Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay department stores. She observes, “Saying thank you is not hard, but not everybody does it. It helps the whole team.” To read the complete interview, check out other articles, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
Photo credit: Chang W. Lee The New York Times
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Were you in leadership roles or doing entrepreneurial things when you were younger?
I grew up in Springfield, Mass., and from a very early age, I was interested in fashion. As soon as I could get a job, I was working in stores, engaging with customers. My first job was selling shoes. I also sold jewelry and worked in some local department stores.
How have your parents influenced your leadership style?
My father started his career as an industrial engineer in the steel industry. His second career was in management consulting. My mother was a schoolteacher. I had this very strong culture of work and career at a very early age, and lots of room for independence for my brothers and me. We were taught to believe that if you put your mind to do it, you could do it — the world is your oyster, but you’ve got to make it happen.
And they were always in our corner. That meant a lot to me, and I use that line a lot today with my team — “I’m in your corner.” We’re in this together to make things happen.
Other lessons from your parents?
My mother was always very prepared and knew her material for school. But at the same time, she was open to learning all the time, whether it was taking courses or learning from others. That’s something I pride myself on — I have a vision and a strategy, but at the same time, I always want to be open to learning from others.
My father played football in college and was recruited by the Giants to play professionally. I learned how to catch a football before I rode a bike. But he really felt that he had a longer career opportunity using his math mind rather than playing football. I also learned from him the concept of playing to win and understanding the offense and defense of the business world. I also use a lot of football analogies. In retail, you can have a great long-term strategy, but you also have to have the ability to adjust in the huddle and redirect energy.
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To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.