Wendell and Rhea Perry celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary on December 10, 2010.
On December 11, Wendell Perry died.
Even though his five-month decline in the final stages of cancer lasted four months longer than Wendell's doctors had predicted—a blessing the Perrys credit to the prayers of a multitude of friends and family they’ve amassed over the years—his death was the lowest of any low point the Perry family had encountered during nearly twenty years on their 44-acre Tennessee haven a few miles north of the Alabama state line.
With Wendell’s death, though, Rhea was hardly alone. The two Perrys had raised seven children. Four still lived at home, and the oldest son and his family inhabited another house on the property at the time their dad passed away.
During their first ten years of country living, Wendell commuted to a job in Florence, Alabama. Eventually, his two-hour daily round trip became too much at odds with the Perry’s desire for togetherness, and the vision for a family-friendly way to earn a living took root on their farm.
Rhea had been homeschooling all the children and saw in each of them a potential entrepreneur.
The first to blossom was Drew, the oldest son. After dabbling in raising goats, building barns, and even testing the market for water buffalo, Drew discovered a passion for real estate investing. His goal as a teenager became to build enough income to bring his dad home from the corporate world, and his first investment—an entire neighborhood of 13 houses an hour’s drive from the farm—initiated a chain of successes.
Drew combined his developing real estate acumen with another growing love—trading on eBay—and his business of buying and selling houses on the Internet took off. It also brought Wendell home to help manage the real estate.
Although Drew married and moved on to other activities—selling dirt and trading heavy equipment—his success and the budding entrepreneurs in his wake sparked some soul-searching for Rhea.
“I love to write, and I love to talk. So I asked myself, ‘Can I figure out a way to get paid to write and to talk from my home here on the farm?’”
Her kids were becoming successful entrepreneurs, so why not Rhea herself? Rhea ramped up the schooling for the children still under her care and educated herself along with them. As many as were old enough to benefit attended seminars on investing, internet marketing, and more real estate. And Rhea discovered what she could do to write, talk, and make money.
What began as a modest home business became the worldwide internet educational and networking resource called Educating For Success, and it set the stage for Rhea to support the family without missing a beat when Wendell died.
Rhea’s passion for teaching people how to become financially free lights up the room (or porch, where she prefers to do much of her online work) when she talks about the people her company has helped. Denise Lindvall, a pastor's wife and "retired" homeschool mom Rhea hired years ago to be her assistant, lives in California and almost never sees her boss, but together, they’ve mastered the concept of virtual assistants and now have trained dozens of online administrative helpers.
Spreading the Why
Because serving her family and God have fueled Rhea’s vision for both business and farm-living, she understands the central importance of knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing.
“And it can’t be just to make money,” she says. “That’s not good enough to get you through the hard times that will come. You have to have a ‘why’ that’s bigger than your problems.”
This drive to have the right “why” is the starting point for all the educational opportunities offered by her Educating For Success community. It’s also the background for each EFS annual home business conference.
The field of talent she brings as instructors demonstrates not only Rhea’s irresistible people skills in lining up hard-to-get speakers but also reflects the Perrys’ own entrepreneurial journey. With presenters as varied as online real estate dynamo Larry Goins and organic farming guru Joel Salatin, she’s made sure that people of all stripes can discover the right business fit to help support their “why.”
Rhea still credits Wendell for the delight her family experiences in their success and the growing family farm legacy.
“The farm was my husband’s dream. He absolutely wanted to live in the country from the day we got married, and we worked toward that for several years before we finally made it happen. He was also the visionary for our home school ‘project.’ He told me from the very beginning that he did not want his children to have just a standard education, like we did, and then not be able to make any significant money with it.”
Wendell’s why lives on in the world Rhea and her children have created. And thanks to her success, Rhea has inspired the whys of countless people who have benefited from her online training and eye-opening seminars.
Raising entrepreneurs and getting them to market has become Rhea Perry’s favorite farm crop.
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