Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

The Long Cut

When writing his life goals inside his high school yearbook, Ralph wrote ‘millionaire.’ Today, Ralph Lauren’s net worth is valued at six billion dollars.

He was born Ralph Lifshitz, son of two Jewish immigrants and youngest of four. 

Ralph grew up in poverty and wore his older brothers’ hand-me-downs.

Determined to break free of his misfortune, he began to sell handmade ties to his classmates in 7th grade. That was also where he got his nickname ‘Lipshits.’

When he wasn’t selling ties or being bullied, Ralph was dreaming of a better life at the movies. Where old timers like Fred Astaire and Cary Grant fueled his desire to start his own high-class brand.

After graduating, the designer changed his name and got a job at Brooks Brothers. The oldest men’s clothier in the US.

Next, he became a salesman for a tie company. And at 28 years old, he convinced the boss to let him start his own line.

Ralph made wide, colourful ties when slim and dull was the rule.

The design was a hit. Ralph sold half a million worth of ties in one year.

Two years later, he designed Ralph Lauren’s flagship, the Polo, and earned himself an in-store boutique at Bloomingdale’s.

For years, the designer grew his business by adding one new garment at a time. Until he ruled a fashion empire.

The key that underlies his success?

Ralph never looked for a shortcut. Never looked for the quickest route from nothing to a multi billion dollar industry.

He was a master of the long-cut.

He picked a destination, showed up, and took the smallest doable step. Then he kept at it.

It’s tempting to focus on the big and shoot for the moon. But unless you have $30 billion under your mattress, you’re not going to make it in one go.

Split the trip up into bits and you just might.

What’s the smallest project that moves you forward? Do that.

Be like Ralph—master the long-cut.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach