What immediately stands out about Jeff Pfeile, retired President of J.Crew, is his intelligence, charm and humility. He worked his way up from selling suits at Polo, Ralph Lauren to successfully revitalizing and restructuring J.Crew with Millard (Mickey) Drexler. Under their management, the company went from being valued in the millions to the billions.
There’s no doubt that Jeff has an incredible ability to lead and inspire. He was and continues to be revered by his friends and former employees alike. Recently, Jeff generously shared with me the four ingredients to his success as a leader:
1. Do your homework – “Knowledge is key. It’s essential to know the latest market research and data. You can’t effectively lead without it.”
2. Teamwork – “It was always less about me and more about empowering my team. I hired great people, set clear expectations and came to understand how individuals and groups worked best.“
3. Be Authentic- “I was so scared the first time he had to address the board and shareholders as the President of J.Crew. I had never been in that position before. I was so far outside my comfort zone. At that moment, I decided that the only option was to be true to myself. Being authentic and speaking the truth made all the difference.”
4. Take Risks – “I never would have gotten where I am today, without taking risks. Fear will only hold you back. It helped to have mentor who really believed in me. For me, that person was my boss, Mickey Drexler. “