Series on Building Confidence – Learning from Mistakes

Performing a role or completing a task confidently is not about not making mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, especially when doing something new. Confidence includes knowing what to do when mistakes come to light and therefore is also about problem solving and decision making.

Milton Hershey’s chocolate enterprise was his third business after failing on the first two. Hershey grew up in the rolling farm country of Pennsylvania. Before he became interested in making chocolate, Milton Hershey trained to become a printer. He worked for a small newspaper at first, and then decided that printing was not the right profession for him.

Then he got a job at a candy factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a few miles from his home. After working a few years at the candy factory, he decided to open his own little candy business near Philadelphia. His first business had to close down because it was not making money. After closing down his first business, he traveled to Denver, Colorado, to learn how to make caramels.

He took his new skills back to New York and worked selling candies on the street. But this second business also failed. Finally, Milton Hershey moved back to the farm hills where he grew up. He then experimented with all sorts of different candies and chocolates. The area where he lived had lots and lots of dairy farms, so he had a large and easy supply of fresh milk.

And he could get other supplies, such as sugar, from nearby Philadelphia. By 1893 he was selling a million dollars worth of caramel candy per year. By experimenting, Milton Hershey discovered how to make delicious chocolate by using fresh, sweet condensed milk. His milk chocolates were so popular that he sold his caramel factory and focused his business on making chocolate only.

In 1903, the same year the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, Milton Hershey built a huge chocolate factory and an entire town to go with it. The town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.