During what I (Tim Shurr) believe was the PERFECT interview on Employee Engagement, mesmerizing author, columnist, and entrepreneur, Mitzi Perdue shared riveting leadership lessons from her father, Ernest Sheraton (The Hotel empire) and her late husband, Frank Perdue (Perdue Chicken Empire)!
Mitzi Perdue knows that every family business has a culture. The question is, does this culture come about by design or by default? The ones that come about by default rarely support keeping the family business in the family across the generations. So, what can a family do to develop and strengthen a culture that will support their deepest goals and values?
Mitzi Perdue draws on the experience of her family of origin, the Henderson Estate Company which dates back to 1890 and was the forerunner of the Sheraton Hotels (her father was co-founder of the chain). She also looks to her marital family (she’s the widow of Frank Perdue from Perdue Farms) that began in 1920. In both cases, family members in each generation put enormous effort into creating and maintaining strong, values-based cultures.
Her talks stem from her lifelong observations not only of how her two families have kept together over a combined total of 224 years, but she’s also closely observed how other high net worth families, often ones she’s known since childhood, created and continuously strengthen positive cultures. She’s also observed almost countless cases where families that lacked a supportive culture failed spectacularly.
Mitzi is a businesswoman, author, and a master story teller. She holds degrees from Harvard University and George Washington University, is a past president of the 35,000 member American Agri-Women and was one of the U.S. Delegates to the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi. She currently writes for the Academy of Women’s Health, and GEN, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
Most recently, she’s authored Tough Man, Tender Chicken: Business and Life Lessons from Frank Perdue. The book made #5 on Amazon’s Business Biographies, out of a field of 20,000. She’s also the author of, I Didn’t Bargain for This, her story of growing up as a hotel heiress.