Situated in the sweeping ballrooms and hallways of Melbourne’s Crown Casino and Hotel, the KAO brand Goldwell/KMS’ national MBE event for 2018 presented education, inspiration and networking on a grand scale. Two days of speakers, a Vegas themed party night and hours invested into strengthening that inimitable Goldwell/KAO community summed up MBE. If you won’t be able to make it to the international event in Vegas later in the year, they brought the excitement, the high caliber of presentation and even the showgirls directly to you.

Beginning with registration and lunch on the Sunday, attendees were able to find familiar faces and make new friends before the welcome from KAO General Manager Justin Anderson. The theme of the event was Ignite Your Potential, a title given literal life in the shining selfie lights found in everyone’s swag bags. Justin encouraged attendees to take the opportunity of MBE to take a breath, stop, interact and listen, and pointed to changing industries such as the taxi industry, and the disruptor of Uber, to paint a picture of the ever-evolving salon industry and how to thrive through change. He also let attendees know that the person who used the event’s official hashtag (#MBEAU18) the most on social media over the next 26 hours would win an iPhone X – game on.

Tim Gard was the first official speaker and eventual MC, making every attendee laugh with his array of props and ‘ex-stressories’ as he has titled them. Fittingly, his seminar focused on using humour to deal with stressful situations, and he had no end of comical airport, airplane and hotel anecdotes that he utilised to encourage audience members to create a comic vision. Practical advice in this regard includes the guidance to act rather than reacting, change your perception from seeing horror stories to making memorable moments and resetting after every negative encounter. As an example, when people are late for their appointment, don’t be angry – collect those stories. His positive attitude spread to the audience, who he advised to have fun, connect with those around you and look people in the eye and smile. It speaks to the tone of the seminar that it ended with dozens of attendees at the front of the room playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on nose flutes.

Geoff Ramm closed the day with an engaging presentation based on his Celebrity Service concept. After asking attendees to rate their salon from 1-10 he then asked them to envision what their service would be if a Hollywood movie star came in – noticeably higher, we bet, and it’s that gap in service that Geoff is trying to bridge. Tangible ways to fill that gap include creating excitement at every client touch point, maybe even through something as simple as a compliment, taking into account what your clients love for especially personalised service and remembering that there are no ‘regular’ clients. Geoff also introduced the ‘third option’ and made attendees do this Two Minute Challenge of idea generation, where attendees were quickly creating new ice cream concepts and business ideas. Geoff encouraged attendees to take two pieces of advice and give them the Celebrity Service treatment to full effect before moving on to the next two, and the audience left energised to do just that.

That night, attendees showed up to the event’s Vegas themed event, a pre-cursor to the brand’s international MBE later in the year, and something alluded to with signs and pop-up chapels used as image backdrops for the conference earlier in the day. Guests went appropriately all-out on the attire, dressing in sequins and feathers, with fake babies strapped to them Hang Over-style, in veils and white dresses, as playing cards and more. Show girls and topless male waiters provided photo booth accessories of sorts, while drinks and canapés flowed, and a DJ and saxophonist had the party raging all night. MBE was on, officially.

It’s a credit to those same shotgun brides and giant playing cards that the ballroom was packed at 9am the next morning for another day of speakers. The first presentation was by Rowdy McLean who offered insights from his many years of business success, giving attendees the seven things we often overlook but which are vital in making your business successful and sustainable. These strategies were based on the three pillars of place, product and, most importantly, people. He asked attendees to articulate the point of difference they’ll be famous for, envision what great customer experience feels like and keep score with the one magic metric you can clearly communicate to your team every week. In a touching story about his estranged father, Rowdy discussed AQ – that is his attitude equation of circumstances plus attitude plus action to equal results. Attitude is infectious, he noted, and shapes the game in business and life.

Doctor Helena Popovic then took to the stage to discuss brain boosting, particularly from the perspective that a healthy mind equals a healthy body and vice versa. She touched on the topic of neuro-plasticity, or the concept that the brain is malleable and we can influence how it operates, claiming that excellence and health is a habit, as we are what we constantly do. Speaking from her medical experience and personal experience in caring for her father with dementia, she offered twenty fundamental brain boosting principles, from laughing and smiling, to dietary notes and attitude directives, as well as the need for sunshine, sleep, active learning, constant curiosity and gratitude.

After lunch, a panel presentation hosted by KAO’s own Rita Marcon was on the agenda. The panel hosted four hairdressers at different stages of their career to present ‘The Life Cycle Of A Hairdresser’, with Sienna Prince-Rainkin of Wildlife, Kristie Wheal of Impressions Hair, Claire Dornauf or Convict Cutters and Sophie Simpson of Headroom each taking part in the panel discussion. Each woman described their history in hairdressing, including their triumphs and challenges, and shared the advice they would give to their former selves – including that hard work pays off, it’s important to be a sponge and to say yes to everything. The women also discussed their greatest mentors and why they love what they do, before the discussion opened up to the audience at large. The presenters and the crowd discussed what they would like to see change in the industry, and what part of that change they should play, with answers ranging from education to regulation, increased psychological courses and elements of perception coming into the conversation.

The final presentation was from motivational speaker Sam Cawthorn who had the whole room in tears and somehow also fits of laughter as he shared his inspirational story, having lost his arm and much of the mobility in his leg in a horrific car accident over a decade ago. He used his stories to explain the what, how and why – or services, processes and motivation – of what we do. He taught story telling techniques that attendees could use to inspire others and make a difference, whether this in sales or just to have clients and others spread your message. He explained that where an average storyteller informs, a good storyteller persuades and a great storyteller inspires, an excellent story shower will transform their audience, offering their story, giving it context and connecting it to the listener. He also showcased the power of positivity (and truly choosing to be positive) and the importance in bouncing forward from transformational moments to take on your hero’s journey and influence others – much like he has. His final message was that you are good enough and worthy. It was a powerful sentiment to end the day.

In closing, Justin gave away not one, but three iPhone X’s, a testament to the 1600 #MBEAU18 hashtags used over the last day and a half. The ballroom headed for home, salons and airports energised, positive and inspired to share their story, be creative and implement these key business takeaways to truly transform their salon and careers. What happens in Vegas may stay there, but we have a feeling that what happened at MBE will be shared with a ripple effect, told to loved ones and shared in constructive salon conversations that embolden businesses and affect real industry change. It’s a story worth sharing.

Images via LR Photography Melbourne