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.)