This is not just one of my all-time favorite pictures, but a precious photo of me and one of my all time favorite people. Those who know me know that I have three life mentors; Ambassador Andrew Young, Quincy Jones and Reverend Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray. Well, yesterday and through tomorrow I have the honor of hanging with my man and Operation HOPE's 5MKco-chair Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival, here in Montreux, Switzerland. This photo was not taken in Montreux, but it does encompass the love and the amazing energy we share when we are in the same place.
Hanging with Q last night reminded me that the invaluable contribution of mentors and role models should never be discounted. They give us a guide-map of the life-road we choose to take, inspiration when we might feel down or discouraged, belief when we might momentarily lack it, and something even the learned intelligence from the best schools in the world cannot acquire -- life wisdom. These are but some of the amazing "gifts" I receive every time I have the opportunity to hang with my man Q (which is what his friends call him). And while I am the now bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), for which Q is also amongst the interviewed and featured in the book, Q has also taught me how to love; deeper, broader, richer, with fewer conditions and more unconditional giving.
Q is yes an icon to and in our world, and yes he is walking, talking history lesson of the past 7 decades in our world (amongst his countless successes, discovering the likes of Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey, and producing the bestselling albums ever for Michael Jackson, etc), with more Grammy nominations than anyone alive or otherwise, but he is also just a kind, decent, loving and giving human being, and God's child. You cannot spend any time with him without witnessing him giving love to those around him. You cannot witness his genius, without hearing him give almost all credit to God ("we are terminals for a higher power...and we must practice grace with our success and humility with our creativity.").
Kids in the inner city are not desiring to be drug dealers, rap stars and athletes because they are stupid. They are doing it because they are brilliant. They are simply modeling what they see in their community. The more time I spend with people like Q, the more I am convinced that everyone has the potential to become a life-star, and to live their dreams, but they need that positive exposure. And so, maybe everyone, or maybe even not even most, can have the honor of "hanging with Q," but they can hang with you! Become a role model, give back, help me, Q, Ambassador Young, QD3, Tyrese and others to "make smart sexy again." We have made dumb sexy, for too long. Go to 5MK and make a pledge to make a difference, in someone's life!
Onward with HOPE
John Hope Bryant