Mitzi Perdue Shares Insights with FBLI

On April 11, FBLI in partnership with the Marquette College of  Business Administration and the Biz Times welcomed Mitzi Perdue to Milwaukee. Mitzi, who is the author of “How to make your family business last” is an expert on the subject being the daughter of the founder of Sheraton Hotels and the wife of the late Frank Perdue of Perdue Poultry Company.

She stressed that a family owned business’ success is based on its culture and that in order to prepare for the future family owned businesses need to learn:

  • You can’t always be right. You have to be willing to hear everyone out and decide on the best solution that will be for the good for everyone.
  • Relationships are more important than money.
  • Being a part of a family requires sacrifice
  • Being part of a family business means you are stewards of something bigger than yourself.
  • Mitzi also talked about her family covenant which is that everybody has a right to be heard but that the family keeps their quarrels to themselves and they work it out without taking it public or holding grudges.
  • Mitzi said that in her research about what makes some family owned businesses more successful than others she learned from Robyn Fivush, “The more your family knows your family stories the more successful it will be.”
  • She encouraged attendees to visit her website: to take a 20 questions quiz to see how well their family members know each other.

She recommended a number of strategies for keeping a family close including having structured family reunions every year and creating family newsletters not only for the adults but also for the children i  your family so you can “get them while they are young” to understand your family values and history.

Mitzi also said she has created a “What it means to be us” book that profiles each family member in their own words and has created a Service to the Family Award to recognize a family member each year who is doing great things for the family. All of these things she concluded have helped her family to have a strong self of who they are and instilled a sense of pride in everyone about  being a part of a family owned business.