3 Startup Lessons From a Top Business School
In early October, The University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute--founded by scions of the Estee Lauder family to create global business leaders--celebrated its 30th birthday.
The Lauder Institute was set up by Leonard Lauder, son of cosmetics company founder, Estee, to create such leaders by offering a curriculum that integrates management education with international studies, advanced language and cross-cultural skills.
As Edgar Bronfman Jr., Chairman & CEO, Warner Music Group said of the Lauder Institute, “There's no better business preparation, and graduates are positioned ideally for international management.”
Can the Lauder’s Institute’s success offer lessons for your start-up?
1. Be your own best customer. The Lauder Institute was established, in part, because Estee Lauder needed the kinds of leaders that it would produce. Estee Lauder was not only a sponsor but would be a great customer and had an intimate knowledge of the needs for global leaders.
Reading between the lines, it is clear that the program’s founder saw a need in their own business for the skills that the school would produce. As Estee Lauder Executive Chairman of the Board, William Lauder, explained in a recent interview, “We are a consumer-inspired, creativity-driven company with a presence in more than 150 countries and territories. Understanding the needs of our global consumer and the unique markets where we operate is critical for continued success. “
Many start-up founders succeed as did the Lauder Institute because they realize that many people have the same needs as they do.
2. Bet on a bold vision. Translating your own needs into a compelling vision that will bring other people together to help you realize it, is a critical skill you need to have if you want to attract resources beyond the ones you directly control.
As Lauder explained, “When my father and uncle established the Institute 30 years ago, their vision was to prepare leaders for success in a business landscape that was becoming increasing global in nature. The goal was for the program to be a pioneer in international business education -- integrating advanced language, cross-cultural and regional studies with Wharton’s renowned MBA program. “
This is the kind of vision that can engage people to get excited about helping you. Without such a compelling view of the future, you may not get the resources you need. With one, you may achieve greatness.
3. Measure the results and adapt. Just because you have a vision that gets you going, you need to test if against reality. Does it get the kind of results you want?
In the case of the Lauder Institute, the answer is yes. As Lauder explained, “Today, the success of the program is a testament to this idea. The program has evolved in response to an expanding, increasingly complex global economy and consumer, and provides international business acumen to its graduates to prepare them for success and leadership.”
Strategy consultant, startup investor, teacher, corporate speaker, pundit, and author of 11 books, Peter Cohan has invested in six startups, three of which were sold for a total of $2 billion. Before founding Peter S. Cohan & Associates in 1994, he worked with HBS strategy guru Michael E. Porter.