Mickey Drexler/J.Crew

I could teach an entire MBA course using as source material the 20 September 2010 New Yorker profile of J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler—titled "The Merchant: It's All About the Eye—And the Numbers."

In shorthand form, I have extracted a list of some of the items that are central to Drexler's approach. I present them here, and as a PowerPoint slide.

  • Bias for instant action/Towering impatience with in-action
  • Impatient but not brutal
  • Relentless/Speed-of-light experimentation; more ASAP if works, drop if not
  • Vibrates with energy (literally)
  • Always on the prowl—anywhere, everywhere—for ideas
  • Lots of team-standing-around-making-instant-assessments-decisions—all contributing
  • Likes working with women more than men because F more intuitive than M
  • Dresses like the brand—at 66
  • Offense, not defense
  • Communicates all the time [removes fear from hearing "famous" CEO]. Everyone, including most junior, made part of the decision-making team
  • Listens attentively regardless of age/seniority
  • Obvious in his transparent respect for young employees
  • Trusts intuition plus fanatic about the numbers
  • Expects everyone to know their numbers cold from memory
  • Always aware of "the business case"—as well fashion-master
  • Aggressive pricing
  • MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around
  • Open with everyone, from youth to folks at Earnings Call
  • Constant customer contact/Dialogues with customer/Reacts instantly to customer feedback
  • Willing to act (experiment) based on one datapoint
  • Engages with most junior people
  • At 66, comfortably uses "hot" words like "Cool" "Wow"

There is no doubt that these notions are especially fit for retailers. Yet I will unequivocally assert that this list with little modification applies to any flavor of business.

(For what it's worth, I'm also attaching this in PowerPoint.)