When you select a former banker, at one of the world's largest banks, as the nation's next chief of staff for the President of the United States, the nation and it's people have to stop and re-think whether "bashing the banker," just because it is convenient to do so (or finding any other convenient scapegoat for that matter), is the way we are going to get out of the mess we are in. The reality is, all or even most bankers in this crisis were not bad (although more than a few were horrible, and bordering on the criminal), just like capitalism itself was not the root problem of this global economic crisis; greed was. Individuals who, because of the pursuit of money alone, treated clients like short-term transactions rather than long-term relationships.
Bad virtues and values, and a fundamental lack of vision and leadership were and remain our overriding problem. And so, the appointment of Bill Daley gives me hope if only for one reason; Bill is a leader, with a broad view of life.
I am honored to call Bill Daley a friend, as well as a supporter of my work here at Operation HOPE (we once even discussed his joining the national leadership board of the organization I founded, Operation HOPE). That said, I would not champion his appointment by our President strictly for personal reasons. Frankly, I have otherwise wonderful people in my own family, whom I love, and for whom I would also not nominate for the post of dog catcher in my local community, no disrespect intended.
Bill is a uniquely talented public servant, a private sector businessman, and an "organizer" of macro-level leadership activities with a vast cross-section of experience, including but not limited to his most recent post as vice chairman of JP Morgan Chase, and secretary of commerce under President Bill Clinton's Administration, amongst others.
And while I commend and congratulate my friend Bill Daley on this incredibly important appointment (as I already have privately), I actually give the real credit here to President Barack Obama; for making this smart choice. Bravo Mr. President.
The problem in America today is a broken economic system, broken values, too much me and not enough we, and not enough jobs, period.
Looking at our founding history, as a nation we are a democracy rooted in individual property rights, capitalism and free enterprise. And so, to throw capitalism and free enterprise under a bus, is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
We know the bums screwed up the American Dream, but the bums are not the dream itself. As far as I am concerned, free enterprise is sort of like democracy; a horrible system, except for every other system.
What we need now is to recognize that this is reset, and not just a recession.
What we need now is to see this as a crisis of virtues and values, and not just a simple economic crisis.
What we need now is to ignite the power of our ideas, once again, and to focus on producing things of real value to people and society, and not just "making money" at any and all costs. In short, we need to "make stuff again," even if that means Silicon Valley oriented stuff.
What we need now is to "make smart sexy again," and to rally our children to see an education as the best sure fire route to fulfilling the American Dream.
What we need now is to rally American competitiveness, her legendary work ethic, and to inspire what I call the "entrepreneurship generation" amongst our youth; many of which will not be able to secure a previously secure corporate job. The most dangerous person in the world, is a person without hope.
What we need now is, quoting my mentor and personal hero, civil rights icon and HOPE Global Spokesman Ambassador Andrew Young, "communism failed because it could not create a middle class, and capitalism succeeded because it did create a middle class, but we have failed to make free enterprise and capitalism relevant to the poor, and to work for the poor."
Money is not evil friends, it is agnostic; we must give it (positive) meaning in society and life.
What we need now is to re-imagine the American experiment of democracy and free enterprise, and launch a new silver rights movement squarely focused on making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to us all, and ultimately work for us all. In short, we cannot afford for a good portion of the American public believing that free enterprise is a rigged system, with rules stacked against them. Likewise, we need the American public to finally understand "the language of money," or financial literacy, as the new civil rights issue.
We need empowerment from the bottom up, and a fair and equitable system, loaded with transparency, openness and opportunity at the level of structure, policy.
Having Bill Daley at the table in the White House will help insure a "balance of voices," and with any lucky, his active and uniquely gifted management stye will give our President the running room he needs to then make magic happen; figuring out what we are for, instead of what we are against, and then moving us powerfully in that direction.
Bill Daley — honored to call you a friend, friend. Honored to work with you as well, as a member of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama.
Onward with HOPE
John Hope Bryant
Founder, chairman and CEO, Operation HOPE
Member, U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability
Author of bestselling business book, LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass)