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Mitzi Perdue, Transformational Leadership Lessons Learned In Life

Inspire your people to go the extra mile

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Transformational Leadership Tips you'll learn today on The Sales Podcast...

  • Daughter of the co-founder of Sheraton Hotels
  • Wife of Frank Perdue, Perdue Farms
  • His greatest deficit became his greatest asset
  • Frank Perdue was actually shy
  • His dad had him selling feed corn to overcome his shyness
  • Known as the "marketing icon of the world"
  • How to choose an ad agency
  • Studied advertising and interviewed 60 agencies
  • It was hard to differentiate a commodity

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  • His competitors could say everything he could say about his chickens
  • His agency said he needed to be the face of the brand
Success in life depends on other people."
  • Frank Perdue spent hours practicing his lines
  • He would "give to the camera"
  • Frank was great at inspiring his staff to go the extra mile and stay with him for life
  • He knew the names of the frontline workers and their stories
  • He was an egalitarian
  • Mitzi was big into hospitality and wanted to entertain every employee at the company—16,000—but have them over 100 at a time, three times a month, for 17 years
  • William James,...
The deepest principle of human nature is the craving for appreciation."
  • Frank Perdue served at the buffet line to demonstrate and live servant leadership
  • Invited farmers and vendors and suppliers to dinner
  • Ernest Henderson was known for not sticking with things and he "sucked" at human relations
  • Success in life depends on other people
  • He read "How to Win Friends and Influence People"
  • He became a student of human nature
  • "Inspire, don't require."
  • Ernest Henderson started buying hotels during the Great Depression
  • He would reassure his employees
  • The first investment in his new hotels was behind the scenes to support his staff
  • Ernest Henderson was 40 in 1937 when he bought his first hotel
  • He knew German, French, and Italy and was in the import/export business
  • He would buy cameras and equipment after WWI at a great exchange rate
  • He and his brother and college roommate pooled their funds to make the first purchase
  • She started "Win This Fight" to combat human trafficking
  • Mark Victor Hansen loves this cause
  • Give yourself at least an hour of downtime to rest and reset your mind and body during stressful times
  • Stress hormones can shorten your life
  • A trafficker with five girls in his "stable" can earn $1,000,000 tax-free
  • Law enforcement needs more resources to stop these sex traffickers

Links Mentioned In The Sales Podcast

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Wes Schaeffer: Mitzi Perdue...in over 460 episodes. I'm almost at a loss for words on how to introduce you, but all the way from Maryland. Welcome to the sales podcast. How the heck are you?
Mitzi Perdue: Absolutely. Never better. I'm happy as can be. And I've got flowers, find me. And boy, that puts me.
WS: Anything that looks nice in my office is because my wife put it there.
WS: If it was just me if I would just have bourbon back there and maybe
Mitzi Perdue: I put my bourbon.
WS: Really lively conversation. Hey, I was just talking to somebody the other day. We were wine tasting yesterday and
Mitzi Perdue: And you didn't invite me
WS: You were invited but you know COVID.
Mitzi Perdue: Oh my gosh.
WS: COVID stuff. You said yeah he's gonna drink out there. So all our friends have this nice those the, you know, the big like sprinter vans, the big tall ones.
Mitzi Perdue: I know, I know I've got one.
WS: Oh, I'm so jealous. They have the Mercedes diesel, but they built it as a limit. They bought it as a limousine, and so they rented out for wine tasting for tourists out here.
WS: So they set out my cousins coming out some friends. Y'all come with this so
WS: We spent the day with them and they picked us up at like 1130 and so we're on our way to wine tasting and my friend says, hey, you want some tequila like
WS: Yes, it was like, like that. The nice thing about airports is nobody judges you know when you ask for a you know a neat bourbon at 8:30am. They don't know what time zone, you're in. So it's like, it's all good.
Mitzi Perdue: Beverages my sister has a phrase which is wine is the proof that God loves us and meant us to be happy.
WS: Hey, his first miracle right Jesus first Miss miracles turning water to wine.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, I'll for it.
WS: So there you go. I'm just saying, I'm just reporting the facts.
WS: So you were introduced to me by Mark Victor Hansen, you have a wide-ranging history, you are a member of the National Speakers Association.
WS: You've written a few books one here on your main website will link to all of them is how to make your family business last. Oh, and then you've got that one. That's your next one, how to be up in down times which you came out just in time or maybe because of COVID.
WS: So you wrote that with Mark right and
WS: So that is awesome. You are also involved in human trafficking. We're gonna talk about that.
WS: But you have an interesting background. Your father was the co-founder of shares and hotels. Right.
Mitzi Perdue: Exactly.
WS: And then your husband was the CEO of the family business of Perdue forms.
Mitzi Perdue: He brought it from no employees to 20,000 employees at the time of his death. So he was one smart cookie.
WS: Oh my gosh. And so I've got to imagine you have a few stories about growing big businesses is that safe to say
Mitzi Perdue: Not only is it safe to say but if I could add a PS to it.
WS: Serve the
Mitzi Perdue: Principles that made it work for those two men, and by the way, they cover the same principles I think work for any size business.
WS: Oh, no, no, no, my business is different.
Mitzi Perdue: Oh, if you well if you employ people their, their principles will count.
WS: So if you're a human selling to humans. The principles will work.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, yes, I'm thinking of something that Frank produced to say, and I don't think it's original with him. I think he gives credit to the Dale Carnegie course. I think it's the Dale Carnegie course.
Mitzi Perdue: That nothing happens without somebody making a sale and so, and that's in the broadest possible sense that, you know, as you go through life. You're persuading people to do things and
Mitzi Perdue: Frank produce thought that sales was just as important as anything in the world.
WS: Right.
Mitzi Perdue: Because sales boil, boil down to persuasion. In the end, and boy, was he good at it.
WS: Was he
WS: How to put this like what was he a trained salesman or was he trained entrepreneur that just kind of knew that sales and persuasion were part of the equation and just did it well.
Mitzi Perdue: No, it's almost a story if that his greatest deficit became his greatest asset.
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah, he told me that when he started out, he was a shy farm boy who didn't even engage in after school activities because he could go running back to the farm to do chores. So he was never in a suit in a school play. He was basically actually, to the end of his days, a fairly shy person.
Mitzi Perdue: And he transcended his, his shyness and
Mitzi Perdue: While he told a story about how his father wanted him to overcome his shyness and set them to work selling feed corn.
Mitzi Perdue: And Frank told me that it was so hard even to interact with people that, there he is trying to sell a farmer on buying seat for next year and all you could do with be stare at his field boats.
WS: And what happened was he
Mitzi Perdue: Let's say he's probably 18 at this time.
WS: Oh, wow, okay.
Mitzi Perdue: But, but just, he said, you know, extremely shy but he thought that his father, in the end, did a huge favor because
Mitzi Perdue: Because at the end he did. Overcome Shyness and something that I'm going to guess our audience wouldn't know about prank or do, but in the 80s and 90s. He was known as the marketing icon of the world.
Mitzi Perdue: Wow. Yeah. I mean, we could travel in Moscow or Beijing and people would recognize him.
Mitzi Perdue: His ads became so famous that he became famous. I mean, he was it would get off.
Mitzi Perdue: I didn't know in at an airport there could be 20 people coming up asking for his ads because he became so good at marketing and sales, but he absolutely
Mitzi Perdue: I would say was self-taught he recognized early on in the founding of the founding, but the growth of Purdue farms, the chicken company.
Mitzi Perdue: He wanted his, his sort of niche to be the premium brand. The one and to be a premium brand. You have to put a lot more
Mitzi Perdue: How about money into the genetics of the chicken raising them and the healthiest ways with the finest feed and all of that.
Mitzi Perdue: But that means you have to charge more. And he figured out this shine man who, you know, came from a small farm background.
Mitzi Perdue: He figured out that if you wanted to have a premium brand that would cost more. He'd have to communicate with the non-farm public about what went into raising chickens better than anybody else.
Mitzi Perdue: Man, so to become. How about a virtuoso, not just a journeyman, but a virtuoso in the art of selling chickens. He took a 10 week like
Mitzi Perdue: Like vacation almost from running this business to go to New York and spend 10 weeks, learning about advertising.
Mitzi Perdue: How to Choose an advertising agency what the public would want in an ad and at the end.
Mitzi Perdue: his his his campaign for almost 20 years was was something that most people if you're in your 60s or 70s and at least during the East Coast of the United States, you would remember it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.
Mitzi Perdue: But, you know, my, my point in all of this is that he had no natural gift for this, it was him overcoming and transcending his deficit.
WS: And you wrote a book on that right
WS: Tough man tender chicken business and life lessons.
WS: From Frank Purdue.
WS: I mean, you and your own right. I mean, you went to Harvard. Right. I mean, you got a master's degree as well.
WS: So you know a little bit about the education business.
WS: So you're not just a pretty face right, and you've got the chops.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, I like the idea of a pretty face but
Mitzi Perdue: I think that my role both with my father and particularly with my husband. I used to think of myself as a force multiplier I shared Frank schools and to the extent that I could contribute to them why it was, it was the most satisfying thing of my life other than being a parent.
WS: Yeah, I mean, my wife is I tell people all the time. She's really the sales whisper. I should just give her the trademark.
WS: And she and just from riding in cars all these years and hearing me talk and she's trying to show the kids because I'm on a call.
WS: You know she's picked up so many things.
WS: And and does, does the paperwork. She does the payroll she handles all the taxes. I mean, all the stuff I don't want it.
WS: So yeah, that's amazing. So
WS: All right. So since we're talking about Frank let's let's stay on that for a little bit, because it he was he was the face obviously of the ads.
WS: And I pulled some up here on YouTube. I'm looking at. I do remember him.
WS: And he would where I quite often, where the white kind of a lab coat or the
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah yeah
WS: I don't know, I guess, call app. I don't know what they call
Mitzi Perdue: The correct word
WS: But was it his idea to be the face of the business. Did the
WS: The ad agency said hey, you should be the face, like, How'd that come about.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, I'll tell you the story behind it. And anybody who's interested in marketing.
Mitzi Perdue: Back when he started, there had never. I mean, he was the pioneer of being a company owner who would be the face of
Mitzi Perdue: The company, but he didn't intend that whatsoever when he studied advertising and he finally chose an advertising agency and by the way he looked at 60 before he actually chose one so oh my
Mitzi Perdue: Gosh. Yeah. And I know that for certain because I've talked with some of the agencies. He didn't choose, and they told me that everybody was talking about your sis guide.
Mitzi Perdue: From Salisbury Maryland to farmer who's grilling, all of us about what we can offer. Well, finally chose scally McCain and so now he's kind of putting himself in the hands of the professionals.
Mitzi Perdue: And they told him. The reason that nobody that at least up to now that there's never been a president of a company that's also the face of the company.
Mitzi Perdue: Is whatever you say about your chickens your competitors can say it, you know, you can say my chickens are fresh.
Mitzi Perdue: Your competitors can say ours are fresher. You say that are eat well your competitors can say the same thing. And so it's very hard to differentiate a commodity and chicken at that point was simply a commodity well
Mitzi Perdue: scowling the cape told Fred
Mitzi Perdue: Since your competitors can copy everything you say there's one thing that they can't copy and that is you look like a chicken you squat, like a chicken.
Mitzi Perdue: And you relate to the brand and that's that's the one thing your competitors can't copy and we want you to be
Mitzi Perdue: You know, the face of this campaign and Frank said, No, I've never even been in a school play. I hate public speaking. No, I don't want to do this. And they said,
Mitzi Perdue: you've hired us for our expertise would even do about it. Well, he decided that he would learn how to be on TV and he spent months doing it.
Mitzi Perdue: And what I know from his daughter that he spent his three daughters, but one of his daughters said that he'd spent hours every day. You know, before the shoot practicing his lines and when it finally came time for for the shoot for the first ad
Mitzi Perdue: Out the copywriter told me that he knew that Frank was a shy guy and the copywriter told me you know as director also that he'd have to be drawing Frank out
Mitzi Perdue: But instead, there was Frank sort of booming larger than life great surprise to the copywriter. And the copywriters said I had to dial him down.
Mitzi Perdue: Because he
Mitzi Perdue: Because he had taken the directions of, you have to give to the camera. He had taken it too far and had to be dialed down
Mitzi Perdue: File down there was an honesty to it a sort of blatant here's who I am. And here's what this is all about and sort of a ride off the wall sense of humor that just perfectly reflected the men and
Mitzi Perdue: I think advertising was I guess the biggest factor that brought Perdue farms from a sleepy little chicken company to the third or fourth-largest in the country.
WS: Mm-hmm.
WS: So he. This was a family business, right.
Mitzi Perdue: Right, we're celebrating our hundredth anniversary this year.
WS: But he put him on the map. Would you say
Mitzi Perdue: With without doubt. I don't think anybody could argue with that.
WS: So, what, what did he see differently, right, because I've my uncle started a coffee business in Baton Rouge and now my cousin runs it and he has, you know, much different vision than what my uncle had and he wants to go bigger you know out farther
WS: You know, was Frank's dad.
WS: Did he just have a different vision one to keep it small and local and Frank says, Hey, let's go national, or you know what led that growth. What was the difference between father and son.
Mitzi Perdue: Okay, I suspect if Frank's father if Frank had never occurred that he would have been one of 5000 growers in the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Mitzi Perdue: I, I don't know where Frank's ambition came from. I just don't. It's mysterious to me. But he had an amazing ability to have a very broad vision. But even better. He had the ability to see what he'd need to do to get from here to there. So if you wanted to have one of the best chicken companies in the world.
Mitzi Perdue: So his vision was a premium brand. And then he figured out to get from here to there, you'd have to tell the buying public why it was better.
Mitzi Perdue: But then another part of his vision was he knew he wasn't going to get there alone.
Mitzi Perdue: But what he was extraordinary app was inspiring the people who worked with him to go the extra mile and to stay with him for life.
Mitzi Perdue: And he had a number of ways that you can do that, that I would recommend to everybody and among them. I remember
Mitzi Perdue: When Frank was alive. There were 16 processing plants and I don't know how many females, because we're as large and grain, as we are in chickens or poultry.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, we would go through processing plants and they're not might be 1000 2000 people there and the number of years and would go through, through the lines of the workers on these
Mitzi Perdue: production lines.
Mitzi Perdue: And I was endlessly amazed at the number of names that he knew, and he didn't just know names, but, you know, and I got to tag along with him because I love doing this but say there's somebody who's
Mitzi Perdue: Well, on the on the line and Frank would say Mitzi I'd like you to meet Darcy Darcy has been with this company for 30 years and her son just got into college.
Mitzi Perdue: Or or meet Tony that he told me something about Tony like Tony's never had a sick day. So the number of people that he knew on the line was just staggering is this is something I can't do, because it's not my gift, but he was really good at remembering names and facts about people.
Mitzi Perdue: And I tried really hard but I'm left in the dust. And then another thing that could do that, that I've learned no end.
Mitzi Perdue: As far as I could tell he was a total egalitarian because I've seen him talk with the President of the United States. And I've seen him talk with workers on the line and
Mitzi Perdue: He treated either of them with complete respect and attention. And when we were walking through the plants and he was greeting people or would have lunch at the cafeteria and people would sit with him.
Mitzi Perdue: I'd always be, you know, kind of taken aback by the fact that he wasn't walking through as the great they bus. Now it was as if I mean his attitude was we're all a team and I have all the respect.
Mitzi Perdue: In the world for your part of the team. And he just made people feel important.
Mitzi Perdue: Mm-hmm. And, you know, one of the things that that you know I grew up in the hospitality industry with the Sheraton Hotels when Frank enough first married
Mitzi Perdue: I grew up with the idea that hospitality selves everything. And it's just the greatest thing in the world. I mean, I'm being hype. I'm speaking of hyperbole, but
Mitzi Perdue: Hospitality is just really, really important to be in my genes. So when we first started
Mitzi Perdue: off our marriage. I told him. Yeah, we have just come back from our honeymoon. And I told him, Frank. I think we should entertain every single person who works for the company. And he said That's unrealistic. They're 16,000 people who are worth the time
Mitzi Perdue: And I said, I think we should have them hundred at a
Mitzi Perdue: Time.
Mitzi Perdue: And he said, now that's way too many
Mitzi Perdue: And I said, It's August. Now, let's start. I bet we could put this together. By the end of September. Now that's that's way too soon. Well,
Mitzi Perdue: As we kept talking about it, his you know his initial yo know you're out of my mind kind of reaction should have changed to maybe there's something to it. And then as we kept talking. He said, I like that. And I know why he changed his mind.
Mitzi Perdue: His as far as I could tell a lot of the effort of Frank's approach to the people who worked with him was showing them how important they were
Mitzi Perdue: And inviting people to our home for dinner, even if it's 16,000 of them, but it would be 100 at a time. Three times a month that this was a way of communicating to people how important they were
Mitzi Perdue: And there's a quote which I invite everybody who employs anybody
Mitzi Perdue: To take to heart. And it's from. It's from James William James, who was a psychiatrist 100 years ago and William James said. And again, this is something that I invite anybody who employs anybody to think about William James said
Mitzi Perdue: The deepest principle of human nature is the craving for appreciation
Mitzi Perdue: So Frank was forever looking and hunting for ways of showing appreciation and inviting them to our home was a way of doing this. So three times three times a month for well really until for 17 years until he passed.
Mitzi Perdue: We would typically have 100 people at a time and would have them in groups, so that I mean because I'm hospitality was aware that if imagine that you're well in any kind of person who works for Purdue maybe sanitation maybe trucking maybe accounting maybe veterinarian.
Mitzi Perdue: It might be a little bit intimidating to be invited to the big bosses house for dinner.
Mitzi Perdue: And so we figured that if we invited them with groups who knew each other that like there's safety in numbers that they could feel a lot more comfortable if there were with the people that hang out with anyway.
Mitzi Perdue: Mm-hmm. And Frank was just gifted as a host because he would, he would talk with each person. And if you were talking with Frank. It's as if
Mitzi Perdue: He, he gave you the feeling. And I think it's an accurate one that nobody else in the world existed for him.
Mitzi Perdue: Other than you, at that moment, I mean it was just total attention and then
Mitzi Perdue: When it came time for the actual dinner. It would be a buffet and in our living room. We had a great big long buffet table and there would be three or four people surfing, but one of those people would be frank.
Mitzi Perdue: He waiting on his employees.
Mitzi Perdue: And I can remember like standing back and thinking
Mitzi Perdue: Is there any head of a fortune 500 size company who would actually wait on his employees.
WS: Mm-hmm.
Mitzi Perdue: Is that not cool.
WS: Yeah. And this was so you started this in the late
Mitzi Perdue: 80s 1988 we married in 88 and six weeks after our marriage, we began this and Frank. Frank just loved it and you know he just made MAXIMUM USE OF IT, BECAUSE HE IS STILL
Mitzi Perdue: You know, at the end of the meal had to stand up in front of people.
Mitzi Perdue: And tell them what was going on in the company like the good, the bad, the ugly what he was proud of opportunities. Yeah, it just hit share as if he was talking with the board of giving the report to the Board of Directors.
Mitzi Perdue: And yeah how great must be that for somebody who's working for a company to be on the inside of what's really going on and to hear it from the person who really knows.
Mitzi Perdue: And then at the end of every evening, but I had answer questions and then at the end of every evening in I don't know one way, one way or another, he would communicate the following thought. I know that the company wouldn't be what it is today. If it weren't for you. Thank you.
WS: Hmm.
WS: Even that larger number. I mean, that would take you three or four years to get every employee over just one time. Hmm.
Mitzi Perdue: Well actually branched out eventually, not just to the employees but
Mitzi Perdue: During the time that Frank and I were married. There were 5000 farmers who I mean they own their own chicken houses and they sell the chicken stuffs under contract.
Mitzi Perdue: We would invite them and then there were suppliers in some cases there were people who would sold us propane for three generations, or wood chips for betting or whatever.
Mitzi Perdue: Any anybody who had been a supplier for us for more than one generation would absolutely be invited to our home for dinner.
WS: And did you serve chicken or steak.
Mitzi Perdue: What's that awful thing that you just mentioned.
WS: Certainly not pork.
WS: Well,
Mitzi Perdue: The funny thing is, since Frank's passing we actually do grow beef and pork. So all my prejudices against them. I have to revise
Mitzi Perdue: In fact, just another personal thing and I probably too important and trivial even to mention, but
Mitzi Perdue: For a good bit of my life if I was out of the restaurant. I'd always order chicken because I knew I'd be teased if if if I didn't
Mitzi Perdue: But then recently. We're the largest grower of organic chicken and we're getting into beef, pork, lamb grown organically. And so now I can absolutely order any of that.
Mitzi Perdue: Yes, we serve chicken.
WS: Did, did his daughter. So is it still run by family or is
Mitzi Perdue: He had three daughters and one son and the son Jim Purdue heads it now and amazingly there for family members in the business right now.
Mitzi Perdue: Nice. So it's
Mitzi Perdue: I sure hope it continues for
WS: Another
WS: Hundred years so
WS: You know, being involved with two major corporations.
WS: I'd love your take on this, if, if you can answer it.
WS: You know goal setting is a big thing. Right. There's a bazillion books on goal setting and people they struggle with it. And, you know, some say very, very detailed goal. Some say have 100-year plan and others are like, you know, have maybe not such detailed goals, but have a direction you want to go, you know, so
WS: Like with your dad. Do you remember you know that he set out to say, hey, I'm gonna build one of the biggest hotel chains ever or was it just like, man, I'm just gonna try to put food on the table and this is my business and you know and your husband when you met him. The things were already growing, but did, did he have. Do you know how they started so because it's
WS: For my listeners even myself. I'm not building a billion-dollar entity. I'm not going to be the head of a five fortune 500 company right but we could build a 5 million or 10 million or $50 million business.
WS: So, do you, do you have any insight on the early parts like what was driving them how clear was their goal.
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah, I believe I do this, I certainly talked about it with my father and with Frank, so yeah.
Mitzi Perdue: In the case of my father.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, a quick side story of kind of what formed his goal when he was 26
Mitzi Perdue: His mother told my mother, who was his fiance at that point. Don't marry earnest because he can never stick to anything you're going to end up poor
Mitzi Perdue: And mother said, I don't care. I love him. I want to be his wife, so they married but what a wake-up call for my father.
Mitzi Perdue: You know that he can never stick to anything. So he went to a career guidance counselor and spent an entire day taking tests and at the end of the tests.
Mitzi Perdue: The career guidance counselor Johnson O'Connor said, I've never met anybody who was worse at human relations than, you know, the reason you can't stick with any job is because he didn't use these words, but I will is because of human relations, you suck.
Mitzi Perdue: So he told he told father. Now you're clearly a bright guy.
Mitzi Perdue: And you have a background you studied electrical engineering it at MIT.
Mitzi Perdue: Have you what I recommend for you for career is one where you don't interact with anybody, and you just work in the laboratory and use your smarts, but don't count on your human relations skills because you don't have them well father took this as a challenge.
Mitzi Perdue: Of his greatest deficit was no human relations skills and I could even make a guess that maybe he had some version of Asperger's or something.
Mitzi Perdue: Although I don't know. I mean, I, I really don't know. But it seems to me that somebody who has no human relations skills.
Mitzi Perdue: Maybe that was my father's problem, but he took it as a challenge. And so I don't think he had a challenge to build
Mitzi Perdue: A global hotel chain but he did have a goal of overcoming a deficit because and we even talked about this that success in life is going to depend on other people. And so he began trying to crack the code of how to get along with people and what made them tick.
Mitzi Perdue: And so he take. Yeah. It takes psychology courses. He took the Dale Carnegie course he told me that he read. How to Win Friends and Influence People every 10 years he had reread it had it took public speaking courses. She took salesmanship courses, everything that he could do to learn
Mitzi Perdue: More about what makes people tick and later on in life even made friends with some of the world's most famous psychologist and that be guests at our weekend house where he'd be
Mitzi Perdue: You know, talking with them about what motivates people and with that background. And I know coming to the real answer to your question of setting goals. He had the goal of
Mitzi Perdue: transcending his greatest weakness, it became his greatest asset and you know if Jon Snow Connor were alive. I'd wonder how shocked to be. But Father.
Mitzi Perdue: The person who started out with the worst human relations SKILLS THAT HE'D EVER HEARD became
Mitzi Perdue: A star in the hospitality industry and, you know, knowing more about how, how, what makes people tick. I think he had a deeper understanding than somebody who just
Mitzi Perdue: didn't study it.
Mitzi Perdue: And so he told me that the hope hotels. He didn't have the big plan of he had 400 hotels. At the time of his death, but he told me that. And these are these words, we just grew like Topsy Turvy
Mitzi Perdue: And here's how it happened. He bought one hotel, and this was at the height of the Great Depression, where for hotels were going bankrupt right and left. Nobody was buying hotels. He bought one like almost at a fire sale. I mean, I, I'm not being literal but
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah, with nobody bidding against him, he could, he bought a hotel. I think it was Cambridge, Massachusetts.
WS: Yep. Not 1937 Continental Hotel.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, he made a fabulous success of it, and with the money he made from that he bought another hotel, and then another. And so you might wonder, how could he make a success of hotels when everybody else was going bankrupt and he told me
Mitzi Perdue: The reason for sure it and success every level is the people who worked with that worked for the company. And then the question is, how do you motivate people to go the extra mile to give their all to making a success.
Mitzi Perdue: And one of fathers phrases was
Mitzi Perdue: Inspired don't require and another was a leaders job is to give people a better vision of themselves and he went all out to do that. And I've got a quick story of how he did it.
Mitzi Perdue: We got time for a quick
Mitzi Perdue: All right. He told me that when he, when he'd take over a hotel. Usually the hotel was in bankruptcy or teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Mitzi Perdue: And the employees there hit invite them all to come to the hotel's ballroom and there could be 400 there could be 800 people working for this hotel and father knew that the employees walking into the hotel ballroom that that'd be a totally demoralized bunch, because
Mitzi Perdue: If you're, if you're the company that you've worked for has just changed hands, you could pretty much expect that
Mitzi Perdue: That the new owner would be hiring his friends and taking care of his relatives and that they're probably, you know, terrified that they're going to lose their jobs and during the Great Depression, it's awfully hard to get another job.
Mitzi Perdue: If you lost your job. So he understood that they probably wouldn't hear a word.
Mitzi Perdue: That he said until he reassured them about the thing that was most on their minds so almost the first words out of his mouth would always be
Mitzi Perdue: I want every one of you to keep your job and I want you to keep your job because I know that you know your job better than anybody else in the world.
Mitzi Perdue: And my job is to give you the resources and the encouragement to show the world just how good you are.
Mitzi Perdue: And you'll see in a couple of months. This is going to be the most popular Hotel in the city.
Mitzi Perdue: It's also going to be financially stable and we're going to be an example to the rest of the city that even bad as the depression is it can turn around and you're part of the team that's going to make this happen.
WS: Mm-hmm.
Mitzi Perdue: Now how's that for giving people a better vision of themselves and to inspire not require
WS: Well, it's awesome. It's a, you know, it's the old adage of we must enter the conversation going on in the mind of our prospects, right, or our people.
WS: Yeah, they're not gonna listen to anything until their main concerns worries are answered.
WS: So, you know, it's awesome.
Mitzi Perdue: And it even goes further than that because he said
Mitzi Perdue: You know, after that first meeting. We're gonna take questions and just interact with them and show that kind of like I'm on your side.
Mitzi Perdue: But he said, so far it's just words, he said. The next day, the people who work for the hotel would see bunches of like the electricians, plumbers decorators coming into refurbish the hotel said
Mitzi Perdue: The first money that he ever spent on refurbishing a hotel would always be in the areas that the public would never see the first money he ever spent was on like the employee dining rooms lockers showers.
Mitzi Perdue: The rickety old elevators, just for poor effort the employees were spending most of their time. Yeah. When, when they weren't like making beds are
Mitzi Perdue: Waiting on tables or tending bar, whatever else know his first money was spent on the areas that the public didn't see and I asked him, why did you do that and he said, because again it was a way of communicating to them how important they were
WS: Um,
Mitzi Perdue: He felt that was the best investment, he could possibly make
WS: Mm-hmm.
Mitzi Perdue: And showing them how much he believed in them and how important they were to him.
WS: So he so Robert Moore was his Harvard classmate. Right.
Mitzi Perdue: Yes, yes.
WS: I should have gone to Harvard, maybe I'd be maybe I would have founded Facebook but
WS: All these smart people roommates at Harvard. So in so 1937 they buy the first hotel. How old was your dad in 1937
Mitzi Perdue: He would have been 40
WS: Okay, so it was his classmates. So, all right, so they weren't just young just dabbling in college. So he had a different career. How did he get into that? Then, what was he doing at the time?
Mitzi Perdue: He started out in the import business.
Mitzi Perdue: It was shortly after World War One, there was phenomenal inflation in Germany.
Mitzi Perdue: And
Mitzi Perdue: A lot of joblessness well he happened to be fluent in German, also in French and Spanish and Italian he
Mitzi Perdue: I mean because he was a smart guy.
Mitzi Perdue: And well, a quick story. Why you so many languages. My grandfather was a historian, and he believed that kids should learn languages. So whenever he was in
Mitzi Perdue: Say it. Say he was in Germany for a year, his car his six children in different cities throughout Europe to go to school like total immersion.
Mitzi Perdue: And so father spent time in France and Germany and Italy, and so he ended up knowing lots of languages. Well, that was a huge advantage for him.
Mitzi Perdue: Right after World War One, because he could go to Germany and buy cameras. I mean, really high-quality ones. And I'm not sure what the names were back then, but it could have been, like, oh, or whatever he would, he would buy fabulous amounts of
Mitzi Perdue: Say optical equipment particular cameras and sell them in the United States, with just a fabulous.
Mitzi Perdue: Ability to make a profit because of the exchange rate, but it was hugely beneficial to the Germans as well because say sometimes he'd be coming back to Germany to a factory where you'd had great
Mitzi Perdue: Big orders and he had one story about when he was on a train pulling up to the small town where there was a camera factory and he said, obviously he's 23 at the time. I think
Mitzi Perdue: Some of the IP most becoming because this station was decked out with bunting and there was a band and the mayor of the city. So he snuck out the back way, not wanting to interfere with whatever ceremony was going on and then somebody recognized him and said, no, you've got to come out the right way because this is for you because the town's so happy that
Mitzi Perdue: Employment
WS: So, so what made him shift meant the big shift from that into hotels. We just a smart entrepreneur to saw the opportunity
Mitzi Perdue: The hotel, the, I guess it's the Continental Hotel. It was, for he knew it was for sale because
Mitzi Perdue: I guess he lived nearby and the opportunity to seem so enormous to buy something that
WS: It was
WS: So that he did, he lived. He lived in Cambridge. After graduating
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah, he did.
Mitzi Perdue: Not he did. And so I guess it was just opportunity but it was the hotel business where he really hit his stride because with his understanding of human nature, which I don't think he would have had if he hadn't made it almost one of the biggest goals of his
Mitzi Perdue: Life to understand what makes people tick.
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah, what a gift. It was for him to be able to transform the hotel. It was on the, I don't know if it was bankrupt or in the verge of bankruptcy, but when he could turn it around and make it profitable and then use the profits to buy more hotels and then more hotels.
Mitzi Perdue: It was as if it was a perfect match between somebody. I mean, he was smart because I mentioned that he had a degree in electrical engineering from MIT, but he attended Harvard at the same time back then they had some kind of dual program.
Mitzi Perdue: Where you could get degrees from both and he did so he was using both his innate smarts, but also his
Mitzi Perdue: His human relations skills.
WS: So,
Mitzi Perdue: I mean, imagine if you're in that hotel and you've been scared that you are going to lose your job and suddenly the new owner says, I believe in you. I'm going to give you the resources to show the world just how good you are. I mean, you probably love that men and you're
Mitzi Perdue: Willing to go the extra mile for him. And I think that was, that was the story of every hotel he ever bought
WS: Do you know how he got funding for that first one
Mitzi Perdue: I do. He and his brother and his roommate from college, Uncle Bob.
Mitzi Perdue: Between them, they had $1,000 in war bonuses because they all served in World War One, and they pool their resources and they invested in them together and that gave them enough money so that they were able to buy the first detail.
WS: With just a few thousand dollars.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, but the word bonuses. They had invested in them or put differently. They had invested the money that they had
Mitzi Perdue: Oh, and they use that evidently done well.
WS: Yeah.
WS: Because basically, that would have given them.
WS: roughly what 18 years of growth. Okay. I gotcha. So that money.
WS: Yeah, that makes sense.
WS: Wow, so they just, they were self-funded
Mitzi Perdue: I well I don't know about mortgages or whatever back then but yeah they he told me that the war bonuses that his roommate from college, his brother when they put them all together invested them. That was enough for the nest egg to
Mitzi Perdue: To buy the first hotel, and then the first hotel rapidly became profitable because
Mitzi Perdue: You know, if you've got an owner who says, I believe in you, and that we're part of a team and that together. We're going to be an example to the rest of the city. Are your motivation, your
Mitzi Perdue: The way he used to put it is the woman making, making the beds. The woman or guy waiting on table or the bartender. They're not waiting on table or tending bar or making beds. Now they're part of a team that together is going to transform this hotel.
Mitzi Perdue: I mentioned earlier that he had a motto inspire don't require
Mitzi Perdue: He wasn't telling them shape up or you're fired. He was saying.
Mitzi Perdue: You're part of a team that's going to do something magnificent
WS: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's awesome.
WS: So you're doing some magnificent things with a nice team.
WS: Let's shift gears a little bits talk about you. So, uh, "How To Be Up In Down Times." How did that come about? How did, how did you meet Mark Victor Hansen and how did you come up with this idea
Mitzi Perdue: Mark Victor Hansen came into my life.
Mitzi Perdue: I started an organization called win this fight, and the purpose of win this fight is to combat human trafficking and the way we do it is fundraising and awareness-raising well
Mitzi Perdue: A FRIEND MENTIONED THAT Mark Victor Hansen cares about human trafficking and that maybe we should talk with each other while he was on board. Immediately he loved the approach that I was taking and
Mitzi Perdue: We would talk almost daily and I became such a fan of his. I mean, I was a fan before. But the more I got to know him, the more I got to admire him and then Copa 19 came along and at that point.
Mitzi Perdue: A lot of the fundraising ideas that we had had to be put on hold. I don't know if you know this but charities in general.
Mitzi Perdue: I've heard that charitable contributions for charities have up throughout the globe for philanthropy have decreased by 40%
Mitzi Perdue: Well, that means that my particular efforts were on hold. But I suggested to mark and we're talking. We're talking early February at this point.
Mitzi Perdue: That if the pandemic really took hold, and in February. It hadn't really taken hold yet at the beginning of February. Anyway, I mean that was a point where I don't think, other than I don't think most people were aware how bad it was going to get. I told Mark, I've been a science writer, most of my adult life, my column went to 420 newspapers throughout the United States.
Mitzi Perdue: I've been a science writer and also a health writer I wrote the blog for the Academy of women's health and I worked for genetic engineering and biotechnology news. I have a science background for I know
WS: A lot
Mitzi Perdue: That can help people get through this. Now I'm not going to give them medical advice.
Mitzi Perdue: But I am qualified to give some science advice. You, on the other hand, are possibly the most inspirational person in the world, your books have sold half a billion copies
Mitzi Perdue: What if we put if we together wrote a book, giving people advice on how to get through this.
Mitzi Perdue: And Mark liked the idea and he suggested that we include his stepson who is absolutely brilliant, brilliant on physical fitness.
Mitzi Perdue: And we had the idea that we would give 40 tips that would help people get through hard times and it wouldn't be limited just to the pandemic, it would be advice for life.
Mitzi Perdue: And we also felt that we should write it very quickly and we did in three weeks. It was like up for sale in like three weeks. Whoa, and the sales, I get orders sometimes 200 at a time like just recently a woman from Taiwan order 200
Mitzi Perdue: And she's talking about possibly a repeat order for thousand. I don't know if that will come through or not, but she seems to be part of some
Mitzi Perdue: Well, I'm not sure how she can order so many but I'll take it. I'll take it out.
Mitzi Perdue: And it does give advice that I think it's timeless. It began with the pandemic, but the advice. It's in little to page packages each piece of advice so if you're under stress and things are going badly.
Mitzi Perdue: You're not going to read a 300-page tome but you can read a couple of pages that leave you feeling uplifted and better
Mitzi Perdue: I'll share one with you.
Mitzi Perdue: The Times that we've been through, and I hope we're coming out of it, but I, there are no guarantees, but it's high stress.
Mitzi Perdue: It's high stress, whether it's financial worries, whether it's health worries.
Mitzi Perdue: Or even you know how the country's doing. I know a lot of people find that extraordinarily stressful. Well, here's some advice that I can provide as a health writer.
Mitzi Perdue: It is medically essential that if you've got a lot of stress. Give yourself purposefully and consciously at least an hour of respite.
Mitzi Perdue: And by that, I kept know what the respite is right for you. Some people tell me watching James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. Some people say just playing with the kids. Others playing music
Mitzi Perdue: Other selling but whatever it is, where you can give yourself an hour of not thinking about the things to just eating you alive and here's why it's medically necessary.
Mitzi Perdue: Because if you don't give yourself respite this custom onslaught of stress hormones.
Mitzi Perdue: They are a genuine threat to your longevity. You are far more vulnerable to lots of health issues. If you don't give yourself at least some respite every single day. So, do it.
WS: Yeah yeah Mitzi you know that's
Mitzi Perdue: Just tell me what you would do for stress release.
WS: I exercise every day. I mean,
Mitzi Perdue: Are you thinking, are you when you're exercising, are you giving it your all so that you
Mitzi Perdue: So that you aren't thinking, Oh my God, my company's going to go under or AMP Jesse's gonna die.
Mitzi Perdue: Or the country's going to tear itself apart.
WS: Or usually it's 90 minutes of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where somebody's trying to kill me so
Mitzi Perdue: Yeah, so your said
WS: I'm very focused on living at that moment.
Mitzi Perdue: I think that must be the perfect stress release here because that's also a fabulous way of dissipating cortisol and adrenaline and all these nasty things that are appropriate. If it's 10,000 years ago and you're in the savanna in Africa and a lion is chasing after you
Mitzi Perdue: Right. It's just right, but to have it unalleviated of not good, long term you need stress release.
WS: Yeah yeah
Mitzi Perdue: Isolation, so you're doing it just right and then
Mitzi Perdue: Just better than an hour.
WS: Or Dan I swim.
WS: Swimming is nice, you know, some people have waterproof headsets and slick and listen I I am 100% unplugged when I'm swimming. You know, I do like movies. I love the Daniel Craig is James Bond.
Mitzi Perdue: So, yes.
WS: I go and I rewatch those it's actually
Mitzi Perdue: I love Daniel Craig, what's it like for a guy to
WS: Oh, he's the best
Mitzi Perdue: Oh, I get it. Um, you want to be him. I want to have romance with him.
WS: And yeah, it was interesting from a marketing standpoint because there's a guy I've known for many years, Roy Williams down in Austin, and he has the Wizard of Ads and this was before Daniel Craig. And he was looking, he was studying the Bourne Ultimatum Jason Bourne, you know, Matt Damon series. There's a Boston guy for you.
WS: And he was so gritty right and he was talking about how if James Bond didn't change. It was going to fail.
WS: Yeah, and it makes sense when you look back because you know he was always so perfect and had his little quip and
WS: Never really ruffled you know
WS: Never got his tuxedo dirty, but then Jane Daniel Craig comes out in that opening scene right he's fighting a guy in the men's room right and slamming his head in the toilet and he's getting beat up and
WS: And that Casino Royale actually dies right and the accountants. She had to come out to the car and put the plug the connector in and hit the defibrillator to bring them back to life. So, I mean,
WS: They I think they realize it. Right. It's like we got to make him more human more vulnerable, but still rise to the occasion and so I think they did a great job with that transition
Mitzi Perdue: I mean, they went, what was the first James Bond. Are we talking 60
WS: Settled secure. Oh.
Mitzi Perdue: So this is something that's managed to renew itself.
Oh, yeah.
Mitzi Perdue: 50 years
Mitzi Perdue: For sure. Wow.
WS: 60 years
WS: Awesome. Yeah.
WS: So yeah, so I like watching movies. I read
WS: I found this guy. It's awesome. When you find a great author late this guy Brad Thor. He's you remember Tom Clancy you ever
WS: Ah, maybe
Mitzi Perdue: I, I actually, I listened, the number of times I've listened to read up
WS: Oh yeah, that
Mitzi Perdue: No, I
Mitzi Perdue: I try not to miss a Tom Clancy So Brad is Brad Thor up there with Tom Clancy's
WS: Very similar. So
WS: You know, I was reading Tom Clancy in 89. It was the summer before my sophomore year at the Air Force Academy
WS: Yes, I read all the stuff and Brad Thor. He's not as detailed in the equipment and stuff, but it's basically the same genre.
WS: Yeah, and he's written 17 books and I just found them. But I've read three of his in the last month.
Mitzi Perdue: Was it because
Mitzi Perdue: My favorite author of all time. And I'm not recommending it because, I mean, I love it, but I've recommended him to people who haven't liked him is Terry Pratchett but he says, he said.
Mitzi Perdue: Kind of, well, he fits under science fiction.
WS: Yeah, I haven't read him.
Mitzi Perdue: And I can't, although I love him. I'm
Mitzi Perdue: He has a fabulous sense of humor and fluency, but
Mitzi Perdue: I've gone through everything that he's written and he's gone to his great reward. So I've run through it all, maybe Brad Thor is next.
WS: Terry IS IT, SIR. Dave, it's or Terrence David John Pritchett.
WS: That's it. Okay, humorous centrist and author of fantasy novels, especially comical works.
WS: You know, one of my all-time favorites was Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress."
Mitzi Perdue: I didn't read that one.
WS: Oh my goodness.
Mitzi Perdue: He will. I love him. The way I love Tom Clancy
Mitzi Perdue: Or were more into
Mitzi Perdue: whimsy and
WS: No, he was not whimsy. This was
Mitzi Perdue: I seek knowledge from him all the time. He must have been amazingly brilliant man.
WS: Oh, yes. Yeah, you would do well to read a little bit of him. He was so good.
WS: So good. But, but let's wrap this up with your, your, you already mentioned it, and I'm linking to it, they get all your books but you win this fight. I'm linking to that win this fight.org stop human trafficking now.
WS: So, and I got to imagine as well in tough stressful chaotic times like now.
WS: I would bet trafficking even increases because everyone is stressed out, everyone is distracted.
WS: And
WS: People still have their proclivities and maybe fall victim to them, more than ever, and
Mitzi Perdue: You're exactly right. You think
Mitzi Perdue: Anybody would like to. I mean, I would love for people to go to win this fight.org and if you like what you see there, send me an email and volunteer because there's lots and lots that can be done.
WS: Mm-hmm.
Mitzi Perdue: And our mission is to help existing
Mitzi Perdue: Anti-trafficking organizations. I'm not going to ask anybody to go out and rescue a child or something.
WS: Right.
Mitzi Perdue: Although I'll if that's your goal. I can direct you to organizations that do
Mitzi Perdue: But we provide funding and awareness for existing organizations.
WS: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I probably shouldn't go out, I gotta imagine somebody I caught
WS: They might trip down the stairs, like accidentally. But I digress. All right, so I'm linking to that and that's
WS: An awesome I got seven kids. So five or girls.
WS: I couldn't imagine
WS: You know, like they say kids don't just go missing. I mean,
WS: People out there, pressing videos, you know, other countries, but it probably happens here as well, but
WS: I saw
Mitzi Perdue: It is the capital of the world for trafficking.
WS: Yeah, but I saw a video guy hops over a railing. A couple is just eating lunch, middle of the day.
WS: Little child in a little
WS: booster seat at the restaurant. I mean, he comes up and tries to steal that baby. And fortunately, the child, I think, was like kind of buckled, and so he had problems and people, you know, it was amazing to see
WS: The mom was across from the child and the dad was next to the child is back to the attacker.
WS: And this mama. She launches across the table and she grabs that baby and that guy. He couldn't break that grip, he's dragging that baby he's dragging that mama.
WS: She's like,
WS: You ain't get my baby.
WS: And then the dads are punching another guy comes out probably new jujitsu look like yeah like I'm a rear-naked chokehold on.
WS: So they are able to take the child away, but just boom right there in broad daylight. Let me, let me hop a railing and steal your kid from a restaurant, like, what in the world. I mean, I
Mitzi Perdue: Tell you something of his motivation. I mean, I can't know that guy's motivation, but in New York City, and I have somebody from the NYPD told me this.
Mitzi Perdue: That a trafficker who has five girls in his stable can have an income of a million dollars a year tax-free and his odds of doing time are minuscule.
Mitzi Perdue: Hmm, and so yeah, if you're a bad guy and you want a million dollars. I don't want to give anybody ideas, but
WS: And what why
WS: Why are there not tougher crimes on that? Why would you not do serious jail time?
Mitzi Perdue: I think one of the Alright I'm going to share with you the information that I've gotten from law enforcement, whether it's Taiwan or New York or wherever.
Mitzi Perdue: The public has to demand that they have more that the police have more resources for dealing with this because over and over again.
Mitzi Perdue: To catch the bad guys. They're there because there's so much money at stake, there's incredible skill in evading law enforcement.
Mitzi Perdue: Out like burner phones and the girls are terrified to testify, there's answers to all the things that the bad guys can do, including how
Mitzi Perdue: Their organizations, made up of retired special ops military who can help find the bad guys, but it takes money. And if I could.
Mitzi Perdue: If I could wave a magic wand and do the biggest thing that I could think of. I'd have I'd have people all over the world demand more funding for police departments for anti-trafficking efforts, because right now.
Mitzi Perdue: With people not enough aware of the problem. They're not demanding that more tax money goes to law enforcement.
WS: Right, good. Same time, we've got idiot saying defund the police, but
Mitzi Perdue: Well, I'm since I think there's so little deterrence for this horrible crime.
Mitzi Perdue: I'm. Trust me. I'm not in defend the places.
Mitzi Perdue: And count.
WS: That's crazy. Oh, I could go on forever. But I've got a group call in 17 minutes so we have to wrap, what we'll call this part one, we will wrap up part one for now.
Mitzi Perdue: love the idea of what part two, because I enjoyed this.
WS: So we're linking everywhere just said I your website. Your book kind of be up and down times when this fight. So I'll make sure and
WS: Publish that as well. So
WS: We'll miss you Purdue, all the way from Maryland. I'm glad. Mark put us together and I hope you have a great day.
Mitzi Perdue: Well, I've loved every second of it. Thank you so much.