Media mogul Martha Stewart shares her secrets to success and living a good, long life
So, what does it take to become a self-made billionaire?
“First American woman self-made billionaire. Honestly, I don’t even think about that. My story is all about hard work. The 5 D’s: determination, dedication, discipline, diversity and direction,” shared media magnate and business mogul Martha Stewart.
The 18-time Emmy Award winner and successful businesswoman was the guest of honor at the latest leg of the ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel’s Leadership Series held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
Martha Stewart, America’s most trusted lifestyle expert, award-winning television host, entrepreneur and bestselling author, shared her success story and business philosophy at the event, attended by some of the country’s power players and most influential personalities, including Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Grace Poe.
Before carving a niche in the lifestyle and media industry, Martha started her career as a professional model at age 15 to supplement her college tuition. Her diverse clientele portfolio includes ad campaigns for the likes of the American Tobacco Company, Unilever and Chanel.
After college, Martha became a stockbroker in New York—a career which she adapted from her then father-in-law who encouraged and taught her how to invest.
“I joined a young firm and became an institutional stockbroker … handling accounts like Manufacturers Hanover Trust and Fidelity Investments—I learned about what made a good company. We had a very good research firm where I did a lot of investigating, a lot of research, and a lot of selling and trading,” she said.
Truth be told, her heart was not in the right place. “It (being a stockbroker) wasn’t the focus that I really wanted. I was living with my husband and my new child—I started a catering business and that was really hard because it involved building a restaurant every single day … and cooking all that delicious food. But because it was original, because it was premium, because it was an expression of me, it became very successful.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Her catering business led to the publication of her first book, “Entertaining,” which was released in 1982. To date, Martha has published 97 books and is now working on her 98th.
Named as one of Forbes’ “100 Greatest Living Business Minds” in 2017, Stewart founded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 1997 to consolidate and organize the various business interests that carried her name and focus on its core competency which is her content.
A self-confessed workaholic and neat freak, Martha took a huge gamble to take her company public, taking everyone by surprise. The pay-off: 1.6 billion dollars at the end of the first trading day.
“Another thing that an entrepreneur must do is to fill a void. Need, want and void—think of all those three words all the time,” she stressed.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Martha continues to work, saying she isn’t stepping down anytime soon. She has in fact, partnered with Marquee Brands, a company ran by a dynamic group of 30-something women entrepreneurs, to further expand the Martha Stewart brand.
On the topic of overseeing her online content and presence, Martha spoke highly of her Filipino assistant, Jocelyn Santos. “She is very knowledgeable. She manages the Martha Stewart blog and is responsible for the stunning photographs that you see on my official social platforms and its content.”
Her razor-sharp business acumen helps Martha stay relevant and current. She shared that she supports young celebrities branching out into business.
“Many young actresses enter the lifestyle market. You have Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba—the younger gang—and they are doing a very nice job of doing their entrepreneurial endeavors and I support them. I was just on ‘Dr. Oz’ with Jennifer Garner and I surprised her on the show. It was such a success that we had so much fun talking about the baby food that she is making.”
Speaking of ideas, her unlikely pairing with rapper Snoop Dogg in the hit VH1 series, “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” is a match made in variety TV heaven that no one could have thought possible. The show, which boasts of an average review of 95 percent among critics, has guested the likes of Seth Rogen, P. Diddy, Nick Jonas and Academy Award winners Octavia Spencer, Jamie Foxx and Matthew McConaughey.
“Snoop and I are old friends. We were in a show together (‘Comedy Central’s Roast of Justin Bieber’) and someone came to us and said how would you like to be in a cooking show. Snoop said, ‘I’d do it if you’d do it.’ So we talked about it and redesigned the program.
“When I met Snoop, I thought he was 60 years (laughs) old but he has an old soul and then I found out that he was younger than my daughter. He’s so good, he’s so smart and so fun to work with.”
Being partnered with Snoop Dogg, a cannabis advocate and owner of “Leafs by Snoop,” got Martha into another partnership—this time with a Canadian cannabis company, Canopy Growth Corporation and this earned her the moniker, “America’s Cool Weed Grandma.”
Martha also addressed what she considered to be a difficult time in her life. In 2004, she was found guilty of white-collar felony charges for conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators, following a six-week highly publicized jury-trial involving insider stock trading. She served a five-month prison sentence, followed by a two-year period of supervised release.
“Not everybody survives a debacle like I had to go through. And that was a really, really tough time but I had the most fabulous company and I have a very serious sense of self-worth. Being sure of yourself and believing what you do and who you are mattered. Plus, I have a supportive family and my company did not really suffer.
Advertisers had to pull out, but they were right back there at the end of it because we had the best product.”
Martha shared three mottos that she has lived by, “When you are through changing, you are through. Change is good. Don’t be afraid of it. Learn something new every day.”
Long divorced from her lawyer-husband, she isn’t closing her doors on dating and shares what she finds attractive in a man. “I like really smart men and who are real and speak their minds and have nice teeth.”
On marriage and relationships, she said, “I believe in marriage; I believe in having children and I believe it’s important for women to have children and I get upset when my friends don’t have kids because they are a joy and my grandkids are an even greater joy. I’m keeping my grandchildren and you can have my daughter (laughs).”
Asked how she would like to be remembered, she answered: “I am a good teacher and I want to be remembered as a teacher. A legacy isn’t something I think about. What I really think about is have I lived a good life?”
What is Martha most proud of? “My daughter, my grandchildren. A good memory, a passion for earth and my curiosity,” she said.
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