J.Crew’s Mickey Drexler on Secrets to His Success
by Lauren Sherman
January 7, 2013
J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler started his career as a Bloomingdale’s buyer some 40 years ago. Today at WWD‘s CEO Summit, the “man who dressed America” shared some pretty valuable life lessons. His caveat? “Most of what I say relates to the fashion retail business, most of what I say does not pertain to startup business.”
Still, we say you’ll get something out of his talk, no matter what you’re currently working on.
It is always fun to listen to what Mickey has to say. He is clearly doing something right at J.Crew, since J.Crew continuously outperforms (& outshines) their competitors.
- “Most people underestimate the importance of creativity. Too many people overlook the importance of a beautiful product. Creativity drives growth in any business.”
- “The person is a resume, not what’s on a piece of paper. Whoever gives advice about resumes in college should be dismissed. Titles don’t matter. GPAs don’t matter, nor does what school you go to. What matters is hard work, and emotional intelligence. People put ‘study abroad’ on their resume. I actually like when they don’t study abroad because that means they aren’t entitled. What about study abroad will make you a better J.Crew associate? I hire a lot of waiters, waitresses. Someone who’s successful has a background that’s not predictable.”
- “No leader can do it alone. I asked my friend Rob Forbes—who created Design Within Reach and Public Bikes—about this one. He said to surround yourself with people you trust, who complement your skill set, keep your ego in check.”
- “I don’t know what luxury is anymore. A good peach is luxury.”
- “Pay attention to details. I micromanage. I used to feel badly, then I realized, people say you shouldn’t micromanage because the textbooks say it or the business schools say it. Ask your customers if they’d like you to micromanage.”
- “Marketing only works if the product does.”
- “Mission statements are a waste of time. Just live by them.”
One piece of advice stuck out for me: "surround yourself with people you trust... keep your ego in check". I could not agree with this more! There are too many times I have witness an "emperor-has-no-clothes" situation. Making sure one has people around them who can give honest (and in the best interest) advice is key.
What are your thoughts on Mickey Drexler's tidbits to success? Do you agree or disagree with any of his points? If so, please share!
P.S. The title of the article reminded me of the classic 80's "The Secret of My Success" movie staring Michael J. Fox. For a second I pictured Mickey working in the mail room, and secretly posing as an executive. ;)