Serious Business Challenges Attendees with Question, "Will You?"

Originally published on Salon Today on January 15, 2017. Original article:

On Sunday, January 15, Serious Business 2017 kicked off in the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans, when hosts Debra Neill BakerEdwin Neill and Carol Augusto challenged the audience with their theme, which was also the thought-provoking question, “What are you willing to do to be who you want to be?”

“Our vision was set almost 20 years ago, and the intention has been to expose, evoke and evolve our thinking to elevate our industry. By opening our minds, we are leading to our evolution,” Neill Baker said.

A powerful roster of speakers inspired the audience along this soul-searching quest. Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times and the author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, counseled the audience on productivity and efficiency, as well as the science of habits in business.

“Successful people make thinking into a habit—they develop contemplative routines,” Duhigg told attendees.

Moderated by Scott Buchanan, the salon owner panel included Van Council, Eveline Charle, Debra Penzone and David Wagner.  Photo courtesy of Jon Soble

Moderated by Scott Buchanan, the salon owner panel included Van Council, Eveline Charle, Debra Penzone and David Wagner.

Photo courtesy of Jon Soble

After telling the story of how one of the most important musicals, West Side Story, was created when classical ballet was blended with a street-gang story, Duhigg told the audience, “Innovation brokers expose themselves to different ideas and practice jamming them together.”

Anders Ericsson, Ph. D., Conradi Eminent Scholar and the professor of psychology at Florida State University, advised the owners, managers and stylists how to attain superior performance. Ericsson is the author of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise and the Road to Excellence, and his research on musicians inspired Malcom Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule.”

On mastering success, Ericsson cautioned the audience it takes more than hours of practice to master a skill. “Practice often starts with play as a child. Then you need to find a teacher and start deliberate practice,” he says. “Stretch outside the comfort zone and challenge yourself. Throughout the process maintain motivation and explore new ideas and experiences.”

Then, Nutritionist, Yogini and Author Kimberly Snyder showed the audience how nutrition impacts beauty. As the author of The Beauty Detox Solution and the creator of The Glowing Green Smoothie, Snyder is a go-to nutritionist for many top celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, Kerry Washington, Channing Tatum and Reese Witherspoon.  Snyder offered ideas that can help salon owners and their teams change their lives as well as their guests.

“Women define their beauty by their skin and hair, but you have to heal yourself first,” Snyder said, as she walked attendees through some of the key steps, including internal nourishment, external nourishment, peak beauty sleep, connecting to nature, and a balance of exercise.

To open the general session of the second day of Serious Business, a panel of leading salon owners took the stage, discussing the “Will You?” theme and how willingness plays a role in the salon. Scott J’s Scott Buchanan moderated the panel with included Van Michael’s Van CouncilEvelineCharles’ Eveline CharlesCharles Penzone Salons’ Debra Penzone, and Juut SalonSpas’ David Wagner.  

For example, the panel members shared how willingness played a role in each of them building multi-million dollar business with multiple locations, as well as strategies for dealing with employees that are unwilling to follow the salon’s rules.

Wagner, who is also known as the Daymaker, his personal strategy for giving his team a heads up when he isn’t at his personal best. “One time when I wasn’t having a great day, one of my employees asked me if he had done something wrong because I wasn’t my usual self,” he said. “I was surprised because it had nothing to do with anyone on the team, I was just having a bad day. I’ve learned I need to give my team a heads up when I am in that space, so they don’t make assumptions based on my mood.”

The next inspiration to hit the Serious Business stage came from an unlikely source—a 15-year-old. Caleb Maddix is an author of a self-help business book for kids, a viral video genius and an entrepreneur, and he just got his driver’s permit.

Maddix opened with the statement, “I am anti-gun.” After pausing for reaction, he explained further. “Gonna prevents you from doing what you dream about, as in I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that,” Maddix said. “When I was 12, I wanted to write a book and I told myself, ‘I’m gonna write a book when I’m 20.’ Then, I asked myself, what am I waiting for?”

As the founder of the learning experience company MindvalleyVishen Lakhiani has captured numerous awards for culture and workspace design. His best-selling book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, draws knowledge from the world’s leading thinkers including Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Peter Kiamandis, Ken Wilber and Arianna Huffington. At Serious Business, he customized his corporate ideas to a salon-sized audience.

Wrapping up two days of powerful education, Lakhiani demonstrated the power of positivity in building with his presentation, “The 7 Keys to Attracting Amazing Talent and Building a Powerful Culture.”

“Most people spend 70 percent of their working hours at work, it needs to be more than just a job,” Lakhiani said.

With a vision of creating the world’s greatest workplace by 2020, Lakhiani laid out his key steps:

  1. Create Attraction: Create job ads that appeal to the heart

  2. Find the Right Fit: Know your bar and hire for attitude

  3. Create a Common Code: Define your values and live for them

  4. Happiness: a culture of positivity

  5. Growth: Provide opportunities for life-long learning

  6. Meaning: Make it more than ‘work’

  7. Significance: Make people feel recognized

Throughout the two-day conference, attendees were invited to design their own Serious Business experience, by choosing among a wide selection of breakout educators, many of them salon and spa owners themselves willing to share their best business practices.

Gila Rut’s Keri Davis-Duffy laid out strategies for developing salon training programs with her new train-the-trainer concept..

Kimberly Snyder continued the health exploration for participants who were interested.

Headlines The Salon's Gayle Fulbright and David Linde showed salons how to tap a cause to build a sytrong culture. 

Heath Smith, founder and director of operations at Ruiz Salon Group, offered practical proven advice to identify and overcome weak spots and maximize strengths.

Gadabout’s Frank and Jana Westerbeke walked owners through the development of their vision, their agreement, their behaviors, their values and their word of the year. 

Charles and Co.’s Kathy Thalman, Holly Vaught and Chase Thalman, demonstrated how to divide and conquer by cultivating strong managers and values that guide business success.

Aveda Global Educator Erica Adam helped salons fortify their education programs.

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