Success doesn’t come easy. It comes after a parade of failures. Don’t let those failures deter you from chasing your goals.
Nicolas Krafft is a beauty and cosmetics industry marketing and sales executive with over a decade of experience at L’Oréal in which he worked to build L’Oréal’s worldwide presence. Krafft found success with L’Oréal across three continents, where he was tasked with driving sales, expanding market growth, researching new brands, and defining go-to-market strategies.
Born in Switzerland, Krafft attended the University of St. Gallen where he received an MBA while focusing on finance and accounting. Shortly thereafter, he began his career at L’Oréal in Germany as a Product Manager for professional haircare and hair color products. Krafft moved up in the company quickly, becoming a Marketing Director of Kérastase before he was reassigned to Paris to oversee the launch of the L’Oréal’s Matrix brand in Asia.
With Krafft’s continued success, he was tasked with managing operations in the Baltic States, then in Romania. He then moved back to Paris to lead the Eastern Europe marketing and sales operation. In 2014, Krafft was named the Vice President of Global Business Development of the L’Oreal Professional brand in New York City. Until 2019, Krafft lead the Pulp Riot brand as the International General Manager under the direction of Founder and CEO David Thurston. In that role, Krafft met every objective with energy and drive, and continuously played a vital role in the company’s global expansion. Krafft is currently a guest instructor at Columbia University in New York City teaching Digital Business Leadership.
Krafft spends his free time volunteering with children-centric charitable organizations. He has helped renovate two education centers for these charities: one for kids that have been disconnected from their families, and another facility for children with special needs. Krafft also enjoys spending time outdoors and being active – he has completed both the New York and Hamburg marathons, and reached the summits of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Ruwenzori – and spending time with his wife and three daughters.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
My marketing career began in the role of Junior Product Manager in Canada with a relatively small team under me. This role, together with my MBA from the University of St. Gallen, really sparked my interest in entrepreneurship. Because of this, and my passion for Asian cultures, I moved to Asia and took charge of launching Matrix. My role revolved around product development and shaping it to fit the particular needs of the countries while helping them scale and set up distribution. I moved to Eastern Europe in 2009, when I was put in charge of Baltics and Romania. My role asked for rapid implementation of changes with limited resources in countries that were immensely affected by the global financial crisis. While challenging, this role taught me how to prioritize and make difficult decisions. After a short period of time there, I moved back to Paris where I became the Deputy General Manager of the Eastern European Zone.
In 2014, I moved to New York to help accelerate growth and increase profitability for the Matrix brand outside of North America. As of 2019, I have been in charge of the global rollout of the newly-acquired digital brand, Pulp Riot. I operate at both the strategic and operational level under the guidance of the CEO, David Thurston.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day begins early in the morning with the first check of my email. It is so important for me to catch up on anything that may have happened and anything I may have missed. I generally make sure my email is up to date and that I respond to everyone on my team so that nobody is waiting for me. This greatly optimizes our time and, in return, maximizes results.
As the day goes on, I make sure to keep an incredibly tight schedule by only attending meetings I absolutely have to, and by blocking off time for myself to focus solely on work. Keeping track of my time holds me accountable not only to myself but to my team and everyone else around me.
And finally, I try to spend as much time with my wife and three daughters as possible. Ideally, we have breakfast together in the morning, and dinner together at night. My career is incredibly important to me, but my family supersedes everything.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My best ideas come from interacting with my teams. I have a great group of people that I rely on for all of the essential steps in reaching our ultimate goal. I focus on making sure they are taken care of and heard. It is through those collaborative talks that the best ideas come to life. A great team of people is fundamental to business success.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love where we’re headed with natural and holistic products. Consumers and brands are becoming more educated and thereby more aware of the effects of chemicals on themselves and on the environment. Along those lines, natural products and ingredients have begun gaining traction and are becoming more popular in beauty and cosmetics. As consumer demands for organic products increase, so will the urge for brands to follow the demand.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I focus on the essentials. This is so important because we only have so many hours in a day. The better we plan and optimize our time, the higher the chances of us being optimally efficient and successful. Details are very important, but they will follow. By narrowing things down and focusing on what needs to be done first, it is much easier for us to eventually reach our ultimate goal.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To look at every mistake as a chance to learn something new and attempt to get it right the next time around. I would also advise myself to be resilient, remain calm under pressure, keep an eye on the end goals, and keep learning from others. Every day is an opportunity for growth and if we are too averse to failure, that growth will never come. I think it’s important for everyone to know that success comes from failure.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I have to preface this by saying that I am a driven, honest, and upfront individual in the workplace, but outside of work I tend to be more reserved, and nobody believes me when I tell them that I am actually a very shy person.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
My team truly spans the globe, so I put a lot of effort into making sure that everyone is taken care of. Whether that is communication, interpersonal relationships, or simply making sure that they are satisfied. When talking about business, it’s easy to get in the weeds about deliverables, and benchmarks, and goals, but good businesses are built around good people and good communication. I make sure that our teams are comfortable having open and honest conversations and being transparent with each other. Every week we try to get together at least once and enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other. Small outings are a great way to build confidence, familiarity, and comradery between teams. This is especially important during high-stress times. I pride myself on being a part of a team of professionals who are dedicated and embody trust and confidence in themselves and in others. This would not be possible without the individual and collective efforts of the staff.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I have applied a lot of what I have read in The Art of War by Sun Tzu. More specifically, the text elaborates on tactics and strategy for military endeavors that, when applied to modern life, are helpful in business tactics and strategy. In particular, things such as preparation, networking, and using leverage, are so vital to success and have helped me get better at my job.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My career is fairly long and has been filled with its fair share of failures, all of which have been lessons. When I was a younger executive, I would become flustered and lose confidence after something did not go as I’d hoped. With more experience, however, I came to realize that mistakes happen and the only thing I could do to overcome them is to take ownership and find solutions moving forward.
Also, having run a few marathons and summited a couple of the world’s tallest peaks, I have come to realize that we cannot be successful without facing challenges head-on. So, rather than focusing on speed or show, I think about how to best overcome small obstacles and missteps to reach the ultimate goal.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think it would be helpful to have an app that enables you to optimally plan your day or perhaps your week. It should ask for the big goals that have to be accomplished and then spit out little step suggestions. It could also send reminders during the day to keep the person on track. I think that would be a great tool to help people maximize their productivity.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My twin daughters take after me in their love for outdoor activities, and we have just booked ski classes for them. My wife and I are excited to watch them learn and hit the slopes as a family.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I would have to say Outlook. Email is such a massive part of my day that knowing how to use my email client and keep my meetings and correspondences organized is an absolute must for me. By keeping my email organized, I know that nobody on my team is waiting for a response from me, which not only helps me get things done but helps build trust and accountability.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would definitely recommend Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The author provides a thorough overview of the evolution of humanity and its immense impact on existence. Also, it presents the idea that Sapiens evolved because of their cooperation skills, which, if you couldn’t tell, is something I find endlessly interesting.
What is your favorite quote?
“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” – Bruce Lee.
- Success doesn’t come easy. It comes after a parade of failures. Don’t let those failures deter you from chasing your goals.
- Openness, honesty, and vulnerability are crucial to success, both in business and in life.
- Organize your time. Work is important, but it’s not your life. Make sure to set aside time to tend to your life.
- Focus on one thing at a time and complete it to the best of your abilities.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.