Millard Drexler: "Surround Yourself With People That Get It" | Summary and Q&A

November 29, 2012
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Millard Drexler: "Surround Yourself With People That Get It"

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In this video, Mickey Drexler, former CEO of Gap Inc. and J.Crew, shares his insights and experiences in the fashion industry. He discusses his career journey, the importance of following one's instincts and judgment, the value of passion and honesty in leadership, and the challenges of running a company in a rapidly changing market. Drexler also shares his thoughts on the role of MBAs in business, the qualities of a successful CEO, and the potential of the fashion industry in addressing social issues.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Mickey Drexler's career in fashion begin?

Mickey Drexler started his career in fashion as a buyer at Bloomingdale's after college, where he learned about the importance of understanding consumers, trends, and the business side of retail. He then spent time at other department stores, including Macy's and A&S, before joining Ann Taylor as CEO.

Q: How did Mickey Drexler transform Gap Inc. and J.Crew?

Mickey Drexler turned Gap Inc. from a small denim and records store into America's first great casual apparel chain. He introduced new brands such as Gap Kids and Old Navy, and focused on creating value for customers. At J.Crew, he took a struggling brand and turned it into a successful two billion dollar chain through a strong turnaround strategy and building a talented team.

Q: How did Mickey Drexler approach pricing and merchandising?

Mickey Drexler had a deep understanding of pricing and merchandising, despite not being an accountant. He always knew how to price goods and make profitable fashion ideas. He relied on his own intuition and judgment, as well as feedback from customers and store employees.

Q: What was the rationale behind taking J.Crew private?

Mickey Drexler, along with private equity firms TPG and Leonard Green, decided to take J.Crew private because they believed the company was undervalued by the stock market. They saw potential for growth and wanted to keep the management team intact. The goal was to create value by focusing on long-term earnings and building a successful future for the company.

Q: Did Mickey Drexler think CEOs should make themselves replaceable?

Mickey Drexler does not believe that CEOs should make themselves replaceable. He thinks that leadership is not easily replaceable and that many CEOs are not successful in creating a seamless transition to the next leader. He believes that CEOs who are passionate, honest, and have a deep understanding of their industry are less likely to be easily replaced.

Q: Can the fashion industry address social issues like poverty?

Mickey Drexler believes that it is not the fashion industry's sole responsibility to address social issues like poverty. While the industry can contribute by providing employment and improving the economy, addressing poverty requires systemic changes in taxation, values, and social systems. Drexler suggests a fair tax system and shared responsibility across industries to tackle these issues effectively.

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