Thank you all for your awesome support last week on the new book launch of Bringing Value, Solving Problems and Leaving a Legacy.
Not only did we hit #1 in 28 categories, we were able to support an amazing charity, WinThisFight.org, that is founded by one of our authors in the book, Mitzi Perdue. Click Here to get your copy
Mitzi Perdue story is powerful. She is a businesswoman, prolific bestselling author, and part of a legacy of household name family businesses (Sheraton and Perdue).
But she also battled debilitating shyness that she shares about in her story.
In Bringing Value, Solving Problems and Leaving a Legacy, Mitzi shares lessons about:
– growing up in a business family
– overcoming major shyness
– discovering her purpose in life
– how to set up an ethical will
– her mission to combating human trafficking
Today, I am proud to share Mitzi’s story from this powerful book. Enjoy
My Purpose Is to Increase Happiness and
Decrease Misery in the World
Mitzi Perdue is a businesswoman, prolific bestselling author, and part of a legacy of household name family businesses. She was formerly president of the 40,000 member American Agri-Women and one of the US Delegates to the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi. She was a syndicated columnist for 22 years as well as a TV producer and interview show host.
Growing Up in a Business Family
I grew up in the Sheraton Hotel family. My father was the co-founder of the Sheraton Hotels, although we, the family, sold the business after my father’s passing in 1967.
Even before Sheraton, our family had been in business since the founding of the Henderson Estate Company in 1840. I also married into a multi-generational family business. Perdue Farms began in the chicken business in 1920.
I am also a businesswoman. I’ve started multiple businesses, including the family wine grape business, now one of the larger suppliers of wine grapes in California.
Challenges Growing Up
Seeing me today, you would think I grew up as confident as they make them. But if you had met me 40 years ago, you wouldn’t believe that I’m the same person. Until my mid-thirties, I was so shy that I found it difficult to enter a room or to use the telephone. If I had to talk to one of my kid’s teachers, I would sit on the edge of my bed for half an hour trying to figure out how I could get past hello. It was a case of extreme shyness.
Part of the reason for my shyness was, I had a severe lisp. It was a lisp that you didn’t just hear but could also see. People would confide in me after they knew me well that they had initially assumed I was stupid. If each time you meet somebody you assume they think you’re stupid, it does not help develop loads of self-confidence. My lisp was a blight on my life.
Although I had a good education, my shyness coupled with fear of failure meant that by age 38 I wasn’t doing a lot with my life. I did have an occupation; I grew rice in California. The great advantage of being a rice grower, if you’re shy, is you do a lot of walking in the fields. You have some interaction with a few people, but otherwise, it’s solitary. This suited me just fine because I didn’t enjoy meetings and was scared of people. My shyness could have gone on forever, but there was a point where it changed.
A Lesson Learned From a Genius
In my rice fields, I had a tenant farmer who had an incredible, unusual gift. He had an IQ of over 200. In gratitude for this gift, he wanted to give back to the world. He wanted to glean, from all the world’s wisdom, ideas that would benefit mankind. He even had a title for the great book he would write: Life, An Owner’s Manual.
He spent a good bit of his life, when he wasn’t being a tenant farmer, collecting more and more information for his book. Decade after decade went by, and he didn’t start the book. He always felt there was more to learn before actually starting to write.
But, at age 68, something horrible happened to him. He was diagnosed with terminal heart disease. He couldn’t walk across my office without crippling heart pain.
It was, for him, a death sentence. His doctors didn’t think they could keep him alive long enough to go to the Mayo Clinic for quadruple bypass surgery.
You might think that nothing could be worse than a death sentence, but, there is something worse. Peter realized that his whole life had been working towards writing this great book, and now he’d never get to write it. The grief he felt was, I think, greater than what would happen with a death sentence.
However, things changed! I influenced him to visit the Pritikin Longevity Center, a spa that had (and still has) an extraordinary record for helping people with heart disease.
Their specialty was diet, exercise, meditation, and every other healthy lifestyle thing that you can think of. My genius friend spent a month there and lost 15 pounds. At the end of the month, miraculously––his heart revascularized. He was in great health when he returned!
I was so happy for him! I told him, “Peter, this is the most wonderful news in the world! Now you can write your book!”
To my surprise, he said, “Yes, I will write it. I just need to do a little bit more research, and I’ll be ready.” He lived to be 95 and never wrote his book.
I realized what was holding him back was fear of failure. When you spend thousands of hours walking rice paddies with a person, you get to know a lot about them. I knew that Peter was so afraid that he would not succeed at this goal of gifting the world with a spectacular book of wisdom, that he did the one thing that was guaranteed to cause failure: he didn’t try.
I Started Thinking, What About Me?
I really wanted to be in communications. My dream had been television. What was holding me back?
I decided that I would turn my life around. If it was fear of failure that held my tenant back, I would redefine failure for myself. Failure would be not giving my all to whatever I wanted to accomplish. Failure would be not giving everything that I was capable of.
Even if I didn’t succeed by some people’s standards, I would succeed by mine because just in the process of trying, I would be learning things, meeting people, and moving farther along the road to being all I could be.
To start with, I knew I needed to get over my lisp. I went to the speech therapist, and she told me she didn’t have the tools for helping somebody at my age to overcome a lisp. Because my new motto was “Try!”, I went to another speech therapist and was told the same thing. I went to a third, and again, I was told there was no chance to help somebody with a lisp at my age or any age adult. This was the 1970s.
The third speech therapist told me, “I can’t help you, but I’d love to take your money!”
That began nine months of practicing half an hour a day and getting absolutely nowhere. It was nine months, a lot of money and a two-hour round trip to the therapist each week with not even the slightest glimmer of progress. But somewhere around nine months, I began to hear when I was lisping.
When I could hear it, I could work on correcting it. By the end of the year, I was ready to audition for a television show. I fell on my face numerous times, but one day at an audition, the station manager happened to hear me and said, “You’re natural for television. Would you like a show?” I went from somebody almost too shy to use the telephone to somebody who had a television show in the space of a year.
I had also always wanted to write, but I had never submitted anything. I began submitting stories about me as a rice farmer to the local newspaper, and soon, 20 newspapers were carrying them. Eventually, the Scripps Howard News Service, which at the time was one of the largest syndicators in the country, was carrying my work.
Before I had decided that I was going to redefine failure, I hadn’t tried going for all of these things. It was not being afraid of failure that changed my life.
The biggest advice I’d give to anybody is if fear of failure is holding you back, redefine it. Every time you don’t achieve your immediate goal, rejoice, because just the act of trying means that you’ve become a bigger person, you’ve increased your talent stack, and you’ve become more ready to take on the next challenge.
My Purpose in Life
I have a purpose in life! I would like to increase happiness and decrease misery. It seems to me that the more you develop your talent stack, the broader an impact you’re able to have.
One of the rules that I set for myself when I decided to redefine failure was to not let a single year go by without taking a serious course in something— nuclear particle physics, drawing, humor, anything. I became an addict for self-improvement.
One of my mottos is success is measured not by what you can get, but by what you can give. If you keep working on self-improvement and your talent stack, you’re able to give more and more. In my case, redefining failure and working to increase my talent stack brings me closer and closer to achieving what I want in life.
As I get older, I care more about my legacy. I believe we all do. When we’re gone, we would love to have something positive left after us.
I think the people who are most successful at leaving something positive behind are intentional about it. When it comes to family businesses, 70% won’t make it to the next generation. That 70% didn’t put the effort into creating a culture in which the young ones in their lives learn the important lessons such as:
- You can’t always be right
- You’re part of something bigger than yourself
- Stewardship is important
- Personal relationships are more important than money
If you don’t teach the next generation that, after the patriarch or matriarch goes to his or her great reward, the selfishness genes come out. Children fight over the inheritance, and pretty soon the family’s gone “poof.”
I’ve seen that happen over and over again in the families that don’t put conscious, intentional effort into creating a culture that will support them staying together as a strong family.
My husband Frank Perdue was extraordinarily intentional about those who came after him. Together, we wrote an ethical will composed of 10 values. He believed if those who came after him would follow these 10 values, they would have a chance of having a happier life.
One value was if you want to be happy, think what you can do for somebody else. On the other hand, if you want to be miserable, think what’s owed to you.
I find this is true. Almost every time I’m really feeling down, I’m thinking, “Life is unfair!” or “This should have gone my way!”
But on the other hand, if I’m thinking of a charity, particularly my work to be a part of helping stop human trafficking, I feel good and that my life has meaning.
Frank Perdue’s Ethical Will is sort of like a constitution for the Perdue family. Often, when there’s an argument, we refer to it to determine our best course of action. I encourage all patriarchs and matriarchs to create their own version of what has become part of the “family glue” for the Perdues.
Frank Perdue’s Ethical Will:
- Be honest always.
- Be a person whom others are justified in trusting.
- If you say you will do something, do it.
- You don’t have to be the best, but you should be the best you can be.
- Treat all people with courtesy and respect, no exceptions.
- Remember that the way to be happy is to think of what you can do for others. The way to be miserable is to think about what people should be doing for you.
- Be part of something bigger than your own self. That something can be family, pursuit of knowledge, the environment, or whatever you choose.
- Remember that hard work is satisfying and fulfilling.
- Nurture the ability to laugh and have fun.
- Have respect for those who have gone before and learn from their weaknesses and build on their strengths.
Combating Human Trafficking
I want to spend the rest of my years combating human trafficking. One of the ways I’m doing that is through starting winthisfight.org, a 501(c)(3) charity.
If you’re part of an anti-trafficking organization, you care a lot about awareness and funding. It occurred to me that I could help other anti-trafficking organizations by creating an auction that would enable people to convert high-value, tangible property into cash.
The idea for this occurred to me because I have a desk that I inherited that we believe is from the 1600s and belonged to a Di Medici Cardinal. It’s a significant historical piece, and I thought if I put that up for auction, it might bring a lot of money and get a lot of attention in the press.
Then I thought, Since I have something significant that I’d be willing to put up for auction, maybe other people would too!
I began going around to some ultra-high net worth people who, as a speaker, I get to visit with. I got offers of things like one of the world’s larger perfect emeralds, a set of 12 dinner plates that belonged to Tsar Alexander II of Russia, and a fantastic necklace that belonged to Marlene Dietrich, appraised at a million dollars. The best was a 69-karat ruby that belonged to a Qing Dynasty emperor.
The auction, as of early 2021, is on hold until COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror and we can know that the economy will be in good condition. I don’t want to have a high-end auction during an economic downturn when people are afraid to spend big money.
However, when the auction does take place, donors will receive incredible amounts of publicity because these items have fabulous stories behind them. This venture has had enough success that PBS has already done a half hour documentary on it.
So, why is it important to address the issue of human trafficking? I think it’s the darkest thing that happens on the face of the earth. Imagine a 12-year-old girl who is forced to have sex with strangers 10 times or more a night. Or a guy who is forced to do illegal logging in a United Nations protected national forest, and after he’s no longer useful to his trafficker, he’s shot and buried in a shallow grave.
The evil equation that perpetuates human trafficking is spectacular profits plus almost no deterrence. If you’re a human trafficker, your chances of doing jail time are less than one in 100. According to the United Nations, human trafficking is a $150 billion per year industry. That plus no deterrence equals explosive growth in human trafficking.
A year ago, the three largest sources of income for criminal enterprises were illegal drugs, illegal arms sales, and human trafficking. As COVID-19 swept the world, human trafficking became number two.
There are ways of addressing this. Traffickers succeed because they’re capable of terrifying their victims, so their victims simply will never testify against them. Taiwan could be an example of how to counteract this for the rest of the world.
Taiwan has created safe houses where girls or boys who’ve been trafficked can be safe until they’ve testified against their traffickers in jail. 500 traffickers have been put behind bars. That’s 500 people who aren’t causing anguish. In Taiwan, if you traffic a girl or a boy, you are likely to spend 15 years in jail. As a result, trafficking in Taiwan has plummeted. That’s attacking the evil equation.
I think most of us would like to look back on our lives and feel that we’ve made a contribution. The formula for getting there that I like is a) Don’t be afraid of failure, b) Do everything you can to grow your talent stack, and c) Act on what Aristotle said 2300 years ago: “The only way to achieve true success in life is to express yourself in service to society.”
Mitzi Perdue likes nothing better than to share insider tips and actionable advice for successful family businesses. To access Mitzi’s books, blog, and podcast, and to engage Mitzi about speaking on family legacies and the end of human trafficking, visit mitziperdue.com.
Join Kyle in His Next Book!
Just as I published books with Jim Rohn, Denis Waitley and a who’s who of celebrity authorities (including in my recent books that include Darren Hardy, Les Brown, Brian Tracy, Mark Victor Hansen, John Assaraf and many more), I want to offer you the opportunity to join me in my next book project.
To learn more go to http://kylewilson.com/bestseller and simply fill out the brief application form at the bottom. After I receive it I will send you a link to schedule a call to discuss all the specifics and if it will be a great fit for you and me.
I hope to share your story with the world!
And as my 18-year business partner, mentor and friend, Jim Rohn would tell me, let’s do something remarkable!
PS – I have sold millions of books as a publisher the past 25 years. I know how to teach you how to leverage a book to fill your calendar with speeches, build a list, create a brand, get into important doors, get interviews and so much more.
PSS – We have a limited amount of spots available, so if interested go to http://kylewilson.com/bestseller and simply fill out the brief application form at the bottom. I will then forward you more info and we can set up a call.
Kyle Wilson, Founder Jim Rohn International, YourSuccessStore and KyleWilson.com
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