Brandon’s reputation is that of a true renaissance man, with interests ranging from hockey, wine & cheese, writing, and international finance to French culture, make him a more well rounded leader in the hyper-competitive beauty industry. As CFO of Rocco Altobelli, his natural curiosity and desire to continue evolving and learning illuminate ways for their salons to stay ahead of industry changes.

Q: If you could try a different job for a day, what would you choose?

Wow.  A couple of references to “President” on past posts…I guess I’ll go with that, but add “of France”.  The cheese is better…n’est-ce pas?  If not that, I’d write novels or movies – based in France.  For the cheese.

Q: What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

There are few industries where the relationship between client and provider are this personal.  Clients come to us for many reasons, and oftentimes the actual haircut and/or color is the least of it.   Understand that your client is more than just a head of hair, or a set of nails.  He or she is a sentient being who has placed their trust in you to help them feel better about themselves.  Even if only for an hour.  Never underestimate the power you have to positively affect someone’s day by treating them with a combined level of care and professionalism they very well may not experience the rest of the day / week / month.

Q: What is your mantra?

Help others achieve

Q: How do you get yourself out of a slump?

Most often for me, a slump equates to lethargy rather than some sort of specific professional or personal failure.  If I sense a bit of stagnation, I’ll create wins - even small ones.  It’s hard to cross off a “big picture” to do right out of the gate.  Make a list of tasks at a micro level and then feel the momentum build as you cross them off.  Celebrate the wins – they all count.  You can’t get to the top of the tree without first passing through the lower branches.

Q: What companies or leaders do you admire?

I am intrigued by companies (and leaders / visionaries) who are working to make things better / easier for others.  We’ve become such an app-centric society and I really struggle with some of it.  But aside from the rabbit hole social media can be, there’s a lot of potential in the technology of today (and tomorrow) to do really good things and create opportunity by removing barriers to access and efficiency that chew up quality time we could be using to do more meaningful things.  Like spending money time with your hairdresser….(ahem), I mean, family.

Q: What has been the biggest shift you’ve noticed in your industry in the last decade?

See above.  The advent of the smartphone, combined with social media and entrepreneurial nature of the younger generation has challenged the traditional salon business model.  Where before, aspiring cosmetologists looked to the established salons to hone their skill and grow as professionals, now every licensed individual with a smartphone and an Instagram account can “claim” to be a professional salon owner.  But you can’t substitute a 7 minute educational Youtube video for years of experience and training, and the booth / suite rental or “landlord” model emphasizes rent over professional development.  Higher turnover (in all categories) is the result, to the detriment of the client.

Q: Who has been most instrumental in your career?

Um, my music teacher?  Many names could go here but I’ll simply say those who have led by example and took it upon themselves to help me grow and instilled within me the responsibility to do the same.

Q: What is your go-to celebration meal, drink or tradition?

I was going to say a nice little kale and quinoa salad because I know how to spell it and “ribeye” is just too predictable.  But who am I kidding…I had to google “quinoa” and darn near nothing beats a ribeye – for the iron…

All jokes aside, I learned to make home-made ravioli and sauce (along with other pastas) from my grandmother when I was just a young boy.  It was a collaborative effort and I will never forget those family Christmases, three generations and extended family all sitting around an old laminate table “chigging” the cavatelli or forking the ravioli.  It’s a tradition I try to maintain with my girls, usually around Christmas time.  And when you think about it, making a holiday meal isn’t any different than business – at best, we’re just a team of people working to create something for the benefit of others….but, with wine!