Maureen Chiquet: “Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership & Success on Our Own Terms” | Talks at Google

ELISE BIRKHOFER: Hi, everyone. My name is Elise
Birkhofer, and I’m one of the Global Program
Managers for Women at Google. We are very excited today
for a Special Talks at Google hosted by Eileen Naughton,
VP of People Operations at Google and Maureen Chiquet. Maureen Chiquet began
her career in marketing at L’Oreal Paris in 1985. She has worked at The Gap,
helped launch Old Navy, and was president
of Banana Republic before becoming COO
and president of US operations of Chanel in 2003. In 2007, she became
its first global CEO, where she oversaw the
business and brand’s worldwide expansion. She left Chanel in 2016 to
focus on writing, speaking, and developing new
leadership initiatives. There’s a Dory for
questions, go/maureen-dory, if anyone who’s over live
stream wants to add a question remotely when we open it up. Thanks. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
Thank you, Elise. And good morning, everyone– afternoon if you’re watching
from other parts of the world. We have, I think, well
over 200 people signed up, so hi out there– MAUREEN CHIQUET: Good
morning, everyone. EILEEN NAUGHTON: –on the GVC. And welcome back
to Google, Maureen. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Thank you. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Maureen
and I ran into each other in the hallway this morning. And one of the reasons I was so
intrigued to come in and speak with you was I’ve met
Maureen in the past. She was, at the
time, CEO of Chanel, one of the most coveted
accounts in the New York office, I might add. And all of our sales
executives would dress up very, very specially
when Chanel team came in. And they got a lot
of love from us. But, Maureen, you were
really pushing your team to drive more value
through digital marketing. And so clearly, a lot of
leadership insight there. But I read the book review
of “Beyond the Label,” Maureen’s first book. And I was intrigued,
and I sent the review to our director of
leadership development, because I thought were so many
leadership lessons in here. And I go, you might want to
get Maureen to come to Google and tell us about this. MAUREEN CHIQUET: I love that. EILEEN NAUGHTON: So Maureen,
you were running a $5 billion global company, one of the
most iconic brands in the genre of fashion and luxury. And suddenly, it stopped
December 2015, was it? MAUREEN CHIQUET: It was
January 2016, right. EILEEN NAUGHTON: So you’ve
had this meteoric career. You’re one of the most
admired CEOs, female CEOs, in your industry, but
also an American CEO this iconic French brand. And then it stops. Can you talk a
little bit about what it felt like and that
the disorientation that you describe in the book. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
I would love to. So there’s a story in the book. It’s the first story. And I’ll give you a,
sort of, brief synopsis and let you read the rest. But from one day to
the next I found myself no longer with a title with
a label of global CEO Chanel. And as part of what
I was going through, and I think to be honest,
it was a moment for me of both freedom,
in a way, because I had been working in a
company for over 30 years– in companies. I had three major companies– L’Oreal, Gap, and all three
divisions, and then Chanel. And so while at one point
it was kind of liberating, I was also grieving. It was really hard
because I found myself without knowing
who I was anymore. And the story goes
that I decided, for whatever reason– you
all probably think I’m crazy. But I decided I need
to purge my closets. I have been wearing the
same uniform for 13 years. And I know it’s a
really wonderful treat to be able to wear
this kind of uniform. For me, it was jeans, because
you can’t give up your roots. So I had my denim jeans,
any variety of denim jeans. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
What’s your favorite? MAUREEN CHIQUET: Well, at the
time, I was wearing J Brand. But I’ve now transitioned
Yeah, they’re good. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah,
I really like them. I’m giving them a plug. I hope they’re happy. So all you Googlers–
no, I just think they’re really
comfortable, well-made, and beautiful fabrics. But I would wear any variety
of J Brand jeans back then. My American Apparel– now
they’re going out of business, unfortunately– tank
tops and a Chanel jacket everyday 13 years,
that’s what I wore. So I had this moment. I need to purge my closet. I did it that, and I
realized that all I had left were tank tops, a few
woven shirts from a company called Hartford,
and these jeans. So I thought, oh my god,
what am I going to do? So I called Jeffrey’s,
a store in New York. I called Jeffrey, or texted him,
and said, SOS, I need clothes. EILEEN NAUGHTON: I’m sorry. What did you do
with the old ones? MAUREEN CHIQUET: I know. Everybody asks. I don’t know if I
should admit this. There are about 10 closets
full in my basement. So I haven’t done anything
with them, but I really– I know. I know. EILEEN NAUGHTON: You
can auction them off. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Everybody– I know. I haven’t figured it out yet. I haven’t had time
to figure it out. So I went into Jeffrey, and
I’m a merchant at heart, meaning I love clothes,
and I feel them. And I love to think about
what looks good in stores. So I walked in probably the most
intimidated I had ever been, because I felt almost nude. I felt naked at this point. I had on some of my
Converse sneakers and jeans, and I’m touching the mannequins,
and they’re looking down at me. And I’m thinking, I
don’t belong anymore. I don’t know where I belong. And fortunately, thanks
to the team there, they littered the dressing room
with all different options. And you know, my
first instinct was to go over to my old identity. Because, by the way, this
is a story about clothes, but it’s really a
story about identity. And I started looking
at all the jackets. That’s all I could
see was fitted jackets, Chanel-type jackets. And they said, no,
why don’t we show you some other things–
wide leg pants and this kind of jacket
and underpinnings and all these things that I hadn’t
ever thought about wearing. And I started to look
at myself in the mirror, and I thought, oh, my god,
there’s a person in there beyond the label, really, beyond
the level of global CEO Chanel. And it was the
beginning of, almost, the process that I went
through of rediscovering who I was after this
13-year stint as the CEO. EILEEN NAUGHTON: So a 13-year
stint as CEO of Chanel, purging your closet is
a metaphor for purging your life– MAUREEN CHIQUET:
That’s exactly right. EILEEN NAUGHTON: –as well. Your marriage of 26 years,
is it, purged that too in a rather dramatic way. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
It wasn’t dramatic. It’s interesting to be in
the situation, where, and I think, in honesty, a wonderful,
wonderful relationship, which is still there, is a friendship,
and to recognize that, and to be able to say, can
we evolve this relationship from what it is and go
beyond our own labels, basically, into a friendship? And so Antoine, I call him
my was-band, and said– because we’re best friends,
and he lives in Africa. His passion and
his work is really in setting up NGOs in Africa. So he’s living in Burundi. He does a lot of
work also in Uganda. But I also realized,
and what was interesting about
our relationship, is so much of what he had to do,
in so many ways, was follow me. And this allowed
him to follow him. So it was a real opening. Now, I say this. It sounds really easy. But I cried for three months. And I kid you not, this
was not an easy thing. But it was– you’re right. It was a kind of identity. It wasn’t– I hate to
say purging, though. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Oh, I’m sorry. It’s maybe a strong word. But do you think that had your
separation from Chanel not happened, do you think you would
have been provoked to move well beyond all of your labels? MAUREEN CHIQUET: You
know, it’s interesting. My marriage– we were separated
long before I left Chanel. And it was interesting for me,
actually, to go through that. I don’t want to talk too much,
because it’s going to be– I think it will be the
subject of my next book. No, I’d love to talk more. We can talk about– because I haven’t
formulated all my ideas yet. But it was– and I don’t–
you know how sometimes when you’re in it, and I think,
in a way, I’m still in that, you’re not exactly– you don’t have the
distance enough to say, what did I glean from this? Or what questions can I ask? Or what observations
can I make that might help other people going
through major transformations? I’m still in the transformation. I think, kind of, we
always are, right? But this one was a big one. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
It’s remarkable. So many strong women
are giving voice to what it is we
experience in life. Sheryl Sandberg, who was
one of the founding– she was the founder of Women
at Google, which was here, has just come out
with “Option B” and her whole premise
of resilience. And you actually learn how
through difficult transitions just how resilient you can be. And resilience itself
is a learned skill. Is that something that
you’ve been toying with? I haven’t been able to
read the book yet, but– MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah, in fact,
very early on in my career I started learning this
notion of resilience. And there’s a story
in there when I was a young merchant at The Gap. Now, you have to understand, I
was at L’Oreal for three years. I was pretty sure– and I had no idea, by the way,
that when I went to L’Oreal I was going to be a marketer. I studied literature. EILEEN NAUGHTON: At Yale. MAUREEN CHIQUET: At Yale. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Any
Yalees in the room? MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Maybe some out there. Hi, Yalees. But I studied film
as a literary form. So I was looking at
imagery and trying to understand the emotion
that’s created with image. And I never thought about that
might be a career in marketing. But how logical is that? Really amazing. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Especially
at L’Oreal, which is such a visual marketer. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Exactly. And so I fell, really,
in the right place. But I’d come from
this three years. And I had I gone on the road. L’Oreal has this great program
where they sent me actually to the north of France, which is
the industrial part of France. All my friends were
going to the Cote d’Azur, and I’m and I’m in the north
of France with the coalmines. And they actually asked you
to sell L’Oreal products out of a suitcase. And you’re basically a traveling
salesman to hypermarkets. Hypermarkets are three times the
size of your local supermarket, I mean, at least. And I would meet
with these guys, and there’s a store in there. I met with one
guy, and he buys– he bought peas. He bought sanitary concerns. And he bought hair gel. Now, you can imagine. And I was selling
mousse that day. And his hair is
all slicked back. I’m thinking, maybe I
should change my marketing? I’ve got the marketing speak,
and I’m giving my sales pitch. And finally he said, no, no, no. Look, let’s talk
about the endcap. How much will you give me? And we started going
back and forth. And I realized that I actually
had to step in his shoes to understand. But all that to say
I came out of L’Oreal sure I was a marketer,
absolutely sure. And I got to The Gap, and
it turned out they actually had advertising not marketing. So they had said, you’re
going to be a merchant. And I thought, this is great. I mean, I like looking
at beautiful products and selecting them. My interview with the
CEO, then Mickey Drexler, had gone really well. I picked out some bags. I’m like, oh, I can– a cinch. Well, not so fast. I found myself pretty
much in a sample closet for the first
several months, trying to sort through
all the very disarray of different products
that hadn’t been organized in several years. And then I had to learn this
thing called the Open-To-Buy, which was a– it’s a tool to manage
your inventory. And I had a difficult boss. And he one day said to
me– you know, I had lost– I get lost. I had not known where
some paisley bags were. And he got very angry
at me and told me he wasn’t going to teach
me the Open-To-Buy, that I had to learn it on my own. I’m a young person, and I’m
also the sole breadwinner. So he had yelled at me
to just such a degree that I found myself crying
and calling my mom, which is what you do, right– call mom. So my mom at that
point said to me, and you’re talking
about resilience, she said, well, honey, I hate
to see you working so hard. I was working 12-hour days. I didn’t understand this
thing called the Open-To-Buy. I had never been a merchant. I realized that it was way
harder than anybody had told me in the beginning, or that
I at least had surmised. And so she said, why don’t
you do something else? And I said, but I want to
be close to creativity. And by the way, no
Google at that time. This was back in 1989. If I had known, I
might have come here. No, I love The Gap so much. But I so wanted to be
close to that creativity. And I was watching
the levels above me and what they were
getting to do. And they’re working
with design teams and picking these beautiful
clothes out for the store. So I stuck in there. And I said, Mom, I’m
going to stick it out. And I think it was a very early
lesson in resilience, which is basically, for me,
about when you care so deeply about
something, you’re kind of willing to tough out
some of those moments that aren’t as easy. And I care deeply about
being close to creative. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
I love that story. Because there is
something in your 20s where you have this sense of
who want to be professionally. But you really do have to
learn your way into it. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Totally. EILEEN NAUGHTON: And the ability
to be patient with yourself and learn the tools
of the trade, I think, those are
important lessons. Because I often say to
many Googlers who are, by and large, a
very high-capability ambitious group,
you’re going to be working for probably 30 years. This is a marathon and
enjoy this journey. But you had quite a
journey through, OK, marketing, merchandising, then,
what I would call, leadership. You were CEO of The Gap
when you left, weren’t you? MAUREEN CHIQUET: No, no, no. I was I was president
of Banana Republic. EILEEN NAUGHTON: That’s it,
president of Banana Republic. And then to be
selected for Chanel, you have an unusual profile. You’re bilingual. You’ve had to work [INAUDIBLE]. But that is daunting
leadership [INAUDIBLE].. We talk sometime at Google
about Imposter Syndrome, when you show up somewhere, and all
of sudden, you realize, wow, everyone else is
really knowledgeable. How did it feel walking into
the storied house of Chanel and [INAUDIBLE]? MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Well, first of all, it was incredibly,
incredibly exhilarating and intimidating. timidating. And I remember standing in
Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment– this beautiful crystal
chandelier, and I talked about this in
the book, and gazing up. And then going to
these fashion shows in a 17th-century convent. And the beautiful,
detailed, intricate couture, I had never seen
anything like this. And then here’s a brand that
has almost a 100-year history. Gap was created in 1969. And so I didn’t– the richness of that. And how do you take that forward
into this very different future was going to be, I knew, one
of my biggest challenges. But as the story goes,
when I started as CEO– so this is after three years
of training, by the way. I had three years of training. So you talked about patience. I think I learned to
cultivate patience. But the first year
they had sent me to France to just listen and
learn, put a tape on my mouth. They basically, we want
you in France and then around the world. We want you to meet everybody
and anybody you can. I went into every
single department, from creative to the
factories to finance, visited with all the teams. And all I could do was ask
questions, because they said, you are not allowed to make
a decision for a full year. So that was humbling,
very humbling. And after about nine
months, I was going, I want to do something. And you’re seeing these things
that you think you can do. But this house has such a
beautiful storied history that you really do have
to learn the ropes first. But when finally
became CEO in 2007, that was equally a
hurdle, because I actually found myself at the table, at
the head of a table, of 10 men. And all of them were in their
beautiful suits and CC logo ties. Now, I knew them
because I’d been there. But all of a sudden,
I was at the head, and I was 43 years old. I’m American. Most of them were French. Most of them were a decade,
if not two, of my senior. And they all had not three
years, but about 20 years of luxury experience. So that was the beginning
of actually tapping into a different
kind of leadership. I had always thought
about leadership is the idea of take
charge, demand respect, be focused, be strategic. You have a vision. And that wasn’t going to work. That wasn’t going
to work because they had such deep history,
such deep knowledge, that I had to figure out how I was
going to integrate the things I was seeing and certainly
the digital world that was coming out. Really, 2007 was the beginning
of a major digital revolution. And I had to figure that out. So I realized that it was going
to be through asking questions, through actually sitting
on their side of the table, not trying to push my agenda
and actually being vulnerable, saying, you know, guys,
I don’t know this. Help. It was collaborating
with them, mixing ideas, and actually opening
questions to everybody so that we could actually
co-create a future. And that knowledge of that
moment– this is getting long. I’m sorry. But I– EILEEN NAUGHTON:
No, it’s perfect. It’s fascinating, actually. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Oh, good. So that’s a personal story. But it taught me something
really deeper about leadership. Because what I realized
during that moment, and this is three major things
were happening in our world. The digital revolution for
you guys is incredible. Now imagine yourself
a luxury company, where it’s all
about exclusivity. It’s not more is more. It’s not about pushing sales
or getting more exposure. It’s actually about making your
products rare and beautiful and connecting to that customer
not en masse, but one on one. So the digital revolution
actually scared us. So we had that as
a great unknown. And how are we going to be
relevant in this revolution if we are about rarity
and exclusivity? So that was the first thing. The second thing
was globalization. We had been global, but we had– when China began to
gain so much wealth, we had clients all over the
world flooding our boutiques from China. And that was hard. We didn’t know the
culture that well. But also, we didn’t
know how to still serve our loyal clients when the
boutiques were brimming, so challenge two. Challenge three, and I’m
looking out at all of you and probably some of you
there, this generation that everybody so fondly
called Millennials, for a luxury brand– it’s a patriarchal company. It is based on a lot of history. And you have people who are
born with devices in their hands and who have a very different
perspective about what makes up a luxury company, not
to mention different values about ethics and
social behavior. So as I’m sitting at this
table, and this happened over a period of a
few years, I realized that what I learned, when
I came into the unknown and uncertainty about how I
should behave as a leader, was something that the
leaders in our company would greatly benefit from,
and that we as a company, in order to step
into this new age, would actually have to adopt
new leadership behaviors and shift our culture. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Were you
explicit about those leadership behaviors [INAUDIBLE]? MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yes, and I’ll
tell a funny story about that. So I had a coach,
and I had begun to realize that
these were things that were starting to help me. So when I could sit at the other
side of the table with my team, when I could actually engage
in questioning and curiosity, not only did our
relationship get better, but more ideas started to spawn. So I decided, great,
I got it down. I know what qualities. I am going to teach
these guys what to do. At this point, by the way, I
added some women to the team. I had added six women, actually. So it was a rainy day in July. July is not a good month. I couldn’t control the rain. But July is not a
good month in France because it’s a month before
people go on vacation and people leave for months– EILEEN NAUGHTON: Very busy. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Very busy. People are stressed out. And I corralled my team
into a dusty ballroom. The ballroom was 10 times
the size of this room. And there were 20 of us. So you can imagine
what that felt like. And then I had them play
those team-building games, which sometimes are good. But when you’re in
a group of Europeans and when you’re actually forcing
them to be out in the rain, because we did out in the rain– I don’t know what
I was thinking. That doesn’t go over so well. And then I got up
on my bandstand, and I started to say, listen, we
need new leadership qualities. We need to change our culture. We need to be more empathetic. We need to be more flexible. We need to be more
collaborative. You can imagine. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Ooh. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Ooh is right. Biggest face plant
of my entire career. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Wow. Did they revolt immediately? MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Well, so, pretty much. I had also brought some
consultants from California, and that just wasn’t
the right mix. They felt like– EILEEN NAUGHTON: Well, first of
all, it doesn’t rain here, so. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Touche. They felt like I wasn’t taking
into account their perspective, their point of view, their great
history, and all the things and it made them great
up until this point. So I had one of
those moments where your biggest errors are usually
your greatest learnings. And August came,
took some time off. I had organized an off-site
with a great wonderful poet and speaker named David White,
and that we had to cancel it at the last minute. I canceled it. I canceled it because I
thought, what am I doing? I didn’t actually listen
or heed my own advice. I actually need to let go
of my preconceived ideas and collaborate with them
on how they see the future. So while my ideas around
leadership might be valid, I’m not going about this
the right way at all. So I sat down with each team
member for over two hours, one by one. I just said, tell me
how you see the culture. Tell me what you
hope to improve. Tell me what you hope to retain. What about you? Where are you struggling? What are your ambitions? What’s your purpose? What do you care about? And how can you contribute to
what we’re going to co-create? So I gathered all that 20 hours
of interviews into some themes. And we met again, and this time
they were completely engaged. And we co-created
something we later called Active and Conscious
Leadership Journey. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
Oh, so listening was key, acknowledging
their expertise, respecting their history
and their legacy. So the Active Leadership–
Conscious Leadership Journey. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Can you tell
us a little bit about that? MAUREEN CHIQUET: With pleasure. So one of the things
I also realize is in any company there’s
a very specific culture. And while I respect
lots of consultants, I knew that actually in this
culture for this company, it was going to be more about
really creating something very, very specific for them
that’s tailor made, and that takes into
consideration not just the culture of the
company, but the business issues that we have, right? I mean, ultimately you want
to create an environment where good business can flourish
and employees are happy. So I just said we’re
going to design this. I had a coach. We decided that we would
design it together. And it started with
having outside speakers, just like today. Only the difference
perhaps in this situation was we would take
an outside speaker and ask them to work
with us on our questions. And so that we would have
a session of speaking, and then we’d go into
some of the things that were going on for us. So the first speaker
was a wonderful poet by the name of David
White, and everybody thought I was crazy at first. But if you want to
hear that story, we can come back to that. We had Scilla Elworthy,
who was a peace builder and had worked with
Desmond Tutu and taught us a lot about
nonviolent communication and deep listening. So the idea is you were
going from inside out. So who am I, as a leader? What do I care about? What triggers me? What gets me excited? Then who am I with relation
to my colleagues, my team? Who am I with relationship to
the business and to the world? And so it went from inside out. It started with David
White, went to Scilla and then we started actually
with some business leaders, like Clay Christensen. We used Dan Pink. And so the idea was
really try to understand how do you connect who
you are as a human being, as an individual, to your
greater business purposes? There was that component. Each executive had a coach. I mean, this is
in the space where we were just in 20 people. And I asked them
to work on anything they wanted, just one
thing, choose one thing. And I mentored them
through that coaching. So it was a very rich
program, and it lasted for– I actually don’t like
to call it a program. I like to call it a journey. EILEEN NAUGHTON: [INAUDIBLE]. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah, because
it’s actually leadership doesn’t start and stop. It’s something that we do all
the time, and we’re active and we’re conscious
in it hopefully. So it ended up a year
long for this group. And they were so enthusiastic,
because by the end of this time, they were
working in new ways together. New ideas were coming about. Our business was on fire– on fire. And the brand reputation
had never been better. So they wanted to roll it out. They ended up, and this is
what was so amazing to me– I get chills thinking about it. They said, we’ll roll
out to the next 200. And so they took
it to 200 people. Now, we couldn’t afford
coaches for everybody. But there are a lot of ways
of getting good feedback other than getting a coach. That 200 then
said, we love this. Can we roll it out to 400? And by the time I left,
we were 600 strong. This is a really
powerful program, and it did start to
shift our culture. Meeting at the time
with Google was one of the beginning things. How do we get digital? How do we create relationships
with external vendors, partners, really? How do we begin to
create those so that we can be relevant in our field? EILEEN NAUGHTON: Do
you recall having visited the Googleplex here in
Mountain View with your team? And when you went back
to Paris and/or New York, because when I first
met you, you were, I think, working between
Paris and New York. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Yes, always, yeah. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
Was there anything that shifted in
your approach that was conscious that was
sparked by something you experienced here? MAUREEN CHIQUET: Here at Google? EILEEN NAUGHTON: Just curious. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah,
you know, it was amazing. So I chose actually, I
want to say, 12 executives. I can’t remember how many there
were, not even executives, across levels to
come here to Google. We went to Facebook. I mean, we were really
trying to get a good sense– Pinterest at the time. EILEEN NAUGHTON: [INAUDIBLE]. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah, it
was really, really small. It was in like one room. But it was really interesting. We were trying to figure out
how do we– and we sat in a room and shortly after Google. We loved the
environment of Google. I mean, one of the things
that we picked up on was this notion of creativity
in any domain at Google. And I don’t know if that’s
something that you experience, but it’s what’s what
we experienced meeting with Googler. It was like this
freedom and ability to express and to be in a
creative mind, regardless of what kind of
job you’re doing. And I’m– EILEEN NAUGHTON:
[INAUDIBLE] Montessori. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah, I was
inspired by that totally. And just the
ideation– you know, we drove in the driverless car. And the kind of ideation
and forward thinking, that I think Google
has, was something I wanted to learn from. Because even though
luxury companies, one of the components of being
a luxury company at the highest end is history, you
can’t ignore the future. And if you get stuck
on history, then you’ve got a problem getting
into the future, and that’s a balance
that you have to achieve. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
That’s a problem. Actually, France
has that problem. I love France. I went to university [INAUDIBLE]
Paris and went there afterward. And increasingly– and I go back
there on business quite a bit. But it does feel a little stuck. MAUREEN CHIQUET: I’ve
felt that before myself. EILEEN NAUGHTON: A
little museum-like. Beautiful, beautiful place. MAUREEN CHIQUET: The French
are extraordinary because they have exquisite taste. They understand beauty better
than, I think, any culture. I mean, Italians also do,
and they have a, I think, different way of expressing it. But the French in terms
of food and wine and– EILEEN NAUGHTON:
Refinement, yeah. MAUREEN CHIQUET: And I feel like
that is a gift for any culture. It’s a gift to the world. And not like a luxury
brand, like Chanel, if there is a way that we could
all benefit from that gift and make it contemporary enough
so that we can connect to it, I think it’d be beautiful. One of the things that I’m
seeing with luxury companies today and something I’ve been
watching quite carefully, is this notion of purpose. Google has a great
purpose, and I can feel it. And luxury companies, some
of them do and some of them are still developing that. And purpose, to me, isn’t
just about adapting a cause. It’s when the cause and
Yeah, it’s intrinsic. So I think about
Tesla, for example. And you look at– they’ve made a luxury car. And their sales have been better
on their top model than BMW, I think, and Mercedes. But what’s so interesting
to me about Tesla is you have all the
fittings of a luxury car, because it’s
beautifully appointed. It’s a technological innovation. And yet you feel
good about driving it because you’re not
putting more carbon monoxide into our environment. And it’s just there’s
something about that, to me, that feels really
relevant in luxury brands today is how do you figure out how to
connect to today’s consumers, connect to what we care
about in the world, whilst still having
a luxury offer? EILEEN NAUGHTON: And in a world
of 7 and 1/2 billion people, most of whom, if they can ever
afford something from Chanel, it would be a lipstick. And that would be an indulgence. That’s a tall– MAUREEN CHIQUET:
That’s a tall order. EILEEN NAUGHTON: –for
a brand like Chanel, how to make it accessible
yet still retain its luxury [INAUDIBLE]. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Indeed. But if you look at what a
great brand to do that in. You have a story, a true story,
a legendary story about a woman who was an orphan. She was a complete orphan. It’s a rags-to-riches story. She became a courtesan. Husband And then she finally
started her own couture business and became all the
rage and the top couturier in all of Paris. And besides, she changed
the way women could dress. She liberated us from
corsets and long dresses. So for me, that’s a
contemporary story, that iconoclastic
perspective, the subversion. She took menswear fabrics– no
one had heard of doing this– into women’s design. So when you have as rich as– EILEEN NAUGHTON: She
was a revolutionary. That’s fair. MAUREEN CHIQUET: And you think
about it for women today. And I think about it. And I think there
are other companies. There are companies that
are doing amazing things. But I think it’s slower
for luxury companies, because sometimes the concerns
have been much more around just that impeccably beautiful
product and service rather than thinking about,
so consumers of today, they’re not just in this
transactional mode anymore. They don’t just want the label. They want to go beyond a label. EILEEN NAUGHTON: There’s
something about authenticity that’s really popping
in US culture, but I think we see it popping
up in retail around the world. I’d love you to free associate. You’ve already said Tesla,
obviously Chanel, great brand. We talked a little
bit about Rag & Bone. But what’s in the brand that
really stand out for you? MAUREEN CHIQUET: –that
resonate with me right now. I love REI. I just think it is amazing– opt out on Black Friday. It’s not just a marketing move. And you know that, because
they care about being outside. And you know what I think? And I think about luxury,
and this may sound crazy. But what is luxury today? It’s time, right? We both said that
at the same time. It’s getting outdoors, because
that’s rarer and rarer. It’s connecting with
friends and with oneself. So I love REI for the way
that it taps into the outdoors and what it means. I actually think Nike’s
doing a really good job. Big company, but equality
has no boundaries. That is, to me– that made me want to
run out and buy Nike. So they’re connecting to
something I care about, and they’re still making
great innovative products. So you can’t forget, for me, the
product is still the– you’ve got to have a great product. It starts with the product. But you also have to,
today, offer more than that. And I think those are the
two examples just that I’ve been kind of following a bit. I was looking at– Reformation does anybody–
does anyone know that? Yeah. It’s an online
clothing brand that’s really going after ethical
sourcing, ethical products, things that don’t
rob our environment of natural resources. And I think it’s an
interesting concept. I don’t know where it will go. But I’m hopeful that we can get
more of that kind of attitude and environment into fashion. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
So when did you– for how long did you know
you had a book inside of you? Because that’s a
brave thing to do. It’s time-consuming. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Very. EILEEN NAUGHTON: It’s
extremely personal. And you share you’re vulnerable. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Totally. EILEEN NAUGHTON: You don’t know
what the reaction of the press will be. You were a fair-haired
CEO everyone knew. And now you’re an author with
a completely new orientation towards your professional
life, which is still a journey. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Yeah, absolutely. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Were you
itching to do this for a while? MAUREEN CHIQUET: You know,
I never considered it. It’s funny, because
any of my jobs, I’ve never considered
before I kind of got at the doorstep of
them that that’s what I wanted or could do. So with writing, I was
a literature major. Sounds kind of logical. And I’ve read. I love reading. I love stories,
especially fiction. And so what happened is when
we did the Active and Conscious Leadership Journey,
I wanted to share it. I really wanted to share it,
and I started with an article. Could not get the article
down to a reasonable size. And I meant an independent
editor who said, listen– was a great question asker and
was pulling ideas out of me. And she said, why
don’t you write a book? And at first I was like,
no, I can’t write a book. And I realized
that actually I had a lot of things
that I had learned and stories that I wanted to
share to provoke questions– I ask questions in the book– observations, so that I
could help other people create their own
paths to success. And when you read
the book, you’ll see it’s not a set of rules
or dictates or how to. I don’t give a lot
of instructions because I feel like everybody
has his or her own journey. But this is really
about reading, opening somebody else’s journey up,
asking yourself some questions, looking in the mirror, and
using some of those observations for your own lives and
for your own careers. EILEEN NAUGHTON: You’re
clearly a courageous person. For a teenager, who decided
to study abroad in France one summer, fell in love
with goat cheese. Love to hear more about that. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah. Yeah. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
And that somewhat set you on a trajectory
that has you here today. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah. EILEEN NAUGHTON: I mean,
did you consciously know that you were a
bit of an adventurer? MAUREEN CHIQUET: You
know, I don’t think I thought of it as adventure. I fell in love with France. I think I’m very curious. I’m exceedingly curious. But I fell in love with
the notion of France because my father spoke
really fluent French. He had learned
without a textbook. And believe it or not, I think
that was so interesting and so effective. He spoke with beautiful accent. So I had looked up to my dad. I wanted to speak
French like him. I had a great French teacher. And I decided, I got
in in my head one year, I said to my parents– oop, you have mic issues? I said to my parents,
I must live in France. I must go be with
a family because I have to have this language. This language, I want
to learn it to an extent that nobody can tell
I’m an American. And the only way you
can do that, I think, is really, other than my
dad’s schooling, which they weren’t doing in my
school, is go immerse yourself in the culture. And so I landed in
the south of France, which was incredibly lucky. And I stayed for a
month with a family. And my father was a
[FRENCH],, so he’s a mechanic. And I got to work
at the gas station. And every morning the table
was set with fresh wildflowers, and the light would
glow on the limestone, and I would smell the lavender. And my senses just broke open. It was almost like I
didn’t know that I cared so much about these things. But the beauty,
the sheer beauty, and their appreciation of
it, the way they take it in– [FRENCH],, which you know
is the hour that you have the drink at night. Everybody sits, and they
pour the pastis and common– it’s a moment to be
together, and it’s a moment to take in the surroundings. And I found that absolutely
just refreshing, fascinating. At the time in France, and
I had also later gone back as a college junior,
I found a roommate. And you’ll read about
this in the book. She was very liberated about her
sexuality and about her body. And I thought, that’s
cool, because I grew up in the Midwest. And it was women really weren’t
supposed to be sexual beings. I did not feel that way. I felt like I was supposed to
be very, very careful with who I was and buttoned up. And so this liberation
really appealed to me. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
I love that story. I’m going to invite– now we
have questions on the Dory. I can keep talking, and I have
plenty I could ask Maureen. But there are a lot
of people in the room. There are mics, and
there are Dory questions. So I don’t want to
completely dominate the Q&A. Anyone in the room so motivated? We’re going to have
to get you a mic. You can take mine for a second. AUDIENCE: Hi, Maureen. So you mentioned
what luxury means to everybody in today’s
society a little bit, tired and being outdoors. So I’m also from St. Louis. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yay. AUDIENCE: And I did a little
Wikipedia research earlier. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Where’d
you grow up in St. Louis? AUDIENCE: Clayton. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Oh, cool. [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE: I know you
went to John Burroughs. MAUREEN CHIQUET: I did go
to John Burroughs, yeah. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
There are no secrets. MAUREEN CHIQUET: No secrets. But she knows the area. It’s like we can speak
each other’s language. AUDIENCE: So I’m curious from
John Burroughs in St. Louis to leading one of the
most coveted fashion houses in the world, how has
your personal interpretation of luxury evolved over time? MAUREEN CHIQUET: That’s
really interesting. You know, I think I
always loved luxury, but I wouldn’t have
called it luxury. Once I had that
experience in France, I realized that I loved
beautiful things and just the make, the way
they feel, things that smell good, great, great
food, things on the palate. I love music. And so I think the
initial thing that drew me was beauty and
not this notion of luxury. By the way, I find beauty in
things that aren’t expensive, a lot of beauty. And in fact, one of my
early experiences at L’Oreal was I was driving in
coal-mining country. And it was a foggy
industrial area. And I rolled down my window, and
I noticed this purple mountain of coal debris. And it was glistening in sort
of the early morning hazy sun. And I thought,
that’s so beautiful. There’s a beauty in that,
even though, in a way, it represents something
that’s about hardship and about difficult
living conditions. But that was the beauty. The beauty wasn’t the
perfect aesthetic. The beauty was actually
the story it told. So that was my initial– I don’t know that I’ve changed
that much on that, by the way, because, to me, to luxury,
and I think recently now I’m realizing that luxury is
so much more than objects. It really is this
notion of being able to have time, being
able to have space outdoors and with the people
who you love. To me, that’s what I think
where I’ve evolved to. But in the beginning, and
I think it’s still in me, that notion of beauty is
imperfection not perfection. EILEEN NAUGHTON: [INAUDIBLE]. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yep, exactly. And it’s in the story. It’s in the story
that there is beauty. And it doesn’t have
to be this kind of aesthetic plastic thing. Thanks for asking. AUDIENCE: Hi. I’m also from St. Louis. No, just kidding. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Wow, was going
to be like, you go, St. Louis. AUDIENCE: I’m from Paris. And by the way, I love France
as described by Americas. It sounds amazing. So I wanted to ask, you
have been CEO of Chanel for a long time. What keeps you motivated? And how did you reinvent
yourself all these years to keep being a
great visionary CEO? MAUREEN CHIQUET: Oh,
that’s a great question. Thank you. I think, interestingly
enough, it was pretty easy from about
2007 on because of what was happening in the world. And our business was exploding. So I was being motivated just
by trying to actually keep this historical brand, this
incredibly beautiful house moving into the future, without
compromising or sacrificing the things that
made it so special. And it kept me motivated
because every day there was a new– we’d
wake up one morning, and there was yet another social
media platform to consider. Or we’d have– In fashion, what’s great is you
always have new collections. So there’s a new
collection to figure out how to communicate
to your customers, how to sell it to
your customers, and how to create
desire all the time. So for me, that actually
wasn’t difficult. Towards the end of, I guess,
the last three years when I was doing active and
conscious leadership, I was actually discovering
beauty in people. And so what was really
keeping me motivated was watching this team, and this
big team, and getting, I mean, hundreds of letters
from people who said that this work had
changed their lives. That was really,
really motivating me. It’s like, how do
you, in a company, get people to tap into
what they love best, where they can bring value,
and how they connect that to the purpose of the brand. And when you do
that, and you guys know because Google’s such
great place, when you do that, you get incredible work out
of people, and they’re happy. So that kept me
really motivated. Thank you. AUDIENCE: Hi, Maureen. Thank you so much for coming. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Thanks for having me. EILEEN NAUGHTON: And
where are you from? Because this is typical Google. We’re from all over. AUDIENCE: Well, I’m
originally from India but in California for a while. So I had a question around
the inflection points in your career. Could you speak a little
bit about what brought you to your next
opportunity from L’Oreal to Gap to Chanel because
these are so different. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Great question. So the L’Oreal story is that
after three years I was there, and I loved it there, I was
learning all about marketing. By the way, I did not
go to business school. So there’s always I had to
learn all the techniques or technical terms, what
marketing really was, UPS, and market segmentation. And everybody around me had
gone to business school. So I had a lot of
catching up to do. But I realized that my
one gift that I had is I could see image, and
I could understand what emotion was created. The thing is, is
after three years, I didn’t see a lot of
women at the top then. And it’s changed so much. I mean, L’Oreal is now one of
the best companies for that. But back then it wasn’t. And in the meantime,
my husband had an offer to go to Indonesia. And I didn’t want– I didn’t see myself there. And so we decided to pick up
and come to San Francisco. So this is the funny
inflection point about getting into retail. If you had asked me,
even leaving L’Oreal, can you see yourself
in fashion or retail? I would have said,
absolutely not. I’m a marketer. So I come to San Francisco. Now, this is not so smart. We didn’t have jobs. And we had about,
I don’t know, maybe a month or two of savings. So that was it. And it was sort of like,
you got to get a job. So I started interviewing. This is, I guess, in 1989. I started interviewing. And I realized
that at this point, I have the label in my
own head of what I am. I have an expectation. It’s called marketer. It’s, you know,
fixed on my head. So I go to the two
packaged goods companies, biggest in the Bay at the
time, Clorox and Del Monte. OK, Del Monte
doesn’t call me back. I mean, I don’t even
get my foot in the door. I get one interview
at Clorox, and like, you don’t have an MBA. What are you doing here? But also I realized,
wait a minute. I don’t think I want to be on
photo shoots for toilet bowls. I respect them. But I don’t think
this is right for me. And so I’m walking
down Market Street, and you ask about
inflection point, and I see this poster
of Miles Davis. And Miles Davis, jazz great,
and his head is in his hands. He’s got this soulful
look, and he’s wearing a black T-shirt that says Gap. I’m like, I want to market that. Well, the story goes,
snail mail, at this time, I send my resume a week
later, or whatever it was. I got a call from the recruiter. He said, what do
you want to do here? I said, I want to
market The Gap. He said, you’re a merchant. I said, I’m a what? I mean, what does a merchant do? I don’t want to sell stuff. Like, I’m not a
good salesperson. I had learned that in
the north of France. I’m not going to– I don’t think I should
do that anymore. So he said, no,
no, no, a merchant works with design teams. They help to create the
products and assortments, and they figure out how much to
buy and where to source them. So that was the– but the
inflection point, if I think about it, I mean, two things. One was being in
a company where I wasn’t sure I could
progress and wasn’t sure that I had the means to do
what I really thought I wanted to do, or at least grow. And then the second thing was
seeing that poster and saying– so that was one transition. And then I guess the
second inflection point was getting that call
from a headhunter while I was at Old Navy. I’m still selling $5 cheese
out of the back of a truck. And they say, a French
luxury company’s interested. Now, at this point in my
life, I was missing France. We were living on
the West Coast. We’d been here for 15 years. And just the notion of working
in a French luxury company, getting back to my– EILEEN NAUGHTON: Your dream. MAUREEN CHIQUET: It was a dream. It was absolutely a dream. And then I learned
about Chanel’s story, who she was as a person. And I thought,
this is new for me. This is going to be
the next challenge. So again, and I never imagined
that I would be doing that, I think, ever in my life. But it’s just sort of being open
and opportunistic, in a sense, and seeing those things
and hearing those things. And of course, I got
that wonderful call. But you know, it’s funny. I’ll tell you the
funniest story about that. This is– Gap– let’s see, what was it, about
2001 when I got the call. Now, Gap was the center
of the universe back then. Chanel was small. And I thought it was a
brand for older women. Like, I didn’t know
that Chanel could be young and hip, because it
wasn’t so young and hip then. So for me, it was actually– it sounds crazy. It was a huge risk. I had to moved move
my entire family. My kids were 11 and 8. So I moved them from their
cozy little Mill Valley slash Tiburon existence first
to Paris for a year and then to New York. So it was actually a huge risk. And I didn’t think–
you know, I didn’t– at the time, I wasn’t sure. But I ended up
thinking, you know what? There’s something about
this that feels right. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
Trust your instincts. MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Long story, sorry. But– EILEEN NAUGHTON: No,
no, it’s excellent. We’re storytelling here
today at Boston Google. AUDIENCE: Thank you for coming. And my question is that,
were their key mentors that you had along your journey? And what kind of pivotal
role did they play for you? And then did that inspire
you to mentor others as well? MAUREEN CHIQUET: Oh, I have
mentored so many people, and it’s one of my
favorite, favorite things. I had a lot of really
amazing mentors, both at Gap and even at Chanel. But one thing I
think about mentors, because it’s kind
of a hot topic– we talk about it
a lot, especially amongst women mentors. And I think that’s amazing. But I would encourage all
of you to think broadly about a mentor, because I
learned as much in so many ways from my friend in France, Fleur,
in the book, who taught me about being
comfortable as a woman, being comfortable
in your own body. I would say I learned
in so many ways as much from her, as I have some
of my greatest mentors, like Jenny Ming, who was running
Old Navy, and Mickey Drexler, who was the CEO of Gap. So mentoring doesn’t have
to be a hierarchical thing. I think it’s really
about getting somebody with whom you can share
conversations, stories, you can ask questions. I mean, a lot of mentors
will– mentees, I guess, is how we term that, have asked
me, so what do I do about that? And I never answer. Instead what I do is I ask
some more questions about what they care about, where
they want to go with this. And what ends up
happening is they find answers that are
better than any answer that I could give. And so for me, that
means that mentors can be a broad range of people. And it doesn’t have
to be somebody who is really impressive or higher up. EILEEN NAUGHTON:
In your book you talk about, just to
follow on this getting comfortable in
your own body, you talk about spending a
long time in your career operating in a masculine frame. When did you realize that
wasn’t working for you? Or did it work for
you for a while, and you just decided to
move beyond that label? MAUREEN CHIQUET:
It’s interesting. I never thought of it. I never really
thought of it when I was at Gap, first of
all, because I think we were such drivers of business. And while leadership
and management was incredibly
important, and Gap was progressive in this, the one
thing that Gap had done for me, they’d given me a coach. So I’d already been working on
my own leadership capabilities and learning even
more how to listen. I have a funny story
in there about once when Mickey Drexler
taught me how to listen. It was a very tough
story, another one of those embarrassing
moments, but– so I was aware of
this in myself. But I wasn’t so
aware that it would be those feminine qualities. By the way, I didn’t label
them feminine qualities. Sociologists and
researchers are now saying these are
feminine qualities, but can be found
in men and women. In fact, they happen to
be intrinsic to women, but both men and women
share these qualities. So once I started, I
didn’t notice that, or I didn’t think about
it that way, I would say, when I was at The Gap. Once I got to
Chanel, as I realized that I had to shift from the
drive out of the strategy and vision and focus and all the
things that had made me really successful, that I
had to actually use those other things that I was
also aware of and working on. That those things would become
more important– or not more important– those things that
least have to be integrated. And the one thing I think about
sort of this masculine-feminine thing that a lot of
people are talking that– I don’t love the labels. I really don’t. And I think different people
have different qualities. But what I see is that great
leaders actually combine. So they know when to be firm. They know when to be strategic
and focused and determined. And they know when to
listen and to be empathetic. So that the balance
of great leaders is what I’m really intrigued by. And if you watch great
leaders, you can really, really see that they are toggling quite
a bit in all different ways, I should say,
multi-dimensionally. AUDIENCE: Maureen, thank you
so much for sharing your story. You have an incredible career. And if you were to look back
and talk to your young self as you were just starting
out in your career, what’s the one piece of advice
you would give yourself? MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Well, I’ll tell you, because people told me
this, but I look back and I think about this
a lot, two things. One is I was so
serious, and I was so– I was really serious. I took everything to
heart all the time. And I had it, and
I still have it. I’m working at it. It’s work in progress. So my young self and
my old self share this. I have a big self critic. And I think I would
have actually just tried to quiet the critic a
little bit, and at times that I was really
beating myself up a lot. The other thing, and we haven’t
talked about this much here today, but in light of those
things we were talking about, I have two kids. And I was traveling a lot,
every three weeks just about, since I was at Gap. And I raised both the
girls, and Antoine was there as the stay-at-home dad,
which was, at that time– at The Gap it wasn’t so unusual. But outside The Gap was,
and we took a lot of flak. And it was really– there’s a painful story
in there about this. But I would have loved to have
some conversations with my kids about what that
was like for them and what that was like for me. And I think I was so grateful
to Antoine that he was home and that he was
taking care of them that I thought
everything’s fine. But in fact, and you’ll
read it in the book, there’s a story that
everything wasn’t that fine, and that these are hard
things to grapple with. You’re in a
wonderful environment here, where you have
flexible working schedules. But I do think it’s
things aren’t perfect. And this thing called
perfect work-life balance, it’s another label. It’s another label that I
feel really uncomfortable– it makes us feel– I think it disappoints
us automatically. You set yourself up
for disappointment and for feeling guilty, as a
mother or father, by the way. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Yeah, I call
it managed disequilibrium. And sometimes work win,
and sometimes family wins. And as an individual,
you have to make sure you win every so often, because– MAUREEN CHIQUET: Otherwise
no one actually wins. EILEEN NAUGHTON: But
knowing that it’s never in perfect balance
is liberating. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Yeah, exactly. Well, yeah, and you
live with the sadness. I mean, I cried on
planes to Hong Kong. I remember just leaving
those little kids, and I didn’t want to leave– lonely hotel rooms at night. But you also know
where you show up. And where you show up for
me was I had two girls. It was the emotional
ways of crying on Mommy’s shoulder and
hugs at night and just when I could support
them emotionally and then schoolwork, because
Antoine is French, so he didn’t know the American
school system quite as well. And trying to really,
really be present in those moments when
you are there, I think, is so, so, so important, but
not to the extent that you get exhausted yourself, because
then you’re not present. AUDIENCE: So the first
question is, can you share some practical
advice on cultivating sponsors and champions
in the organization? MAUREEN CHIQUET:
Practical advice in cultivating sponsors and
champions in the organization– yeah, I think, that’s a great
point, or great question. For me, again, it was about– and I think about my
own personal experience, because, by the way, I
didn’t necessarily have, at Chanel, that many sponsors
other than the owners at the time, because
nobody knew me. And while they
wanted to like me, my experience didn’t
fit the exact profile of what they thought should
probably lead the company. So it really was about
listening and about being on their side of the table. And to actually get champions
means that, for me, it’s a two-way street. It’s not about
convincing someone. It’s not about telling
someone what to do. It’s actually about living
in their world and with them and what they do, and then
you co-champion something. AUDIENCE: Did Mr.
Lagerfeld participate in the Active and Conscious
Leadership Journey? MAUREEN CHIQUET: No. No, no, no. No, I have been a huge–
oh, well, I’ll answer that. Then I’ll get to you. I have been such a huge
admirer of creativity. I think when you think
of creativity, the word, you think of Karl Lagerfeld,
in the fashion industry anyway. And I’ve worked with amazing,
amazing creative people at Gap, at Banana Republic, at
Old Navy, and at L’Oreal. In fact, my early, early
experiences were at L’Oreal. What I noticed is working
with someone creative means giving them the
space, the resources to do what they do best. And to me, that was what
was really important. AUDIENCE: Hi, it
seems in you career you’ve held a lot
of different titles, and part of what
your success was, was not holding yourself
or defining yourself to a certain label. But I was also
wondering, I think for a lot of people in
their career journey, they have to sort of
eventually find somewhere where they specialize
in or where, like, that that’s an
area that they own. So I’m wondering how
that journey was for you in kind of figuring out
what you specialize in or what skill sets you
bring to the table and then how that evolved over time? MAUREEN CHIQUET: That’s a great
question, and I appreciate it. You know, I actually
think there are– I always say there are three
groups of questions you ask– what do I love so much
that I can’t live without? Beyond the label
and beyond the roles and beyond the definitions,
what makes my heart sing? Where can I bring value? What is my greatest gift? And how do I connect those two
things, where I bring value and what I love? And then to sort of answer your
question, what context am I in? Sometimes you have
to take jobs that you don’t like for a while. But I found that always
staying really close to what I cared about was something. And I learned it
early on at L’Oreal. There’s a story in
the book about this. So here I had not been
to business school, and I was in marketing,
and everybody else had. So I didn’t have
that advantage, and I had to figure out what
it was that– what was my path, to your point. What was it that I really,
really wanted to do, and what was my mark? And it ended up I got invited
into some advertising meetings. And the art director in the
advertising agency, I just– I felt a connection with
what he was trying to do. And we had this big oval
tables, and I would find myself like kind of scooching over to
back to the advertising agent side. You know, you’re supposed
to be this client and agent back in those days. And I found myself wanting so
badly to see through his eyes. And it turns out
we became friends. He’s the one who
taught me about jazz. And we became friends
and spent a lot of time. And he spent a lot
of time showing me how he sees beauty, which is how
I thought about beauty as kind of an imperfection because
he was showing me models, and they might have been
plastically perfect. But he said, but she’s not
giving something to the camera. Like, he talked about
it in such cool terms. So I think from
my perspective, it was really kind of
tapping into that what it is I care so much about
and how can I bring value. And in that environment,
for me, that was one place I could bring value because
it was different from what most everyone. Most everybody was doing
more classic marketing. Not to say everybody,
there were great– you said it’s a great
aesthetic company. But for me, that was
really what counted. EILEEN NAUGHTON: I
think we have time for perhaps one more question. Anyone in the
audience or the Dory? Oh, a gentleman, I love it. AUDIENCE: Thank you
again very much– MAUREEN CHIQUET: Thank you. AUDIENCE: –for being here. It’s really incredible. So you’ve worked both
in Europe and here. And you were, of course, a
female in the fashion world, with several stereotypes
about women and dominated by male executives. What is your comment
about the attitude that you saw in France,
especially, but was here and how this has
changed over the years. I know there’s a lot of
room for improvement, but some suggestions about
how to improve the attitudes toward women and getting to
that state of really equal, no discrimination at all. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Equality
in the workplace, right? AUDIENCE: Yeah, that’s the idea. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Thanks
for that question. First I’ll say, you
know, it’s interesting. I worked around the world, so
not just in France, but all over Europe, all over Asia. And each culture is different,
and it’s almost impossible to even categorize them in
terms of their views of women. It’s interesting. We were just talking
earlier because Eileen is on the L’Oreal board. French companies
now actually have– they passed a law several
years ago requiring boards to have 40% women. So while they may seem like
more biased in the workplace, I wouldn’t say necessarily
that that’s the case, although there are fewer
women in top leadership. There are also very few women in
top leadership in this country, and we’re talking about 4% CEOs. 4% of CEOs are women,
that is not a lot. My thoughts about this
are kind of clear. Equity in pay is obvious. Work-life arrangements that
help both women and men, those are obvious. I mean, we have to
change these things. We can’t– I’m impressed
that Google has flex time. It’s amazing. But in my experience,
if we don’t also start to integrate these
qualities of empathy and flexibility and
collaborative skills and deep listening, if we
don’t start to integrate those, many women– many women– won’t ever feel
as comfortable or as confident or as natural actually
being leaders. So I actually think that
there’s an attitude shift that we need to make to get more
women confident in those roles, past the, I call
it, the hard stuff, meaning the pay issues and
the work-life arrangements. We need to expand our
frame of leadership. We need to look at leadership
differently and consider that there are other qualities
both required for the world, but also that are
intrinsic to women and make women actually
really good leaders. And the good news about
this is, by the way, and there’s research done about
on this, that women leaders, where women are leaders and
where they’re on boards, those entities perform better. So this is a win-win
for everybody. EILEEN NAUGHTON: Well,
that’s a perfect statement to end this talk on Maureen. We have a lot of discussion at
Google on these very issues. Especially lately, there’s
been a lot in the news around gender parity, pay
parity in the tech industry. And we’re very, very
convicted about ensuring that you get paid for the job
you do, not for the person you are. Talent and tenure and
performance in the role matters, but gender has
no place in that equation. So thank you, Maureen,
for sharing your Active and Conscious Leadership
Journey with us. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Thank you. EILEEN NAUGHTON: I can
see you’re on the journey, and there’s probably a
lot more interesting acts that we’re going to read
about or hear about. So best of luck to you. Thank you for spending
time at Google today. MAUREEN CHIQUET: Thank you. Thanks, everyone. Thanks to all Googlers. You’re amazing. [APPLAUSE]

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