Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on October 22th, 2013

Ralph Lauren: How rejection helped him build a multi-billion dollar global fashion empire.

It is amazing how many entrepreneurs succeeded after their ideas were rejected by others. Henry Ford, Sam Walton and Ralph Lauren are but a few examples.

Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York on October 14th, 1939. In his youth Ralph's dream was to play professional basketball, but at 5' 6" (1.68 m) it seemed unlikely. The family business was house painting, but Ralph had different dreams.

Ralph found his real passion was designing clothing, and he changed his name from Lifshitz to Lauren, thinking Lauren was more stylish.

Ralph Loren
Ralph Loren

Ralph worked for a tie company and the man who ran the company didn't like Ralph's tie designs. He sarcastically told Ralph, "No-the world is not ready for Ralph Lauren," and refused to market the ties.

Ralph was so hurt by his sarcasm that he quit to go out on his own. This was risky, for Ralph was just 26 years old and it was frightening to have no job and no income.

Ralph had little money and he started his company in a tiny space, little more than a mail drawer in the Empire State Building. Each day he would collect rags, "make them into ties" and then take those ties into stores to sell.

He quickly felt the sting of rejection, but he didn't quit and in small numbers, those ties began to sell, giving Ralph an income. Sales continued to grow and against long odds Ralph had begun to build his own company.

The journey had begun that would lead to the multi-billion dollar global fashion empire that is Ralph Lauren today. Yet without his employer's sarcasm for his ties, and Ralph quitting to start his own business, none of this success could ever have happened.

Success Tip of the Week: If you have a great idea, like Ralph, have the courage to pursue it. Don't let a lack of money, or the criticism by others, stop you from achieving something great. Be bold and make your idea a reality.

Editor's Note: The primary source for this story was an in depth 2002 interview Oprah conducted with Ralph http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Oprah-Interviews-Ralph-Lauren To see a 41 minute interview Oprah conducted in 2011 with Ralph and his family http://vimeo.com/24302823

The idea and assistance for this story came from my friend Kristin Taliaferro, who publishes a wonderful free inspirational daily quote http://mad.ly/4c03f3?pact=529094898962993418&fe=1

In the next KazanToday: The story of a woman who became one of Hollywood's most powerful people

Comments:

Dick,

Thanks for posting this wonderful reminder that rejection can be a wake-up call, a stepping stone. . As Ralph Lauren found out, when we think we're being rejected from something good, we're actually being redirected to something better.

Tom Brown

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Many of these short, inspirational success stories are about people from all walks of life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve remarkable results. These stories contain practical advice and a recipe for success for each of these renowned individuals. Some of their stories may help you to avoid some of the costly and time consuming mistakes that many of us make in life and at work. Learn from some of history's greatest winners on how to become a winner yourself, no matter what the obstacle, and no matter how daunting the task before you may seem. Good luck!
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