Well, the busy holiday season has just ended and retail stores are taking a deep breath. Though it's a chaotic time for them, I was pleased to recieve letters from the CEO's of three major stores in the midst of the active months. Here are their responses, in no particular order. (I sent a thank you card to all of them.)Steve Sadove (Saks 5th Avenue CEO)
Reference Date: November 24th
As a New York City tour guide, I am often asked about the best places to shop in the city. My answer is Saks Fifth Avenue. This landmark first opened its doors in 1867. For 140 years, Saks has stood for excellence and has provided a five star shopping experience.
Their holiday windows have always been a "must see" in December, and a few years ago, they added to the sason by adorning the outside of their flagship 5th Avenue store with giant illuminated snowflakes that dance in synch with the "Carol of the Bells." It's a thrill to watch thousands of people stand in awe as the show plays.
For this, and many other reasons, I wrote to the CEO of Saks, Steve Sadove. This was his reply:Dear Mr. Lucas:
Thank you for your interest and for your kind words in describing me as a role model and inspiration. I want to wish you success in your endeavors, and I sincerely hope that as you pursue and perfect your craft, we will all have the pleasure of seeing your name in lights as you achieve success as an actor.
While your questions are specific, time dictates that my answers must be general and brief I consider it a privilege to be associated with Saks Fifth A venue and the team that comprises this organization; I take great pride in working side by side with this talented group of people every day. Wherever I have worked, I have always embraced the philosophy of allowing my team to pursue excellence, offering some direction, guidance and support, while trying very hard to foster my colleagues' independent thinking and creativity. Needless to say, when people are happy with their work environment, they will work at their best, and all involved in the effort will benefit.
I hope that in some way this addresses your questions. Once again, I want to wish you the best in your own personal pursuit of success, and excellence.
Steve SadoveHoward Lester (Pottery Barn CEO)
Reference Date: October 3rd
Howard Lester is the CEO of Wlliams-Sonoma, the parent company of Pottery Barn. I live just next door to Paramus, NJ, one of the biggest retail areas in the world. The Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma there are constantly packed. I wrote to Mr. lester to congratulate him on he success of his stores. This is what he had to say in response:Dear Chris:
Thank you for your letter and your patronage at Williams-Sonoma. I hope that we continue to serve your well.
Advice is difficult to give to another person. I really didn't have a "mentor" early in my career. However, I was fortunate to have a wonderful mother who worked hard and demonstrated great values. They consisted of hard work, big dreams and a strong desire to improve oneself.
I failed several times as a young man but learned from each experience and never stopped believing in myself. The best advice I can give is to never stop dreaming and continue to work hard to achieve your dreams.
We continue to dream about our business and constantly strive to be the best at what we do. It gets harder as we get larger to achieve our larger vision but the same principles apply.
Best of luck to you for your future.
Howard LesterRobert Ulrich (Target CEO)
Reference Date: November 24th
Out of all the holiday shopping I did in 2007, I'd say 80% of my money was spent at Target. It took a while for Target to come to New Jersey, but when they got here, I became an instant fan. Their stores are clean, and the items are of good quality, easy to find and well priced. I sent a letter to the CEO of Target, Robert Ulrich. I got a letter back from his executive assistant, but it was nice to hear from them nonetheless. This is what the letter said:Dear Mr. Lucas:
Thanks-for your letter to Target~Corporation asking for motivational advice.
Robert Ulrich has received your letter, and has asked me to respond on his behalf.
As Chairman and CEO of Target, Mr. Ulrich truly appreciates hearing your thoughtful comments and interest in learning more about how our executives have achieved their current positions at Target. I'm sure you can imagine that as one of the nation's best known executives, he receives many requests of this nature. While I know he'd like to share his personal thoughts and 40 years of Target business experience with you, we must decline the vast majority of these opportunities unless they fit in focus areas for our business or community giving.
You may wish to visit Target.com, where you can read and download the Target Annual Report, with comments by Mr. Ulrich. Additionally, there is an extensive amount of information and comments in other publications, including a recent article noting Mr. Ulrich's award as CEO of the Year 2007" by Chief Executive Magazine, in August, 2007.
We appreciate your interest, and wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors!
- Mr. Ulrich's office