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To find out what it takes to reach the C-suite, we asked some successful ceo’s to share the one piece of advice they deem most crucial to making it to the top.
This story first appeared in the February 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Global chief executive officer, Chanel
“Always strive to ‘unlearn’ what you already know; challenge yourself to think differently, adapt to new circumstances, lead with a fresh set of eyes. Be eternally curious, listen and never settle.”
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Chief Executive Officer, HSN INC.
“Relationships really do matter. Seek relationships with people who are willing to stretch and challenge you. Keep those relationships and build a network of people at all levels. If you invest in the success of others they will be invested n your success as well. My own network of fellow risk takers certainly supported me during the recent transformation at HSN. You’ll discover over time, the real power in business is not predicated by title and position—it comes from the repuation and relationships you build.”
E. SCOTT BEATTIE
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Arden
“Take on the tough assignments, seek out responsibilities and execute even the smallest, most mundane assignment with excellence. Be dependable, show up, deliver on your commitments. Most of the success in business is not driven from grand strategy but daily excellence in execution.”
President and Chief Executive Officer, Revlon
“Be ready when opportunities present themselves. Throw yourself into your career with passion…embrace the challenges presented to you; ask the question that everyone is afraid to ask; stand up to the person who thinks they are always right; be bold and be comfortable being wrong. Most importantly, stay true to yourself, keeping your two feet planted firmly on the ground. And remember that life does not owe you a living; you have to actively live your life.”
President and Chief Executive Officer, The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.
“Part of being a good leader is building a great team of individuals with unique strengths. With a clear, common vision and collaborative spirit, a group built upon the diverse strengths of its people creates not only a winning team, but develops additional leaders in the process. Navigation and positioning your team for the best opportunities are other aspects of being a good leader. You can have a well-crafted boat with a great crew, but if there is no wind you will not get to where you want to go. To grow and win, you have to anticipate the winds of opportunity and put your boat in the fastest currents, with the strongest winds at your sails.”
President and Chief Executive Officer, Christian Dior Inc. and LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics North America
“Take risks. If you are offered an opportunity and it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth considering. Surround yourself with the best people—and do whatever it takes to keep them. Build a team based on mutual trust and respect. Leave the politics to Washington.”
Chief Executive Officer, Coty Inc.
“Culture is everything in an organization. At Coty, our ‘Faster. Further. Freer.’ culture is our competitive advantage. Everyone understands and identifies with it. It is in our DNA. When you are building your career, you will work in places that have a corporate style that you identify with, and others that you do not fully embrace. However, it will be up to you as a future leader to ensure that you create and foster the best culture that will attract the right people—talented people that share your vision of success. Growth will follow.”
Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, P&G
“Have a clear purpose. I joined P&G because the purpose of the company, to touch and improve lives, was similar to my own. Purpose provides clarity and direction. This is what I tell college students and those seeking a higher office alike. Live life driven by a purpose. It is much more meaningful and rewarding than meandering without direction.”