If she really focused her energy, Franne McNeal might be able to walk again. That’s what a physical therapist told her as she lay in a bed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. At the age of 44, she’d suffered a stroke—and that was after she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only did McNeal beat the latter, but she also recovered from the stroke. Soon after, she had her MBA from Eastern University.
Raised in Bryn Mawr, where she still lives, McNeal graduated from the Baldwin School at 16. After earning a BA from Princeton University, she went Fortune 500 all the way. She started her own computer-services company at 26, landing a multiyear contract with the city of Pittsburgh—the youngest person ever to do so.
By 2001, McNeal had found a new niche as a coach and consultant to entrepreneurs, most of them women. Then came the health crises. “I remember the therapist telling me that I would accomplish the big goal of walking again, eventually. But I had to start by wiggling my fingers and toes,” she says. “I think that’s a really good analogy for life.”
Now back at full steam, McNeal has her thriving coaching business and is a sought-after speaker. She also wrote two books in three years: Significant Business Results and Significant! From Frustrated to Franne-tastic: Inspirational Stories for the Entrepreneurial Woman. And she is working on two others.
Focusing her energy? Yes, she’s done that.