Introduction and Acceptance Speech for Yehuda Shmidman, Sequential Brands CEO

UJA Fashion Division Luncheon Awards Ceremony, April 7, 2016

Martha Stewart's Introduction

Thank you Simon. And thank you to UJA and the Fashion Division for bringing us together today. I’m excited to be here with so many accomplished leaders from the fashion industry. I knew this would be the best-dressed luncheon in town. However, I question Yehuda’s decision to have me introduce him at a fashion event. Wouldn’t Jessica Simpson be a better choice?

Fortunately, there’s an abundance of good things I can say about Yehuda. He’s a formidable CEO. He has to be: He’s not only surprisingly young; he’s the first boss I’ve had in 24 years.For someone so youthful, he is remarkably clearheaded about who he is and where he’s going. In admiration, I’ve been inspired to brush up on my kosher cooking. It’s true; I had Yehuda and his wife Rebecca over for dinner. I admit I was a little nervous. Happily it turned out well. I now have a separate kosher section of my kitchen. I even got an entire new set of plates – which match my set – just for them.

This for a fellow who was born right before I published my first book, Entertaining. That’s how I keep track of how old he is. I only tease him because I’m so impressed by him. He is a smart, creative, dynamic businessman with a focused and motivating vision. He is a genuinely good person who cares about people and connects to them as a true leader. And he’s just getting started.

Yehuda is wise beyond his years. It’s no surprise that UJA’s Fashion Division is honoring him. UJA is dedicated to improving our communities and our world through dynamic and effective networks. Along with supporting UJA’s philanthropic mission, Yehuda is also, as many in the room can attest, dedicated to strengthening our fashion and design communities.

UJA’s motto is “Good together.” Yehuda, I feel the same way about our collaboration and I am proud to be your partner. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome today’s honoree, Yehuda Shmidman.

Yehuda Shmidman's Acceptance Remarks

I know now what you’re all thinking right now: “Wow. Those two really have a lot in common.” It’s true. We’ve only been partners for about 100 days and it turns out we have extraordinary similarities.

Number one: Both Martha and I were born in New Jersey.

Number two: At a young age, we were both very enterprising. When Martha was 15, she was a model for Channel. When I was 15, (which she thinks was a couple years ago), I too was a model: A model cashier at a kosher Chinese restaurant.

Number three: Martha and I share a tendency to email each other at five in the morning - after trading emails at midnight the night before.

And there’s more!

Number four: We both have a great interest in writing books. For example, I’m thinking about writing one. Martha is working on her 87th published book, of which dozens are bestsellers.

Surveys prove these similarities. One survey reports that 96% of American women have a “high awareness level” of Martha. A similar survey reports that point zero-zero-nine-six percent of American women have any “awareness level” of me. Usually because I’m the only man they’ve ever met named Yehuda. (Martha, by the way, what do you think is going on with those 4% of women who are not highly aware of you?)

Most importantly, there is one similarity Martha and I are very fortunate to share: our friendship with Larry Leeds. Larry, please stand up. (Applause).

Martha and Larry have been friends for decades. She catered Larry’s parties in the 70s and 80s. I wish I could have gone to one of those parties - they must have been something.

Larry you are a mentor, a legend, and like Martha, an amazing teacher. As an early supporter of Sequential, you have been an investor in our dreams. Larry is an uncommon leader - one who invests in people not spreadsheets. He has touched and supported many in the room today. As recipient of the UJA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and current Vice Chairman of the UJA Fashion Division, he supports many more beyond this room.

It’s Larry who invited me to be here to today. As all of you know, you cannot say “No” to Larry. I’m grateful for that because while I’ve always had enormous respect for the UJA I must admit; I never knew the details. Through this lunch I’ve been able to learn concretely about UJA’s mission, a mission that supports over 4 ½ million people each year through programs ranging from emergency housing to summer camps for kids; from small business loans to student scholarships; from Jewish education to training for entrepreneurs; and so much more.

Larry, thank you for asking me to be here. Thank you to the team at Sequential, and to Martha for being a brilliant and creative partner. And Martha, thank you also for not totally roasting me. I’m glad that’s not the one thing I now have in common with Justin Bieber.

My thanks to all of you - for supporting the work of the UJA Federation of New York. And of course our gratitude to the UJA for bringing us together, and building communities for good throughout the world.