I had the pleasure of speaking with Emmanuel Frost, CEO and Co-Founder of Brand Alignment. Brand Alignment is a B2B service company that leverages eCommerce data to monitor and enforce unauthorized sellers from the Amazon marketplace. Emmanuel has founded and been involved with multiple successful businesses in the states of California, Florida, and New York. He currently oversees the operations, analytics, marketing, and long-term strategy aspects of Brand Alignment.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?
I grew up in a household with an entrepreneurial father who showed me the spirit and strength it takes to launch a business, make it successful, and get back up if things fall apart. Throughout my teens I would start up small businesses that were successful at the time, but I never considered going into business as a career, instead going for a degree in Psychology. But life has a way of getting you back on track and the more I focused on business, the more I realized that I was born for it.
I have launched businesses in technology, online marketing, real estate, and retail. Not long before Brand Alignment began, I had a business where I sold goods on Amazon and ran into many problems with unauthorized resellers that I was competing against who did not follow minimum advertised price policies, making it impossible to compete. After speaking with many large brands desperate to solve this issue, I brought together four close friends and began Brand Alignment.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader?
Growing up I was a very shy introvert, preferring to stay quiet rather than speak up. You have to be careful when talking about introversion, since you must separate natural introversion from introversion that is a result of fears and doubts. The beauty of running a business is that introversion is not an option. Even if you have your sales guys do the work of talking to clients, who is going to motivate the sales people? Who is going to have a difficult talk with the VP of Sales if things are not going well? How many employees do you need to have before you can just sit in your office all day with the door closed?
If you have difficulty speaking up, you need to have a purpose that is stronger than any fear or doubt you may possibly have. For me that purpose is to have a business that has a positive effect on the industry we are in and the community we call home.
In terms of working with friends, introversion is far less of a problem. It is the problem of saying too much which comes back to bite you. You are much more comfortable being candid which can easily offend even if you do not realize it at first.
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?
Mental strength begins with self-confidence. Competition should not scare you so much if you have done your research. If you know everything about your competition including the background of their leaders, their long-term strategy, their current services, their resources and their goals, etc. and you have fully prepared for any potential pitfalls, then your biggest worry should be on improving yourself and your company. Let your competition chase you, rather than the other way around. Let them catch up if they want, since you will soon make another sharp left that they never expected. Be the leader of your competition.
It is competition within your office that is much more worrisome. It is a known strategy in war to destabilize a country from within before you attack it, since that country will not be united against the invading forces. I find it a much higher priority to stamp out any unhappiness and discontent in the workforce, especially in the C-level, since that can lead to much worse problems in the future.
A lot of people in the business world feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have a strong mental stamina to succeed?
It’s all about how you frame it. It is not considered weak to let it be known to a few that you are working too hard, especially when you really are working harder than others. In that case you need a break, and a review of what you can do differently in the future to prevent it, since you are probably inefficient with your time or you are taking on too much of other people’s work. Meditation and deep breathing also helps a lot.
As a leader, your demeanor trickles down to everybody else. If you are always stressed and irritable, everybody else will be too. There are many ultra-successful businesses with this type of environment, but they tend to have high turnover. To create a healthy work environment, there should always be some degree of relaxed busyness. Do your work, but don’t blow a fuse while doing it.
When working with friends, your personal lives are transparent. Everybody generally knows what the other person does in their free time and what they are going through. That comes with a degree of understanding if somebody is going through a hardship, but also disappointment if somebody is being irresponsible with their time. Faking mental health stamina will only work for so long. If you want others to perceive you positively then work on being the real deal, rather than appearing like the real deal.
Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?
It’s not so much one individual that inspired me, but a mix of various people I have worked with that taught me so much. Isaak Tsifrin, former CEO of DriversEd.com that took me under his wing in my early 20’s and showed me every aspect of a multi-million dollar business from within. Jonathon Lief, broker of successful Aventura Real Estate who taught me that generosity was 100x more important than selfishness in hyper-competitive environments like Miami real estate. And last but not least my father, who taught me the spirit of being a fighter and always getting back up no matter how hard life knocks you down.
Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Looking back to where my friends and I were before the business began compared to where we are now, I can say that our friendships are now stronger than they have ever been. There have been enormous struggles and difficulties at times that appeared like we would never get passed them, but we have. This created toughness and strength of character, and I am proud of all of them for how much they have achieved. I truly could not have been involved in a successful business like Brand Alignment without them. Thank you Josh, Patrick, Kyle, and Dave for all of your amazing work!
If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how they can reach out?