If anyone knows family business, it’s the amazing Mitzi Perdue. Her family’s first enterprise, Henderson Estate Company, got its start in 1840. Her father founded the Sheraton Hotel Chain in the 1930s and her late husband, Frank Perdue, was the second generation of the Perdue poultry company. In 1974, Mitzi started her own family business, CERES Farms, which is now one of the largest suppliers of wine grapes in California. In total, Mitzi represents more than three centuries of family business history.
At the young age of 26, Mitzi’s father passed away, leaving her and her four siblings to decide what to do with the Sheraton Hotel Chain. The five children were divided on the decision but ultimately came to the consensus to sell the business. While she says it was contentious at times, in the end, the family remained intact and strong. “Something saved us: we were taught that it’s okay to fight in the family, but you should never take a quarrel public. Hendersons don’t wash our dirty linen in public,” Mitzi said.
In the episode, Mitzi provides a glimpse at her life as a Sheraton heiress. She shares the values that helped shape who she is and how she is passing those values on to her children and grandchildren. Despite her success, Mitzi chooses to fly economy. She takes cabs and uses the subway. She even talks about reusing aluminum foil because frugality and the environment matter to her.
She shares incredible stories of family success and also some stories of great defeat and devastation.
In this episode:
- Meet Mitzi Perdue (1:50)
- The sale of the Sheraton Hotel Chain (14:37)
- No washing your dirty linen in public (17:55)
- When the decision is made, you don’t look back (21:54)
- Relationships are more important than money (23:05)
- Sharing values with the next generation (30:30)
- Special family traditions (37:05)
Resources from this episode:
How to Communicate Values to Children So They Love It by Mitzie Perdue
Children Benefit if They Know About Their Relatives, Study Finds from Emory University
Family Meals, Stories Boost Child Confidence, Say Emory Researchers from Emory University
CASA Report Funds Teens Who Have Infrequent Family Dinners Likelier to Drink, Smoke, Use Marijuana (Columbia University research) from the Center on Addiction
Notable and Quotable:
What good does it do to succeed financially and fail as a family? —Mitzie Perdue
Your family will be stronger and healthier if you have five or more meals together each week. —Mitzie Perdue
Every family has a culture, but is it by default or by design? —Mitzie Perdue
Recently she authored HOW TO MAKE YOUR FAMILY BUSINESS LAST, Techniques, Advice, Checklists, and Resources for Keeping the Family Business in the Family.
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