What Meeting Professionals Everywhere can Learn from J. Crew’s CEO Mickey Drexler
May 06, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

jcrewMillard “Mickey” Drexler brought a debt-drowning J. Crew back to profitability last year. He did so by implementing the following:

  • Took the company off the stock market in 2011 via a $3 billion private equity buyout
  • Cleaned house in the C-suite and 
  • Retooled the brand’s merchandise by moving it upscale.

The results? In the second quarter of 2012, J. Crew reported net income topping $22 million compared with a $10.5 million loss in the same quarter of the year before.

Last week, he shared with Fast Company his 10 Creativity Tips and how they were instrumental in turning J. Crew around. Below are six of those tips and how they can be applied to the meetings and events industry. 

Drexler Quote #1: "Every business could be creative. In my own experience, whatever was a good idea was a bad idea to most people."

Meetings Industry Translation: Are you trying new things? Taking risks? Listening to your attendees? Creativity only occurs with change and change only occurs with conflict. Having a diverse team will help move along this change. 

Drexler Quote #2: "Most companies should have a rule about how big they get."

Meetings Industry Translation: Every planner wants large conventions because they represent more revenue for the organization and more recognition for them. However, a large unwieldy conference that doesn't allow for personal attention of the attendee, can make your event suffer in the long haul. Keep focused on getting your attendees to come back year-after-year. Incremental meeting growth is a solid strategy rather than trying to grow attendance exponentially. 

Drexler Quote #3: "You have to keep moving forward. What has (your) company done in the past five years that somebody's noticed?"

Meeting Industry Translation: How are you keeping up with attendee, exhibitor and sponsor demands? Are you showing innovation through mobile technology, and fast and secure Wi-Fi network arrays at your meeting? Are you using apps effectively? Is your conference different than most and in what ways?

Drexler Quote #4: "I'm a very proud micro manager. We need to speak the language of customers."

Meeting Industry Translation: Are you checking every last detail about your event, including what is displayed on your digital signage? Are your volunteers and staff smiling and warmly greeting your attendees as they arrive at the conference? Are you talking and listening "attendee speak"? An easy way to do to keep the conversation flowing, is to rent iPads and pre-load social channels such as Twitter onto them. Another way is through polling devices such as Audience Response rentals

Drexler Quote #5: "You can drown in data. You learn and then edit, edit, edit because there's a lot of junk mail in your head." 

Meeting Industry Translation: While Big Data is important, you can get caught up in the so many irrelevant details. Focus first on your attendees and exhibitors because they make your event go around. Then look at your sponsors and speakers. Determine trends in your industry, gleam the highlights and then just move forward.  

Drexler Quote #6: "Simplicity is very difficult to achieve."

Meeting Industry Translation: Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones, but something or someone gets in your way. How can you make your event easier for your attendees? 

AV Event Solutions is a creative, high quality California meeting equipment provider based in Los Angeles. Give them a call at 888.249.4903 to understand how they can help you! 

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