With a very special thank you to John Sotoodeh (market president), Jonathan Weedman (local foundation head) and the Wells Fargo Los Angeles team, last night's inagural Book Tour event in and for Los Angeles was much more than another stop on our 100-City Book Tour. It was a legitimate 'happening.'
Held at the famed and ultra cool "Grammy Museum" at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles, the venue helped to set the tone for the 200 VIP invited guests who joined us for a very special reception, conversation and thereafter, a book signing.
John Sotodeh, who defines leadership and humility, deferred to our mutual friend Jonathan Weedman to engage 'in conversation' with me on stage (Jonathan comes from a long list of leaders, as his grandfather was the governor of California, and he is now a very destinguished philanthropic leader in one of America's most important cities), and John posed some of the best questions I have fielded since the book was released on June 2nd. He didn't go easy on me simply because we were friends. There are serious problems in Los Angeles and our nation to solve, and Jonathan wanted to get to the bottom of helping to solve them.
On a personal level, this was a bit of a homecoming for me. I grew up in Los Angeles and Compton, California, spending most of my childhood, youth and adult life in the city. 5 years ago this month, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, joining my personal hero and mentor (and HOPE global spokesman) Ambassador Andrew Young there, and now my wife and family live there also. It was a good move for me personally, particularly given all of my east coast travel, but I do miss large parts of my birth city. Most of all, the people — and the people came out to share some love on this important evening.
While I cannot come even close to covering all of the names of VIPs and friends present, some of them that quickly come to mind include Congresswoman Diane Watson, community legend Sweet Alice Harris, mentor and friend Olivia Mitchell, Roland Wirt, TNL (The New Leaders) alumni including restauranteur Brad Johnson, community leaders Andrea Jackson and Najee Ali (a special thanks to you my man), television producer Rose Catherine Pinkney, the Edwards sisters, HOPE success stories like Ryan Taylor of DROBE Clothing, friends in academic and public service such as Professor Melina Abdullah, and so many others.
I will be back in Los Angeles on several occassions for other Book Tour events, including one with my friend Joseph Otting in July, 2014, and a to-be-scheduled event with Compton Mayor and friend Aja Brown, but this first one admittedly has touched my heart. Thank you all.
And a very special thank you to the Wells Fargo Los Angeles family, for both hosting the event in a first class fashion, and for providing each and every attendee with a complimentary copy of How The Poor Can Save Capitalism. Truth be told, they also are making sure that all Wells Fargo Los Angeles leadership team members receive one (more than 700 leaders in Los Angeles alone).
When banks do well, we should commend them for doing so. I do, right here and now.
Thank you finally to Lance Triggs, CEO of Operation HOPE, Los Angeles, my chief of staff and confidant Rachael Doff, global communications chief Rod McGrew, Bill Walbrecher, president and COO, and the entire Operation HOPE Global Headquarters family for helping and supporting Wells Fargo on this very special evening.
To see all the photos from the evening, go here (more will be added in coming days).
To see the complete HOPE 100-City Book Tour dates, go here (more will be added in the weeks to come).
Okay, let's go.