Connect Forward

Lena Epstein and Florine Mark.

To this day, I still remember one of the most meaningful connections I have ever made. When I was much younger, I decided to search for a mentor.  So you could imagine just how excited I was when I learned of Florine Mark, President and CEO of the WW Group.  Florine is the leading U.S. franchise holder of Weight Watchers International, with franchises across the Midwest, East Coast, Canada, and Mexico.  I was impressed by her international recognition, and how she built a thriving enterprise from the ground floor up. She is a wonderful example of an empowered woman looking to help others. It took all the courage I had to write her a hand-written letter and ask for her mentorship. She inspired me. I was determined to connect with Florine and learn from both her successes and failures.

Finding the courage to write the handwritten letter was hard. Finding the courage to send it was harder. I sat on it for weeks. I just couldn’t muster up the courage to send it off. Ultimately, in a moment of clarity, I realized that I alone had the ability to take action – no one would do it for me. Shortly thereafter, Florine contacted me and enthusiastically agreed to be my mentor. That was almost 15 years ago. Today, we remain close friends, and she continues to be an inspiration to me. She has been a wise and thoughtful mentor in guiding me both personally and professionally.  This simple connection has proved to be one of the strongest drivers in my own life. I would have never had this opportunity had I not written the letter and, more importantly, had the courage to actually send it.

The vast majority of individuals thrive on human connection. I took a chance at connection that really paid off. As I reflect on that important personal decision to connect, I start to consider exactly why I chose Florine.  I now realize she has many of the qualities I aspire to embody in my life.

She is a strong, empowered, woman, who built a successful business on her own with nothing but grit, determination, and forethought. She is entrepreneurial, dedicated to helping others, and a pioneer for women in business, becoming a business mogul at a time when very few women were progressing as independent entrepreneurs.  I saw my future aspirations in Florine, and she acted as a symbol for all I could achieve.  She remains a successful businesswoman, grounded in community and dedicated to her own personal life—all qualities I continue to strive for and focus on today.

Thoughtful connection is extraordinarily important. As we continue to seek connection, it is important to do so in a conscious manner. This means we must give thought to the people with whom we invest time. They say you can determine the success of a person by their company, and I believe when seeking a mentor we should all work to surround ourselves with remarkable company.

In order to bring the right people into our lives, let’s ask ourselves these two simple questions:

  • Will this person motivate, develop and inspire me to be the best version of myself?
  • Do I value the qualities and characteristics that this person embodies?

Time is a valuable resource to each of us, and I encourage everyone to use their time to connect with exceptional people, like Florine.

Celebrate connection by looking to connect more with one another in the year ahead.

The sky is the limit, and connection is our launch pad.

 

7 thoughts on “Connect Forward”

  1. Very inspiring and from your heart. I so agree that nothing, nothing, can take the place of a handwritten note. This is such great advice and means that having specific blank notes with you at all times. Great note…. Thanks. Jim

  2. I am inspired by many people. You are one of them Lena B!
    Reaching out by reaching within inspires so many. My mentors have been catalysts to the many professional and personal successes I have been gifted with. In turn, I will give back what was so freely given to me….in any way possible. To continue to open and maintain our connections with others insures the well being of those healthy relationships for the rest of our time here on earth and beyond.

    Every student I have had the privilege to teach skiing to, receives an personalized, encouraging thank you. In business, I continue to send birthday cards and thank you’s. A little kindness goes a long way. People embrace that kind of encouragement and thoughtfulness. We all love to be acknowledged and appreciated for a job well done.

  3. wow- I didn’t know this story about you! What an amazing connection between two incredible women! Even in this digital age, I agree handwritten notes have tremendous power!

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