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Mitzi Perdue on Lessons from Family Businesses and Legacies

by | Mar 15, 2021 | Q&A | 0 comments

Have you ever wondered how business moguls build an entire empire from nothing? How are family businesses and legacies established? Our guest this week is related to not just one, but two business magnates. Lucky for us, she’ll let us in on how they did it. 

In this episode, businesswoman and author Mitzi Perdue shares the story behind two successful family businesses. She talks to us about the story of her late father, who built and grew the Sheraton hotel chain. Mitzi also talks about her late husband, who created Perdue Farms from the ground. For her, family is essential, and she shows you how to take care of yours.

If you’re curious about the success behind family businesses, want to learn how to be successful yourself, or simply want to be a better leader, tune in to this episode!

About Mitzi

Mitzi Perdue is a businesswoman, writer, broadcaster, communicator, and speaker. There might be no one more apt to speak on family legacies than her, as she combines the experience of two well-established family enterprises. Her family owns the Sheraton hotel chain, which her late father started. Her late husband is the poultry icon Frank Perdue, who was the CEO of Perdue Farms. She is a businesswoman in her own right, starting a family wine grape business that grew to be one of the larger suppliers of wine grapes in California.

Mitzi is involved in combating human trafficking. She is the founder and president of the Win This Fight organization, which aims to stop human trafficking by spreading awareness and raising  funds for similar anti-trafficking organizations.

To learn more, you may reach out to her by visiting her website. To join her fight against human trafficking, you may also go to this website.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
  1. Learn the secrets to success of the Henderson and Perdue family businesses.
  2. Discover what you need to do to establish a legacy.
  3. Gain insights into becoming a better leader.


  • The Power of Family History by Robyn Fivush
  • To join the fight against human trafficking, text WTF to 51555 to visit Mitzi’s website and sign up for her blog.


Episode Highlights

[04:33] The Henderson Family’s Story 

  • Mitzi’s late father and uncles founded the Sheraton hotels back in the 1930s.
  • Similar to the present situation, during the Great Depression people weren’t going to hotels like they used to.
  • To succeed, her father had to find ways to make their hotels financially stable.
  • He was so successful that at the end of his life he had 400 hotels to his name. 

[06:22] Her Father’s Secrets to Success

  • Success doesn’t depend on the leader alone. The people who work there at every level are just as important. 
  • Be the kind of leader that people want to follow.
  • The first thing her father did when he bought a hotel was to invite all the employees. He told them they weren’t losing their jobs. After all, they knew their job better than anyone else.
  • The first places he would spruce up were not public places, but employee spaces. It was important to him for them to know how much he needed them.
  • One vital secret of successful family businesses is they inspire people. Intimidation and bribery won’t get them to do what you want. 

[17:45] The Perdue Family

  • The Perdue family also goes to enormous lengths to make the people who work with them feel essential. 
  • Frank and Mitzi would treat their employees like their own. They would invite them to their house and entertain them.  Frank himself would wait on them.
  • When they attended funerals, the employee’s family would say that being invited to their home was one of the most meaningful and moving events in their loved one’s life.

[28:21] Family Businesses: Establishing a Legacy 

  • It’s never too early and it’s never too late to establish a legacy.
  • Know your core values.
  • They wrote an ethical will, ten things to do if you want a happy life, to show what they believed would make people happy. 
  • Mitzi is also a big believer in family newsletters. They let you know more about your family and they give you a roadmap of how you do things.
  • Instill a family culture.

[44:57] How to Keep Your Family Straight

  • Despite being an industry captain, Mitzi’s father always made time for them. Every Sunday, they had a “family hour” after church services. 
  • He taught them about things they might need in the future, like investing in stocks and bonds. 
  • Being sent to a public school was one of the best things her family did for her. She got to immerse herself with people from all walks of life.
  • Family philanthropy and family reunions were the glue that kept the Hendersons together. 

[54:06] On Handling Conflict and Black Sheep of the Family 

  • Mitzi’s theory is that every family has a black sheep since people establish their identity by being different from others.
  • Tolerance should be infinite. 
  • She recommends giving the maximum restraint, acceptance, and appreciation that you can.
  • They have one rule: focus on what unites them, and celebrate those things.
  • Arguments are a waste of time. They won’t change anybody’s feelings or opinions.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

[10:48] “A leader’s job is to give people a better vision of themselves.”

[16:10] “When people are working for something bigger than themselves, they will go the extra mile, they’ll be excited to come to work, their job becomes deeply meaningful to them.”

[43:44] “I think that family should almost put as much effort into being close and supporting each other as anybody else because to my mind, the most important thing at the end of your days, when you look back on your life, I don’t think you’re gonna think how much money I made. I think you’re gonna think, ‘oh, my children loved me, they turned out well.’ That’s what’s really important.”

[44:15] “I don’t think that lack of money should prevent you from having a happy, fulfilled life with your children.”

[57:06] “I think there’s a deep understanding that an argument isn’t going to change anybody’s feelings or opinions. If it’s a deeply held identity thing, you are wasting your breath trying to talk somebody out of it. So whether it’s sexual orientation or whatever, accept and embrace and just stop focusing on things that divide you.”

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