that thought process he reasoned, “I’m a barber. What if I wrote a book on life principles from my barber experiences?” His first book came soon afterwards titled Barber-osophy – Shear Success for Your Cutting Edge, in which he coined the phrase “Barber-osophy.”

Soon after this, Terry ran into financial difficulties which necessitated counseling with an IRS agent on a regular basis. They came to know each other very well (those guys can get close to you, you know?) and he told her that he had written a book and asked if she would read it. She said she would and added, “Surely it’s not on financial matters!” But this bump in the road to success was a positive in Terry’s life. He not only learned more concerning financial responsibility but also about persevering through tough times; principles that a leadership professional would need maturity and experience in before writing and speaking successfully.

Terry has always learned life lessons from the tales and oddities of people. One of the strangest occurrences was when a rancher popped into the shop at lunch, looking for the lady barber that worked with him. “Where’s the lady?” he blurted as he stormed through the door. He was informed that she was at lunch.

barber5The colorful rancher said, “I promised her I would bring a llama by.” He then left and shortly returned, leading the llama, nonchalantly right through the door of the barber shop. Terry had to inform him that the state inspector would frown on this and the insistent rancher left and never returned.

People are people wherever we go, but some are more eccentric and strange than others. One day a Catholic priest came in and he was wearing a hair piece and carrying a sack. He asked Terry to blend the hairpiece into what natural hair he had. When finished, he opened the sack and revealed 5 more hairpieces that he wanted the same treatment for.

Terry says, “You must expect the unexpected. You just never know what people will do next.” Surely the unexpected makes life alive and interesting.

In his latest book, Leadership: It Takes More Than A Great Haircut, Terry demonstrates with great life stories, quotes and anecdotes how important it is for all of us to be a positive influence in the lives of others.

Terry SumerlinAnd Terry surely practices what he preaches. He is a full time speaker and author today and spends his days seeking ways to be that positive influence with as many folks as possible.

When your church, association or corporation needs a speaker I would encourage you to consider Terry Sumerlin. He will love your people and encourage their hearts, a prescription we all need.

Visit Terry’s website at www.barber-osophy.com