Today is officialy the birthday of former U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton, but for me, it is merely another opportunity to salute a man I hold in very high regard. Pre-President. President. Post Presidency. Global Citizen. Friend.
I predict that history will confirm that President Clinton was one of the best U.S. Presidents of the last 100 years. Possibly even more. Frankly I believe that President Clinton would be an even better president today, than he was when he served two successful terms in office.
Be clear. I am not ‘political,’ nor am I some sort of a groupie. What I am is an excellence freak.
My admiration for the President does not primarily stem from his life as politician in the Democratic Party, although I believe he is probably the best model we have today for a ‘centrist.’ My admiration stems from his unyielding life as humanitarian, results-getter, and as a real leader. From his noble work at the Clinton Foundation, and his work at and through the Clinton Global Initiative.
I have stood with him in an inner city classroom in Harlem, as we launched our Banking on Our Future program in Harlem, New York.
I have stood with him in Gulfport, Mississippi, as we helped hundreds of survivors of Hurricane Katrina with EITC and emergency financial counseling services through HOPE Coalition America, 10 years ago this month.
I have stood with him as one of the founding members of CGI, when he unveiled the idea in the form of its very first meeting in New York City. One of less than 100 individuals who have attended every one of their annual CGI meetings since.
I have stood with him in Austin, Texas, as he unveiled an innovative program to empower college students through CGI University.
I have stood with him when he launched his bold vision for CGI America in Chicago, IL, with Operation HOPE making one of the very first commitments for action there.
I have stood with him in the Middle East, as he rolled out a plan and commitments to help empower poor and underserved people in the Middle East and the African continent.
And he has stood with and for me — countless times. Publicly at events including his gracious (and donated) keynote address at our recent Annual Meeting of the HOPE Global Forum in Atlanta, Georgia (the Annual Meeting for Operation HOPE).
He has stood by me when I needed his invaluable counsel — on items personal, private and very, very sensitive. His only reaction — what can I do to help? And he did.
He has stood for me — endorsing my efforts and thought leadership — not once, but on the cover jacket of both of my recent bestselling books; Love Leadership and How The Poor Can Save Capitalism.
I know this man.
I know his sincerity, his sense of authenticity and connection with everyone he meets (even those he does not know). I know his commitment to action, and leaving a legacy of a world — better.
Most of all, I know his care. I know that President William Jefferson Clinton, Mr. Bill Clinton — is real.
And so, there are few more worthy or deserving individuals on the planet for me to extend a heartfelt, personal and sincere birthday wish — than him. Happy birthday Mr. Bill Clinton. You have been an incredible friend, to the world.
I hope you enjoy this day. Because of you, millions of other people around the world have, and will.
Happy Birthday my friend.
John Hope Bryant