I was deeply honored to be asked by my new and good friend Mr. Hasan Aljabri, CEO of SEDCO Capital, to be the featured speaker before the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Chapter of both YPO (Young President's Organization) and WPO (World President's Organization), where Hasan is group chairman.
The best part of the meeting though was not the talk, which was fantastic and very engaged with YPO and WPO members and spouses, nor even the incredible and beautiful chapter award they bestowed upon me at conclusion (with a holy inscription from the Koran). It was being introduced by my new young friend, Hasan and Vivian's son, Aboudi. He is the future of Saudi Arabia and the entire MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and young people like him give me hope.
I spoke on the issue of my bestselling book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bas), which has been well received within the country, but more so, I wanted to frame out a new and bold thought leadership conversation, both for and in the country.
I spoke about the now 60% of the population in the country which is presently below the age of 25 years old, and how this is either a national security threat, or with a bold new strategy and plan in place, a strategic advantage on the entire world.
I for one believe it is an advantage, and I believe the country and its leaders can see the plan, and the pathway forward too. But rainbows only follow storms. You cannot have a rainbow, without a storm first.
I spoke about these men (and also women) becoming the role models they want to see in Saudi Arabia, and that according to Malcolm Gladwell's book the TIPPING POINT, with only 5% role models, every community stabilizes.
I spoke about how according to the Gallup-HOPE Index, here in the U.S., only 5% of our youth have a business internship or business role model, and how for us this reflects either a pivotal tipping point, or a reflection point.
I spoke about how leaders in the United States, and not just in Saudi Arabia, must make some critically important decisions over the next 5-10 years about who, and whom we want to be when we grow up, so to speak. The decisions over the next 5-10 years, will impact generations to come.
And so, here is the question. What if the business elite of Saudi Arabia decides to move their business role model number in Saudi Arabia upwards to 10% or 20% or more, and what if they decided to inspire a generation of young entrepreneurs, small business owners and what I call 'self employment projects?'
If they did this, by say 2020, everything in Saudi Arabia would change. Everything. Because life is all about dignity, love and aspiration.
They would become the change they want to see in the rest of the world...and their own too.
Present at the session included top business leaders such as Mohamad Abu Dawood from Clorox Corporation, Hussein Shobokshi whom I believe to be a hero in the country, Amr Khashogji, who bridges East and West, Zahid Zahid, Dr. Adnan Soufi, CEO of SEDCO Holdings, another new friend, and my brother Amr Ahmed Banaja, my bridge at SEDCO.
And this, this is what family should look like. This is what being a global citizen is all about.
Okay, let's go... Onward, to a better world.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.