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Pass It On: Advice for businesses from Stephen Badger

October 5, 2018

Stephen Badger, chairman of Mars, Inc., discusses his family's multinational candy company, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 in New York. The family-owned business is best known for selling M&Ms and Snickers. But it also makes Pedigree dog food and Whiskas cat food and is now expanding into veterinary services. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — In “Pass It On,” AP beat reporters ask executives to share experiences and insights that will resonate with anyone managing a business.

Stephen M. Badger, chairman of Mars Incorporated, recently sat down with The Associated Press. The family-owned business is best known for selling M&Ms and Snickers. But it also makes Pedigree dog food and Whiskas cat food and is now expanding into veterinary services. The conversation was condensed for clarity and brevity.

Q: What advice do you have for somebody starting out in business?

A: Place a huge importance on who you hire. Do they have the skills that you’re looking for that compliment you and that you need to build your business? And then secondarily: do they have the cultural and value fit for the kind of company you want to create?

Q: What is an early career mistake you made?

A: Not listening to my gut. I think that intuition is something that should be valued and at times can be diminished in terms of how much you trust it. And if I had done that earlier in my career at times I would not made some of the same mistakes I did.

Q: How do you prevent an old company from becoming obsolete?

A: Being a 100-year-old business, we’ve actually had to reinvent ourselves any number of times. What leads us as much as anything is what consumers are looking for. And as long as I think you’re paying attention to that and keeping your ear to the ground, you’re by definition staying open.

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