Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold: 'We sell orgasms - how can you not be passionate about that?'

Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold
Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold

Jacqueline Gold, chief executive Ann Summers, shares her advice on always listening to customers, getting the right work-life balance and never being afraid to challenge the norm.

Women don't even like sex. That's what I was told when I first pitched my idea of Ann Summers parties to the all-male board in 1980 - 32 years on and I think it's safe to say that their response said more about their sex lives than my idea.

Never underestimate the power of passion. Whatever your business, you should always have a passion for what you do and your brand. I will always look for passion in the people I employ. I don't want to work with people who see their role as just another job, I want them to share the ambition and vision we have for our brand and the passion to deliver this to our customer. At Ann Summers we sell orgasms - how can you not be passionate about that?

Never stop listening to your customer. This is absolutely key for anyone running a customer- focused business. It sounds so simple, but it is incredible how many brands have stopped listening and then lost their way.

I have always put the customer at the heart of what we do. At the start of the economic downturn, I made the decision to heavily invest in research to help us redefine our brand without compromising our heritage. For me it was a more crucial time than ever to know who our customers were, how they have evolved and what they wanted from us. We asked, listened and, most importantly, acted.

I made the decision to heavily invest in research to help us redefine our brand without compromising our heritage.

Focus on your peaks. We are fast approaching Christmas - a peak trading time - so don't sit back and expect customers to come to you, work hard for them. Differentiate yourself from the competition and give customers a reason and desire to shop with you. Don't be the shop they walk straight past.

Don't let a lack of confidence hold you back - especially if you are a woman in business. I'm incredibly passionate about championing women in business and feel strongly that we should be doing more to support them in the boardroom, as well as female entrepreneurs. I have spent many hours meeting and mentoring women in business and every time I come away realising that one of the major things holding them back is confidence.

Women just don't believe in themselves in the same way men do, we look for validation from others before moving forward and doubt that we are good enough to succeed. This needs to change if we are going to realise the huge potential of the UK's female business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Make the balance right for you. Getting the work-life balance right is something most of us will strive for, but do any of us really know if we have it? We need to be honest about what that balance is for us - making yourself feel that the work-life balance should be a certain way applies even more pressure.

Be true to yourself about what your priorities are and how you can achieve them, and never be afraid to ask for help to allow you to strike that balance. I regularly question whether I have the balance I want, but what I do know is that with the team I have around me, I have the best chance of getting it right.

Don't be afraid to challenge the norm. I'm extremely lucky to be chief executive of a brand that has not only challenged the norm, but been proud to stand up for what we believe in and push the boundaries. Just because something hasn't been done before shouldn't mean it's unachievable.

Keep your ears open; you just never know what you might hear.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message