Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Success is often bittersweet

Veronica and Henry lived on a farm so naturally their son Milton spent many days working the fields and tending to the animals. He was a hard worker but never really fit in well at school. He spent his days dreaming of a better life. He wanted to travel and pursue his own interests. Against his parent’s wishes he dropped out of school. His father told him he would need to get a job, but very few companies were willing to hire a young man with not enough formal education.

Milton wanted a fresh start so he packed his bags and moved to Chicago. He was looking in the paper to find a job when he spotted a help wanted advertisement to work in a manufacturing company that made caramel candies. He loved caramel and was determined to get the job even if it meant he would only be paid in candy. Milton was hired as an apprentice. His pay was very low, but he was excited by the fringe benefits…free caramels at the end of every shift.

Milton had an idea to cover the caramels with chocolate and he made a suggestion at work. His boss disagreed and said it would be too expensive. So at the age of 18, he decided to start his own business. He didn’t have enough money and his inexperience ultimately led to bankruptcy. This was tough on him mentally, but he held firm on his vision and kept moving forward. He stayed in the candy business continuing to learn, and in his mid-twenties, he ventured out again on his own. However, at the age of 28, his second business also failed, and he was forced to file bankruptcy once again. He returned home and was thoroughly embarrassed.

To help pass the time Milton went back to working on his parent’s farm. One day while milking a cow he had another idea. What if he could develop a way to add milk to chocolate? He began experimenting and when he finally developed the right recipe he launched his 3rd attempt at a candy company. He perfected milk chocolate covered caramels and his business was called the Lancaster Caramel Company. The product took off as people loved how creamy the candy tasted, and just a few years later Milton sold the business for a million dollars.

He was too young to retire, so Milton rented a small part of the caramel factory from the new owners of the company and began to develop a new candy. He wasn't allowed to start a competing business, so making caramels was out of the question. In less than a year he launched a new candy made exclusively of milk chocolate. In coming up with a name for his candy he decided to use his last name. That’s how Milton Hershey launched the Hershey Candy Bar and created a chocolate craze that still consumes the world.

Hershey became famous because he figured out a way to bring delicious chocolate to the masses for only five cents a candy bar. If you ever have an opportunity to visit Hershey, Pennsylvania, you can tour his chocolate factory and see how they make candy. You can take a stroll down Chocolate Avenue, and even visit the school that Milton helped start. When he passed away he even left the ownership of the Hershey Company to the school to ensure they would always have funds to educate kids…now that’s a sweet deal.

You might be surprised to learn that the average millionaire in America goes bankrupt 2 times before they become a millionaire. This certainly happened to Milton, and there’s a lesson for all of us as it relates to pursuing our dreams. Obstacles are only obstacles if you see them that way. If you change your mindset you can turn an obstacle into an opportunity. Have a vision and prepare to make adjustments along the way. Failure is only permanent if you stop trying.

Today is my wife’s birthday. Grace and I have been sweethearts for 25 years. Its day’s like these that I get to reflect on how lucky I am to have an amazing wife, friend, and mother to my children. She inspires me to live my dreams and I hope today’s story inspires you to live yours. Hugs and chocolate kisses to you all!

Until next week…

Live Your Dreams


  1. My favorite candy is Hershey's kisses!

  2. Of course Hershey Bars are pretty good too.