RH CEO says: ‘I don’t shout at people, I shout at the problem’

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Gary Friedman, CEO of RH, has long been known for his sharp rhetoric in the luxury furniture chain’s quarterly earnings reports and more recently for his stark warnings about the economy and the housing market.

Just a weekend New York Times profile highlighted some of his management habits, including his aversion to meetings and his preference for “adventures” with groups of executives that are similar to meetings but can last ten hours or more.

He acknowledged that his vision for RH strikes fear into Wall Street as he refuses to rein in his expansive ambitions, which go far beyond the typical profit and revenue forecasts analysts are used to.

“But our vision is to create an endless reflection of hope, inspiration and love that will ignite the human spirit and change the world,” Friedman, who became CEO in 2001, told the newspaper. Time.

RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, was a Wall Street darling when its shares soared during the early stages of the pandemic as remote work and rock-bottom mortgage rates fueled a housing and renovation boom that boosted furniture sales.

Even before the pandemic, RH caught the attention of Warren Buffett, whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway started buying shares in 2019.

But then the Federal Reserve started raising rates in 2022, driving up borrowing costs and causing a deep freeze in the housing market. RH stock plummeted, falling more than 70% from its early 2021 peak to its 2022 low, and Berkshire subsequently sold its entire stake in 2023.

Still, Friedman remains ambitious, opening more RH retail galleries and expanding into branded hotels and furnished homes that the company would both sell and manage.

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As he continues his big plans, his team is expected to be fully committed to the company’s culture.

RH’s annual leadership meetings once included a ceremony where executives had to pledge to “continually destroy my own reality to create tomorrow’s future” and explain how they may have failed, according to the Time. That was later replaced by the “Daily Values ​​Adventure,” which asks participants to share “a moment when your ego got in the way of finding a better way.”

Friedman ignored low RH scores from employees on sites like Comparable, saying many have been with the company for years and even some who left eventually returned. But he also admitted that he has a tendency to lash out at subordinates who miss their targets.

“Generally I don’t shout at people, I shout at the problem,” he told the newspaper Time. “If you stand in front of the issue and defend it, you may feel attacked.”

Friedman’s management style has even earned him the nickname “The Sun” from some executives: he provides warmth on good days and scorching heat on bad days. Time said.

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