As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Durand Guion Vice President at Macy’s. As head of Macy’s Fashion Office, Durand Guion’s extensive merchandising experience has helped him make a mark on the fashion scene. With a laser focus on his target audience’s lifestyle needs, he searches high and low to ensure that he has the very best for today’s discerning shoppers and that getting dressed every morning, and for every occasion, is always fun, effortless and easy. A retail veteran, he celebrates fashion and style by bringing forward new brands and talent to help today’s customers feel bold and confident.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My love of fashion and style started at a young age. I clearly remember not wanting to attend the first day of second grade because my new sweater had not arrived.
From that point on, I was laser-focused on pursuing fashion for a living and strategically navigated my education, part-time jobs and internships to make this my reality.
Okay, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
I believe that many people are not encouraged to think beyond a salary when considering a career. Very simply, if a person does not enjoy what they do for eight hours or more each day, then it is difficult to remain happy and positive when the reality of life gets layered on top of it.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
Unhappy members of any work force spread those feelings around like the flu. In many cases, indulging in those feelings becomes the norm and easily distracts from the common goals of success.
Even the best employees can be affected by these feelings over time and then engagement starts to suffer and ultimately impacts what is delivered to the consumer.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
1. Say “thank you” often and sometimes in non-verbal ways
2. Remember and acknowledge non-work related milestones and events
3. Increase communication and information sharing; don’t assume that every corporate initiative is understood or welcomed.
4. Take the time to explain the foundation of decisions that are being made which has an impact on your team
5. Allow for more time during meetings for brainstorming and finding creative solutions, — I do this during my weekly staff meetings and the level of engagement is much higher than when the meetings were simply a transfer of information or assigning projects
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
I think the tech industry has set a good example for the broader work force on what new thinking can do to shift work culture attitudes. From flexible schedules, relaxed dress codes, brighter and more open office environments and access to beverages and snacks, these changes can truly make a difference. Also, it’s important to communicate how company profits are being used to reinvest in the future or support the local community and make sure team members have clarity around this and are involved and engaged at some level.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
I think my leadership style is approachable, focused and reasonable. I have high standards, and truly believe these standards are attainable if I am providing the appropriate guidance and tools. Additionally, it is difficult to be an effective leader without a high-level of compassion, which is an aspect of my leadership style that I constantly evaluate and work to improve. I also subscribe to a level of humility — no one is born into a leadership role and forgetting how you got there can be seen as disrespectful by your team. It is important to acknowledge that you can be wrong and have the ability to listen and pivot on previously-made decisions without letting your ego get in the way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many present and past leaders who have been instrumental in guiding me and I am incredibly grateful to them all. As difficult as it is to name just one individual, I’d like to acknowledge Diane Green, former chairperson of the CCSF Fashion Department. Her commitment to me as both a student and later as a faculty member of the program she led, was a critical factor in defining the success I have achieved in my professional life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I will go out of my way to meet with young people who are willing to work hard and looking to chart their path in the retail and fashion world. I have been told it is my ministry and it is a way for me to pay forward the many opportunities I’ve had to achieve my career goals and objectives.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Identify what you are passionate about and combine that with what you are naturally good at and this will deliver personal and professional success. I believe I have always subscribed to this, but when I first heard it verbalized I knew exactly what to do about it and have used it as the foundation of my mentoring and teaching efforts ever since.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Again, it goes back to helping people look within and capturing what truly inspires them. I am a student of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. The law of attraction is such a powerful concept when applied to professional pursuits and, I believe, a direct correlation with a sense of happiness at work.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!