Mary K. Ash passed away on November 22nd, 2001, her initial goal was to provide women with an unlimited opportunity for personal and financial success. Her vision, passion, and efforts will never be forgotten.
From Mary Kay's website:
Mary Kay lived her life with simple and solid principles that never wavered. As a committed Christian, she believed in hard work, the Golden Rule and family values. She was always sustained by her deep and abiding faith in God. Through her uncomplicated formula for success – put God first, family second and career third – she made the world a better place for women and their families. Though her special light is no longer with us in person, her torch continues to burn brightly through the countless lives she touched. We pay tribute to this remarkable lady. We celebrate the love, the laughter and the life of the woman, Mary Kay. She will live forever in our hearts.
Mary Kay Ash is the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc. It is the largest direct-sales cosmetics company with over 475,000 consultants in 25 countries.
The bumble bee pin worn on Mary Kay's lapel carries an interesting story. The bumble bee for all it's illustrious work should simply not have the anatomical ability to fly!! Certain research demonstrates thousands of reasons why it should NOT be able to fly... Yet it does! This is a testament to Mary Kay's (and LTBN's) philosophy of "can do" and "you can too".
She began working at a time when men dominated the work force. In 1963 after a 25 year career in direct sales, she retired to write a book about women's challenges in the work place. She felt stymied in the companies she worked for and desired to make change. Instead of writing that book, she began writing a business plan.
With assistance from her 20 year old son, she set out to create a company that made a real difference in the lives of women. She wished to create a company where women had unlimited potential personally and financially.
With $5,000 of her own savings (most businesses are started with funds personally or from friends or family) she started the company.
Ash and company created many creative reward systems focused on women's needs. Famous for the "Pink Cadillacs" awarded to high achievers as far back as 1969, the company believed in setting goals that let women feel great about themselves. The color pink exemplified a form of solidarity and kinship with sales associates or as company titles read - "beauty consultants".
Ash has received many awards for her work including the prestigious Horatio Alger Award. Upon the passing of her husband to cancer in 1980, Ash set out on another cause to support a variety of benevolent and research related causes.
She also did finish her goal of writing a best-selling book entitled, "Mary Kay on People Management" (over 1 million copies sold). She went on to write, "You Can have it All" (another best-seller).
Entrepreneurship at an early age
For many entrepreneurs, you'll learn we delivered newspapers, shoveled snow, sold lemonade and hustled to earn a buck! For Mary Kay, it was more of a struggle to make ends meet. Her father took ill with tuberculosis when Mary Kay was a young girl. He was unable to work for the rest of his life. Mary Kay was forced to maintain the home, cook, and clean while her mother worked 14 hour days as a restaurant manager. Her dedication to hard work and never quit attitude allowed her to survive and later prosper. Furthermore, her story and message has been the inspiration for thousands of independent Mary Kay Cosmetics representatives.
A bit later in life, she was also a single mother so she related well to the struggle of her mother and later of her employees at Mary Kay Cosmetics. She struggled through college while raising her own child. These experiences laid the ground work for her treatment of representatives and employees as if they were her very own family.
The Golden Rule
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
The above is the motto for which Mary Kay Ash has built a 2 billion $$ company (sales at retail)
"God didn't have time to make a nobody, only a somebody. I believe that each of us has God-given talents within us waiting to be brought to fruition".
"I always greet our employees with a warm 'Hi! How are you?' When a new employee answers, 'Uh, pretty good. How are you, Mary Kay? 'I’ll say, 'You’re not just good, you’re great!' Each time I see him or her afterward, he or she will say, 'I’m great!' and the smile will get bigger and bigger. If you act enthusiastic, you become enthusiastic – and it spreads like wildfire!"
"My objective in life is to help women know how great they really are"
Mary Kay dislikes the word "feminist" but she has made a life-long commitment to help women aspire to greatness.
Key thoughts for entrepreneurs
Mary Kay Ash was a person with incredible mission, passion, and vision. She could have "settled" for writing books and speaking in 1963 rather than building the dynasty that is Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. Remember that she did not pursue her mission alone. Some people advise (and often it is good advice) avoiding business ventures with family but in this case and countless others, family businesses can succeed. The main point is that she did not work alone.
Who would have thought that when she began the "creative rewards" programs that she would have become the largest fleet buyer of cars with over 8,000 career cars awarded to consultants in 1997. We never know where the journey can take us.
The kind of emotion generated when Mary Kay speaks is awe inspiring. Tears and screams are the norm. One of critical reasons for the tribute is the kind of company she has built and the leadership she provides. Awarded "The 100 Best Companies to Work for", Mary Kay Ash commands incredible respect.
It is paramount for entrepreneurs to realize the effect of vision and emotion emanating from the leader. Whether you lead 1 person or 475,000 you create the mission, set the tone of the culture and "lead".
You will not be liked by every employee nor every client. Mary Kay Ash exhibits extraordinary character and charisma, qualities which enable entrepreneurs to truly have an impact. The passion, mission, and interest in "giving back" to the community and society is inspiring.