Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bail out of a business (or industry) that isn't growing

Fortune magazine has a great little book - - Secrets of Greatness: Advice from the World's Top CEO's and Entrepreneurs.  Retailer legend Mickey Drexler and CEO of J. Crew offers the following advice on working in a non-growth business:

"It was 1980.  I had been working at a department store (Bloomingdale's) for 12 years, and I knew I had to get out.  There wasn't really a future there for me.  I was offered the job of president at Ann Taylor.  I thought about it - - and when you are changing jobs, you think of all the reasons you should not do it.  Then you get a little nervous.  I said no.

That night I having dinner with someone who was older and wiser, Arthur Levit (then chairman of the American Stock Exchange), and I told him about the offer.  He said, "I would grab that position at Ann Taylor.  Department stores are a non-growth business."

He was right.  The next morning I told the corporation I was interested after all.  I resigned the next week.  That was by far the best advice I gotten in my life.  If I didn't have dinner with him that night, I don't think I would have called back and said I wanted the job.  And I am not sure I'd be where I am today."

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