Friday, September 12, 2008

World Chocolate Premiere

AAIIEEE! It's been a wild week - I must apologize for the slackness in my blogging. This week was the world premiere of my seminar - Leadership Lessons from the Kings of Chocolate. I have two terrible tendencies that work in combination like Pepsi and Mentos. I tend to procrastinate and I am a perfectionist. So I delayed working on the "Kings" seminar until about two weeks before I had to deliver it. Luckily I had already read a book on Hershey and The Emperors of Chocolate, so I wasn't starting completely from scratch. But this is why I haven't been blogging - it was crunch time!

I spent several days researching on the Web. Now, if you are a perfectionist, this could be never ending. There is always another site, another link, something more. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing!! I'm proud to announce the resulting session was pretty darn good. We talked about Milton Hershey and Forrest Mars, two VERY different leaders. I told the attendees how they built their chocolate empires - and asked them to assess each man's strengths and weaknesses as I went. They did a great job! We then talked about what they could learn from these two men that would help them become better leaders.

There's something about discussing chocolate and the candy business that captures everyone's interest. And what a great way to learn! I had the group sample the limited edition Wildly Cherry M & M's (have you tried these?):

I think if you really like cherry, you might like these. But I was thrilled to find that my informal focus group agreed with me - not an improvement over regular M & M's. I liked one or two, but that was it. I much prefer regular M & M's. Let Skittles do fruit, M & M's should stick with chocolate (remember, just because you CAN do it, doesn't mean you should!).

It's mighty hard to come up with a really successful new candy bar. That's one of the things you find out when researching the American Big Chocolate business. (Like Big Oil and Big Tobacco, there's Big Chocolate - Hershey, Mars, Cadbury, and Nestle.) Most of our best candy bars were invented in the early days - check this out:

1900 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar was invented
1916 Clark bar invented
1921 Mounds bar invented
1923 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups invented
1923 Butterfinger invented
1923 Milky Way invented
1925 Mr. Goodbar invented
1925 Kandy Kake (the original name of the Baby Ruth) invented
1925 Oh Henry! invented
1930 Snickers Bar invented
1932 3 Musketeers Bar invented
1932 PayDay invented
1933 Kit Kat invented
1938 Nestle's Crunch invented
1941 M & M's first sold to the public
1946 Almond Joy invented

You can't blame Mars for trying! New candy can equal big profits - including better shelf position for existing candy. But wow - look how many of the best bars were invented over 50 years ago!! Think they'll be eating Chocolate Bacon Bars 50 years from now? Here's to the Kings of Chocolate - long may they reign!!

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