A father is one of the most influential people in a child’s life. Think about how your own father or father-figure helped shape the person that you are today. Now, imagine what your life would have been like without that paternal influence. As a child who grew up without a real father, former Ambassador Gregory W. Slayton was fortunate enough to be taken under the wing of his “Chinese Father” and drive his future to one of great influence and esteem. We talked with The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton about how his studies of fathers around the world ignited a quest to encourage and empower fathers everywhere.
4word: Can you tell us a little about your childhood, and the experience you had with your father?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: There are definitely not a lot of happy memories from my childhood. Here’s a mini-movie that was recently released in China about my early life. I think it will give everyone a good picture of my early years.
4word: Is this what drove you to write Be A Better Dad Today?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: Not having a real father when I was young was a tough deal. And then seeing my “Chinese Father” do such a good job really showed me the power of fatherhood, either for evil or for good. When I got married, I realized that I did not want to repeat the mistakes of my U.S. Dad, so I studied good (and bad) fathers around the world for many years. That became the basis for Be A Better Dad Today, which really started just as notes to myself about the practices (I now call them tools) that good fathers use.
4word: How have people (fathers in particular) responded to Be A Better Dad Today?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: The response has been simply amazing. The book has been published all over the world, and there are approximately 150,000 copies in print worldwide. The book is being used by men’s groups all over, and our prayer is simply that everyone who reads it will be drawn closer to his/her heavenly Father and earthly family. Because in the end, life is not about things. It is all about relationships; that is all we are taking with us when we depart this world, as we all must do.
4word: Be A Better Dad Today is now available in China. What has the journey to introduce the book to the people of China been like?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: BBDT came out in Taiwan (in traditional Chinese characters) just over a year ago. It is published by Commonwealth Press, which is Taiwan’s largest business publisher. They have been a great partner, and the book has been far more successful than anyone imagined. It has sold about 20,000 copies in its first year, which is a huge number for Taiwan. As always, we give 100% of the royalties from every country back to Christian charities in that country.
BBDT came out in the People’s Republic of China on June 1st of this year. It is published by CITIC Press, the largest business publisher in the PRC. CITIC has told us it is the first book they have ever done on fatherhood or family or faith. The book has sold almost 10,000 copies in its first few months, and CITIC is going into a second printing. CITIC has been a good partner, and we are honored to be working with them in that great nation.
4word: What inspired you to establish the Fellowship of Fathers Foundation?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: The sense that fatherhood is being devalued in our society, and all the research that tells us that fatherhood remains one of the most important social institutions we have. Talking about the importance of fatherhood is not ‘politically correct’ in some circles, but the research is very clear. Father absence is a primary cause of many of the most pernicious problems our society faces today: from teen suicide to drug abuse to incarceration to illiteracy. Having a father around in one’s youth is also positively related to many, many positive life outcomes: graduating from high school and college, being able to hold down a long-term job, and building a successful family oneself. These lists go on and on. Fatherhood really can be a great blessing or a huge curse (just as I saw in my own growing up). Your readers can learn more here.
4word: What is your main vision for the Foundation?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: To help men everywhere to be better fathers, better husbands, and better men.
4word: How can our readers help support the Foundation?
The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton: The easiest way is to buy a copy of the book. There’s a lot more on the book on the official website, and the book is on sale at Amazon and everywhere books are sold. The most direct way is at the Foundation website . There you can learn all about our programs here in the USA. We also work overseas, but we don’t talk about that on the website for reasons I’m sure you understand.
4word women, who are the important men in your life? Your father, husband, brother, boyfriend? Heed the words of The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton and give the men who’ve had the biggest impact in your life the tool they need to succeed as either a current or future father. Give them a copy of Be A Better Dad Today and encourage and grow with them on their journey to be the best man and father that they can be.
How did your father help shape your life? If you grew up in a fatherless home, how do you think that affected who you are today?Gregory Winston Slayton is an American author, diplomat, professor, businessman, and philanthropist. Born in Ohio, Slayton now resides in Hanover, New Hampshire with his wife and children. After graduating from Dartmouth College magna cum laude in 1981, Slayton was a Fulbright Scholar to Asia – earning a Masters in Asia Studies in 1982 from the University of the Philippines. He then ran regional programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America for international non-profits such as World Vision International. In 1990, he graduated with honors from the Harvard Business School and then worked for McKinsey and Company for five years. Hired out of McKinsey to help run Paramount’s Technology Group in Palo Alto, California – Slayton remained in Silicon Valley for 10 years as a public and private company CEO and then a venture capitalist. As a CEO, he was responsible for a number of successful turnarounds such as Paragraph International and MySoftware. As the Managing Director of Slayton Capital, he was on the Board of Advisors of Google and Salesforce.com as well as Bloom Energy. Slayton was appointed by President George W. Bush as the United States Consul General and U.S. Chief of Mission to Bermuda, a position he held for four years from his swearing in by Secretary of State Rice on August 15, 2005 until August, 2009. Slayton was extended twice by the Obama Administration. He also received the Distinguished Foreign Service Award from members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is the only Republican diplomat in U.S. history to be so honored. Slayton continues to work as a venture capitalist through his firm Slayton Capital. He is the Chairman of PromoteU Digital and is actively involved with a number of early stage high tech companies. He is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Leadership at UIBE Business School in Beijing. He teaches on occasion at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College as well as the Harvard Business School and Stanford’s GSB. His most recent book “Be A Better Dad Today!” was published by Regal Publishing for Father’s Day 2012 and has sold almost 75,000 copies to date. Slayton and his wife, Marina, founded the Slayton Family Foundation in 1999 and the Fellowship of Fathers Foundation in 2011. Both are registered U.S. 501(c3)’s.
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