Thank you Pat Means, founder, president and chief executive officer of Turning Point Communications and the African-American Business Summit, for choosing to present me with the 2007 Living History Makers Award last Friday in Beverly Hills, California. Honored. That said, I am not totally comfortable accepting awards still to this day, because I don't think you should accept an award for doing something you are simply supposed to do. Helping others help themselves, and sharing the blessings given me, is what we are all supposed to do."
The evening was very special, starting off with a VIP reception at Tiffany's, Beverly Hills, and continuing across the street at a top-of-the-mark dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel (I refer to it as the "Pretty Woman" hotel, because the movie was shot there). My friend Pat Means, the brilliant and hard working and visionary innovator around this annual event, deserves enormous credit for doing what others would not. And during my remarks I reminded attendees that this was NOT something to take for granted, as there was a time not so very long ago when African-Americans would have not been welcome in establishments such as these — but now they cater to us. African-Americans, representing a $600 billion annual consumer spending force are the 9th largest consumer spending force in the free world today. Hello Tiffany & Co.
Most of all, my friend and new Blog crazy tech leader Kevin Ross, and my HOPE family, including Lance Triggs and his wife Deborah, my assistant Leslie Alessandro and her friend, our controller Rochelle Zawodny and others, my mind was wondering out 9,000 miles away to mother Africa. I was thinking how blessed we were to be in the United States, and how much we take for granted. How a week or so earlier I was in South Africa, launching our Banking on Our Future, South Africa office there, and how no one was taking life, nor life's opportunity for granted; they simply had their heads down and the hands stretched out — looking for a hand up, and not a hand out. And this is the message I tried to leave with this beautiful audience of African-American's best and brightest; that we all had an obligation that extends beyond ourselves.
That we must become to Africa what Jews are to Israel — a resource.
That Rome failed when it turned its attention away from the we, and started to focus on the me.
Honored to receive this award, yes, but as a friend once told me, "an award is simply another mandate to do the work." Well, there is dignity in work. Let's get to it.
Onward with HOPE
John Hope Bryant