My friend Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, says "when you put signs up, or make rules against people, it's bad for business." He went on to explain the reason for this. "It messes with the thing this country is about: freedom. It's not about the moral issue, or about who should or who should not get married. Or whether a woman can choose. It is about what you do to the perception of 'my freedom.'"
A couple years earlier I was in his downtown office in Washington, D.C. where Operation HOPE is also located, and I noticed that he had two honorary doctorate degrees from HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) on his office wall. And so, I asked Jim one day, “why do you like Black people so much.” His response was classic.
Paraphrasing here, he said “John, I really don’t (really like Black people, or not). I just want America to win.” Boom. That's the right answer. It had nothing to do with race.
I sort of fell in love with the man's spirit and sense of base humanity right then and there, in that moment. 'What a great American he is,' I thought to myself. We need 1,000 more business leaders just like him.
What really got me though, is Mr. Clifton was not making some big moral statement with eitherof these pronouncements. He was actually just being a rather practical businessman.
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John Hope Bryant is the 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), and is the only 2010-2012 bestselling business author in America who is also African-American. His newest book, due out May, 2014, is HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM, and will be published byBerrett Koehler Publishing. Bryant is a Member of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, and co-chair for Project 5117, which is a plan for the rebirth of underserved America.
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