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Live Inspired Podcast: S7 | Ep. 75 Sue McCollum


Sue McCollum

“Don’t stand by, stand UP.”

Sue McCollum is the Chairman and CEO of Major Brands, Inc., an 80-year-old, family-run operation and the only liquor distributor in the U.S. run by a woman. But it wasn’t Sue’s dream to run a large operation.

Her husband, Todd, was planning to run the company his grandfather founded. Plans changed when Todd was diagnosed with brain cancer. Sue, in short, “stepped up.”

After Todd’s passing, Sue was labeled “Liqueur Widow” by competitors and the press as long-time clients pulled out of agreements.

Sue will show us that it’s possible to not only fight back, but do so honorably… and that you can run a successful business based on strong values.

My friends, join me and Sue to learn how to harness resilience, overcome adversity and live inspired.

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  • “One day can bend your life.”
    • October 4, 2010 bent Sue’s life. Her husband, Todd, had a seizure, which lead to a cancer diagnosis and a year to live.
  • Todd was determined to not let his death be the end of his family’s business…or his story. While being treated, he had a quilt made from all of his neckties. His watches were engraved for graduations and other special occasions to give to his sons. In his last year, Todd enjoyed planning his memorial service.
  • Soon after Todd’s death, two companies terminated business with Major Brands with no cause. Sue remembers asking herself, “Am I going to fight for this company or not?”
  • After winning in multiple court cases, Major Brands, Inc. did three things: Established a new scholarship in Todd’s name, established a family emergency fund for employees, & gave all associates a loyalty award of $3,000.
  • “We only know our lives looking backward.” 


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? North Toward Home

2. Tomorrow you discover your wealthy uncle shockingly dies at the age of 103; leaving you millions. What would you do with it? I would set up a foundation. I would begin to solve, from a research perspective, how we provide better education and opportunities for people who didn’t have what I had.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? There is a photograph of my sons. I would grab it.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? Marv Levy.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? It came from my second boss, my first woman boss. “Sue, don’t beat yourself up. Others will do that for you. Never do it to yourself.”

6. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at age 20? Take more risks. Be a badass.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? I tried hard.


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I can’t wait to see you here next Thursday! Today is your day. Live Inspired.

Live Inspired with John every day on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedInPinterest, Instagram and get his Monday Motivation email: www.JohnOLearyInspires.com/Monday-Morning



2 replies on “Live Inspired Podcast: S7 | Ep. 75 Sue McCollum”

Sue McCollum I am proud you own such a company in the place where I was born and spent my childhood, well some of it. Such an amazing story, this lady did what other company owners said couldn’t be done. A much listened and for sure inspired podcast!