The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our world in so many ways. So what’s a business leader to do?
Gary Friedman, the CEO of luxury home furnishings retailer RH, has an answer. It’s his signoff in his eloquent letters to “our people, partners and shareholders,” and it’s a phrase coined by the Roman poet Horace way back in 23 B.C.: “carpe diem.” The Latin translates, as you probably know, as “seize the day.”
Now you may be thinking these tough days are days to be forgotten, not seized, but you would be wrong. And Friedman packs plenty of wisdom — and literary references, too — into his sparkling letters, which are a refreshing change of pace from the more straightforward (read: kind of boring) quarterly earnings reports that fill my in box.
As I think about the tough hands that we have been dealt this year by COVID-19, I find Friedman’s letters to be a refreshing, inspiring tonic.
One letter quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.”
Friedman said that the members of Team RH embrace Emerson’s view. “We’ve spent decades defying conventional wisdom and refusing to become victims of other people’s thinking,” he said.
In another letter Friedman said RH lives by Einstein’s three rules of work: “Out of clutter find
simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
And he brilliantly applied those rules to his business today: “Out of the clutter of the current crisis, and in the middle of what seems like the most difficult of times, we are once again focused on elevating and reimagining the RH brand in a manner that will, in the words of Steve Jobs, ‘Change everything, again.’”
How many business leaders could seamlessly move from Einstein to Steve Jobs? Not many.
In his recent letters, written after the pandemic hit home, Friedman strikes just the right tone. “This,” he exclaims, “is a time to be defined by our vision, not by a virus.”
What he wrote in the early days of the pandemic still stands as compelling advice now. I present it here as poetry, which it is:
As we move forward past the dark days of the pandemic, let this be a pivot point where we once again rise up.
It is not a time to shelter and shrink, it is a time to expand and shine.
It is not a time to revert back to old ways and former days, it is a time to reimagine new ways and brighter days.
It is not a time to do less, it is a time to do more with less.
It is not a time to be victims of our current reality, it is a time to be visionaries, destroying today’s reality to create tomorrow’s future.
Let this be a time we look back upon and remember our resurrection. A time we reimagined and reinvented ourselves once again. A time Team RH unleashed the greatest display of innovation our industry has ever seen.
What a powerful message.
The post Blog: RH CEO’s eloquent letters full of wisdom for the times appeared first on Furniture Today.