This is the advise that one of my three life-mentors has given me over the years. Quincy Jones would repeatedly tell me, “John, you have to go, to know…” Q, as his friends call him, has lived this creed, and so has Ambassador Andrew Young. Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray, who basically raised me in my adult life, was by necessity rooted in one city as the beloved pastor of growing churches in Seattle and Los Angeles, but still he moved about the world as a young man, seeing what there was to see. All three were changed as a result of their global perspective of the world.

This reality was heightened for me just last night, as Ambassador Young and I hosted 20 young African women leaders in the making at my home in Atlanta. Sponsored by a special program from the U.S. State Department, the visit to Atlanta was hosted by Simmons College, along with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta. The young ladies came from 5 countries in Africa (Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Angola and the new country of South Sudan), all of which Ambassador Young had visited personally in his travels. As a result, he could speak not about Western perceptions of the leadership, their challenges and opportunities, but the realities. The very real connection to these young ladies made them open up even more, and created a much needed bridge of understanding.

These young ladies truly represent the leadership of Africa’s future, but the bonus was that I was reminded of a little Q wisdom; “John, you have to go to know.”

John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, 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 the U.S., 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.

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