On Friday, I left you with a promise: that I'd find something new and proactive to do to answer President Obama's call to "responsibility"--which seems to be the buzzword of his Administration.
I found my "to do" this weekend--but before I tell you what I decided on, let me share briefly what I spent yesterday working on. Carrie Welch, my onetime Fortune colleague and former Most Powerful Women Summit co-chair, and I spent six hours at my apartment in Manhattan selecting young women from across the developing world to participate in this year's Fortune/U.S. State Department Mentoring program.
If you read Postcards regularly, you may know about this amazing program. Launched in 2006, it brings rising-star business women from developing countries to the U.S. for the month of May to shadow Most Powerful Women mentors. Carrie, who is now an SVP at the International Rescue Committee, and I chair the program.
This year's mentors, all participants in the annual Summit, include CEOs Andrea Jung of Avon (AVP), Susan Whiting of Nielsen Media Research, and Ann Moore of Time Inc., Fortune's parent. Other 2009 mentors include: Ernst & Young Global Vice-chair Beth Brooke, Wal-Mart (WMT) EVP Linda Dillman, CARE USA CEO Helene Gayle, DuPont (DD) Group President Diane Gulyas, Dow Chemical SVP Julie Fasone Holder, Fidelity Personal Investing chief Kathy Murphy, bank-industry analyst Meredith Whitney (out of Oppenheimer and on her own!) and the most senior women at Accenture, American Express (AXP), Exxon Mobil (XOM), KPMG, and Skadden Arps.
Goldman Sachs (GS) managing director Dina Powell had the idea for the mentoring program four years ago when she was an assistant Secretary of State, working for Condi Rice. Now Dina is a mentor herself and the force behind a Goldman Sachs/Fortune Global Women Leaders Award given annually to an alum mentee who has returned home and "paid it forward" most effectively in her own country.
More about this in upcoming Postcards. But right now, I owe you my own "responsibility" pledge. Realizing that desiring kudos for a job well done is a trait we all share globally (and we sure need kudos these days), I'm promising to contact one mentee each week. The idea is simply to check in, ask how they're doing and tell them that we're thinking about them. If they're in Zimbabwe or Afghanistan or the Middle East and need prayers, we'll do that for them.
If you're thinking now that Fortune is now in the business of helping the best and the brightest business women in developing countries, well, you're right. But these are unusual times. And we're all doing things outside our job descriptions. Since this mentoring has now involved more than 100 mentees in 35 countries, reaching them all will take a couple of years. On on!
The Most Powerful Women franchise, just a decade old, is already Fortune's second biggest after the Fortune 500. Amazing, isn't it? This fact attests to the power of women in a year when so many powerful women - including Hillary Clinton and Morgan Stanley's (MS) Zoe Cruz and Lehman Brothers' (LEH) Erin Callan - got so close to the top and then fell. Even so, the power of women in business MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 25, 2008 2:16 PM ET
Men think about power vertically -- and focus on rank and status and size. Women think about power horizontally -- it's largely about influence. I know I'm in trouble already. This is a stereotype, indeed. But in more than a decade of asking women leaders -- and the men they work with -- how they define power, I've discovered this to be an remarkably consistent truth. My favorite definition of MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 10, 2008 10:51 AM ET
Women exercise power horizontally. I've said this often -- in speeches about leadership and at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, an annual event that I chair. This horizontal slant spurs women leaders to reach beyond the jobs they're hired to do.
Want proof? In May, 40 top female executives in the U.S. -- all participants in the Fortune Summit -- spent two and half weeks mentoring rising stars from 24 MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 12, 2008 2:16 PM ET
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