Today’s class blogger is Adewuyi Adeniji. Below, he recounts the largest and riskiest–and arguably most inspirational–entrepreneurial story we have heard yet this semester; that of Titanic Museum co-owner Mary Kellogg-Joslyn (http://www.titanicattraction.com).
Enjoy… and be inspired!
Successful, motivated, ambitious… Those are words that describe our guest in Midwest Entrepreneurs class this past Tuesday.
Mary Kellogg-Joslyn returned to her roots to encourage a group of Monmouth College students to pursue their goals with aggression and passion every day. Born and raised in Monmouth, she became one of the most successful Monmouth residents. After graduating from Monmouth high-school, she attended Columbia College in Chicago. She then took her talents to Los Angeles, where she landed her first job that paid her $100 a week for a department store. Her great work ethic was recognized by CBS employees she interacted with, which led to her being offered a position to work for the firm. She eventually worked at CBS for ten great years where she became the executive director of marketing and programming. Her performance at CBS got her noticed by Disney, where she worked for another 20 years, rising to the rank of Executive Vice President of television. Her husband, John Joslyn, was also a television producer. The two eventually merged their entertainment skills and knowledge to pursue a grand entrepreneurial venture. Today, she and John own the Titanic; specifically the two Titanic Museums (one located in Branson, MO and the other in Pigeon Forge, TN).
Mary began her presentation to the class by informing us of the significance of the Titanic and enormity of the building of the ship, which took three years to build in Ireland. She then told us that “Five days after she (Titanic) was built, she sunk after colliding with an iceberg. It took two hours and forty minutes to sink under the Atlantic Ocean.”
Mary then went into the details of running the two Titanic Museums. She stated that before making the decision to build the first Museum, she told her husband: “You must be the only boss and then everyone under you must answer to me.” She explained that she was more structured than her husband John and that she needed to make sure everything was operating correctly and efficiently. From this previous statement, we can draw the conclusion that Mary was all about doing business the right way because without structure, a business can never be successful.
To continue about Mary and John’s business plan, John was in charge of recovering artifacts from the Titanic ship; a $6 million operation. Today, he and Mary own a lot of Titanic artifacts which they display in their two Museums. Both of these Museums are successful and are visited by millions of people yearly. I highly recommend that you visit one of these Museums, if not both!
Mary’s ultimate goal is to create a personal experience of a lifetime with each visit to the Museum. In order to do this, Mary understands that she has to hire and train employees—“crew members” as she calls them—who can display her vision that she has for the two Museums. Mary and John eventually hired 110 crew members. These crew members act out real Titanic stories each day to create the desired experience. To do so effectively, each person goes through several months of Titanic University training as well as take “1912 Etiquette” lessons, with 192 being the year of the ship’s maiden—and final—voyage. Today, before crew members “go on stage” each day, they see a sign stating: “You are now entering 1912.”
Another valuable lesson learned from Mary is the importance of treating employees right. For example, from the janitor to the manager of a particular department, she feels all crew members are equally important. She understands that her employers are her most important asset. According to Mary: “The biggest asset in our company is our employees.”
There was other vital information that Mary shared with my classmates and I that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
First, she explained that in order to build a good a company there are three traits that it must consist of. She said a good company consists of good leadership, education, and structure.
The second learning experience that Mary shared with us occurred when she explained the two different types of bosses. She stated: “The best boss in the world works through his management. The worse boss in the world wants control.” She further explained that a good boss never hesitates to show his employers he or she can do anything they ask them to do.
Finally, the last learning experience I will share with you from Mary’s discussion is when she explained that we must do everything in life with passion. The more passion and effort you put into yourself or what you love doing, the better results you will witness yourself achieving.
In closing, I was very inspired and motivated by Mary Kellogg-Joslyn. The drive and passion she uses to do business and live her life is not displayed by many in today’s society. She loves what she does and enjoys helping others who want to follow in her footsteps or just want to be successful. She ends every conversation with her employers by saying “I appreciate you.” Is it not obvious that she is special in many ways? I am grateful for the opportunity she shared with my classmates and I.