People have increasingly approached me on the street, in airports, at events and at HOPE offices, commending me for writing Love Leadership, which many people seem to have read multiple times. Well, to thank me is to really thank Bill George.
Bill George is the reason I am with my publisher, Jossey-Bass and Wiley Publishing, as they publish all of his books.
Bill George is the reason I am with my incredible speaking agent, Tom Neilssen of the Bright Sight Group, who has transformed my professional speaking career and trajectory. They also invested heavily in the success of my book Love Leadership.
Bill George was the one I wanted to write the Forward for my book Love Leadership, being one of the most successful CEOs in American corporate history, and he graciously agreed to do so.
Throughout the writing process, Bill George was there for me, encouraging me, directing me, inspiring me to "maintain my unique voice" throughout the book, no matter what. He told me that Love Leadership would be my calling card, and he was 100% correct. He also told me that I would be measured against the book, both good and bad, and once again, he was correct. So very glad I took his counsel.
It was Bill George who introduced me to the legendary leadership guru, Professor Warren Bennis, now a friend and teaching a new generation of leaders at USC.
I first met Bill George, who is also a business professor at Harvard University, when I was invited to play a part in the inaguaral class of the Forum of Young Global Leaders who were sponsored to participate in a Global Leadership Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Of course, who was the sponsor of now more than 500 YGL's who have gone through this program with YGL — Bill George, through his Bill & Penny George Foundation.
When Bill was CEO of Medtronics, a Fortune 500 company, he increased the market cap of the company of 10 (as in billions of dollars in market cap value), while silmultaneously running a company of deep integrity and passion, and what most do not know — donating a majority of his personal compensation to his foundation, to be given away later after he left the company. And how did Bill and I meet? Through this post-company philanthrophic passion and plan that Bill George and his wife Penny put in place more a decade before, focused not on himself, but helping, inspiring and empowering others.
I am honored to call Bill George a friend, to be mentioned in at least one of his many, many books, but most of all to call Bill George a mentor in book publishing, and a friend to HOPE, and me. Because of Bill George, my life is literally richer, on so many levels.
Thank you Bill George. You are the ultimate example of Love Leadership in action, and a role model for corporate America. Every CEO in America would benefit from having the invaluable counsel of one Bill George.
John Hope Bryant is founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, bestselling author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and a member of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama