Io Donna Magazine, November 2018

Article by Francesca Del Nero


Francesca Del Nero, 57 years old. Top manager, in 2010 decided to leave the multinational GE Capital to found a school, the School for Dreamers, and a publishing house, the Efdien Publishing

Former manager of a business bank, Francesca Del Nero has left everything, founded a school for future “ethical and integral” leaders, created the Dreamers Day. Then life cruelly gives her the ultimate test. But she did not let herself down. And here he tells how she did it.
by Francesca Del Nero


“Remember: we have a duty to be happy”, my father used to say. Maybe everything starts from this strong and precise indication, even if life has imposed a long and tortuous ride to make me really understand it. Did my father sense that I wanted to be a “good girl”, at the cost of denying myself? Because yes, it was just like that: it came out clearly when choosing the university. I gave up Philosophy, listening to the self-slandering little voice (“You’ll never find a job, forget about it”), and I chose Jurisprudence instead. Then a Master’s Degree in Banking Marketing (my father – coincidentally – was general manager of a bank…). However, everything went well anyway, in the sense that reality always corresponds to us. I joined Interbanca, a Milan’s business bank, where a good career was waiting for me, an educational experience with extraordinary people, excellent earnings.
I had very busy days and I was, by my personal choice, available 24 hours a day (including holidays). I felt the bank like it was mine, I was satisfied: head of marketing, investor relator, coordinator of all branches.  At the time, the girls were small (10 years the twins, Virginia and Constance, 12 Giulia), but I managed to be a present mother.

In 2008 the company is acquired by GE Capital. On the positive side: work in an American multinational close to home. Negative side: complex management with the chain of command too long. For the first time I ask myself: what is it that you really want?
One day a friend gives me an essay: ‘The School for Gods‘ by an economist and sociologist, Stefano D’Anna. As often happens when one is “ready”, reading that book disrupts me. I had been a rebel since I was a child, I wanted to change the world, convinced that the world would change itself by acting on the outside. The book overturns my vision with the concept of individual revolution. We talk like victims and we forget to take responsibility for our reactions, our attitude towards external circumstances. The transformation must start with us.

I’m still not ready for drastic choices and fate comes to me: GE Capital decides to launch the Health Ahead program, health in front of everything. They knew I was studying certain topics and, in July 2010, I signed the agreement to leave the corporation and, at the same time, the consultancy contract to manage the initiative for the psychophysical wellbeing of employees.
In the meantime, I go to a seminar of D’Anna, an extraordinary collaboration begins that is consolidated with a deep friendship. At the end of 2011, I fund a book publishing house that brings a message of renewal, and a school (School for Dreamers) to train leaders who act responsibly, guided by ethics and integrity. People free from the ballast of negative emotions, who know themselves and are able to focus their purpose, to create a virtuous harmonic economic and social reality.

Jumping in the unknown

Everything started with a leap into the unknown when I abandoned a safe life for the uncertain and, moreover, the first bolt from the blue: I discover having a breast tumor, total mastectomy. “Here’s my test,” I say to myself: “Prove that your journey of awareness is real and that it is not just empty talk.” And so it happens: paradoxically, that experience connects me more to the profound meaning of life. It strengthens me, even though I do not yet know what strength I need.

Stefano died in 2014: it was not only the soul of the school, it was much more. In pieces, with a great struggle I put myself in the front line. I go even further: I bring his idea to life, a day dedicated to those who realize their dreams. In 2015 – despite the zero experience in managing large events and zero money – at the Dal Verme Theatre in Milan the first Dreamers Day in history is celebrated. On the stage, among the speakers, entrepreneurs like Pasquale Forte and Andrea Illy, scientists like Ervin Lazlo and Pier Mario Biava.

In the meantime, a solid cooperation is born with the Founder and President of a multinational company. An enlightened entrepreneur who understood the importance of having conscious, responsible and happy collaborators. Together we study a program with a strong impact on working life and start training one hundred of the managers to become “agents of change” within the group.

Then comes June 2016. On the evening of the 24th I talk to my daughter Virginia on the phone. We say goodbye with a “I love you so much” (I was taught by the girls to say “I love you”: with the reluctance of adults, I didn’t say it much). The next morning, at 7.30, my sister called me: «Virginia had an accident, we need go to the hospital: a femur broke». “I’ll go and give her two slaps, I warned her not to ride a motorbike behind her friends.” I arrive there: my baby is in intensive care.
Her beautiful face is perfect, but he has hit his head. After two days of coma, she leaves us. Desperation, unspeakable devastation: it is against nature to lose a child!
The memories at this point go a bit blurred: the funeral, all dressed in red (a year before she said – incomprehensibly for a twenty-year-old girl – “At my funeral I want everyone dressed in red. And to throw a party”), the summer hours spent next to her grave, the desire to leave as well and the sense of responsibility towards my other two beloved daughters. It was them who insisted to carry on with Dreamers Day 2016.


A book to not forget

Soon after, I decided to write a book: I had some blank memories, I was afraid of forgetting as a result of the shock. This is how I am alive was born. How do you lose a daughter and not lose the ability to feed your dream? How do you turn pain into love? I chose to focus on gratitude for having had Virginia. I chose to continue living to bring even more the messages of the school I founded, which she loved so much, in the world. I chose
constant discipline (no day goes by without my meditation exercises and prayer).

Easy? No not at all! For months nights were a nightmare, the ambulance siren and the anguish of an unexpected phone call. There are still very hard times. Only recently I started to sleep a few hours in a row, when my daughters come home they send me a message and only then I finally turn off the phone.

Is there a formula for going beyond pain? The answer I found is: there is a superior design that governs everything. What we call case and coincidence is within this extraordinary design. The same that causes the earth to be suspended in nothingness and does not roll in the void, that the sun rises every morning. Why should what happened to me be out of this design of love? No, Virginia was in the right place at the right time.


Francesca Del Nero, 57 years old. Top manager, in 2010 decided to leave the multinational GE Capital to found a school, the School for Dreamers, and a publishing house, the Efdien Publishing