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  • Change, But Stay Familiar

    You might have to let go of the very thing that made you great.

    Often privilege is hard earned by one generation, distinguished by another and destroyed by the latest, yet the Estée Lauder empire has avoided the latter by not only being in the future, but by also accepting that the past is no more. Estée Lauder sells 28 Luxury products in over 100 different countries – impressive.

    Cosmetics empires come and go, but not only has Estée Lauder been determined to stick around: it has reinvented itself to be once again at the top of its game, and now new products and growing revenues are the reward for “changing, but staying familiar.”

    The family dynasty has become more contemporary with ever-changing trends, while holding on to tradition, which is a delicate – often deadly integration, but somehow – the Lauder’s have done it well. I became interested in a fascinating article, What Would Estée Do, because every thriving business has to change at some point: market leaders must change to remain market leaders, and upstarts must change — if they eventually want to become market leaders.

    Its’ imperative that as an emerging leader, Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals, embrace the notion that they will not be monolithic – nor will they be surefooted all the time: believe it or not, they shouldn’t want to be, because the world now evolves in real-time – in hyper-time, and often your next opportunity is somewhere between not here yet, but right around the corner. Lesson: Be Prepared and Opportunistic.

    The Lauder family went way outside of their comfort zone and brought in Fabrizio Freda, from Procter & Gamble, who once was in charge of running P&G’s snack businesses. This was something more akin to “going nuclear” for the Lauders, but the family knew that they needed an outside perspective — someone, who was a real global manager, because the world was changing – has changed: and will dramatically change again shortly, and they needed someone to forecast and position them to be within the “sweet spot” of such changes. It takes courage to change enough to keep your advantage – it takes a “plan” to change enough to become the best you’ve ever been.

    I think just like in the article, the one constant: “touch the customer,” which has always been and will always remain the central difference to a thriving business and one less so. In the article it stated, “But the core of Mrs. Lauder’s success was her insistence on reaching out and touching every customer, a practice she later instilled in her sales staff….“My grandmother would always reach across the table and put product in their hand, or she would give them a makeover; she was the queen of the makeover,” recalls Jane Lauder, global president of Origins, a natural skin-care line, and the Ojon hair-care brand. “She was the best saleswoman ever: she just kept going, kept convincing you.”  Never forget – it’s the customer.

    If you noticed, we are not really posting about the Lauder family or Estée Lauder cosmetics, but about change – and the need to consider it all the time and how to effectively negotiate it. And the first rule of change: you must be willing to change as well, we can’t be wedded to obsolete matters: you might have to let go of the very thing that made you great.

    To consider:

    1.    Customers — always – everyday.

    2.      Perspective – who are you now – is this who you want to be or have you been slow to change into what you should have been already. Why. What needs to change – why – and will you do it – can you do it successfully — how?

    3.      Flat World – We live in a flat world: how do you reach customers – how do you discern touchpoints – how do you avail yourself to local culture and how do you capture trends within all these disparate places?

    So, yes there is much work when changing your business – but what’s the alternative – a no-business business. I believe every six to twelve months, company leader’s should “blow-up” the company: if you can’t find things that are new and fascinating about your offering or the way you present them, neither can your customers. Tell me what you think.

    Good Luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Calvin.wilson1@verizon.net Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Gamechangers

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