In late November, FireWorks PR attended the Business Chicks 9-to-Thrive Summit in Melbourne. While Director Kathy Lane was cautious at first, it wasn't long before her doubts were replaced by a program filled with uplifting stories and an inspiring panel of speakers. Read her blog below: 

Words by Kathy Lane

Professional development. The need to continue to grow. To invest time and money. To learn.

I haven’t always been a fan of the term nor the seminars that purport to provide it. I’ve been to many a seminar, expensive, that with the best intentions, appears to be self-serving, sponsored and to be honest, pretty vacuous. A lot of rah-rahing that makes you feel great at the time but leaves you feeling pretty empty and cold when back in the reality of the office, running your small business and dealing with the challenges that brings. Daily.

So, when the Business Chicks Summit – 9toThrive – showed up in my feed, I was wary. However, something about it drew me in. Maybe it was because its signature colour was pink? Or that the images were of gorgeous young women smiling? Not sure but decided to take a look. Plus I did recall hearing from a number of mates who attended last year, that it was actually pretty good. Take a look I did and I decided to dive in.

Of course, booked way in advance and paid up front, when the day came my colleague Marnie and I realized we were really far too busy to be taking a day off work to swan around but we were committed. Begrudgingly I took the short walk around the corner with my doubts firmly in place.

Lots of pink. Everywhere. Balloon arches, loads of girlie type activations (hair, make up, selfies, lingerie, health food, clothes, and thankfully, coffee!). And some goodie bags.

We took a look at the clever app to plan our day – between the main stage and the workshop theatre. And off we went.

A great array of interesting speakers and a long day ahead. I really could write an essay on how beautifully surprised I was and what a successful day we had. However, I will attempt to be succinct.

First up: Lisa Wilkinson: Journalist and trailblazer

Highlights: Engaging and warm storytelling. Lisa’s story of her journo journey. How she got there. What she did. She was easy to relate to and she held the audience in the palm of her hand. And Marnie and I were chuffed when she actually engaged with our Instagram post about her session. Nice move, Lisa.

Take Home: Vision. Persistence. Resilience.

Next to an Insta Stories session in the workshop room run by accredited Facebook trainer, Heather Porter. Practical, good information for business.

Highlights: So, so many (literally, I have already started saving them on my IG profile). Good tips for creating engaging content. A rundown of the new features: filters; motion pinning; polls; chat stickers; tap to reveal; the list goes on. Good content requires practice and experimentation. More people now looking at stories than feed. Wow!

Take Home: Must. Step. Up. My. Insta. Game.

Back to the main stage where the woman’s christian name was all that was needed – ITA! In the room, on the stage and definitely on the TV. So much great information, knowledge, experience – shared generously and with purpose.

Highlights: Seek mentors. Ask for help. Take a risk. Keep learning (glad I was there that day!). Do it your way. Self belief. It was all there.

Take Home:
The Qualities of Leadership:
- Earn the respect of the people you lead
- Be honest and ethical
- Guard your reputation – it’s all you’ve got
- Think of the company you keep
- Keep your word.
My word…..INSPIRING!

Next a Q&A with Emma Isaacs, the Global CEO of Business Chicks. What an engaging, authentic and natural speaker. She spoke with passion and purpose. And the ‘host’, the Matcha Maiden Sarah Davidson was just …… gorgeous, really. Cute, smart, funny and well prepared. Back to Emma….

Highlights: Winging it – it’s a thing. Be curious and focus on solutions. Be pragmatic, not dramatic (resonated!). Hope is not a strategy. Experiment with fear and failure. Networking is best done slowly and steadily to build trust and credibility – it’s a long game.

Take Home: Make more moves, less announcements.

Surviving or Thriving was the title of the next session, presented by speaker, coach, trainer and Brené Brown alumni – Kemi Nekvapil. One word. AH-MAY-ZING. The audience was spellbound by her own story of being a foster kid, taken from her home in Nigeria to England. Heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, when Kemi moved from just surviving in a string of foster homes to thriving when, under the care of her last foster mother – a kind and loving woman – she decided she had choice. So simple but so powerful.

Highlights: Where to begin? Vision – commitment – action. Take responsibility. Don’t do the thinking for others – ask anyway, they may just need what you have.

Take Home: Identify one area of your life where you feel like you’re striving (read struggling) and make one action to help shift it within a week. (I’ve done mine!). You can be scared and take action anyway (feel the fear and do it Louise!).

Gus Balbontin, creative disruptor and swearer extraordinaire, delivered an entertaining session all about customer experience.

Highlights: You must adapt to what your customer wants, not what you want. People are both the solution and the problem. Innovation is a volume game made of curiosity, courage and resilience.

Take Home: You need unrealistic people or new realities won’t exist.

Future Proofing in a Global Economy was lots about money and finance from a very distinguished panel. And as my colleagues will attest, mention finance and I tend to glaze over even though I hold my accountants in the highest regard. But, this was surprisingly good! Loads of strong content about planning, goals, tools.

Take Home: Look at your financial wellbeing AND your financial fragility.

A session from co-founder of The Iconic, Adam Jacobs, was a tale of rapid growth and customer experience.

Highlights: The importance of customer experience and delivering on time. Lead with purpose, follow through with passion. Innovation is not about being first or different, innovation is about being better at the right time. Build great teams and give them problems not solutions. Hire slow, fire fast.

Take Home: Brands are built by what you do, not what you say.


So. Much. Content. And unlike other professional development seminars I have attended, this one felt real. Authentic. Achievable.

So as I go forth, distilling the information and thinking of the changes I can make to be better at doing small business, I am glad for the investment of time and money. And the goodie bag was a winner! The ultimate Take Home.