GLS18 Session Notes–Angela Ahrendts–One-on-One with John C. Maxwell

Published August 16, 2018

John C. Maxwell: You have worked in many different environments. Can you give us some leadership practices that transcend those environments?


Angela Ahrendts: One thing I have carried with me my whole life are my core values. Values are the foundation for everything I believe and who I am. I was raised to love one another. I was raised to do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. These values are the foundation of everything I am as a leader. I hire that way. I lead that way. I have always been a purpose-driven human. I don’t like the word “work.” I want to make an impact. I want to make a difference.

Values are the foundation for everything I believe and who I am.

Maxwell: When we have core values, isn’t it true that we become more valuable to others?


Ahrendts: You always end up putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Whatever you give, you get ten-fold in return…. whether a simple smile or a hug. I always say, the higher up I go, the more I need to never forget.


Maxwell: How do you stay true to yourself when your responsibilities keep increasing?


Ahrendts: It can be stressful. But just like any job, you have to take a deep breath and say, “I’m here for a reason.” I get up an extra hour early to have my morning cup of coffee, to do my morning reading and listen to Dr. Charles Stanley podcast. I go through these mental and spiritual routines every morning and those help me shine my light better. I take care of myself for an hour, so I can take care of everyone else.


Maxwell: Do you think it’s a bad thing for leaders to be aloof or separated from where the people are?


Ahrendts: Absolutely. There is nothing better than 1-1 human connection. Great leaders are listeners. We have 66,000 employees in 30 countries. We need to listen to them. We have apps that help us receive feedback and hear their voices.


Maxwell: How do you view the different aspects of hiring?

Great leaders are listeners.

Ahrendts: Me or We: I always look to see if a candidate is a “me” or a “we” type of person. Is it all about them? Or do they talk more about what their teams have accomplished? IQ and EQ: Both are important. Are they intelligent? How do they answer and respond to others and situations? Whole-Minded: We have a left brain and a right brain. The right is more compassionate. The left is more linear and analytical. Team Fit and Needs: It’s about hiring people who fit the needs and gaps in the team you are building.


Maxwell: Does intuition play a role when you are hiring someone?


Ahrendts: Absolutely. I believe intuition is the greatest God-given gift every single one of us have. When I’m interviewing someone, trust is a big thing. Instincts are like an informed experience. They allow you to pursue the possibilities.


Maxwell: You have done exceptionally well with branding. Tell us how.


Ahrendts: The brand will outlive us all. Our job is to ensure a company’s relevance for the next 150 years. What do we need to clean up what’s gotten cluttered? What do we need to pull in and purify and keep pace to get ahead? When we hand the baton off to the next generation of leaders, the brand will be as great as we could have made it during this time. To me, brands are bigger than cultures. Cultures create the brand. And the brand is bigger than any one group of people or a certain period of time.


Maxwell: Talk to someone just starting out. Give me one or two thoughts that would help them get started in business and branding.


Ahrendts: 1) Start with “why.” What’s the deeper purpose? Is it just to make money? Why does this need to become a core value of the company? That needs to be the thread that enriches lives and outlives you. 2) Once you know your “why,” I would ask “how?” How are you going to do this? What types of people are you going to hire? Are you going to trust them? Can you activate their creative thinking?

Cultures create the brand.

Maxwell: Let’s talk about to motivating and inspiring people. How do you do it?


Ahrendts: My dad used to say, “I can teach you anything, but I can’t teach you to care.” Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” When I’m in the stores, I make sure people know I care. Don’t talk above them. Talk to them. Be consistent. Celebrate them. Say thank you and amplify it.


Maxwell: How do you let your light shine in your work as a person of faith?


Ahrendts: I read. I listen. I pray every day that the Spirit fills me, moves me and shines my light. I always say, I’m just a third child from a tiny town in Indiana that never could have made up the life I’m living. So I pray for God to lead me and help me make the impact He wants me to make on this planet, and I’ll hold on for the ride.



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About the Author(s)
Angela Ahrendts speaker headshot for The Global Leadership 2018.

Angela Ahrendts

Former SVP of Retail at Apple; Former CEO of Burberry

Angela Ahrendts was formerly responsible for strategy, real estate & development and operations of Apple’s physical stores, online store and contact centers. Since joining Apple in 2014, she has integrated Apple’s physical and digital retail businesses to create a seamless experience for more than a billion visitors per year with the goal of educating, inspiring, entertaining and enriching communities. Prior to Apple, Ahrendts served as CEO of Burberry, leading the company through a period of outstanding global growth.

Years at GLS 2018

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