Bet you'd never heard of Luxury Listings NYC magazine until today, right? That's because one of its writers scored an interview with Martha Stewart, and she's making headlines for some of the critical things she had to say about Millennials.
Here's the money quote:
"I think every business is trying to target Millennials. But who are Millennials? Now we are finding out that they are living with their parents. They don't have the initiative to go out and find a little apartment and grow a tomato plant on the terrace....
"I understand the plight of younger people.... The economic circumstances out there are very grim. But you have to work for it. You have to strive for it. You have to go after it."
There's a little more than that, but you get the gist.
Now why would Stewart, at 74, pick a fight with the largest and most powerful demographic in America? Here are some possible reasons:
1. She knows her audience.
Do you remember the last article from Luxury Listings NYC that made headlines?
Trick question--it's a small, free magazine delivered to the doorsteps of about 105,000 of the wealthiest Manhattanites. These are the super rich, the 1 percent, so to speak.
Stewart might well have thought this small, powerful audience would be receptive to this message--and that the rest of us would never hear it.
2. Tough love.
I think there's actually a tougher quote in the article, and it's where Stewart quotes advice she says restaurateur David Chang gave her:
"Martha, you know so much and the Millennials have to know this stuff! They don't know anything and they have to learn. They want to learn but they have grown up without teachers. They know how to make money and how to develop software, but they don't know how to plant a tree."
We'll get to Stewart's new job in a minute, but she seems in these quotes to relish the idea that Millennials are a confused generation that needs someone like her--she looks great at 74 and recoils at a suggestion that she might retire--to lead them.
3. She got hers already.
One truth you can't escape: While Stewart's stock plummeted after she went to prison for lying to investigators and insider trading, she's still massively rich.
Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was once worth $2 billion--but even though it had plummeted to $353 million by the time she sold it, she was still the largest stockholder.
Forbes thinks she's worth about $200 million. In the article, she talks about living on a 153-acre farm in Bedford, N.Y., and taking her grandchildren to the Galapagos Islands, because "The kids should see all of those species before anything happens."
In other words, she's very rich. There's not a lot of risk for her in making controversial statements, but potentially tons of upside. And she already knows that...
4. Risks often pay off for her.
Stewart is sometimes very funny when she takes risks. Check out the episode of her old television show in which she made brownies with Snoop Dogg, or her (very NSFW) appearance on the Comedy Central roast of Justin Bieber.
The way this article was written, Stewart's comments about Millennials seem more like off-the-cuff statements, as opposed to a deeply thought out view of what Millennials are really like.
But taking risks that go against her image often seems to pay off for her.
5. She's working for a Millennial.
Oh, did we mention she sold her company last year? Now it's part of Sequential Brands Group, where the CEO, Yehuda Shmidman, is less than half Stewart's age (he's 35).
"Martha Stewart connects with people of all ages--from Millennials to boomers--you name it.... She's here to teach smart, stylish, and functional solutions to help everyone live better," Shmidman told Luxury Listings NYC.
That makes her comments even weirder, in a way. But:
a) See No. 3 above, and
b) Was there some kind of message in there for Shmidman--either ribbing him for his generation, or oddly complimenting him for not epitomizing it?
What do you think? Are these just off-the-cuff comments, or is there a bigger strategy behind Stewart's remarks? Let us know in the comments below.