William Lauder of Estee -- living up to Dad’s expectations

According to the Wall Street Journal today, William Lauder of the Lauder family who turned a skin-cream line into one of the best-known names in beauty - Estée Lauder Company – shocked the financial world (but I PERSONALLY can relate why!).

As the WSJ stated, The 47-year-old William Lauder doesn't hide the frustrations that led him to abdicate the post he had been groomed for, the one his father had held for 17 years. He describes being beset by family members with differing agendas, long hours and fighting the perception that his success is only due to his legendary last name. Associates quickly attributed his career trajectory to nepotism, people close to the company say. "Any achievement I made was because of hard work," William says, bristling. "I had to work twice as hard for half the credit, just because I have this last name." Still, William says it "isn't easy" to have board members who remember you as a child and can call you at home anytime. "In my job as CEO, I have a responsibility to all shareholders," William adds. "Virtually all my family members have heard that, even though they don't always appreciate it."

Ironically, fresh out of college, I too worked for my Dad who owns an international air ambulance company. I, just like William, had to work TWICE as hard (yet I was the company’s top producing sales person, and far exceeded a team composed of 4 men – all in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s (yet I was only 22 years old at the time). Yet, all the employees thought that my success was due to nepotism, not hard work. I took call in the middle of the night, often worked 7 days/week. I sold trips, coordinated and scheduled Lear jets, Gulfstreams, Citations, and turbo props. I worked with doctors and executives worldwide, coordinated all aspects, while also helping do marketing.

William Lauder and I both shared one thing in common – we both had Dad’s that expected perfection and who wouldn’t let go of the power or the control - and would call us in the wee hours of thenight to discuss business ideas or problems!

When Fabrizio Freda, a Procter & Gamble Co. executive, will take over the new reigns of President, I wonder how William Lauder will wake up the morning after. I wonder if he’ll be remorseful, sad, bitter, angry with the board, and most of all – I wonder how his relationship will be with the rest of his family?

My only words of advice to William Lauder … time heals deep wounds. I can proudly and happily say that after I made the decision to leave my Dad’s company, at first we didn’t even speak. But today, we are stronger, and have equal respect and love for each other. I guess with Williams multi-millions of dollars, he won’t have the problem of finding a “new job” like I had to do.

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