I have one request for corporate America. Just be like John Bartling. Mr. Bartling is Co-CEO of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation (ACRE), a public company that is part of the Ares Management group, having over $60 billion in assets under management. I know John because I serve on the board of directors for ACRE, but I am wholly impressed with him for reasons other than his intellect, nor his ability to create, stand up and grow sustainable companies that create jobs and opportunity.
I am most impressed with John, because of his personal ethics. Recently while at a board dinner, John pulled me aside and shared his ongoing concern about the lack of diversity (of African Americans and Latinos) on Wall Street and in the upper reaches of corporate America. But more than just talking about it, he wanted to do something about it.
John asked me to find a young, sharp, minority college student, with a talent for math, finance and analytics. He would bring this young person on board as his personal right hand, and allow him or her to 'shadow' him for about a year. That means that this young individuals would meet all the right people, be included in the most important meetings and decisions, and have an indirect impact on outcomes. Whomever they were, they would have a legitimate shot at proving themselves, and thereafter joining what I call the 'club.' And this, in turn, means that this one young person would have a real ticket to opportunity — provided of course they performed. And there is no doubt in my mind that they would do precisely that. Perform.
How do we eradicate poverty in America, and empower the underserved to live a life better? How do we give the underserved a sense that there is hope for them in American free enterprise? This is the way, and all you need is 5%.
Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book "The Tipping Point," proved that with a mere 5% role models, every community stabilizes.
Why am I am businessman today, because my father was a businessman. It's not rocket science, it's mentoring and role modeling.
But we don't just need youth to find business role models and to find business internships, we need 5% or more of corporate America and business leadership to do what my friend John Bartling just did — act like a leader.
Corporate and business leaders who will will take on their own individual HOPE Fellow.
Corporate and business leaders that will give some young person the real opportunity that can and will define their life for decades to comes.
Corporate leaders who become a part of our national HOPE Corps (22,000 strong to date), and become a business role model too.
Individuals who have the courage and vision to do what HOPE national board member, HOPE Partner and my dear friend Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, outlines in his landmark book THE COMING JOBS WAR; playing a key role in what comes next for America.
Corporate and business leaders who will help to inspire the 30 million youth, 4th grade through 12th grade, who Jim Clifton in turn refer to as "the bench strength for the playoff game of the rest of our lives."
American leaders, who act.
Our search for a HOPE Fellow for John Bartling is now underway. Yours could be too.
Thank you John Bartling, for acting. Leading too.
Okay, let's go….
John Hope Bryant is an entrepreneur, author, advisor, and one of the nation's most recognized empowerment leader. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, The 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 America, 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.