What I learned from playing a doctor on TV

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Zach Braff as JD Dorian, “Scrubs” — © ABC/Disney

I’m not a doctor, but I really did play one on TV.

25 years ago, I sold consumer products, mostly luggage, to HSN and QVC. I hired a “guest host” to appear on-air, to work with the network “show host” and to demonstrate our products. One day the guest host was delayed, and I ended up with make-up on my face, a microphone up my shirt and an IFB in my ear. Continue reading “What I learned from playing a doctor on TV”

For legacy companies facing disruption, corporate innovation won’t be enough

Today corporate innovation is all the rage. Large companies host accelerators, launch internal startups, and court potential startup partners in a quest to harness young companies’ innovativeness and energy for themselves.

But large legacy companies shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by neglecting their core business and assuming it has minimal room to grow.

In this article, I will detail how our company, Randa Accessories, grew from 25 to 50 percent market share in several categories and channels by focusing on its core business and adjacent “bridge” categories, and offer some takeaways for other businesses based on that experience. (I will also describe how Randa launched its own successful internal startups — I’m not saying corporate innovation isn’t useful, just that it needs to be one part of a broader strategy to excel.)

First, a little about Randa. You many not know our name, but you know our products. Our products are available under 50 brands, and are sold at over 20,000 points of sale, and millions of digital touch points.

We’re the world’s largest men’s accessories company. We sell ties, and belts, wallets, bags, hats, slippers and luggage.

Randa is completely vertical, business-to-business and direct-to-consumer, with 4,000 employees working from 23 global offices.

Our culture emphasized growth and efficiency and led us to success in revenue, margin, penetration, and market share.

For example, we’re the leading supplier of belts to Nordstrom… and to Walmart, to Kohl’s and to Amazon, and The Hudson’s Bay, Liverpool, Printemps, El Cortes Ingles, David Jones, John Lewis and to Costco.

We spent over $50 million to assure that when a consumer walks into a retail store for pants, they immediately see our belts nearby. Dress shirts? There are our ties…

And then, we hit a wall. 

Continue reading “For legacy companies facing disruption, corporate innovation won’t be enough”

Annual Retail Forum: “Retail Radicals”

Very honored to speak at the “Annual Retail Forum” at Columbia Business School, Wednesday, August 1st.

Joining “Retail Radicals” including Mickey Drexler, Jill Granoff, Paul Charron, Richard Jaffe, Robin Lewis, Mark Bozek, Alex Brick , Mark A. Cohen, Anne Marie Stephen, and other leaders and luminaries for a one-day interactive summit on emerging brands and macro shifts shaping the future of the retail industry.

This program showcases retail radicalism from a multi-disciplinary perspective, identifying the skills, knowledge base, and best practices required to lead the retail industry into the future…

Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Venue: Uris Hall, Room 301, Columbia University Campus
Time: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

“We cannot build technology for equality and democracy unless we have and we harness diversity in its creation.”

“Continue to engage with people outside your discipline, your gender, your race. Talk with people who grew up in different places, who believe different things, who live and worship differently than you do. Talk with them, listen to them, get their perspectives… and encourage them to work in and with technology too.” – Sheryl Sandberg, in her Massachusetts Institute of Technology commencement speech.

“Even the newest technology can contain the oldest prejudices and our lack of diversity is at the root of some of the things we fail to see and prevent,” said Sandberg.

Disruption & The Bridge: A Video Clip

The world’s leading experts studied the challenge, identified the opportunity, and – sparing no expense – built the solution. It was perfect. It performed as expected. And, it was useless.

Lately, the term “disruption” is often used, and misused. In the business community, disruption is used to describe economic transformations, changes to consumer path-to-purchase, shifts toward digital consumption, the “retail apocalypse,” and jobs lost.

At our factory in Central America, disruption takes on a deeper meaning.

This video is about disruption, innovation, and leveraging historical expertise…

Disruption & The Bridge Video Clip

What I Should Have Said, But Didn’t

 

Last week in Las Vegas, during the largest fashion industry trade show, MAGIC/PROJECT, I delivered the keynote presentation for the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund and UBM Advanstar. It was entitled, “Disruption is the Mother of Invention.”

At the end of my presentation a woman stood up to ask a question. Actually, she made a statement.

“I own a fashion retail store,” she exclaimed. “I’m a good merchant, it’s a good store. It’s been in business a long time. Customers shop my store with their smartphone in their hand… and then they buy the item on Amazon Prime.”

She cried out, “it’s not right. It’s not fair.”

And then she said,

“What do I do?”

My answer was “textbook,” when the last thing needed was a textbook. Continue reading “What I Should Have Said, But Didn’t”