The event:

Serious Business 2011 held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in late
January. Neill Corporation’s Debra Neill Baker, Edwin Neill III and Carol Augusto
welcomed the sell-out crowd to the event themed, “No Ifs or Buts, Just
And,” by promising to expand attendees’ lives and their businesses.

On stage: Best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi, who overcame financial
hardship to earn a first-class education, kicked off the conference by demonstrating
the importance of personal relationships to business success. David
Wagner, owner of JUUT Salonspas, illustrated the similarities between
his personal triumph over cancer and the journey salons had of surviving
through the recent recession. Toni&Guy and TIGI co-founder James Morrison
demonstrated how winning attitudes and behaviors push businesses and
individuals to reach their full potential. Daniel Amen, M.D., pointed out the
importance of the mind-body connection, and shared applicable solutions
for overcoming bad habits to build a healthier brain. And, in an inspirational
speech that concluded with a heartfelt standing ovation, Aimee Mullins, who
was born without fibulae in both legs, shared her heroic outlook that led her
to become a world-record holding amputee athlete, model and activist.

Down to business: While the main-stage speakers motivated attendees
to action, the breakout speakers got down to business. Gregory Bledsoe,
a civil rights and employment-related litigation attorney, revealed the
inner workings of the legal system as it relates to the beauty business. As
the director of operations for Jackson Ruiz Salon, Heath Smith shared his
best business practices for growing a successful salon. Motivational speaker
and former salon owner, Geno Stampora showed owners how to M.A.R.K.E.T.
themselves. And, Harry Wood IV, salon director of Van Michael Salons, outlined
the steps to becoming a six-figure stylist.

Overheard: “Disability is anything that undermines your confidence in
your ability. Acknowledging it is the first step in having the power to change
it,” said Mullins in her keynote speech.

“People with good social capital find jobs more quickly, are
more likely to be promoted, receive larger bonuses and are
7 percent more productive,” said speaker Keith Ferrazzi.

“Don’t let a small thing like talent stand in
the way of success,” said James Morrison.

David Wagner has a little fun with his
before-and-after cancer pictures.

editor Stacey Soble
presents benchmarks
from the annual

Aimee Mullins is touched by a standing ovation
after her presentation.