Focused on the "Wow" Factor
Jonathan Shapiro has his sights set on re-energizing Lillian Vernon Corp.
By Donna Loyle
Why he went to work at Lillian Vernon Corp.: Shapiro says it's been great to be able to follow through on an idea he had in 1996 when he worked for United Media. While there, he developed the Dilbert Zone Web site based on Dilbert the cartoon character. "We started Dilbert-branded products as a small business, used direct marketing and advertising, and grew it into a $1 million a year property in 1996. We figured if with the direct marketing knowledge we had we could turn out a successful product line right out of the gate, that was great. We decided this 'Internet thing' was an ideal direct marketing vehicle."
Shapiro recalls thinking it would be a good idea to buy catalogs and drive their sales to the Web, turning them into multichannel powerhouses. He believes Lillian Vernon is just such a company. "Last year, 25 percent of Lillian Vernon's sales were via the Web," he notes. "This year it's 35 percent, and we want to grow it to 50 percent."
Previous work with Lillian Vernon's parent company, ZelnickMedia: He joined ZelnickMedia in January 2003 as an entrepreneur in residence, focused on the Lillian Vernon acquisition, which took place last July.
Education: He studied finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and received an MBA from Stanford.
Role models: Teddy Roosevelt, Ross Perot and Winston Churchill. "Each overcame great adversity. Roosevelt had many health illnesses; Perot overcame poverty. Churchill overcame the Axis power and was a war hero, prolific writer, brilliant guy, one of the last Renaissance men."
Management philosophy: Find the best people, give them responsibility and authority to get things done, and then hold them accountable. "As a former analyst and strategist, I