She was very observant.
She was very determined.

“I never gave up and I never let anyone or anything get in my way.”


“It was very difficult when we came to New York because I spoke no English. We moved to a neighborhood with many other German and Jewish immigrants but I mostly befriended Americans since that was the easiest and quickest way to learn the culture, language, and customs of my new homeland.”

“She seems to be able of growing enormous by sheer force of will,”

Lillian Vernon beginning as an outsider, quickly used her natural observant Temperament to good use.

“I like to think I was born with a golden gut when it comes to choosing what I sell. Something happens to me when I spot a hot product. I feel it in the pit of my stomach. I know.” Whatever special talent she had, Vernon developed and refined it over the years by continuously studying magazines and ads, by habitually observing people’s shopping habits and behavior, and—last, but not least—by always keeping track of her own customers’ ordering histories. One might say that even before she started her business, Vernon had begun to develop her own way of market research. She had strolled along shopping miles like Fifth Avenue, observing which window decorations would make people stop to have a closer look. She had worked at a candy store and at a women’s clothing store. She had sold pots and pans by phone. “Wherever I worked,” Vernon wrote, “I kept my eyes and ears open and tried to learn something about what makes a business work – or fail.”

In Memoriam

Lillian Vernon, Promoter Artisan, (born Lilli Menasche; March 18, 1927 – December 14, 2015) was an American businesswoman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She founded the Lillian Vernon Corporation in 1951 and served as its chairman and CEO until July 1989, though she continued to serve as executive chairman until 2003, when the company was taken private by Zelnick Media. When it went public in 1987, Lillian Vernon Corporation was the first company traded on the American Stock Exchange founded by a woman.

In work and in play, Promoters demand new activities and new challenges. Bold and daring at heart, and ever-optimistic that things will go their way, Promoters will take tremendous risks to get what they want, and seem exhilarated by walking close to the edge of disaster. Because of this, they make the very best trouble-spot administrators and negotiators, and they can be outstanding entrepreneurs, able to swing deals and kick-start enterprises in a way no other type can. [Please Understand Me II]

Self-discipline and hard work have been core ingredients of Vernon’s entire life, and she used to expect no less from her employees, as from people around her in general. “Intuitive, tough, quick temper, competitive, impatient, confident, strong work ethic” were the characteristic traits attributed to her in a profile for a book about women entrepreneurs. According to her first husband Sam Hochberg, however, Vernon had been unaware of her own strong entrepreneurial drive before she actually started her own business. She never had shown much ambition while working for others, he told a reporter many years after their divorce. Once those entrepreneurial traits were activated though, there was no turning back, even at the price of her marriage. “I really loved my first husband,” Vernon told USA Weekend in 1986. “If we hadn’t worked together, I think we’d probably still be married.” Just as for her husband, it would later be difficult for her sons to work with a mother who, by virtue of her success, frequently claimed that she knew better and best, and who obviously enjoyed power games. Vernon herself attributes her tough demeanor to the times when, as a young start-up entrepreneur, she had to elbow her way into a male-dominated world.

Other examples of Promoter Artisans include:  Jack Ma, Presidents Lyndon JohnsonFranklin D Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, Joan RiversJohn Hammond Jr.Helen Gurley Brown, Marie Colvin, Lech Walesa, Pan Shiyi, Hugo ChavezCharlie Sheen, Boris Yeltsin, John Corzine, Lady GagaSonny Bono.

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