Inspiration from Ralph Lauren
Estimated Lesson Time: 2 minutes
Ralph Lauren (1939–) is the founder and chairman of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation—a leader in the design, marketing, and distribution of premium lifestyle products.
Success is not something into which you are born. Born in the Bronx, New York, Ralph Lauren has come a long way from his days of sharing a bedroom with two of his brothers.
Success is knowing what’s in a name. Ralph knew that people would have a problem wearing apparel with the name “Lifshitz” on them; thus he went from the Bronx’s “Ralph Lifshitz” to the fashion industries “Ralph Lauren.” Lauren then founded the company Polo Fashions in 1968. He chose the name “Polo” because of the power, style and intrigue with which the brand has always been associated.
Success is often the result of two or more specialties. Ralph studied business at City College in Manhattan. Although he never attended any fashion schools, his keen sense of fashion and passion for the industry gave him his advantage in fashion. With his fashion sense and a knack for business, Ralph went on to become a success.
Success is working for experience, not just for money. While attending night school, Ralph would work by day at two glove companies as a salesman. He then worked for a tie manufacturer named A. Rivetz & Co., which ultimately led to the fashion empire he leads today.
Success is sticking with what you know is right, no matter what the initial cost. In the late 60s, while Lauren was trying to develop his line of wide ties, Bloomingdale’s insisted Lauren remove his name from the ties’ label and make his ties narrower. Lauren refused to sell to the department store under such circumstances. Bloomingdale’s eventually agreed to Lauren’s terms after seeing the brand’s huge success.
Success is selling ideas, not products. Polo sells a lifestyle image of sophistication, class and taste; not mere apparel.
Success is packaging and presentation. Lauren knew that an innovative mind was not enough; it would take creative packaging and persuasive presentation for his product line to take off.
Success is not perfect. Michael Gross is the author of Ralph Lauren’s biography “Genuine Authentic.” In this book, he describes the life of a man that is far from perfect and not quite the same as the public image Lauren projects.
Success is following your passion, not your mother’s. Despite Ralph’s tremendous success and contribution to the world through his fashion and philanthropic activities, it is rumored that his mother is still quite upset that he did not become a rabbi.
[Sources: http://www.askmen.com, http://about.polo.com]
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)