mickey drexler

“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 [the women's-wear chain, a division of a now defunct corporation called Garfinckel Brooks Brothers Miller & Rhoads]. I

“Bail out of a business that isn’t growing.” - CEO of J. Crew - Mickey Drexler, 60

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 was having dinner with someone who was older and wiser, Arthur Levitt [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 nongrowth 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’ve 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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