Some Thoughts on Leadership
Emily Frank, President, ZSS Skincare
Taking the leap from being part of a team to leading a team can be intimidating. I recently transitioned from being part of a team to an opportunity to take the lead in launching a skin care company called ZSS Skincare. My experience leading up to this opportunity has been quite unique. I started out as an attorney practicing patent litigation at one of the large law firms and after about 5 years decided I was ready for something new and went to business school. During and since business school I have focused on business development and strategy for small companies. Both professions have taught me some valuable lessons that apply to transitioning into a leadership role and launching a new business:
- Be flexible. You can spend an infinite amount of time analyzing an opportunity and planning to execute on that plan. I have learned that the only thing you know for sure is that once you start to execute on your plan the path will be nothing like what you anticipated. So while it is important to have a plan and be prepared, it is even more important to be flexible when things do not go according to plan.
- Lead through aspiration. As I moved from being part of a team to leading a team I realized that I need to let go and delegate. I find that my team works most effectively when we are all on the same page regarding our goals and vision for the company. When we are all in alignment and everyone feels empowered to play their role in getting to our goals I do not have to worry about micro-managing.
- Find some great mentors and be a mentor. Over the years I have worked with some incredibly smart people who have experienced situations that are new to me. I have been lucky to find some great mentors who have helped me work through a number of challenging situations. As I grow my team it is important to me that I pass this mentorship along. To me mentoring isn’t fixing a problem it is being a sounding board for someone who is trying to sort through a challenge on their own.
Don’t take things personally. I am so happy to be done with law firm life but I cherish a lot of the learnings that have come out of that profession. One of the biggest learnings for me is to not take things personally. Criticism should be viewed as constructive. It is an opportunity to think through what you are doing. Not everyone delivers criticism constructively, but as long as you don’t take it too personally it can be an opportunity for growth and positive change.
About the Author
As Corporate Secretary and Vice President of Business Development of ZeaVision Holdings, Inc., Emily has spearheaded the development of the ZSS products from the beginning. As Vice President of Business Development for ZeaVision, Emily has developed new markets for the ZeaVision products, been intricately involved in overall corporate strategy and has been a key part of the team negotiating a deal with a large strategic partner.
Prior to her time at ZeaVision Emily has worked with a number of startups at the Austin Technology Incubator and she spent five years in private practice at a large Chicago law firm, Jenner and Block. At Jenner, Emily practiced patent litigation representing pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
Emily has her B.S. in biology from St. Louis University, a J.D. from Washington University and a M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin full time program.