How Tech Influenced Martha Stewart in Shaping Her Empire

– You cannot be political
and have a vehicle

like Martha Stewart Living, because

you make one terrible mistake and make

any bad comment about
anybody and off you go.

You lose your followers.

– Welcome to you, Martha, good to see you.

– Thank you, so nice to meet you here.

– You met a lot of the startup mavens,

the people who went on to just build these

massive empires like Bezos and Bill Gates.

– Oh, I wish were one of those.

– Early on in their career, how was it

that you met them early
on in their career?

– Well, when I started Martha
Stewart Living Omnimedia,

it was kind of a new idea.

It was taking lifestyle
and making a business

out of “lifestyle,” and
Kleiner, it attracted

the attention of an
investor, Kleiner Perkins.

Well they’re a big VC
firm out in California,

in Silicon Valley, and they
invested in my company,

and I was very pleased
because through them

I learned about Google, early early.

I learned about Amazon early.

I met those guys, I met
Sergey and I met Jeff,

and we’re still friends.

We all are friends.

Then I had a boyfriend
who wrote Word and Excel

for Bill Gates.

So he’s Charles Simonyi.

So he taught me a lot about software,

and he’s famous for those
early giant programs.

Word is probably the most
used program in the universe.

– So you were really on the cusp

of change as you went through.

– Yeah, and I was interested in it.

I mean, you can be on the cusp and not be

interested it or not pay attention to it,

but I try to pay attention,
and I try to learn.

I probably couldn’t program anything yet,

but I’m trying to build
a program right now,

which I’m really excited about.

– Why?

– Because I want to.

It’s something that we all need and want,

and when I build it, you’ll know about it.

Hopefully it’ll happen.

I won’t tell you what it is,
but it’s very interesting.

– Well, hopefully you’ll tell
me first when you make it.

It’s fascinating to me
because you have to be

visionary to do that.

How did all of that early
experience with technology,

how did that factor in and
help you in your business?

– Well, it helped a lot
because our magazine

Martha Stewart Living,
which was founded in,

the first issue was 1990,
the end of 1990, early ’91,

was done digitally.

And so we created it on an Apple computer

using design technology in the Apple.

We used Adobe early on
before other magazines.

Other magazines were pasting,
and cutting and pasting.

I don’t remember if you
ever saw those rooms,

where you would lay out and cut and paste.

Well, we did it all on the computer.

We started designing
products on the computer.

We were probably one of
the first design teams

making home goods to have a 3D printer,

so we could mold our forks and knives

and our plates and our
pitchers on a 3D printer,

according to our design.

So all of those things,
that’s important to do.

It’s that adapting and adopting technology

to your business.

– When the Internet
came, you started to see

so many of your competitors go away.

– Yeah, and I thought, oh my
gosh, what a fantastic thing.

We have search engine optimization.

I can find out anything I
want with my fingertips.

I don’t have to go to the library,

and I thought I would save so much time.

What’s happened,
unfortunately, and I bemoan

the fact all the time, is that I think

so many of us waste a lot of time online.

– So how do you prevent that?

– Well I limit my time,
because I still have

books to read, I still
have books to write,

I still have a business to create, I still

have products to build.

So you have to really limit yourself.

– I noticed that you are
very prudent with technology.

On Twitter you do Tweet and
Instagram and everything,

but you are not political.

I’ve noticed that you put
a lot of thought into–

– You know why?

You want to know why?

– Yeah.

– Okay, well it’s very simple
and very straightforward.

I run a magazine called
Martha Stewart Living.

50% of our readers are
most likely Republicans

and 50% are most likely Democrats.

And many, many supporters
of our president,

and many non-supporters of our president.

You cannot be political and have a vehicle

like Martha Stewart
Living, because you make

one terrible mistake
and make any bad comment

about anybody and off you go.

You lose your followers.

So you have to–

Sometimes it’s painful not to be able to

express myself. (laughs)

But I’ve learned to take pictures
of pretty orchids instead,

and tell them about an orchid.

You can tell them about something else.

– How many businesses
are you involved in now?

– Well, we have a lot
of different businesses

ranging from, of course, the magazine

and the publications, to our home goods

that we sell through thousands
of different outlets.

We also have some very
interesting businesses.

We have the Martha Stewart Wine Company.

It’s a subscription wine service

where you choose from a list of wines

that we tell you all about,
with recipe selections

and pairing selection, and that’s doing

very well because the wines are delicious,

and they are also affordable.

We have Martha’s Flowers.

In a beautiful box, you can order roses,

and again, by subscription, and that’s

another very interesting business.

We have Martha & Marley Spoon, which is

a meal kit delivery service.

I love that because it
not only introduces you

to new kinds of foods,
but you get everything

you need for that meal in a, we call it

a dish bag, it’s a brown paper bag.

Perfect ingredients, and you cook a meal

in 30 minutes or less,
and you feed your family

good, nutritious, delicious food.

So those are just a few of the things,

and then I’m on QVC doing fashion now.

I love doing fashion.

I do a lot of gardening products for QVC.

And QVC, to me, is the
third way to sell things.

You sell at a store, you sell on Amazon

or online, Alibaba, and
you sell on television,

and those are the three biggest ways

to sell things nowadays.

– But that’s how you sell,
because not everybody

can do that.

QVC is like, high pressure, right?

– Oh, it’s high pressure.

And it’s so much, you have to sell so many

thousands of dollars a minute on QVC,

but we’ve had some huge successes.

We had a very, very
wonderful launch last year,

and I think we were one
of the biggest launches

they ever had in fashion.

So my clothing really struck a cord

with the viewers, and
people wanna look nice.

I try to encourage to
look nice from the minute

they leave their house in the morning

’til they get home from work at night.

So I call it practical, classic clothing,

and it’s really fun, and
we’re doing handbags.

We’re doing shoes with Aerosoles now.

High style shoes with Aerosole.

And they’re comfortable and well-made

and long-lasting, and affordable.

Everything’s affordable because I want you

to save money to send
your kids to college.

I want you to take vacations.

I want you to see the world.

I want you to plant trees.

– See, you just sold a million pairs.

– I want you to have a garden. (laughs)

– Right there, I mean that’s
why you’re great at this.

– I hope so, but that’s why.

– Do you look at the metrics, then?

After these sales are made, you probably

get inside those numbers and say,

hey, I could have done better here, or…

– Oh, and don’t think QVC doesn’t tell us

where we can do better, too.

They have their metrics down pat,

and they are constantly
trying to improve the metrics.

We have to follow
algorithms, we have to do

all kinds of stuff.

It’s way harder than you think.

When you put a product on
Amazon, it has to sell,

otherwise it gets taken off.

So it’s very scientific, and very, very,

very thought out.

– Take me back to The Apprentice.

How did that happen?

How did you end up on that?

– Oh, The Apprentice Martha Stewart,

instead of The Apprentice Donald Trump.

Well, Mark Burnett, who was the producer,

the great Mark Burnett, he came to me

and he said, “We’d like you to do is

“to start a season of The Apprentice.”

And I said, “Well why?

“Donald’s doing it.”

And he said, “Well, you
know, we might even end

“with you firing the Donald.”

He was the Donald at that time.

He wasn’t the President
of the United States.

And I thought, well, that
would be so much fun.

So I agreed to do it.

They took over half of
my office on 26th Street,

and they built this gigantic set,

and then Donald didn’t wanna be fired.

He loved his job, so I
never got to fire Donald.

But I was very proud of what we did

and proud of Mark Burnett created with

The Apprentice Martha Stewart.

It showed in England, it
showed in various countries,

and the English people loved my version.

So it was, again, an education.

– So you’re very good at judging people.

– I try very hard.

– How did you figure out that Snoop

would be a good person to work with?

– Well, I met him on my show, and he was

so much fun to work with on my own show.

He made mashed potatoes and
then he poured stuff in,

and he made brownies and he
poured a little bit of this in,

and he was fun.

But what was really
great was the audiences

responded extremely favorably.

This one needs to be peeled.

– [Snoop] Like this?

– Just take the peels off, peel.

– Like making french fries.

– [Martha] The skin, the skin.

– We make french fries,
that’s getting good.

– No, no.

No, just the skin.

Just the skin.

Look, this, just peel the skin off, see?

– Oh, you want me to take the
skizzin off of it, my bad.

– The skizzin, whatever.

– The potato chip wrapping.

– And then we did the Justin
Bieber roast together.

Somebody saw us together on that show,

and thought, that’s an odd couple.

That would be an interesting show,

and it’s been successful, and we’re going

into our third season.

– What is the best dish
Snoop has made for you?

– Lobster thermidor.


Snoop’s potluck dinner party.

– (singing) Yeah, yeah, yeah!

– I’m gonna start throwing dishes

unless we get going.

– [Man] Yeah.

(audience laughs)

– He makes lobster thermidor.

I wouldn’t even think
he would eat lobster,

’cause he’s very fussy.

He doesn’t eat a lot of things,

and I tried to shock with the kinds of

ingredients that I would bring on.

He won’t touch caviar and
he won’t touch oyster,

he’s, oh god, slimy things.

But he’ll eat lobster thermidor.

– What do you think he’s learned from you

and what have you learned from him?

– I think we’ve learned that very, very,

very different cultures
can coexist very nicely.

You can teach each other things that you

never thought you’d learn.

You can learn about a totally
different way of life,

and all of that actually
is pretty encouraging

in this day and age with
so much divisiveness.

I feel very strongly that there’s too much

of that divisiveness,
and us melding cultures

is a good thing.

– Tell me about the Martha Manual.

How has it differentiated
from some of your

more recent books?

– Well the Martha Manual is a how-to book,

covering a wide variety
of subjects relating to

running a home.

So it may tell you how
to take care of your pet.

It will also tell you how to iron,

how to do your laundry, how to organize

your personal papers.

It tells you a lot.

So a manual, it’s really, you
wanna look up something quick?

You can find it in the book.

– You probably don’t have a
typical demographic, right?

– Well, we have a very
atypical demographic,

especially now that I’m doing
a program with a rapper.

Yeah, it’s kinda funny.

That has broadened my
demographic tremendously,

at the right time, too, I must say.

I don’t think good
information and inspiration

goes out of date, but if you…

I always said, I can
plant a tree this way.

If I find a better way to plant a tree,

I’m gonna find it first, and
I’m gonna write about it,

and I’ll illuminate the
old and bring in the new,

and I do that with everything.

It’s the same way with cooking.

Recipes change, methods
change, pots change.

We didn’t have an Instapot
when I started writing books.

Now there’s Instapots,
and they’re very popular,

and more people wanna cook in an Instapot

or a pressure pot, a
complicated pressure pot,

than they wanna cook in a
plain old tri-ply steel pot.

So we wrote a book about how to cook

in a pressure pot, and it’s very popular.

The recipes are utterly delicious,

and we adapt our methods
of teaching to technology.

We have to.

We have to keep up, as you say.

But all the other things,
just like my cars.

I’m driving a Tesla now, because, not that

it’s the best car in the whole wide world,

but I don’t have to go to the gas station.

I am trying to be clean environmentally,

so I’m driving a Tesla.

It’s a little bit of a
hard ride on the highways.

I come in from Bedford, New
York every day, but I am

proud that I am doing
something for the environment.

– Can you drive yourself?

– No, I have a driver.

– Okay, but…

– Well I know how to drive it.

I’ve driven it driverless, have you?

– No, not yet, so you’re ahead of me.

– I did it.

I did it on the Merritt Parkway.

– Wow.

– And it’s a little
frightening, but it works.

– Yeah, mentally is just
must be really difficult.

– Well, you have to learn,
and I’ve now invested

in Convoy.

Do you know what Convoy is?

– No.

– Convoy is the driverless
long-distance trucks.

Transport trucks.

And it’s already growing in valuation,

but Convoy is these giant
trucks without drivers

that are going to always be full, going

back and forth across the United States,

and they are electric.

So guess what, how great would that be?

– In studying you I
really see how a lot of

the things you did early on were perfect

for what you accomplished later.

– Yes.

– In the position you were in.


We actually have a shot
of you when you were

modeling, and just for the
sake of full disclosure,

you’re holding a Wall Street Journal.

– I know, isn’t that a funny picture?

That was fun.

I started modeling when I was about,

I think it was around 15 or 16 years old.

One of my neighbors was
a model in New York City.

She was also a ballerina,
and she and her parents

said to me one day, “You
know, you’re good enough

“to be a model, so why
don’t you go and meet

“so-and-so’s agent?”

So I went to New York and met the agent,

and I was signed up right away,

and that’s how I made enough money to pay

for my college education.

And it was a lot of fun.

I actually did a lot of TV commercials.

I did one for Tareyton cigarettes.

I had to practice smoking.

Forbidden, forbidden, you know.

And nobody–

– Well, it was cool back then, right?

– Well, to smoke a cigarette?

Oh my god.

And I remember coughing,
and then in the commercial,

of course, all I had to do was sit there.

I didn’t have to smoke.

And it really did pay very well,

and it paid for my
entire college education.

And that on-camera experience.

Look, here I am, in
front of a camera again.

It really taught me a
lot about self composure

and self-confidence and all those things.

So here’s my book.

I would like you to have a copy.

– Thank you.

– Okay.

And this is it.

How to Do (Almost) Everything.

– This is something that I need.

I’m not like Snoop, I
don’t make lobster dishes.

– Okay.

– Thank you so much.

– Thank you, a pleasure.

– It’s good to have you.

– Thank you.

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