Howard Lester turned Williams-Sonoma into a powerful retailer. In 1978, Lester and a partner purchased the outlet, Williams-Sonoma (named for its founder) but neither knew what to do with it. After a few years his partner moved on. Lester remained but had little knowledge of the business. To make up for this gap, he decided to travel with Williams (still Chairman) on buying trips to Europe and became educated on the fact that kitchen stores were run like a hobby instead of a business. His education paid off. From $4mm in revenues in 1978 to $4.5b of revenues in 2013, Williams-Sonoma is an American success story. Lester had seven principles which he called Howard’s rules. These principles are applicable to any business, but as important, how everyone should conduct themselves:
—A need for vision
—A disdain for arrogance
—Be self-critical
—Celebrate the accomplishment of associates
—Judge yourself by how your customers judge you, “because without them, nothing else matters.”
—Integrity and honesty set the standard for everything
—Remain focused on what can be rather than what is