Women’s Wear Daily
04.21.2014
fashion-features
fashion-features

CEO's: Who Has 'It'?

The best executives and designers are those with an indefinable yet vital quality. Getting "it" requires a rare combination. By Harry Bernard

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bHarry Bernardb is co-founder and chief marketing officer of Colton Bernard Inc the fashion industrys acknowledged resource providing real time consumer and retail data analysis and for recruiting those talented executives who get it

Harry Bernard is co-founder and chief marketing officer of Colton Bernard Inc., the fashion industry's acknowledged resource providing real time consumer and retail data analysis, and for recruiting those talented executives who get it.

Photo By WWD Staff

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This article was written by Harry Bernard for WWD.

The best executives and designers are those with an indefinable yet vital quality.

Getting "it" requires a rare combination of intellectual and instinctive traits. People who “get it” are those who have vision, think creatively, are flexible and most of all combine the instincts of the entrepreneur with the rarest of all commodities: common sense. No one has yet been able to explain satisfactorily why something that is so rarely used — and by so few — can be called common. When you do meet those men and women blessed with entrepreneurial common sense, it can take your breath away!

As headhunters for over 30 years, we’ve developed a set of criteria using this definition of “it” as a measuring stick that allows the best individuals to rise to the top. And when those people who get “it” find a business culture that reveres and nurtures those traits, great things happen. The organization is flexible and can more easily adapt to the dynamics of change as well as demands for growth and profit. When a corporate culture doesn’t evolve or is forced to remain in stasis by managers who don’t get it, bad things can and do happen to good people — including shareholders. There are also those who once got it, but lost it along the way. We’ll have more to say about that further on.

Every manager is faced with the fact of change — whether it’s a matter of simple fine-tuning or a total refocusing of priorities and goals. To the basics of entrepreneurial common sense, those who get it are able to respond to both market change and shareholder expectations by adding a heavy dose of logic and a grasp of history: How did we get here? Where are we going? How do we get there?

Because they are logical as well as creative visionaries, ceo’s who get it constantly want answers to these questions:

  • What does the market demand?
  • What do our shareholders or investors demand?
  • What does meeting these often-divergent sets of demands impose on our internal structure, our human resources and our brand-building efforts?
  • What do we need in terms of concept, capital and commitment to achieve our stated goal?


Both top- and bottom-line strategies are covered — or uncovered — by the answers to these four basic questions. There are certainly other questions, but we’re talking about the basics as interpreted by entrepreneurs with vision, flexibility, creativity and common sense.

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