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.

5 Comments

  1. This really reminded me of the way that I see some teachers (especially those teaching low-income students or students who have experienced trauma) operate in their classrooms. It may initially seem like the class is well behaved and well controlled and that they can do their work and get good grades. However, the teacher has assumed the role of total director, telling the students what to do at each turn without actually letting them in on the inner workings of their learning or how to make their own decisions. These students inevitably fall behind once someone isn’t spoon-feeding them directions all day long. It’s done out of love and trying to make things easier for students who have had tough lives, but in the end it handicaps them.

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  2. Katherine,
    You make some excellent points in your post this week. I agree that an employer cannot be the end all be all for an entire community. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely shown us how quickly successful businesses have to close their doors in situations where they are unprepared or cannot adapt quickly. I watched a documentary “Biggest Factory in the World” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBNBx7dJTS4) for a different assignment in this course. It described a company in China that created an entire community for its workers. I didn’t think about what might be going on with this company currently until I read your post about Hershey’s community and what happened to it after he passed. I wonder what happened to the Chinese company during the quarentine this year. It housed, fed, clothed, and provided work for thousands. They even held mass weddings of their employees annually. This company was their entire world! I want to have a family like atmosphere when I establish my business, but I cannot be responsible for their entire wellbeing. That is too much pressure! People need to be able to fend for themselves to a certain degree. That way if a particular resource is lost everything doesn’t fall apart.
    -Bri

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  3. Katherine,

    Excellent blog and I enjoyed learning more about Hershey and Mars.

    I do not believe that Hershey should have built his business in that manner. His intentions were good, and he meant the best for his employees, but you cannot allow adults to be adults. I’m sure the cultural shock after he passed away was tremendous as the Hershey employees were suddenly thrust into the real world.

    An exit plan makes so much sense, yet it seems that no one makes one. A business exit plan would make your family members and friends adhere to your wishes like a will. Not so many years ago, I watched in horror as my mother’s side of the family fought and squabbled over her parents’ farm. It was unfortunate to watch as my aunts showed their true colors when it came to money. Without a business exit plan, people could do the same thing for money or business from the company after you passed.

    Good read!

    Joe Rudy

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  4. Katherine,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs and learning more about Hershey and Mars throughout this course. I agree with you that while his intentions were good, Hershey was only taking care of his employees but not teaching them how to succeed on their own. As leaders in whichever industry we are a part of, our job is to teach and mentor our employees or our students. As an advisor, I like to equip my advisees with the necessary tools to make well-educated decisions on their future career path and selection in classes. I am always available to them for input or advice but if I can teach them the necessary steps to make great decisions then I feel I have done my job well.

    Katie

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  5. Katherine,

    I agree with your point about having to be prepared for problems that don’t just go away. I’ve always heard and noticed that history repeats itself, and with this, in mind, we all should be prepared and at least have some knowledge over what may or may not happen. If we all take heed to the last point made and be stay ready for the worst rather than having to get ready, a lot of businesses and CEOs can avoid losses. Thank you for letting me share.

    Ty Harris

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