Leonard Lauder is chairman emeritus of Estee Lauder Companies, one of the world's leading cosmetics and skin-care firms. Like many top executives, he got his start as a Navy Supply Corps officer. Here's his account of his eight years in the Navy and the Naval Reserve, and the lessons they taught him.
At age 22, I embarked on a life-changing adventure: I volunteered for service in the Navy, serving three and a half years on active duty, followed by four and a half more in the Reserves.
It was 1955. The Cold War was in full force, but our nation's deep engagement in Vietnam had not yet begun, and from today's vantage point, with brave American troops in harm's way in Afghanistan and Iraq, my years of military service seem comparatively uneventful.
Yet, for me, they were defining. While it may seem incongruous that a cosmetics business executive started out in a military uniform, my Navy experience in many ways laid the foundation for all that followed. It provided me with six enduring lessons that have shaped my life ever since.