Bringing together salon owners and managers from any salon, regardless of brand, coaching experience or industry status, it was The Zing Project’s founder Lisa Conway’s vision to champion a program for salon owners to better plan their professional path with like-minded and eager learners, writes Cameron Pine.

Lisa Conway

Held over two days on February 10 and 11 at Gold Coast’s chic and boutique The Island hotel, guests gathered for a ‘walls-down’ style business agenda where working together and learning from each other took precedence over a series of experts to preach more than be proactive. “We wanted a neutral place where we could all come together, regardless of whether you are with Zing or not but to also put a bit of fun into business coaching,” Zing founder Lisa Conway said.

Lisa Conway and coaches Jay Chapman and Marie Drever lead with language that salon owners can relate to, pulling at the heartstrings while also tapping into the financial aspects of your business, to overall provide a real holistic business conference to ensure all guests were open to developing a healthy relationship with goal setting and coaching parameters, rather than just following a formula.

“Firstly, if you want to come on board with Zing the first step is to read my books, then we’ll know if what we do is for you or not,” Lisa said. Coupled with Lisa’s approachable and entertaining online persona, it was important the first Zing Summit brought this to life as a matter of importance to provide facts of course but also as a refreshing way to look at salon business leadership.

“Your values need to align with us – if you are in this room your values should ultimately already align with us. I have always believed as salon owners the clients belong to the name on the door I will fight that with a tooth and nail,” Lisa said.

Selina Tomasich

Noticing a key systemic shift in the nature of salon coaching, the average age of salon owners that now work with Zing is a mere 27 years of age – ‘not just the old peacocks’ as Lisa refers to them, we are seeing a refreshing new movement of salon owners determined to be agile and a level of respect in the industry that Lisa will continue to be an advocate for.

“What I want is for you to go away with a much bigger problem than you’ve got now,” said Lisa.

“Problems never go away – business is like having a child, get over it and suck it up princess and if you can get over the small stuff businesses are much more fun – what we really need to understand is why do some people thrive and why others just survive,” Lisa said.

The three key things Lisa and her team believe that determine real success in business are; Grit, Mindset and Skill and while each take a strong dose of individual intent, none can be fulfilled without the right support network around.

Not one to do things alone, the ‘Zingers’ were fortunate enough to bring in widely recognised keynote speaker Julie Cross – known for her eternally contagious spirit and sense of determination in hairdressing, showing each and every one of us  that no matter what we face, it’s crucial to continually find our inner sparkle. A speaker we could hear over and over again, guests never tire of Julie’s heartfelt journey and her ability to find somewhat ground breaking perspective in some of the most overlooked and underrated places in our everyday business and personal lives.

“As soon as you open your mouth endorphins release and your energy changes, your sparkle is your uniqueness, your personality and who you are born to be,” Julie said.

“It is also your courage and resilience to get back up when it hurts – it’s not a bad day, it’s just a bad 10 minutes,” she said.

Forcing us to think past the superficial and the reality that when we are no longer around somebody gets our ‘stuff’ then why do we become so attached to ‘stuff’ – “People will be talking about who you are on the inside and not your stuff when you’re gone,” Julie said.

“It’s the legacy you leave, emotion in action is motivation – I give and receive, I choose to believe and keeping your energy high” Julie said.

Julie is all about the vibe, what it takes to lead and how bad energy walking around the salon should be a non-negotiable. It’s not always simple for every salon owner to access coaching that helps with mindset – the most important aspect of a salon today.

“We created GSD for salon owners who, until now had limited options for where they could access and integrate the most up to date, powerful and proven strategies and education direct from people who were experiencing incredible success in their own businesses,” the brand said. “We made The ZING Project’s 2020 Get Sh!t Done Summit especially for them,” said Lisa.

“We all have to get sh!t done but quality sh!t done.” And it’s this blunt but humorous undertone and culture within Zing coaches that fuse professionalism with a realistic prose that hairdressers understand – the true hallmark of a lasting relationship.

After the initial, ‘out of your seats’ zest for life spurred by Julie, it was all about working together in groups and uncovering those real rocks in business and how to break through them, each forced to ask themselves questions like, ‘What is your backlog of projects’, ‘what’s missing in your software’, ‘what’s missing in your salon culture’ and ‘how can we better understand the break-even’. There were many moments of discovery for the 100 plus guests.

“Many business owners treat their business like a handbag – the handbag and the business should not be one item where everything gets thrown in, this is where many salon owners get caught and have nothing left for them,” Lisa said.

Similarly she shared her sentiment on policies and procedures manuals, “They are not worth the paper they’re written on,” Lisa said.

“Most salon owners are on $1200 a week – not a bad gig if you’ve left school and started making money straight away, but a lot of you don’t realise that,” Lisa said.

Other guest presenters joining the stage included Hair Aid’s Selina Tomasich, engaging guests with an emotional background on what Hair Aid is and where it’s come from, with considerable mention of the fact that Hair Aid has just trained the 5000th person in the Philippines –  by going right into the communities and taking access to people that can’t afford to even travel to training – overall gifting more than 12,000 haircuts

“We train in jails, graveyards, under banana leaves and go anywhere where the people are and can teach them in 5 days 5 basic haircuts,” Selina said.

Throughout the two days there was plenty of time for networking and gourmet lunches on the terrace while throughout the series guests were encouraged to write down learnings in  their  ‘program playbook’ for every speaker and section to go home with some clear actionables. One on ones with speakers to purchase books and speak to the guest presenters also proved invaluable for everyone involved for travelling both nationally and internationally for the conference.

Going around the room, some of the most interesting insights were from finding out what a variety of ‘biggest salon problems’ and ‘rocks’ are in today’s salon environment. Helped along by trays of champagne served at 3pm mid-session on the first day, hairdressing reinforced its special culture yet again.

A salon panel heralded the culture of communication and sharing, including one salon owner who has been closed on a Saturday for five years who shared her story of why and the team success that has resulted from it – not all panellists were ‘Zingers,’ testament again to the open playing field for the salon community. The panel was comprised of Georgia Hosking, Jemma Lea, Anita Sutton-Galloway, Ngarion Tumai, Sarah Neame and Kate Henderson.

Some tables talked about retail – broken down with others on the table how they are going to overcome that – using the knowledge of other salon owners in the room and others spoke about wages.

How many mini actions there are behind one simple concept and idea that lead to a big idea? Posing this question collectively the panel helped to uncover some of these often overlooked ‘mini ideas’ and growth mindset hacks.

Julie Cross

Paul Frasca from Sustainable Salons Australia gave a key insight into the roads that SSA has uncovered with some insightful information like the fact, ‘Sustainability as a word is beating balayage when it comes to google searches now’.

“Natural, Sustainable and Organic, it’s not the brand anymore, it’s the values – values have taken over as number one importance on a survey for 15-25 years old’s,” as Paul showcased a list of the biggest concerns for young people today.

Finishing off the run of special guests to intermix the Zing discovery was Stevie Hucker, a hairdresser turned ‘Yogi’who is a true advocate for doing things the mindful way. Stevie asks guests to close their eyes and ask themselves a series of hard questions, starting by visualising yourself in 10 years from now at 2030 and what it really is that you see and how will it manifest. “Success is all about consciously choosing to take nothing for granted and giving the body time, plus the daily non-negotiables or daily practices to keep you healthy in business and life,” she said. “If you don’t have 10 minutes you don’t have a life.”

As much as the concept of ‘Get Sh!t Done’ was about discovering better ways of programming your business in life in 2020, the true ’ahah’ results came through the culture of being connected and a willingness to reveal all without pretense or worrying about brand related policy.

It’s true that busy business owners often want a quick fix but aren’t willing to do the work long term, and the purpose of Zing was to get everyone on the same page and reset their expectations, not just of their business but of themselves. Having fun at the same time was equally as important to learning with guests dressing up for the Monday night ‘mardi gras’ themed gala. Lisa’s costume (or lack thereof) definitely drew some attention and reinforced the Zing culture’s ability to let loose and not take themselves too seriously, something the greater hairdressing industry should be forever proud of.

So in the name of getting things done better throughout 2020, the true power laid in turning to a person next to you and being completely honest about what you’re struggling with – a hallmark of the ‘Get Sh!t Done’ formula was precisely simple and in the notion of sharing, it’s little wonder why hairdressers are among the most happy in business.

“Nobody can see their own swing. Someone else can see something that’s quite simple that you can’t see in your business,” Lisa said.

Here’s to a solid swing into 2021.

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