Serious Business 2020 Encourages Owners to Hit the ‘Reset’ Button

  • In an emotional opening, Serious Business’ Debra Neill-Baker remembers her husband Michael Baker, while sharing her need to “Reset.”

As the New Year turned the page on a new decade, Serious Business 2020, held Jan. 19-20 in New Orleans, encouraged approximately 1,800 owners, managers and beauty professionals to “Stop, reflect, breathe and RESET.”

Neill Corporation’s Debra Neill-Baker opened the business conference by explaining the theme. “Reset is not a steady state, if you put the prefix ‘re’ in from of any word, it means to change, to begin again,” she said.

“I’m in the middle of a Reset,” she continued, referring to the loss of her husband Michael Baker, who took his life in November 2019. “Michael was known for his extreme kindness, passion and deep creativity, and with deep passion often comes deep pain. I’m in the process of falling apart, but I’m going to fall back together, and we all have those periods.”

After her empowering welcome, Neill-Baker welcomed Michelle Baker of Swan River Yoga to the stage to perform a soundbath, a cleansing performance of singing, chimes and crystal Tibetan singing bowls.

The first keynote to take the stage was Dan Heath, a best-selling author and the co-founder of Thinkwell. Heath educated the audience about designing an experience for their clients by creating peak moments.

“The four elements of a peak moment are Elevation (it lifts us above the every day); Insight (when we realize something about ourselves or others); Pride (when we are recognized or stood up for something); and Connection (it deepens our ties to others).”

He cautioned that to create a memorable experience every detail of your service or your business doesn’t have to be impeccable. “Instead, invest in the moments they’ll never forget,” he says.

Next, Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Happiness and The Happiness Equation demonstrated how he trained his brain toward happiness after a tough year when his marriage fell apart and his best friend committed suicide.

“It’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking instead of thinking yourself into a new way of acting,” he says.

Pasricha challenged the audience to embrace one of three activities for 20 minutes a day for 20 days in a row: 1) Take a brisk nature walk without a cell phone; 2) Journal about a few things for which you are grateful or 3) Read 20 pages of fiction in a real book.

HairDesigner TV’s Vivienne Mackinder followed Pasricha, showing how she’s evolved her client consultation by tapping into the emotional drivers that determine the client’s destiny.

“I ask them if they want their hairstyle to whisper, scream or shout; if their personality is edgy, classic or trendy and if they want to look sexy, boyish or feminine,” Mackinder said.

After lunch of networking and connection, Peter Sheahan, a growth consultant and the CEO of the Karrikins Group, told the audience that it wasn’t companies that transform themselves, it’s leaders who do.

“If the rate of change outside your business is faster than the rate of change inside of it, then you are becoming less relevant,” he coached. “In order to be great and stay great, you have to be able to escape the gravity of your own success.”

Next, Millennial Motivator Amber Rae encouraged the audience to face their emotions. “Life is magical, and it is messy,” she said. “How we navigate our inner world determines our joys and successes.”

The next speaker to take the stage was Lorean Cairns, CEO and founder of the International Salon Group and Fox and Jane. She talked about her journey to create an engaging salon culture.

“I spent seven years at my first salon in a small market figuring out what works in a salon culture. Then I spent six months in New York city figuring out what didn’t work,” Cairns shared. “So I started my own salon with two stylists. My brand now has 150 people in three states and two countries.”

As the annual wellness speaker, Dr. Apostolos Lekkos, a specialist in functional and regenerative medicine, reviewed a number of lifestyle approaches that have a big impact on health, helping to offset genetics, such as high-intensity interval workouts and intermittent fasting.

He also shared his one-month rule. “If you get upset about something, ask yourself if you’ll still be upset about it in a month. If you won’t be, then let it go,” he said. “The way we think affects our health more than anything. If you don’t know who you are, then go create it.”

The last speaker of the day was Activist and Empowerment Specialist Alexis Jones, who  offered the Serious Business crowd a plethora of wisdom, including this gem from her mother:  “As long as you live a life of consumption and not contribution, you’ll never live in the warehouse of joy.”

To close out the epic day of education, Debra Neill-Baker and Serious Business Executive Producer Carol Augusto invited T. Ray to play Rise Up.

On the second day of Serious Business, attendees designed their own education by choosing among a variety of breakout sessions, including “Learn to Navigate Your Emotional World, Tap into your Intuition and Live Your Authentic Truth,” led by Amber Rae; “Salon Sisters: Lessons and Learnings,” an interactive panel session including salon owners Bonnie Conte, Gayle Fulbright, Maggie DiFalco and Rowena Yeager, led by Mary Wilson; “Hemp Your Health and Business” by Christy Thiel; “The Heart and Mind of Running a Salon” by Jim Pacifico and Brandon Hensley; “Innovation in the Client Experience,” by Jodi Ohama; “Your Guide to Coaching through Culture,” by Lorean Cairns; “Five Functions by Qnity” by Tom Kuhn and Candice Gliatto; and “Beauty Behind the Mirror,” by Vivienne Mackinder.


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