Author of The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation; founder of Operation HOPE, and leading voice on disrupting poverty and empowering the underserved shares the source of his energy
When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What's the first thing you do when you get out of bed? John Hope Bryant: I stretch. I do 30 sit ups and 50 push ups to get my energy flowing. I check my mobile devices to make sure nothing has blown up in the world.
TG: What gives you energy?
JHB: Impact. Living for something larger than myself. Purpose. Seeing people that are important to me smile. Being a force for good in this world, and knowing that I am better today than I was yesterday—a little better personally; more involved, more enlightened.
TG: What's your secret life hack?
JHB: I recharge my batteries, retain my energy, and stay centered to be fueled up.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JHB: I have to name more than one: Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis; People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck; The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck; In the Spirit, Susan Taylor; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra; An Easy Burden, Andrew Young.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JHB: It does not sleep with me—we have a separation agreement. As an entrepreneur, I need to be engaged and available, but I do believe it’s important to disconnect, so at a certain point in the evening I stop working—switching from the left side of my brain to the right side, so I’m using my phone for fun to unwind watching YouTube videos and playing games.
TG: How do you deal with email?
JHB: I hate email because I think it’s inefficient, but I manage it so it doesn’t manage me—my goal is to keep email down to 100.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?+
JHB: I try not to focus on business but on restoring myself. I meditate; sit and be quiet, read something interesting, or call a friend.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
JHB: I get worn out not burned out; exhausted, not tired. I think there’s a difference that has everything to do with if you’re engaged in what you enjoy. I can typically go for about six months before I get to that point of feeling worn out.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
JHB: Last week. This morning. I think every day. With over 300 projects going, I will often think I’m failing at something, whether large or small. Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm, so I overcome failure by just getting back to the work—doubling down, bucking up, not whining.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
JHB: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Also, “Talk without being offensive, listen without being defensive, and always leave even your adversary with their dignity, otherwise they will spend the rest of their life making you miserable.”