Some people struggle through their lives, never finding what they’re meant to do, never experiencing more than a regular paycheck. Then there are those, like Ralph Lauren, who seem to understand their destiny from an early age. While still in high school, Ralph Lauren was known by his classmates as the guy who sold them neckties. In the yearbook he wrote that he wanted to be a millionaire.
In the ensuing years, he’s sold neckties and every other piece of casual clothing that goes on the human body under his “Polo Ralph Lauren” brand. And he’s expanded into fragrances, bedding and bath products, furniture, and home decor. He now presides over one of the largest retail empires in the world, with annual sales in 2009 of just over five billion dollars.
Lauren has mastered the art of selling in tiers – the purple label for high rollers, the black label just below that, down to Polo, Polo Denim, Polo Golf, Polo Sport, etc. He’s ridden that polo pony to riches and fame. So how did the dream of the boy born Ralph Lifshitz do on his dream of becoming a millionaire? Pretty good, I’d say — Forbes named him the 173rd richest person in the world with a personal fortune estimated at $4.6 billion. Buddy, that’s a lot of neckties.