Lessons learned from Martha
The most important thing I learned from Martha Stewart was about more than cooking.
This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to intern with Sequential Brands Group and Martha Stewart. I worked in Martha Stewart’s book division, which meant I read a lot of inspiring recipes and content! The company runs a great internship program, and each week a president or executive of the company would speak to the interns.
Of course, Martha Stewart’s ‘lunch with the interns’ was my favorite. As a truly self-made success, she became a household name and created a hugely successful brand that few others can compare to.
My two personal interactions with Martha were when she was looking over book content and told me to “work hard because she doesn’t want to see any mistakes in this book.” (She wasn’t joking.) The second was when I was eating my packed lunch outside the staff kitchen. She stopped by and asked what I had brought. Thankfully it was homemade chorizo and white bean soup I made... instead of the box mac n’ cheese I considered bringing. :)
During the last week of my internship, I could hear her laughing in the hall as she practiced pitching a baseball in preparation for the first pitch at the next Yankees game.
As a girl who likes to cook and craft but hates when that leads to being told that I’ll make a great wife, it was motivating to see a successful woman like Martha create a business empire from the same things. From working for her, I learned that Martha Stewart is opinionated and has high standards for her brand. She is driven and speaks her mind, even if it’s controversial.
Being in New York City, working in a building with huge companies and brands and hearing from CEOs, CFOs, division presidents, etc., it was easy to feel inadequate. I felt that my future would never be as successful as these people, because I didn’t go to the right college or grow up in the right city. Yet hearing from Martha Stewart, I was reminded of what mattered most. During lunch with her, one intern asked what advice she would give to her 21-year-old self. After thinking for a moment, Martha replied, “Nothing. I was young and married and happy.”
Another intern asked when she first felt that she had made it and reached success. Martha didn’t say it was when she became a millionaire or when her company went public or when she published her 90th book. She said she first felt she had made it when she was a working mother.
I will never be a Martha Stewart, and I likely won’t hold any well-known position of worldly success. Yet of the many things I learned this summer, I learned that perhaps it is enough to simply be happy. And also to rotate your lampshades twice a year so they fade evenly.
*Martha told us she didn't like being stopped for pictures, so the only photo I have is one of the back of her head, but the future book we were working on is also in the photo. Here are photos of the office instead.