Serious Business 2018: It’s Time for a Pivot

serious business 2018

At Serious Business last January, attendees were asked, “Will You?” as speakers and breakout sessions honed in on will, and how to maintain motivation.

For the January 14-15, 2018 event, the “Will You?” theme has evolved into “Pivot: Make Your Move.” Owners will be pushed to act upon plans rather than just make them.

To truly understand this year’s theme, it’s important to look back on the evolution of Serious Business themes. In the past four years, Trust Me, Naked, Intimacy and Will You? naturally led to Pivot.

“We come up with the themes by paying attention to what’s going on in the world,” Neill says.

“For ‘Pivot,’ the message is it’s no longer an option to just think about it. We always have to be introspective, but we also have to make some moves.”

Carol Augusto, executive producer of Serious Business, says it’s all about making the move while maintaining the foundation of your business.

“Your mindset needs to be more flexible in leadership, systems, and structure in order to attract and retain staff,” she says.

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The 2018 Line-Up

With the “Pivot” theme in mind, this year’s mainstage speakers will cover a wide variety of relevant topics for owners and managers.

Kim Scott

Kim Scott: After seeing Scott speak at South by Southwest, Neill knew she was the right fit for Serious Business. “She coaches leaders to be equal parts fierce and compassionate,” Neill says. “Kick ’em and kiss ’em at the same time.” Scott authored Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, and is also the co-founder and CEO of Candor, Inc., which builds tools to make it easier to follow the advice she offers in her book. Learn more at


Winn Claybaugh: The author of Be Nice, (Or Else!) and host of the audio series, MASTERS Audio Club, will speak to the Serious Business audience about prioritizing kindness and acts of service to build a better salon culture.


Patrick McIvor: With close to 30 years’ experience in the beauty industry, McIvor has branched out into speaking engagements and blogging. His TED talk on the power of touch resonated with many industry professionals, and he continues to spread his message via HI : ) Media Solutions, the company he founded. Learn more at

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Robert Cialdini: With years of scientific research on the psychology of influence under his belt, Dr. Cialdini recently released Pre-suasion, his follow-up book to Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion. He will challenge owners to think about their clients and staff as they grow their businesses and increase revenue. Learn more about Dr. Cialdini at


Barbara De Laere: Aveda’s new global GM shares her journey through the beauty industry and all over the world, as well as how the salon industry should respond to these times of great change. Learn more at


Gina Pell: Tech entrepreneur Pell recently coined the word “perennial.” “The term is used to bridge the generations,” Augusto says. “We can all be perennials—ever evolving and ever blooming.” Pell’s newsletter, The What, is a weekly list of exceptional recommendations from Pell and her best friend, Amy Parker, designed to spark your intellect and whet your appetite. Learn more at

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Donna Gates: Author of The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity, The Body Ecology Guide to Growing Younger: Anti-Aging Wisdom for Every Generation, and Stevia: Cooking with Nature’s Calorie-Free Sweetener, Gates has been a force in the nutrition and diet industry for the past 25 years. In 1994, she introduced the natural sweetener Stevia to the United States. Learn more about her work in digestive health and body ecology at


Tom Bilyeu: Founder of the Impact Theory, Bilyeu is on a mission to cultivate and monetize mission-based companies that are focused on solving meaningful challenges. “He’s all about finding your passion and making your mark on the world,” Augusto says. Learn more at

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Must-See Breakouts

Off the mainstage, attendees will have the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions, which they can choose from the following speakers/topics.

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Neil Ducoff: The CEO of Strategies always has his finger on the pulse of the salon industry. Get the inside scoop on where the industry stands currently and where it’s headed.


Bob Phibbs: CEO and founder of The Retail Doctor, a retail consulting company, Phibbs is also speaking at the SalonBiz PowerUp event on Saturday, January 13. “We felt it was critical to give people insight and training on retail,” Augusto says.

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Donna Gates: Take Gates’ mainstage speech and put it into action with her tips on living a healthy lifestyle during her breakout session.

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Lance Courtney: The director of business development and education at Easihair Pro will address the importance of add-on services and what that revenue can mean to growing your business.


Gerard Scarpaci: Stylist, educator and creator of the Hairbrained community, Scarpaci will help owners understand how to use social media to find growth opportunities.


Kurt Kueffner: A 40-year veteran of the beauty industry, Kueffner will offer his expertise in creating a career path in men’s grooming.

“There are a lot of people worried that Amazon is taking our business, but there are many industries that would kill to have the experience element the beauty industry has.”

Hiring/Training Panel: Moderator Gordon Miller will lead the discussion on hiring and training programs in salons across the country. The following owners will participate in the panel: Brandon Hensley (Tangerine Salons in the Dallas area), Tim Belcher (Whole Salons in the Tampa area), Tatum Neill (Paris Parker Salons in the New Orleans area), and Karie Bennett (Atelier Salons in San Jose).

Neill and Augusto worked to ensure this year’s breakout speakers give attendees the tools they need to go home and take action.

Photos from Serious Business 2017

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“Pivot is a noun and a verb,” says Neill. “Each person in that audience is pivotal to their business. They are the pivot and they also need to pivot.”

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Augusto adds, “We want to be sure they leave with the mindset to go back and pivot and be pivotal. I think people are going to go home with tools and inspiration to take their businesses to the next level.

Currently, the ticket price for Serious Business is $420. It will go up to $470 on November 14 and up to $520 on December 27. For more information, visit


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