In finishing this book, I learned a lot about different leadership styles, what works and what doesn’t and how much goes into the chocolate world. Hershey and Mars had their fair share of problems, pandemics, and successes. I feel the largest take away from this book was first leadership and secondly innovation.
I personally was amazed with how Hershey started a whole community with his employees. He not only employed them, but also had housing, churches, grocery stores, schools, and entertainment in a community for them all. While this is great to show your employees how valued they are and to keep them long term, was this good? To me they became very dependent on him and did not realize how the real world worked outside of their community. Once he passed away, no one knew how to make a decision and other people outside of the company began moving in and everything was changing. The junior college closed, churches suffered because the ones left behind were no longer giving the money to support them. While I feel his intentions were good for his community, was it really the best for them? It reminds me more of a parent child relationship than employer/employee relationship.
This brings me to talking about the exit plan again. It is just important. Business have closed because there was no plan. Families can be torn apart because they all have their own ideas about what needs to be done. Have it written out in black and white so there is no question in case you die before you retire. Just like having a will for your family, you need one for your business.
Finally, during the earlier years of Hershey and Mars, they fought droughts, too much rain, and shortage of sugar, pest, and so many other pandemics. In reading about all of that, it reminded me of where I live and the hurricanes we face yearly. We have had a couple 100-year floods in a two-year period. They devastated crops, lost cattle, hogs and thousands of turkey’s just miles from my house. Then, 2020, we have a pandemic. My point is, even though it has been 50-60 years since their sugar issues, problems do not go away. You have to plan, think outside of the box, and be ready for whatever lies ahead. No one saw pandemic coming that would shut down the world for over a year. Yes, we can kind of plan for hurricanes because we know they come in Eastern North Carolina, but you also have to try to plan for the worst. I feel that this pandemic opened everyone’s eyes that you can be a booming business one day and be shut down the next at no fault of your own. Surround yourself with smart, innovative people and keep pushing forward.