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!
When the ashes clear from this economic Armageddon, the leaders and organizations left standing will be the ones that stand for something. That have a clear purpose.
I'm sure of this because I worked with two CEO-founders who indeed stood for something: Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines (LUV) and Sam Walton of Wal-Mart (WMT). I worked with these iconic entrepreneurs on their companies' advertising, marketing and internal culture. They taught me MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 18, 2009 1:10 PM ET
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