4word champions and advocates women who strive to succeed. As an organization, we believe passionately in mentorship, sponsorship, community, and blazing trails for the next generation. A confidant, influence, and dear friend of 4word, Frances Hesselbein, was JUST recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of their Top 50 World’s Greatest Leaders, along with household names like Taylor Swift, Pope Francis, and others. This achievement speaks volumes of all that Frances has accomplished. 4word founder Diane Paddison salutes this amazing woman and shares about her interactions with Frances.
Diane Paddison: Even before I met her, Frances Hesselbein was a colossal inspiration to me and had a tremendous impact on my career path. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Frances gleaned invaluable lessons and principles from both her grandmother and father, lessons that have continued with her her entire life. Another person who played a major role in her life was Peter Drucker, whom she partnered with for years. Peter’s philosophies and teachings played a major part in how Frances led the Girl Scouts during her time as their CEO (1976-1990), a position Frances rose to after starting out as a volunteer with the organization. Her role as CEO earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to her by President Clinton in 1998. That award is the highest honor a civilian can receive and was bestowed upon her for her service as “a pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity, and opportunity.” How amazing is that?
When I finally had the opportunity to meet Frances in the fall of 2009, it was life-changing. Bob Buford, another dear friend and mentor, had said to me that the next time I went to NYC he wanted me to have dinner with Frances. It was a night I will never forget! Frances kept me completely mesmerized with her wisdom, energy, and humility.
During our conversation that night, Frances shared with me her three favorite quotes (she jokingly refers to them as her “tattoos”):
- “To serve is to live”
- “Leaders of the future listen”
- “The leader for today and the future will be focused on how to BE”
After our dinner together, Frances’ involvement in my life continued. She graciously wrote an endorsement for Work, Love, Pray, a gesture for which I will always be grateful. After meeting Frances, I became good friends with her assistant, Justine Green. Justine helped connect 4word with women in NYC looking for a formal gathering place and thus 4word: New York was born in March 2012. Frances also gave me the incredible opportunity to write for Leader to Leader Magazine, an award-winning quarterly journal of which Frances is the editor-in-chief. The article, Guided Sponsorship: The Ultimate Tool for Internal Talent Sourcing, was an invaluable opportunity for me to speak about one of 4word’s founding beliefs: that mentorship and sponsorship are vital for professionals.
In May 2014, I was so happy to be able to introduce Frances to 4word COO, Sandra Crawford Williamson. The three of us chatted in Frances’ New York office for over two hours, discussing various topics and getting an intimate glimpse into all of Frances’ life accomplishments and accolades. Frances is an incredibly humble person when it comes to discussing all the recognition she’s received over the years, but her office walls conveyed volumes of all the people and organizations she’s impacted through her career journey. Sandra and I were both honored to have been given the opportunity to spend that quality time with Frances.
When I learned that Fortune Magazine had named Frances as one of its Top 50 World’s Greatest Leaders, I was so excited for my friend and mentor, but also not surprised that she had earned this honor. She is one of the most influential people I’ve had in my life, and I know I am only one of many on whom she has left an impression. Her tireless efforts and unyielding work ethic allowed her to achieve amazing things. I congratulate you, Frances, and consider myself blessed and honored to have you in my life.
From everyone at 4word, we would like to offer our heart-felt congratulations to Frances Hesselbein and thank her for her support of 4word over the years. Click here to read the Fortune Magazine Top 50 World Leaders interview, and click here to read our one-on-one interview with Frances, where she shares her belief in the importance of mentors in a leader’s journey.
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