Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers, reflects on a life of dreaming big, giving back and embracing family every step of the way.
Hey Michael…It’s me! You…but older. Just checking in. I remember sometimes things didn’t always go the way we expected, and let me be perfectly honest, life tosses us some pretty intense curveballs, but I promise you things work out pretty well for us. I won’t spoil every detail because some things are best left to surprise. (But we do meet The Terminator, just like we always dreamed! And you don’t know who Britney Spears is yet, but she is a mega popstar and we worked with her!) I just thought you might want to hear a few tips and sage advice to make your journey to aging into me a bit smoother.
For starters, as wise as we think we’ve become over the years, our biggest mentor and the smartest person we’ve ever known will always be Dad. (Robert or RG, as everyone calls him now). He taught us well. How to dream. How to fight. How to anticipate what’s to come. Listen and learn and you won’t feel intimidated by the big shoes you walk beside and may eventually fill. Can you believe Dad and I continue to work together as I write this? He is passion, and it’s infectious.
Family will be the foundation of all our success. You will get the rare opportunity to work side by side with your siblings. It’s incredible to have them bring unique skills to the table. Be respectful and appreciate the differences today. It will help you develop into a stronger partner and leader tomorrow.
I will warn you that we do get pulled in many directions over the years and not always to our benefit. Always remember to spend time with the people who lift you up and shut out the noise from the naysayers. Work hard and remain focused and you will zero in on the right path. You might even be president one day! No, not that president. I’m talking about leading one of the most respected global footwear brands that generates billions of dollars year after year. (Approaching $6 billion, actually!) It’s called Skechers, and at almost 30 years, you will always feel that it is just the beginning. See beyond. Think bigger. Always.
It will be through Skechers that our entire understanding of the word “family” will grow in ways it never had. Recognizing that the word extends to the thousands of people you and your teams will hire, bond with and trust every day. Much of what is most important about your company isn’t the work itself, but creating a culture, a community and a connection that goes beyond the 9 to 5. Through all of the times you’ll circle the world, and all of the partners, accounts, factories and consumers you’ll ever meet, there will be one common language—this incredible brand your team has built, the reason why you love to get up every morning and continue to dream up what’s next.
In case you’re curious, we live in Manhattan Beach, CA, and the town has grown up with us and our business, but we’re more connected with the community than ever. Leveraging our success drives an opportunity to really pursue a passion in philanthropy that develops over time. My best advice is that when you first feel the itch to help, let it happen naturally. Open your eyes and you will see those requiring assistance and sometimes it’s as easy as being a friend. Do you remember walking kids with special needs to their next class in school? Believe it or not, that simple gesture will turn into an incredible movement with an annual Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk that brings people together and raises millions of dollars ($15 million so far!) to support schools and the community that we love so much.
It proves that any idea—no matter how small or crazy or outlandish—can turn into true success that can benefit you, your family, your colleagues and, when it comes to charity, those who are vulnerable and really need the boost. If you don’t listen to a single thing I’m telling you, please at least take this to heart: that anything and everything is possible. It drives all we do to this day and once it clicks for you, life becomes so much clearer. You will never be too old to learn, give back or make a difference in someone’s life. I continue to seek out new ways to do all of these things every single day. So always be grateful and appreciate the opportunities that life has brought you.
Take pride, have the confidence to build beyond what your family could imagine and know that the best is always yet to come. Now get back to whatever you were doing, and don’t tell anyone you got a secret message from the future! They’ll think that’s weird.