"The Man Who Couldn't Speak," about Intel executive Sean Maloney, is one of the most rewarding stories I've done in my 27 years at Fortune. I met an amazing man, got to know an extraordinary family, and came to understand the heroic feat of recovering from a stroke.
I didn't have enough space in the current issue to tell the full story of this man who had beaten the odds already (he got kicked out of high school...dropped out of college…and rose through Intel to be first in line to succeed CEO Paul Otellini) and then beat the odds again in the wake of his medical catastrophe. This past July, a year and a half after his stroke changed his life, Maloney moved to Beijing to be chairman of Intel China.
Sheer will is essential for any comeback. But also key is the support of others--in Maloney's case, his wife and six kids, a Silicon Valley neighbor named Steve Jobs, and his Intel colleagues. As his wife Margaret told me, "What has driven Sean's recovery is his desire to return to work."
Maloney's colleagues did a ton to help him recover. Intel's Tokyo office sent more than 1,000 paper cranes because in Japan, if you wish on 1,000 cranes, your dreams will come true. Intel China sent video greetings, including one from a manager at the Great Wall saying, "Sean, I'm standing here because I want to give you great strength." Intel China President Ian Yang stood in front of Beijing's Olympic Stadium and said, "Sean, I want to give you all the strength that China harnessed for the Olympic Games." Other colleagues in India, Turkey, Israel, and Mexico sent native foods. Deepak Chopra, whom the Maloneys consulted during his recovery, advised that stimulating the five senses can help stroke victims recover.
I also have to share this: I was drawn to Maloney's story--and in kind, he and his colleagues at Intel (INTC) were forthcoming—in part because I knew a bit about strokes and recovery. In February 2010, the same month that Maloney had his stroke, a kid named Wes Schlauch had a serious stroke. Wes, who was superathletic as Sean was, is the son of my closest friend from childhood. His stroke, which hit him right before his 17th birthday, apparently resulted from an ice-hockey injury--a whack to the back of the neck--which led to a blockage in his basilar artery.
Lucky Wes, he wasn't expected to live, but he came back to life, in hospitals and full-time rehab, over the next 11 months. He, like Maloney, beat the odds because he had something to return to: high school, in his case. Dozens of classmates from the Hill School, northwest of Philadelphia, visited and prayed and cheered Wes on Facebook. (TeamWes has 2,582 fans). Hill's headmaster came to see Wes and extended his scholarship. A few weeks ago, Wes returned to Hill, as a day student and "honorary senior." He uses a walker to get around campus; classmates carry his books.
Up next for Wes: college. And for Sean at Intel: maybe the CEO job. (Yes, says current chief Otellini, Maloney is back in the running.) After Maloney's story appeared in Fortune, I connected Sean and Wes, Beijing to Breinigsville, PA. Now they're inspiring one another. After Maloney lost his speech function, centered in the brain's left hemisphere, he persevered and learned to speak from the other side. Wes, meanwhile, saw his math skills decline somewhat; he's compensated by strengthening his verbal abilities.
An amazing thing, the brain, isn't it? These guys know it. "Mind over matter," Wes told me when I visited him a week ago. "Believe to achieve," he added. "I'm living proof that you can reach out and grab it."
Last Monday evening, in the backyard of her Silicon Valley home, Marissa Mayer stood before a crowd of 200 fellow Googlers and their significant others, fed them roast quail and herb-crusted roast bison loin, and feted them for going mobile.
"We walked more than once around the earth at the equator—or 16.7 times around the moon," Mayer declared at the award celebration for the fourth annual "100 Mile Month Challenge."
This is MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 29, 2011 1:06 PM ET
Besides her 1,071 wins, 18 Final Fours, and eight national championships--the stuff that makes Pat Summitt the winningest coach, male or female, in NCAA basketball history--there is the stuff of her leadership. Measured against anyone else in sports or anywhere, Summitt stands as one of the most formidable and focused leaders you will ever meet.
Last night, after the University of Tennessee Lady Vols coach made the stunning announcement that she MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 24, 2011 3:03 PM ET
Warren Buffett and Sandra Day O'Connor walk onto a fairway...
Mark Zuckerberg tees off against Biz Stone....
Bill Gates plays Arnold Schwarzenegger.
These are among the 32 fantasy match-ups in the Fab Foursome Bracket Challenge, a new app that Golf Magazine launched on Facebook today.
Golf Magazine publisher Dick Raskopf says that his group came up with the app after actor Will Ferrell, who appeared on the cover of Golf's big fall issue last MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 13, 2011 3:01 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Elizabeth McKee Gore works at Ted Turner's UN Foundation and oversees Global Partnerships there.
She told me the cool story about creating Nothing But Nets five years ago. The UN Foundation wanted to help cure the world of malaria. Her bosses charged her to develop a strategy to build a public campaign.
She came up with a program called the UN Foundation Campaign to End Malaria. And she commissioned a MOREPatricia Sellers - Apr 25, 2011 11:58 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
In this weekend's New York City Marathon, thousands of runners will be sweating it out for hundreds of causes and charities. One of those diehard do-gooders: Unilever (UL) CEO Paul Polman.
Polman, whose global brands include Lipton and Hellman's and Dove, stopped by Fortune's offices this morning to tell us about his weekend plans. This Saturday night, he'll be hosting a pre-marathon pasta dinner (with his company's MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 5, 2010 2:36 PM ET
My friend Sam Courtney turns 21 tomorrow. I didn't go to his celebration in Washington this weekend, but I sent some advice--from John Wooden. As I told Sam, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, who died on Friday at age 99, carried these words from his father wherever he went:
"Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 7, 2010 12:07 PM ET
One of the regulars at Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women Summit is Billie Jean King. Going strong at 66, she and Ilana Kloss, who heads World TeamTennis (Billie Jean's baby), put on a tennis clinic at the Summit each year. Let's just say, it's amusing to see type-A super-competitors of the business world sweating and struggling to ace it on the court.
I thought of King this weekend when I read MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 29, 2010 3:19 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
A lot of companies--including Coca-Cola (KO), Walt Disney (DIS), Intel (INTC), and a parade of automakers--have a vested interest in a lot of people watching this Sunday's Super Bowl. A record-breaking 100 million viewers is the target audience advertisers dream about.
One entrepreneur I talked with this week doesn't have the big bucks (close to $3 million) to buy a 30-second spot on Super Bowl XLIV. But Randy Hetrick, MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 5, 2010 11:28 AM ET
"I get up for the big ones," Serena Williams said after her Australian Open win.
She and Roger Federer, the men's champ, grabbed the headlines this weekend, but the most intriguing story to me lies behind--in the fact that the greats who outperformed Down Under have been distracted from their main game lately. Intentionally so. And all for the better.
Justine Henin, for instance, took Williams to three sets in the MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 1, 2010 11:10 AM ET
|How Apple scores its lower tax bill|
|Stocks: Looking to Bernanke|
|Sony shares boom on spin off speculation|
|Microsoft unveils new Xbox One game console|
|Bank of Japan maintains policy, cheers Abenomics|