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Ron Johnson: Retail's new radical

Stashed in: Brands!, @troutgirl

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The retail mind behind Target, Apple, and now JC Penney says:

"Improvement merely lets you hit your numbers," says Johnson. "Creativity is what transforms."

Iteration is easy. Innovation is hard.

Today it sounds like a no-brainer: Who wouldn't want to work with Jobs at the most innovative company of its era? Yet in 1999, when Apple approached him, the company seemed as risky as Penney's does today. It was a niche player a few years removed from a cash crisis, and Gateway's computer store experiment was failing. Johnson didn't care. He saw 'Jobs as a kindred spirit. "I just could tell I could work with him," Johnson says. "And I wanted to help him fulfill his dream, which was to change people's lives."

Even before Johnson signed on, he challenged Jobs over a fundamental aspect of Apple's new outlets. "He said it'll be a store for creative professionals," Johnson recalls. "I said, 'Well, then I'm not coming. If you want to be a store for all Americans, sign me up.' " Johnson envisioned a place where the experience was as important as the products themselves.'

I love that he stood up for the belief that it should be for all Americans. Well played!

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