August 29, 2014

Florida Icon

Icon: Phyllis Apple

CEO, The Apple Organization, age 84

Mike Vogel | 4/1/2007


Phyllis Apple. Photo: Eileen Escarda

I was chairwoman of this and president of that, the PTA. I worked for the Charlotte Observer. I did a column there. I did a lot of substitute teaching. That was in North Carolina. I didn't move here until I was 50.

I was always involved in raising money for charity. I got a divorce when I was 52, and I started dating a man and he said, 'You ought to open up a PR firm 'cause you've been doing it your whole life.' I started my business when I was 58. It was 1980.

I'm not good with names.

I never argue with anybody in the media to say, 'Do mine.' I give them the idea. If they like it, they take it. If they don't, leave it alone. I've taught my staff in my training, you don't push.

I do not want to stop working. I'm so happy that I've got such a fabulous staff that I don't have to do the actual calling and work. I just do the supervision.

You've got to come up with a hook. You don't have a hook, forget it.

I love working with all these young, beautiful people. I love the media. I love the way they think. My staff is really attractive. Not that I plan it. But it happens. I don't think you have to be good-looking. You have to have a certain look to be successful. You have to know how to talk.

We have a lot of women. Usually when you have a lot of women, you have a lot of catty -- a lot of nonsense going on, but I can tell you right now if I see anybody talking about anybody, they're in trouble. We don't have any problems.

If I ever catch anyone telling a lie, they're in trouble.

We saw the rough times. I'm bigger now than I've ever been. I attribute that to my staff.

I used to be very big in TV. I got everybody on TV. Today it's very hard to get on TV. Unless you commit a murder or a rape, it's very hard to get on.

I was working for Tom Daly, who by the way is great -- genius. I learned more from him at every meeting than I could ever learn from anybody else. George Bush was coming to Miami. He's vice president running for president. The older Bush. I got in touch with the committee. Remember they called him the wimp? I said, 'Hey, how would you like to have the wimp sitting on one of the tractors with all the working men with hard hats and him with a hard hat?' George Bush, with an entourage of two buses, loads of newspapermen -- it was amazing -- comes to Mystic Pointe when we were building.

I have a very positive attitude. You've got to know how to take rejection in this business because you're going to be turned down as much as you're accepted.

I have a son who's retarded. And he's married to a retarded girl. They have a wonderful life. They both drive cars. I'm buying them a home. They live in North Carolina. And it was accepting his handicap that I'm good at. I'm very accepting to what is.

Don't worry; that's my key. Do what I can for it and then leave it.

I haven't gone with anybody in a long period of time. Not interested.

I don't even go to my own events anymore if I can get out of it. I'm very happy to go home and read and needlepoint and be with my dog (Candy).

I just finished "Truman" by David McCullough. It's a long book, but I couldn't put it down. And before it, I just had finished reading "Team of Rivals." I've read a lot of Lincoln books, but I want to tell you that book -- I was in tears.

I live in a little townhome right on the golf course. I'm able to have flowers and do my planting there.

I grew up in Newark, New Jersey. I was a cheerleader, of course.

I was a very poor student because I'm dyslexic. When I found out what my problem was, it really helped me.

All my boyfriends went to war. Everybody was gone. I decided to join the Navy. I taught horseback riding because I always rode. I taught tennis and swimming, and we did parties and events for the enlisted personnel. That was the WAVES.

I've heard them say, 'Oh, she's tough.' I've heard people say that. I don't know what they mean by me being tough, truthfully, 'cause I'm not really tough. I'm fair.

I think I'm a pussycat.

Tags: Florida Icon, North Central, Business Services

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