Up From Nothing

Facing a challenging economy, too many Americans despair of improving their lives. But John Hope Bryant insists that America is still the Land of Opportunity. Up from Nothing revives the forgotten story of the American Dream. It’s about our beginnings as a nation of go-getters who believed they were winners before they won.

Using the inspiring story of his own rise from humble beginnings, and that of his parents and grandparents, Bryant shows how individually we can change our mindset from survivor to thriver to winner and move beyond just getting by or being financially independent to becoming wildly successful. Collectively, we need to become a nation of winners once again.

By ensuring that every stakeholder in America has access to the Five Pillars of Success–massive education, financial literacy, strong family structure, self-esteem, and supportive role models–Bryant shows how we can fulfill the promise of America’s greatness. But to do so, we must turn away from distractions–such as political in-fighting or racial and class divisions–and focus on what we can control. This is not a book of tips on how to get a better job or make more money. It’s about adopting a new way of thinking that will do all that for us and more. Up from Nothing is the new (old) business plan to keep us winning as a country. 

Editorial Reviews


“In this time of change and uncertainty, John Hope Bryant’s fundamental optimism and clear vision are necessary and inspiring.  He challenges us to renew our commitment to the American Dream and create inclusive-opportunity for all Americans.  John’s voice is essential to our national dialogue on how we build the future. “

—Dan Schulman, President & CEO, PayPal 

Up From Nothing” explains how to really level the playing field – ensuring everyone can attain their 5 Pillars of Success – with critical tools like education, financial literacy and access to role models. In this book, John Hope Bryant shares how your perspective and passion can help determine your potential in life and demonstrates the power within each of us to influence and control our own reality.”

—Roger Goodell, Commissioner, National Football League

“John Hope Bryant brings the lofty ideals  of the American dream within the reach of those who have been left out, looked over and locked out of its acquisition. His latest literary deposit,  UP FROM NOTHING – The Untold Story of How We All Succeed, will inspire you, but greater still, it will impart to you the tools necessary to greatly enhance  your impact!”

Bishop T. D. Jakes, C.E.O., TDJ Enterprises, LLP, New York Times best-selling Author

“Sometimes it can be hard to really understand the plight of others when your personal experiences have been vastly different.  It is difficult to know what is unseen.  John Hope Bryant has lived many different lives, and is successful in a diverse number of social and economic circles, which he shares in “Up From Nothing.  This book will help to widen perspectives, and narrow the differences between us.  John is amazing and so inspiring, and the book is both well-timed and relevant.”

Susie Buffett, Chair, Sherwood Foundation

“John Hope Bryant’s personal journey and professional accomplishments are an inspiration for me and many others.  And the lessons that can be drawn from his experience have significant implications for all of us as leaders.  In particular, his focus on the importance of mindset—the power of believing in oneself and having faith in those around you—is a critical insight for all of us.  He helps us remember to see the best in ourselves and others and to convey that confidence to them.  When we do this, we can unlock an enormous amount of potential in people and collectively achieve goals that no one ever thought possible.”  

Timothy Welsh, Vice Chair, Consumer and Business Banking, U.S. Bancorp

“John Bryant reminds us that the American Dream wasn’t meant for some of us, but for all of us. Nobody has worked harder to lift the horizons for those without hope.”

—Quincey Jones

Up From Nothing” is essential reading about a once-in-a-generation reset. The creation of an equitable and sustainable future requires strong communities and shared accountability. This all starts at the local level where neighbors, local businesses, and meaningful connections have the power to create a rising tide that lifts all boats.” 

—Sarah Friar, OBE, CEO Nextdoor Inc., Member of the Board of Directors for Walmart and Slack 

“Reading this book was both informative and transformative. Whether we come from the hollers of Appalachia or the inner cities of LA, each of us battle the same obstacles and search for the same answers. The five foundational pillars Bryant identifies to ensure a level playing field of opportunity for all are brought to life through his biographical journey that teaches the reader through applied experience, while inspiring you with possibility and the desire to implement change immediately. Simply amazing!”

Brad D. Smith, Executive Chairman, Intuit 

“John Bryant is both a force of nature and a force of good for this country. John has committed himself to helping those communities that have had less access to the American Dream.  He works tirelessly to improve financial literacy, and his consistent efforts on economic empowerment, improved education for minority children and access to attractively priced capital are admirable.  Unfortunately, the world will not get better or more fair overnight, but it will get better over time if all of us take a moment to listen more carefully to many of John’s recurring observations. John Bryant’s goal is to push our country to acknowledge obvious inequalities and take the required steps to address them.  It may not be easy, but it will be worthwhile—so I share John’s goal and so respect his passion for making the world a better place.”

Tony Ressler, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Ares Management Corp., Owner, Atlanta Hawks

The Memo

America’s poor, working poor, and middle class are in a waiting game they cannot win – jobs will not come, times will not get better, and communities will not flourish until they “get the memo,” i.e., take charge of their own financial futures. Bestselling author John Hope Bryant (How the Poor Can Save Capitalism) tells them how.


RULE 1 : You Live in a Free Enterprise System— Embrace This.
RULE 2 : Your Mind-Set Makes or Loses Money and Wealth—You Choose.
RULE 3 : Relationships Are Investments— Build Relationship Capital with Yourself First.
RULE 4 : Be Entrepreneurial—Don’t Just Get a Job.
RULE 5  : Spiritual Capital Is the Start of True Wealth—Own Your Power.

Editorial Reviews

“We regrettably live in a system of haves and have-nots, and I know nobody working harder than John Hope Bryant to deliver success and resources to those who feel left out. Our Creator intended each of us to share in the Earth’s bounty, and none of us should be without the means to achieve prosperity and wellness. This book explains how to claim your place at the table.” —Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

“John Bryant gives us a new understanding of the world in which we live. Normally we approach the world through votes and politics, when ultimate power has always been with the money, and having been ambassador, mayor, congressman, and civil rights leader, I must confess I am still struggling to make sense of the present global economy. Atlanta’s success was clearly that we ignored Washington and went to Wall Street. Washington has $20 trillion, the US government has $20 trillion and $18 trillion in debt. Wall Street has available in excess of $60–70 trillion. Atlanta made the shift to globalization, and our city has grown from about 1.7 million in 1982 to over 6 million presently, and the only explanation that I have is we were willing to reach beyond government debt and politics and engage with the money centers of the planet. The truth of it is, the press and the Congress and the Senate and even the FBI are thinking nationally, but the major decisions of the world are a part of the global economy. Dr. King’s efforts to redeem the soul of America from the triple evils of racism, war, and poverty was right on target, but his vision was stalled by a single bullet. They may have killed a dreamer, but John Bryant continues to pursue the dream that all God’s children are endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Memo gives suggestions on how we might help ourselves and each other through earning, investing, and managing money.” —Ambassador Andrew Young, Chairman, Andrew J. Young Foundation, and Global Spokesman, Operation HOPE

“There are two books every black person in America must own and read: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Chaos or Community and John Hope Bryant’s The Memo. The future survival of black America depends on it. Period.” 
—Roland S. Martin, Host/Managing Editor, NewsOne Now, TV One, and Senior Analyst, Tom Joyner Morning Show

“John captures how our world, with its amazing technological advances, has no space for those who procrastinate. To reimagine what is possible, people need more than just access to financial tools and services. The sense of urgency and ownership he describes can help us to put those tools to work to benefit ourselves and ensure that we won’t have the Internet of Everything without the Inclusion of Everyone.” —Ajay Banga, President and CEO, MasterCard

“The Memo is what so many in America need to truly realize their full potential. My life is testimony to just about everything that John has placed in the bindings of this book. I grew up on the rough side of Chicago but found my Identity Project standing next to the playing side of a piano in Seattle. Just that one thing changed the trajectory of my life. And relationship capital—well, next to having talent, of course—this has proven to be everything in my life. I am now a global citizen, with business and partners around the world. I ‘got the memo.’ I have known John Hope Bryant for a long time and can say he has been fighting tirelessly to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. You should read this book. It made my soul smile.”—Quincy Jones, entertainment icon and CEO, Quincy Jones Productions

“Bryant’s rules for economic liberation are applicable to all who recognize that inner capital is the currency for success. He brilliantly tackles the root cause of the invisible class and shines a light on the path to a life well spent through one’s mindset, spirit, and action.” —Susan Somersille Johnson, Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, SunTrust Banks, Inc.

“By sharing the key concepts and experiences that have contributed to his success, John Hope Bryant provides a formula for upgrading your personal software and understanding how to leverage yourself in today’s society.” —Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution, and cofounder of AOL

“John Hope Bryant makes a clear and compelling case for taking control of your future by managing your ‘inner capital.’ With The Memo, he shows how to tap into your wisdom, creativity, and intuition to lead a successful, thriving life.” —Arianna Huffington, CoFounder and Former Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class

John Hope Bryant, successful self-made businessman and founder of the nonprofit Operation HOPE, says business and political leaders are ignoring the one force that could truly re-energize the stalled American economy: the poor. If we give poor communities the right tools, policies, and inspiration, he argues, they will be able to lift themselves up into the middle class and become a new generation of customers and entrepreneurs.

Raised in poverty-stricken, gang-infested South Central Los Angeles, Bryant saw firsthand how our institutions have abandoned the poor. He details how business loans, home loans, and financial investments have vanished from their communities. After decades of deprivation, the poor lack bank accounts, decent credit scores, and any real firsthand experience of how a healthy free enterprise system functions.

Bryant radically redefines the meaning of poverty and wealth. (It’s not just a question of finances; it’s values too.) He exposes why attempts to aid the poor so far have fallen short and offers a way forward: the HOPE Plan, a series of straightforward, actionable steps to build financial literacy and expand opportunity so that the poor can join the middle class.

Fully 70 percent of the American economy is driven by consumer spending, but more and more people have too much month at the end of their money. John Hope Bryant aspires to “expand the philosophy of free enterprise to include all of God’s children” and create a thriving economy that works not just for the 1 percent or even the 99 percent but for the 100 percent. This is a free enterprise approach to solving the problem of poverty and raising up a new America.

Editorial Reviews

“John Bryant is what I call a practical idealist who dreams big and then moves with precision to action. He reminds us of the age old adage, ‘if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime’ because he or she now has the skills and knowledge to become self-determined. One of the few and best plans for addressing poverty is outlined in this book. It lays out a clear and actionable path to address some of the issues that led my father to call for a poor people’s campaign shortly before his assassination. You will have a different perspective on poverty and ‘poor people’ when you finish reading this book and realize that in order to secure our economy, we must ensure that everyone is given a fair and just opportunity to prosper.”
—Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., and CEO, The King Center

“We cannot win the war for good jobs without the inclusion of and capacity building of the poor—this book shows the way and makes a personal, moral, and chiefly economic argument for how the poor can save capitalism.”
—Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO, Gallup, and author of The Coming Jobs War

“John and I want the same things. And the goals of this book are the same goals of my Rebuild the Dream campaign. He has provided the road map to economic recovery for this country at a time when economic inequality is at its peak. I, for one, will be following the steps laid out in the HOPE Plan.”
—Van Jones, former Presidential Advisor to Barack Obama and current host of CNN’s Crossfire

“I’ve known John for a number of years, and hope isn’t just his middle name or the name of the organization he founded, it’s what he spreads to everyone he encounters. In this book, John articulately describes actionable ways to connect those who are currently disconnected from the economy and in the process provide opportunity for the poor and the business community simultaneously. These practical and innovative suggestions to the private (and public) sector should be heeded and implemented by CEOs across the country.”
—Duncan L. Niederauer, CEO, New York Stock Exchange

“John Hope Bryant offers a compelling argument to build both capitalism and communities through the advancement of financial literacy among the poor and middle class. With the vision that all people should have the opportunity to participate fully in our economy, he enlivens the American dream.”
—William H. Rogers, Jr., Chairman and CEO, SunTrust Banks, Inc.

“This book does not attempt to explain all of the economic inequality that exists in today’s society but instead imagines solutions. The weakness of most theories on resolving inequality is that they do not speak to the imagination. John Bryant speaks to our imagination and delivers an inspiring message for young people that imagination and self-determination are the only tools needed to change the world. A critical reminder for Americans that there is no finality to being poor.”
—Philippe Bourguignon, Vice Chairman, Revolution Places; CEO, Exclusive Resorts; and former co-CEO, World Economic Forum

“Economic immobility is the defining issue of America in the 21st century. John Hope Bryant makes an engaging case for why we must make our economy work for everyone. How the Poor Can Save Capitalism is a must-read for business leaders, policymakers, and community leaders who want to make the American Dream a reality for all our children.”
—Ben Jealous, former CEO, NAACP

“John Hope Bryant’s brilliant new book is the key to making capitalism work for everyone. Bryant writes from his heart and his personal experience as a former homeless person who has become enormously successful by investing $500 million to help the poor become financially literate and financially successful. Bryant’s strategy and his humanity can transform society and heal the wounds that keep us apart.”
—Bill George, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School, and author of True North

“Bryant’s offering is a critically thought-out, comprehensive, and clearly articulated remedy that will advance our suffering and stymied community. And it’s written beautifully and boldly from a perspective of deep understanding and compassion and a heart full of love.”
—Susan Taylor, former CEO, Essence magazine, and current CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement

“This book sets out a clarion call for dramatically increasing the financial capability of the undeserved and through that step encouraging their native-born instincts of entrepreneurship. Setting forth real-world examples of success from the great works of Operation HOPE, John Hope Bryant puts forth a common-sense game plan, which, if followed, will provide a better future for our nation. Let’s go!”
—Richard Ketchum, CEO, FINRA

“John Hope Bryant is the essence of his middle name: Hope. A planter of the same, he invites us to cultivate by seeding hope, investing in hope, nurturing hope, and harvesting hope. He extols not a hand out, but a hand up. And what is the rope that pulls us upward? It is hope, hope such as seen in the middle class, the upward spiral that determines and differentiates between ‘rich’ or ‘poor.’ Self-determination is the new definition of freedom, and both are dependent on financial literacy. The latter provides the quartet of harmony: education, self-esteem, real choice, and real opportunity for all. This is the essence of hope. The author may be summarized in his own words: The hope factor, then, is a good job and a shot at aspirational success. Our major issue today is not so much about race, the color line, or social strife as it is about class and poverty. Let the people say amen.”
—Rev. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, former Pastor, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Los Angeles, and Tansey Chair, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC

“John Hope Bryant has set out to save America by returning her to the nation’s founding idea—a sustainable, growing middle class that serves as a beacon to others, a light on the hill. That’s just not possible while 80 percent of the population has only 7 percent of the money. But Bryant has a plan to make free enterprise work for the poor, by providing mentors, building dignity and confidence, and enabling access to money and financial literacy. It’s the right idea at the right time.”
—Sean Cleary, Member of the Board, The Abraaj Group, and Vice Chair, FutureWorld Foundation

“John Hope Bryant’s third book is finely focused on the causes of the dearth of financial literacy and the needed tactics to improve it through education and inspiration of both adults and children in the United States and other countries. A financially educated and inspired public will make better decisions in both their personal and working lives, which will yield a stronger economy and more broad-based opportunities for everyone. While I certainly don’t agree with the positions of some of the people noted in the book, the achievement of John Hope Bryant’s recommendations will likely require the broadest possible participation and support. This book proposes solutions, goals, and opportunities for us all to be part of the needed work.”
—Jim Wells, former CEO, SunTrust Banks

“The greatest leaders of America have been about dignity. Abraham Lincoln ended slavery, but less known is that just before his death he founded the Freedman’s Savings Bank to empower former slaves economically. Martin Luther King, Jr., was not only about civil rights—he was assassinated when he started his Poor People’s Campaign for all races. In this book, John Hope Bryant lays out an inspiring and concrete plan on how to realize the unfinished vision of Lincoln and King. This book is not only to be read but to be implemented. This book operationalizes dignity in the economic field.”
—Professor Pekka Himanen, cofounder, Global Dignity

“John Hope Bryant’s work on the flaws of capitalism and what can be done about them not only is very timely but also responds to a growing global hunger for a more responsible and equitable model. His accessible style, personal reflection, and heartfelt commitment to driving change make this a must-read for all those who care about the future and a practical guide for policymakers and leaders. For too long we have overlooked our interdependency and the true value of human capital—Bryant makes an eloquent and rational call for us to put poverty and inequality right back at the top of the agenda.”
—Clare Woodcraft, CEO, Emirates Foundation

Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World

A dynamic young leader shows how leading with love and respect creates success in business and life.

Written by the founder of Operation HOPE and advisor to the past two U.S. presidents, this groundbreaking book makes the case that the best way to get ahead is to figure out what you have to give to a world seemingly obsessed with the question: What do I get? Aimed at a new generation of leaders and extremely relevant for today’s economic climate, Love Leadership outlines Bryant’s five laws of love-based leadership-Loss Creates Leaders (there can be no strength without legitimate suffering), Fear Fails (only respect and love leads to success), Love Makes Money (love is at the core of true wealth), Vulnerability is Power (when you open up to people they open up to you), and Giving is Getting (the more you offer to others, the more they will give back to you).

  • One of today’s most influential leaders, Bryant has appeared on Oprah and in articles in the LA Times, NY Times, and the Wall Street Journal
  • Bryant’s bold approach to leadership is well-suited for today’s tough economic environment and a world gripped by fear and uncertainty
  • Outlines the innovative five laws of love-based leadership

Love Leadership is that unique and powerful book that bridges the gap between solid business advice and pure inspiration.

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