In my new book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World, I submit that there are two things in the world, love and fear, and that what we don't love what we fear. Further, I submit that the reason our world is so screwed up today is that most of our so-called leaders have led by fear.
I go on to say that close relatives of fear are shorter-ism, laziness, greed, a focus on me and not we, and asking the question, "what do I get," versus "what do I have to give."
One could say that this current crisis has morphed from a global financial crisis, into an economic crisis, a liquidity crisis, and today it is a global crisis of confidence, and in this environment the ultimate prosperity killer is fear.
Adding insult to injury, as I have also said in Love Leadership and several articles for major publications since its publication, this is not so much a recession but "a reset." In other words, this is not over by a long-shot, and unfortunately, things are likely to get worse before they get any better. Buckle up. But not all news is bad news, and as I note repeatedly in Love Leadership, "you cannot have a rainbow without a storm first."
Not so long ago the Financial Times had estimated that approximately 50 million jobs would be lost as a result of this global economic crisis. I believe that estimation is inaccurate only inasmuch as the job-loss number is respectfully, too low. More than 27 million jobs have already been lost in China alone, and the U.S. unemployment numbers do not take into account the millions who are either significantly under-employed or who have stopped looking for jobs altogether. And certainly the 10% unemployment estimates do not even begin to address the millions who were in a jobless economic crisis in America's inner-cities, the places served by the organization I founded, Operation HOPE, even before this crisis hit. When mainstream America has a headache, minority America tends to get pneumonia, but we are all in this together.
Jobs here in the U.S. and the Western World
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has already said that even with sustained economic growth (GDP) of 3.5% over two years, this is still not enough to move unemployment below 9% (which in my mind means real sustained unemployment of 15% in many places, and well above 25% in America's inner city and under-served communities). Translation: corporate jobs are not going to save us. In fact, I believe there is going to be a net contraction of corporate jobs over the next 12-24 months.
Jobs in the Middle East
Credible reports have estimated a need of approximately 100 million jobs in the Middle East within the next decade, for a (Middle East) population that will be 60% under the age of 25. Talk about a national security threat in the world; there is nothing more dangerous than a person without hope, skills, opportunity, nor the dignity of doing for self. Going further, the number one recruiting tool for the Taliban is not ideology or religion, it's money. Corporate jobs are not going to save the Middle East either, and if you follow this line of thinking, the rest of the world by extension.
Jobs in India
Even before the crisis, informal work outnumbered traditional jobs by almost 20 to 1 in India. I believe that this is more or less the case as well in most of Asia, Latin America, and Africa too.
Hope on the horizon
Before I spoke at the closing session of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year on "Dignity for All," on a panel discussion with Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu, World Economic Forum Chairman and founder Professor Klaus Schwab, and my fellow Global Dignity co-founders and Young Global Leaders, HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen, I approached a group of young Africans and asked them how this global crisis was going to impact them. Their response inspired me, and should inspire you too. They said, "John, some mainstream leaders, only used to a culture of prosperity, seems to be like an orchid in a hot house; requiring near perfect conditions in order to thrive. But we Africans, we are sort of like weeds — we grow ANYWHERE!" And there my friends, is the seed of our collection solution, no pun intended. Learning how to "hustle" with a purpose, and to work again.
I believe that the solution to our collective problem, from the United States to the United Arab Emirates to the poor ethnic suburbs of the UK and beyond, is the spark and nurturing of a generation of young entrepreneurs and self-employment projects the world over. The only thing keeping us from achieving just this over the next two decades is fear.
Fear is the ultimate prosperity killer, but prosperity itself is the best partner to peace, and the ultimate prosperity agenda — a global silver rights movement that teaches the financially poor and under-served the language of money, that cracks the code of free enterprise and capitalism, and inspires individuals to become entrepreneurs — is love leadership is action.
I am reminded of a story that my personal hero and mentor, civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young told me recounting his trip to Israel with his friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along with Dr. King's wife Coretta King. Dr. King had just returned from a tour of the fabled Jericho Road, when a reporter said "Dr. King, you remind me of the Good Samaritan on the Jericho Road." To this comment, Dr. King replied nothing. Later that day, Andrew Young asked Dr. King why he had not responded. Dr. King said "Andy, I like the Good Samaritan, I love the Good Samaritan, and we need more Good Samaritans, but I don't want to be a Good Samaritan. " Dr. King continued, "Andy, I have been on that Jericho Road (described in the Bible), and it goes from 2,000 feet below sea level to almost the same above sea level in 20 minutes. It has blind corners, and people laying in wait. It's a dangerous road. But most of all Andy, I am tired of seeing my people, sitting in a ditch beside that road, looking like victims, and with no options in their lives." Dr. King concluded, "….Andy, I want to fix the Jericho Road. I want to see street lights up along the Jericho Road. I want to see community development and small business along the Jericho Road. Andy, I want to fix the Jericho Roads of our world." I am with Dr. King, who was himself a bit of a social entrepreneur too.
Closer to home, I am also reminded of a young dreamer named Ryan Taylor, who came into my office years ago while in his late 20's, with a dream of becoming a clothier. He had no formal experience or training, and no mainline design or clothing house would hire him, but Ryan was passionate and would not give up, or give in. Ryan convinced me to compel our banking partners to invest in him. Like many start-up entrepreneurs who want to be shot out of a cannon, initially Ryan would not listen, and he quickly lost the $10,000 loan we extended to him. But after that Ryan Taylor was a new and humble man, and took his time to undergo our financial literacy and entrepreneurship training programs at Operation HOPE.
When he finished his coursework we once again encouraged one of our partners to trust Ryan with a $35,000 loan (having committed to simultaneously repay the $10,000 loan on terms as well). Fast forward 8 years later, and Ryan Taylor is CEO of a clothing company called DROBE, Inc. (www.drobe.com), which grosses more than $600,000 annually, has six full-time employees on the payroll, Ryan is paying his taxes and raising his children, and he has even started his own nonprofit organization to show other kids in the inner-city of Los Angeles how to be dreamers too. Ryan Taylor is a vision for America and the world's future generation of dreamers made real, and he is helping me and my mentors Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young to "make smart sexy again" (www.5mk.org).
In the backdrop of this global economic crisis, we need to see what lies ahead not as a problem to be dreaded, but very much like the visionaries did following the Great Depression; as an opportunity for real and sustainable change, and for finally making free enterprise and capitalism actually work for the poor. We need to get "our story line" back, and to finally see ourselves as true interconnected global citizens, bound up together in a "mutual destiny."
I believe that the next 30 years will be the most amazing in modern history, but we have to make it that way. If we don't, if instead we stand stuck and stymied by fear, small ideas and indecision, then what lies ahead will only serve as the set up for 100 years of pure pain passed down to generations yet unborn.
We have become experts at what we are against, but now we must once again become experts in what we are for.
Rainbows, after storms.
John Hope Bryant is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, vice chairman of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy as well as chairman of the Council Committee on the Under-Served, financial literacy advisor to the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council, a Young Global Leaders for the World Economic Forum, and author of LOVE LEADERSHIP; A New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), which debuted in August, 2009, on the CEO Reads Top 10 Best Seller List.
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