Editorial director of Hearst Magazines lifestyle group, Jane Francisco, carves out a home for kindness at the office and with her family.
Jane Francisco has built a career around making things better. A publishing force, she’s directed the overhaul of such revered brands as Chatelaine, here in Canada, and more recently Good Housekeeping out of New York.
And while working to inspire innovation, creativity and versatility, the editorial director of Hearst Magazines lifestyle group is equally on a mission to make the world a little nicer.
The Kind Cycle, a recurring featuring in the Good Housekeeping world, encourages the publication’s community to infuse the day to day with acts of generosity. During the summer, the publication announced the creation of the Good Housekeeping Humanitarian Seal to recognize leaders in the field. (WE is thrilled to be the inaugural recipient!)
If not already obvious, Francisco is an enthusiastic supporter of the WE Movement and a co-chair of WE Day in the United States. We had the chance to speak to her about family time, work space and making room for kindness.
When your son was seven weeks old, you created a mission statement of sorts. What inspired that need to write things down?
In the weeks after he was born, I was on some kind of hormonal, emotional recovery roller coaster. One particular night I was headed to the store to buy diapers. It was one of the first times I had gone out on my own. I was in the car, it was raining and a little nasty. As I was driving I had this weird flash of “What if I was in a car accident RIGHT NOW.”
I thought, “Wow. What would I want Grey to know if I couldn’t be there with him? Who I would want him to be, and what would be important Life, motherhood, work, school, playdates and you-name-it create noise! There’s never really that moment when you sit your child down and say, “Okay, these are the two things that you need to know.”
When it comes right down to it, modelling is probably the most important piece. It’s really important to me that Grey understands I respect myself, I respect him, I respect his father, I respect his teachers, I respect my family and friends, and I respect the people I encounter on a daily basis. And this is expected of him as well.
What came to mind first was: Love yourself. Be kind and respect everyone else.
Fast forward more than a decade, how have the demands of motherhood competed against the ideals that you took time to write down?
Life, motherhood, work, school, playdates and you-name-it create noise! There’s never really that moment when you sit your child down and say, “Okay, these are the two things that you need to know.”
In one note to Good Housekeeping readers, you noted that confidence and kindness are keys to survival. As a working mom known for both, do you have tips to help develop those qualities in kids?
Kindness is easier to teach. Teaching confidence is more complicated.
It’s about supporting Grey, but also about trying to give him a variety of experiences. As a parent, part of the negotiation is trying to figure out how to help your child find that sense of confidence while providing them with opportunities to give back—which ultimately builds both character and confidence.
But apparently, there is no magic formula or guide that tells you how to raise each individual child!
How about in your family? Do you have working rules or guidelines around the way you move through each other’s lives and in the world at large?
In our family—just the three of us—when we’re together, we’re together. We really focus on finding that time.
As someone who works and does a fair amount of travelling, my schedule is not always consistent.
But creating those meaningful moments is key. One of the things I am committed to is getting home for bedtime with Grey. That’s our time to talk about the day and wind down together. I will move mountains to be there for that. That said, no matter where I am, he knows I’m always available to him.
How do you create space for kindness in an office in the working world?
Teamwork and collaboration are given the greatest priority at Good Housekeeping. We have the very good fortune of working on some pretty amazing and compelling work. And we all get to on projects with people we genuinely like spending time with. There’s nothing better than spending time with talented, likeminded people who are committed to a common goal. I encourage all ideas to be heard and respected—it’s a combination of having fun and being productive…and helping each other get there!
You serve an audience of all ages across all kinds of divides in America today. What is the greatest challenge for a publication—or anyone, for that matter—trying to make a difference?
We bring real-life stories and real-life complications to light through the eyes of those affected. If a story is intimate and personal it can open conversation and maybe remove some of the political noise. It’s harder to pick apart an honest account from someone who has shared a true experience—even if the person makes decisions you wouldn’t make. Our goal is to tell compelling stories that create empathy and get you thinking. That’s the GH way.
What one thing do you wish all moms knew in their hearts to be true?
I’ve been a mom for almost 11 years now. It’s new every day! If I had to pick one truth…Love unconditionally! That’s the only thing I’ve figured out. That feels right to me.