Monday, November 20, 2017

Family Business Advice from an Heiress (times 2): My Interview with Mitzi Perdue

By Scott E. Friedman

I recently had the privilege – and pleasure – to speak with Mitzi Perdue, the author of a new book titled How to Make Your Family Business Last. Anyone interested in this subject would be wise to listen to Mitzi. She comes from 2 very well-known family businesses – her father help start the Sheraton Hotel chain and her late husband, Frank Perdue, for many years led Perdue Farms. These two family businesses have been together for a combined total of 224 years. Beyond that Mitzi is the founder of CERES Farms, a family owned agricultural real estate investment company that, today, sells wine grapes to well-known wineries, including Mondavi, Bogle and Folie a Deux.

Mitzi shared with me how she came to recognize that so many participants in family businesses were unhappy – mostly because of arguments over petty matters. That pain (and appreciating the expense of family litigation that too often accompanied those arguments) left her wanting to share important insights and lessons that had benefitted her and her families.

Over the years, Mitzi has been a voracious reader on family business challenges, including not only books on business, governance and organizational dynamics but psychology and psychiatry as well. Through her lifetime of experience and continuous learning, Mitzi realized she had enough information to contribute to the field. And her book – full of stories, advice and practical templates, does just that, offering great advice to nurture or create a high functioning family business.

Consistent with the message on this blog (and our family business advisory company, NextGen Advisors, LLC), Mitzi believes that “culture” is the biggest tool available for keeping a family together. Recognizing that a positive culture doesn’t just happen, her book offers numerous great suggestions to nurture (or create) a positive culture.

Some of Mitzi’s suggestions include spending time together, creating a legacy of family philanthropy, embracing new family members, giving awards to recognize desired behaviors, creating an ethical will, considering engaging “collaborative lawyers” to help resolve disputes that can’t be resolved by family members alone, and thoughtfully consider the “pros and cons” of staying in a family business.

I encourage you to read Mitzi’s book – and check out to learn more!

As a courtesy to readers of this blog, Mitzi is making an autographed copy of her book, How to Make Your Family Business Last, that normally retails for $27.95, available for only $10. You can order your copy at this secret web page:  

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