One On One With Todd Snyder

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Todd: Although I’m now a designer, I actually wanted to be an architect. When I first went to college, that’s what I was studying. Once I realized you could actually study fashion in school, I was all in. I changed my major, got an internship at Ralph Lauren and the rest was history.

Adam: How did you get here? What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Todd: It’s been a long journey and I’ve been lucky to work with some of the most talented people in the industry – like Ralph Lauren and Mickey Drexler at Gap and J.Crew.  I decided to start my own line right before the financial crisis in 2008 and that was certainly a challenge. I had quite a few side hustles at the beginning to keep Todd Snyder going, but now that I look back, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It really makes me appreciate how far we’ve come and I can feel confident in where we’re going. 

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Todd: I think it’s important to keep your ego in check. As the leader of a creative company, there’s always a vision in my mind, but it would be stupid not to keep my ego in check and listen to my team. I make sure to hire people who are going to add to what we’re doing and being open to their ideas and opinions makes everything we do better and stronger.

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Todd: Hire people that you trust and admire. Stick to your vision and don’t be afraid to take risks. And be nice. It’s amazing how many people forget that third one. 

Adam: What is your best advice on building, leading and managing teams?

Todd: First and foremost, be ready to listen. It’s my name on the label, but we are a team, and we make each other, and the work, better when we feel empowered to speak up, and when we are ready to listen to each other’s POV. People talk about how this generation or that has different ideas and expectations in the workplace, but to me the feeling of wanting to be heard, of wanting to contribute a verse, is a fundamental. Listening to other people’s perspectives only makes me better as a designer. 

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Todd: My dad always said, to be the best, work for the best. It’s served me well so far. 

Adam: What is one thing everyone should do to pay it forward?

Todd: I think it’s really important to offer support to students, interns and those that are up and coming. I can’t imagine there’s anyone who is successful that didn’t benefit from someone giving them a few minutes of advice or support. I try to speak to students, support non-profits and groups that are helping kids that want to be in this business whenever I can.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you as a leader?

Todd: I’m lucky enough to love what I do, so I never stop creating. I’m always sketching, or pinning, or making mood boards. That keeps me grounded and connected to the product and to the design team. I’m in the trenches with them. I’m also a big foodie. For me it’s not just about the experience of having a great meal, it’s the sense of the community and camaraderie that goes with sharing it all together.  I’m not a big “table for one” guy, and I feel the same about our culture at the office. It’s all about teamwork. 

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