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

And what about staid old Phillips-Van Heusen and its presumably sleepy ceo, Bruce Klatsky? The Calvin Klein acquisition and tie-ins with Andy Grossman and Kellwood say it loud and clear — Bruce Klatsky gets it!

I’m saving the names of those who got it and lost it for that book I’m always being asked to write. But you know who they are. They were seduced by their own press and press releases, by yes-men and yes-women, and failed to recognize and accept the reality of their current position, especially as it related to the immediate dynamics of the marketplace. Because they often depended solely on their own point of view, they didn’t recognize the value of objectivity in developing strategic business and marketing plans. And a good helping of the uncommon common sense would have reminded them that “survival must come before ego.”

In his new book “Big Brands, Big Trouble,” Jack Trout identifies the belief that “We’re very successful” as one of the biggest miscalculations made by brands that are poised to lose market share. Success can lead to arrogance, and arrogance to failure. Those who get it don’t allow previous excellence to blur their objectivity and never allow it to satisfy their appetite for future success.

Yes, there are others who get it. The names that appear here are easily recognized and are examples meant to readily define and simplify our definition of getting it. If you feel strongly about any individual who has created a new market dynamic or changed the way business is conducted, or someone who once got it but lost it, let’s talk about them. And maybe I’ll write that book sooner than later.

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