When Leonard Lauder was 13 years old, his mother, Estée Lauder, used her kitchen in a way that wasn’t exactly commonplace for 1940s-era housewives—she turned it into the headquarters of her nascent beauty business. By 1958, Leonard Lauder had officially joined the company, as it was already in the thick of the explosive growth that it would enjoy for decades. Now, after a 60-year tenure at the Estée Lauder Companies, where he served as C.E.O. and chairman, Lauder is now known as its “chief teaching officer.” He shares his most valuable lessons and cherished memories in a new book, The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty. Herewith, his key components to the good life. —Ashley Baker
Bedtime: I love my bedtime routine. Normally, I’m in bed by 10:00; I read for an hour and then it’s lights out at 11:00. I rarely have difficulty getting to sleep. But if I do, instead of counting sheep, I mentally check off all the specialty department stores we used to sell to, starting in Portland, Maine, with Porteous, Mitchell & Braun, and working my way down the East Coast, past R. H. Stern and Filene’s in Boston, Gladding’s in Providence, G. Fox in Hartford, and so on. I’m usually asleep before I get to New York.
Breakfast, weekday: Depending on my fancy, breakfast can be anything from Greek yogurt with fresh fruit to ham and eggs, country-style.
Breakfast, weekend: My wife, Judy, makes a delicious French toast from whole-wheat bread, with sliced bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and Vermont maple syrup. Heaven!
Cocktail: When I used to travel to Denmark, I always came back with a bottle of aquavit. My favorite cocktail is a Danish Mary, made with clamato juice and Danish aquavit. No spices.
Date: Judy and I have a weekly date night. Whether it’s dinner in or out, it’s just the two of us. After dinner, we snuggle in bed and watch an old movie.
Dinner, weekend: When my parents were alive, we had a tradition of going out for dinner every Sunday, always at the same restaurant, originally Luchow’s, now long gone. We’d celebrate the beginning of a new week.