Lunch Keynote, Featuring Martha Stewart Interviewed by Co-Founder Elisa Camahort Page

Elisa Camahort Page
Martha Stewart

There's an excited energy in the room Grand Ballroom here at the Hilton New York. Audience members began arriving more than a half hour before Martha Stewart was scheduled to make an appearance, each one hoping to snag a coveted front row seat to all the action. With just minutes to spare before Martha's Keynote appearance and all of the tables front and center are filled and by show time not a table is empty.

Elisa: Hi everyone. Good afternoon. We are ready to get started with our lovely keynote speaker. Please welcome me in joining Martha Stewart!

(Audience applause)

(Martha comes out and takes photo of the audience)

Martha: Good, I have to tweet this!

Elisa: Thank you so much for being here. When I started gathering questions, one of the key things people wanted to understand was how your mind works. The difference between the left and right brain. How do you balance the creative and business aspects?

Martha: You have to think about the whole business when you do what I do. I'm making jam in the morning, taking care of my grandchildren, blogging and running the business. It’s about keeping curiosity, hard work ethic. I like to learn something new every day. I learn by many different methods.

Elisa: What do you put in place in your company to get everyone to adopt and spur creativity?

Martha: The people at Martha Stewart Living are like minded. They have learned about the brand through our products, blogging, tv show. We also put out a big net to universities. We have a lovely intern program. They are people who are interested in using their creativity. I always try to meet our interviews. I just had a lunch for them recently, about 80 of them. They were all in college, all very curious.

Elisa: When I was at your offices I asked how many people work there. They said about 500-600; it seemed like a small company. There are other companies at that level who do one tenth of what you do.

Martha: People work hard. They work really hard working with designers and others. It’s a very nicely orchestrated place.

Elisa: I don't think people realize your design team is in house.

Martha: We have many products in Macy's, Michael's, craft products.

Elisa: I'm curious about your company, everything you are doing now and you as a personal brand. What kind of process goes into that?

Martha: We have 4 brands -- Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, the bestselling wedding magazine; Everyday Food, a simple food magazine 40-50 original recipes for the home cook using 8 ingredients or less. Lastly, our newest magazine called Whole Living that deals with the whole person.

Elisa: I have to say, I was a fan of Blue Print.

Elisa: We are here with a room full of bloggers, social media users. I want to ask about technology. I remember watching tech episodes that you did way before people thought to teach women about technology. Tell me about you and technology and what inspired you to do that?

Martha: I'm proud of involvement in technology. I was an early adopter. I started to learn, took a computer science course in Columbia and learned. I also got to know the community in Seattle and Silicon Valley. I tried to invest in the community. I missed Facebook, but not Google! And Twitter. I love Twitter. From the minute I heard about it made sense to me. I know some of you are tweeting right now as we speak. Tweeting gets the message out instantly. I use it for research, to do instant surveys, things I'm curious about what people know. I really love knowing what's happening out there.

Elisa: How many responses do you generally get from your Twitter followers?

Martha: Thousands! Statistically it’s not fabulous but the instant feedback is fabulous. We get lots of great answers.

Elisa: There's something about social media allowing you the opportunity for authenticity and transparency. I remember when you hurt your lip and took pictures of you getting stitches.

Martha: I had just gotten back from a trip and I had to leave my house because of a blizzard, and I had a Today Show appearance the next morning. I reached down to my dog Francesca and she lurched up and hit me in the mouth. It was 10 at night and told my driver to take me to a hospital. Finally everyone was at the hospital, and I was distracting myself. They were great pictures!

Elisa: That was a photo journalistic masterpiece there!

Martha: I remember commenting on the floral wallpaper. In a hospital!

Elisa: Speaking on transparency, I'm interested in the amount of sharing you do on your show. You have daily interactions for so long, do you think social media has changed your sharing?

Martha: There's no limit to what you can share. If you make a political comment you can lose half your audience, so you can't be political but you can be personal. People love the personal. The most page views I’ve gotten are the personal ones. It’s nice to see people care and they respond.

Elisa: I think its interesting because you are a brand that is all about quality and perfection and what you are able to show through social media and your show are the foibles that happen. Your blooper reels…

Martha: Its funny you talk about that, I would love to have a late night comedy show. I would be good at that!

Elisa: What network would you want to be on?

Martha: Hmmm... I think PBS would be fun. They need a late night talk show.

(Audience laughs)

Martha: I would want it to be on modern culture. We are sitting here live, this is modern culture. So much has changed drastically in the last 20 years. I think about it a lot -- are we as productive as we once were? Can we be that way? Are we spending our time the way we should?

Elisa: I think we all struggle.

Martha: I limit my tweeting to 5 minutes a day. Then I make a misspelling and they think I'm drunk!

(Audience laughs)

Elisa: We have a question from a community member. How do you define aspiration? What is our path to aspire?

Martha: I was talking to Hannah Millman. Hannah has worked with me since I started the mag. She reads a lot of blogs. I asked her what blogging means to her. She agrees you must be personal, passionate, sharing and have an openness to readers and you must also be able to advertising. Amortization of the word.

Elisa: What do you mean by that?

Martha: Making money. It’s about paying for your effort. You are all intelligent women out there trying to make a living.

Elisa: It’s good to attach value to the skills we are living.

Martha: You also become reporters. You become a journalist. You might find you are a good writer, good communicator. The more you do it, the more people that will tweet you and communicate with you. When people ask who I am doing this for, I say people like me. I still clean the chicken coop, feed my horses. You have to if you are going to be real. You can't delegate. My blog is very popular. I just posted photos from a party at my house, showed pictures of the food and the party itself and that's an openness that is missing in a lot of reporting. I try to be open, and complimenting.

Elisa: I know your new show, is sort of focused on the teaching element.

Martha: Speaking of PBS, we are doing a new show called Martha Stewart Cooking School. Its teaching you how to cook. I think I'm all about the how-to. I try to be as how-to as possible. We have done 26 half hours. We teach how to garden also. It’s also good for people who already know how to cook but might want a refresher.

Elisa: Well, we have a first look at the show. I was looking at clips of this show with Lori Luna, our VP of Event Operations and we saw something we've never seen demonstrated before and we decided to show you this clip.

(VIDEO Plays)- Video features Martha cooking salmon and showing a technique for removing skin from salmon steaks.

Elisa: I've never seen that!

(Audience laughs)

Elisa: I want to talk about your company and how it’s using social media. Your company was one of the very first taking magazines to the iPad. We want to show a shot of the iPad apps.

(Video reel plays showing Martha iPad apps)

(Audience cheers after the reel plays)

Martha: We are trying to save you time and be innovative at the same time.

Elisa: Those iPad apps are beautiful and fun.

Martha: The covers are digital versions of our magazines. There are things you can do on digital that you cant do on the printed page. There are millions of people using the iPad now and they need the digital content. All 3 of our magazines are digitized now. All of our editors are really into it and making covers come alive.

Elisa: You are in radio now.

Martha: Yes! Sirius channel 110.

Elisa: You have the magazines, television, radio, online…you are a multimedia company now.

Martha: Omnimedia! We are a pioneer in the area. Every day you learn something new.

Elisa: Do you see the weight and focus of each area of your various business arms changing?

Martha: Media leads, merchandise follows. Much of what we have adopted in the magazines and we are also designers of many different product and are proud of what we create. Generally, I never want to give up the creation of content.

Elisa: A more general question, your career has evolved. What has changed about being a women leader and what has not changed?

(Images of "former" lives- Martha as a model, stockbroker and caterer)

(An Audience Member shouts, “Happy Birthday!”)

Martha: Thank you! It’s my birthday! You know, I wanted to come and see you anyway but I was saying I was coming here so you all would say Happy Birthday to me.

(Audience cheers and breaks out into impromptu singing of "Happy Birthday")

Martha: Thank you! Back to the question, things have changed and haven’t changed. Today only 4% of CEOS are women. I hope that grows and grows. There are so many women out there who want to lead. The number of women entrepreneurs has grown tremendously. The treatment of women in business has improved a lot. I never paid attention to naysayers, but a lot of women were intimidated. But have been treated better.

Elisa: You are right, they haven't changed much.

Martha: Focus and balance are important.

Elisa: How do you manage all that you do? Find the balance?

Martha: It’s hard. My marriage didn't survive. I see the struggle even within my own company, balancing families, children. Some don't come back from maternity leave. You have to make a choice and figure out if you can do everything.

Elisa: You are a new grandmother.

Martha: I am, it’s the best thing that has happened to me in the last two years. I just got back from visiting them. I am learning about babies again. There's a new business! Time to revisit that, Martha Babies.

(Audience laughs)

Elisa: Another community member question, The Happy Girl wants to know, what would you say to your younger self?

Martha: Encouragement would be one thing. Be encouraged by your mentors. My father always encouraged me. That's the best thing you can do to any young person, giving the confidence to follow their talent, abilities. Encouragement is the best.

Elisa: We have time for one last question, from 4th Breakfast. What are you terrible at?

Martha: Well, let’s see.... I'm terrible at things I haven't tried yet.

(Audience laughs)

Martha: I haven't really practiced knife skills. But I have a Japanese cleaver, so you don't need them. I have to be careful on TV not to cut my fingers off!

(Audience laughs)

Martha: Can I say a few things?

Martha: I wanted to tell everyone out there that I would love to link to your blogs. Tweet @MarthaStewart and hashtag #checkoutmyblogmartha and I will link to your blog. I'm very curious about what you are all doing. I know some of you are massively successful and some yet undiscovered. Check out our booths.

Elisa: Martha will be at the booth today and I think we have a gift for the audience!

Martha: Everyone here in the room is getting a one-year digital subscription to all of my magazines.

(Audience cheering)

Martha: One more thing, Oct 16-18 at Grand Central station. We are honoring artisan craft people, gardeners, designers, tech people in the UIS. We are having a nationwide contest for 1 community choice. Please go to our website, to vote.

Elisa: why did you decide to launch this?

Martha: There are so many talented people who have developed their skills. We are working with Etsy, Avery, Toyota to bring you this fantastic event. It’s a celebration of what we make in America. I am very proud of it.

Elisa: Please joining me in thanking Martha Stewart.

(Audience cheers and applause)


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