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As CEO of Victoria’s Secret, Jan Singer doesn’t sit behind a desk or in a boardroom every day. She can often be found right alongside customers at the mall, observing their choices. 

“Retail is a behavioral study every day,” Jan says. “Even now I’m literally in the stores working—watching what people are buying, what they pick up, what time of day it was when they picked it up, what’s going on in their lives.” 

“I call it passionate curiosity,” she says. “My brothers would call it being nosy.” 

Along with hard work and a strong support system, Jan credits much of her success to her “nosiness.” Her interest in peoples’ motivations and behaviors started when she was just a teenager and led her to major in psychology and business at IC—where she could apply a practical focus to her curiosity. 

“If you’re open and curious and you have a passion for the consumer, then you quickly get into their head. It can be a 17-year-old kid playing basketball in China or a woman buying Spanx in Georgia. It doesn’t matter.” 

Jan’s passion for human behavior doesn’t stop with the customer. She also examines what motivates her teams. During a decade-long stint at Nike, Jan kept note of the similarities and differences between Nike and her previous employer Reebok, hoping to understand how Nike had become such a powerhouse. 

“It really came down to human behavior,” she says. “The level of respect, the culture, the way that the company was operating fundamentally came down to a high level of admiration and respect the employees had for one another. That produced incredible teams that produced incredible results.  

“You have high-potential people thinking, ‘If I lose, you lose, and if I win, you win.’ It’s unstoppable when that happens.”