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Macy’s Inc. CEO: To be successful ‘most important criteria is that you end up loving what you do’

Courtesy of Michael Haddock


Macy’s Inc. CEO Terry Lundgren comes in contact with celebrities almost daily, but apparently even he gets a little starstruck sometimes. 

“I’m standing backstage … and all of a sudden the cameras are following this guy, and I see this big crowd coming around him. All of a sudden the crowd breaks open, and he’s  talking and doesn’t lose his stride and he says, ‘And then there’s my man Terry Lundgren’ … That’s a pretty cool moment. Getting a little cred from Diddy was good,” Lundgren said about his run-in with Diddy, whose real name is Sean Combs.

Lundgren came to Ohio State Friday morning to speak to students as part of the “Fashion and Retail Studies Speaker Series” at the Ohio Union’s Performance Hall. Though the event began at 8 a.m., it was one of the most popular held in the series so far.

“We usually have around 200 students that come to each of these events,” said Kathleen Penley, a lecturer in the fashion and retail studies program and coordinator of the program’s advisory board. “So far we have had 350 RSVPs, and we do think we have some people who are coming that have not RSVP’d.”

Coordinators for the event did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for an offical crowd count.

Lundgren spoke to students about some of his most influential decisions as Macy’s CEO, including the choice to change the names of other department stores owned by the company to the name Macy’s in order to be able to advertise nationally.

“I couldn’t even advertise on the third most-watched television program in America,” Lundgren said. “Do you know what that is? The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I had other retailers advertising on my show. It was driving me crazy.”

Lundgren also talked about his decision to stop bidding on Marshall Field’s, which was a department store in Chicago, when he became CEO in 2004. He said that losing this property to another company was the best thing that happened to Macy’s.

“We had a limit and I bid up to that limit, and it sold for significantly more than what I was prepared to pay,” Lundgren said. “And as a result of that, one year later, we bought the company that bought Marshall Field’s because they paid too much. It was a great experience we had walking away, that we were ultimately able to swallow the whale that ate the fish.”

Lundgren said balancing his life was easy because he is doing something he is passionate about.

“I love what I do, I love my job,” Lundgren said. “If you want to be successful, the most important criteria is that you end up loving what you do.”

One student found Lundgren’s advice on balancing his career with his family especially useful.

“As much as he was talking about being a businessman, you can see that his family is important to him,” said Betsy Schlembach, a fourth-year in human development and family sciences, with a minor in fashion and retail studies. “As a student you think about your life ahead and how you can have that work-life balance.”

The “Fashion and Retail Studies Speaker Series” is slated to feature another man with knowledge of the retail business next month. Penley said Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of Limited Brands, is scheduled to appear at OSU Feb. 13.

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