What the Founders of FedEx and RainforestECO Have in Common

Frank Maguire.

Who’d know that I had the same wonderful mentor that Fred Smith had during his napkin days of dreaming impossible dreams about flying small objects around the world from a central hub, if I didn’t write this post today?

Frank was a founding executive of FedEx, an advisor to Colonel Saunders when he was starting KFC, a White House correspondent for JFK and LBJ, and he discovered, then hired Ted Koppel at ABC. The only thing he remembered as a regret, was not sitting down to share a Coke with JFK when he bumped into him one night in a dark, quiet White House. He was feeling shy in that moment – but never would again after that.

This is the 77th anniversary of Frank’s utterly astounding life, and we all wish he would be physically here with us to share the occasion. But he is here through a remarkable spirit who still puts wind beneath my wings, while I remember what he taught me.

1 – Never, ever, ever believe anyone who tells you you can’t do what you’re dreaming or that your dream is too big. Nuts. Just leave them alone and find the people who will help you, they’re out there.

2 – Trust your gut. When you feel that something’s going sideways in a relationship, trust it, it is. Take care of yourself and your business baby right away. Walk if you have to, with your head held high. When you find the people who you know are there to help achieve the goal, be there for them. They’re family.

3 – Always keep listening and learning and adapting to the flow of the moment. You can always learn more.

I remember sitting in his home, telling him about my dream of starting RainforestECO to benefit the forests of Brazil before going in Dec. 2008. His wife Carmel was making us lunch, and I was explaining how we could make fabrics from my rainforest art that would inspire people to become rainforest ambassadors. Uh huh. It didn’t sound like much of a business to him, but he was kind and he was listening to a dreamer. Carmel was able to see that dream more easily from her background as an interior designer.

But by the time I came back from my trip and was completely fired up that we could make a massive difference by creating a revenue stream for rural families to reforest the degraded lands, and I’d found the people who could make that happen, everything changed. We were in the same kitchen, while Carmel was making us another amazing lunch, and this time Frank said “I want to help, what can I do? What do you need? We have to do this…”

A few meetings later (some on their lazy river boat, some on their back deck, some in restaurants where Carmel always knew how to make the staff know they too were the most important people in the room), I developed the courage to let this Dream be the keynote of rest of my life. Even if the economy looks like it’s crumbling. So what. We’ll rebuild it.

There’s always a way when the wind is beneath your wings, and Frank Maguire is at your back. I love you Frank, and I refuse to miss you because you are still at my back and I feel your strength when my own is flagging. Thank you and Carmel for your extraordinary generosity of time and spirit. Thank you for sharing your tears with me when we watched Van Jones together, and your laughter when we watched Peter Sellers. Thank you for showing me how to lead a legendary life.

This movie clip is from a small gathering hosted at the home of Carmel and Frank Maguire last summer, as a fundraiser for RainforestECObank.

In this wonderful world of marketing that we have today, everybody’s got these massive brand phrases. Not only the ‘Absolutely, positively overnight,’ Federal Express is famous for, but I’m talking to you about the fact that we as a group, have taken on a very ambitious, but also a doable goal. It is our role and the role of everyone who gets involved with us, is to have an effect and an impact on every single human being on the face of this globe… And our job is to reestablish, to revitalize, to renew, to regenerate the lungs of this great planet earth.

Join us physically, join us emotionally, and if you are blessed, join us financially, because our journey has just begun. And, we are so fortunate to have been involved in this wonderful opportunity…

So as I said to my friend,”Count me in!”

Francis X. Maguire
Founding Executive of FedEx

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