Lessons on success from Martha Stewart

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2019 07:01 AM | Updated as of Aug 25 2019 12:50 AM

American businesswoman and media personality Martha Stewart at the ANC Leadership Series in Manila on August 20, 2019. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

Martha Stewart headlined the latest leg of ANC's Leadership Series last Tuesday, and she shared with an audience of moguls and admirers some secrets to her success in the media and lifestyle industry.

1. Find an idea that sticks.

Stewart was a stockbroker before she opened a catering company in the 70s. This small venture became the springboard to her writing several books, which contained recipes and party entertainment concepts.

"Plenty people have lots of ideas, but is that idea an idea that’s gonna stick? Is it an idea that’s going to appeal to a very broad audience?" she said when asked to give advice on how people can turn their passions into a fortune.

Finding "success and being an entrepreneur and being a self-made kind of idea person, the idea has to be good to start with," she said.

2. Fill a void.

Stewart considers herself lucky that when she dabbled into lifestyle, it was "not promoted in any way." She thought she was good at promotion and public relations, and this was something she and her friends needed.

"That’s why it’s successful because it was a big enough idea to make a good business out of," she said of her journey.

"What doesn’t exist that you love that you have in your mind that can fill that void that everybody wants? Need and want and void — those three words are very important.”

3. Persevere and be resilient.

It was her parents who ingrained in her grit, said Stewart, after they told her: "You can do anything, Martha. You’re smart, you’re beautiful, you can do anything." The mother of one said this is an important lesson that must be instilled in children.

Her Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. is diversified, with segments in publishing, internet, broadcast media, and merchandise. Stewart became a billionaire when on the day of her company's debut on the New York Stock Exchange, the its share price shot up to $38.

Now 78, Stewart hosts Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party with rapper Snoop Dogg. The show led her into working with a marijuana grower to develop cannabis-related solutions for pet ailments, cosmetics, skincare, and food.

Her brand is also active on Pinterest, Instagram, Instagram TV, Facebook, and YouTube.

"I embrace all of them. I have channels on pretty much everything with our videos. That’s the way you have to do it. You have to embrace technology, keep ahead of the curve," she said.

Success was not an easy road for Stewart as she faced a "debacle" in 2004 when she was convicted of charges related to a stock trading case. It was a "very, very tough time," recalled the lifestyle maven, but she doesn't think about it very much.

"I had the most fabulous company and I had a very serious sense of self-worth. Being sure of yourself and believing in what you do and who you are really helps. Plus, I had a supportive family around me," she said.

"It was horrible, it wasn’t pleasant, but I didn’t die. I didn’t have coffee, I didn’t have those luxuries, but it wasn’t life-threatening. I had my health and I had a good family, and that’s what matters."

4. Find balance in the workplace.

She was "tough boss" but Stewart learned as she got older that "there's balance in the workplace."

She got divorced in the middle of planning to start her own company and go public. "I think, my marriage suffered terribly as a result. But I think I also had a creepy husband,” she said.

In her company, which employs mostly women, Stewart said they offer compensation and leave packages for those having babies. "You have to make sure that the women some sort of convenience and encourage women to take on more responsibilities," she said.

5. Don't relax or be sloppy.

Decades into the business, Stewart still begins her day at 7:00 a.m., prompting her entire staff to begin their days just as early. "I think that if I push myself harder, the people will know that I’m doing it, they also will," she said.

More than a "neat freak"--a title she also loves--Stewart said she thinks "perfectionist" is a more apt description of her: "perfectionist in what you learn and what you teach."

Many in the audience remarked that Stewart looks just as good as she did many years back. She then dished out another tip for budding entrepreneurs: "You can’t get too sloppy, you always have to have that appearance no matter what. You always have to make sure you look good."

Although she's inching towards 80, Stewart said she is not retiring anytime soon, and she just recently signed a 10-year contract. Creative inquisitiveness is one trait, she said, that all entrepreneurs must learn to grow their brands.

"I get inspired every single day and I try to learn something new everyday...I get inspired by people, by how Nobu cuts a piece of fish for sushi, how people make lechon. It depends, but I’m always learning from other people, and it’s very important to do that," she said.