Walker Webcast: “Most admired CEO,” John Hope Bryant on the Art of Leadership:


John Hope Bryant is in the business of reinvention. As CEO of Operation HOPE, his mission is to equip people in underserved communities with financial tools to take ownership of their lives. On this episode of the Walker Webcast, John and Willy discuss the importance of resilience, secrets to success, creating a lasting legacy, and so much more! You won’t want to miss this inspirational discussion.


At the start of the episode, John shares his favorable initial impression of Willy when discussing the tendency for money and power to amplify a person's best or worst qualities. John then discussed his experiences growing up in an underserved community, Compton. Raised facing social obstacles, John credits his mother's unconditional love as the key to his success.

Despite having a genius IQ, which went unrecognized and forgotten due to Compton's deficient record-keeping, his mother's support inspired him to work tirelessly. John's dedication to achievement inspired him to pursue numerous ventures early in life, including running a candy store and entertainment performance. Unfortunately, when John turned 18, he found himself homeless and living out of a Jeep. However, the emphasis on tenacity and grit that his family taught him at a young age helped John recognize the power of resilience, guiding him to a career in banking.

Having had an upbringing in a community that provided insufficient financial education to the majority of its residents, John acknowledges that banking and finance have the power to grow communities and offer transformational change. Nevertheless, Black communities often do not receive this memo. Therefore, most Black-owned businesses in the United States do not have employees, books and records, infrastructure, and access to credit, among other things.

When John decided to break out of the poverty cycle, he became determined to bring his loved ones with him. Successes throughout his life have changed his mindset and boosted his self-esteem and confidence, which he says aided in healing his relationship with white America. Although John has achieved outstanding success, he has come to realize that money is penultimate to improving the lives of others. John , a modern-day activist, feels that it is his calling to take civil rights endeavors out of the streets and into the world of economics and finance.

John secured opportunities to advance fiscal change nationally after receiving an appointment from George W. Bush to the U.S. Community Advisory Board and Barack Obama to his Advisory Council on Financial Capability. His relationship with these two presidents from different political parties helped bridge the gap between democrats and republicans, demonstrating his versatility and ability to advance non-biased agendas. John, a proponent of possessing a democratic heart and republican mind, believes that poor Americans should receive lessons on long-term investments rather than simply giving them money without support. 

When reflecting on the approach of offering disadvantaged individuals financial education, John shares that, with the great resignation running rampant and the largest group of small business creators being Black, this moment may be the most critical time in modern history to promote economic lessons and initiatives. For progress to unfold gracefully, we must recognize that poverty is not the fault of the impoverished while developing an educated workforce that can navigate a technology-centric world. Considering the financial education of underprivileged communities, John feels that venture capital is an industry in which diversity endeavors are overdue and will be an excellent field for these individuals to enter. John also emphasizes the importance of networking and continued relationship-building. John points out that relationships are far more valuable than transactions, for they have the potential to lead to opportunities. 

As John continues his role as a financial coach, he stresses the need to design ways to ensure that a homeownership society does not lead to a repeat mortgage crisis. John indicates that capitalism, which many blame for the 2008 recession, is not inherently wrong, but rather greed is to blame, further supporting the necessity of financial literacy for all. 

As the episode ends, John underscores that an individual's reaction to failure ultimately defines oneself. John urges listeners to talk without being offensive, listen without being defensive, and always leave adversaries with dignity, for it is beneficial to do well while being good.

Key ideas:

00:00 - Introduction 
00:36 - Willy welcomes John Hope Bryant 
05:12 - John learning his potential and the importance of resilience 
11:54 - The winner mentality and the early exposure to success 
17:25 - Paving the way for Black entrepreneurship and John’s why 
23:25 - An optimistic view on capitalism and free enterprise education 
30:00 - How John creates long-standing relationships 
32:05 - The uptick in new businesses after The Great Resignation 
45:29 - Trusting one’s intuition and practicing fairness 
55:47 - Why we’re predisposed to financial failure and the solution 
58:17 - Managing failures and prioritizing love 
01:00:18 - Why people in power should embrace diversity and inclusion

Webcast transcript: 

Willy Walker: Good afternoon, everyone. It's a real pleasure for me to have John Hope Bryant on the Walker Webcast today. Let me do a quick bio of John and then I will jump into my discussion with him. I will warn people that at the top of this discussion, John and I had a 15-minute pre-call yesterday that ended up lasting for 52 minutes. And so, something tells me the two of us are going to dive in pretty deep here and have a great conversation. 

John Hope Bryant is an American financial literacy, entrepreneur and businessman. Bryant is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of nonprofit Operation HOPE. He is chief executive officer of Bryant Group Ventures and The Promise Homes Company, the largest for-profit minority owned single family rental homes operator in the United States. He is also co-founder of Global Dignity, an advisor to businesses and governments and author of bestselling books on economics and leadership such as Up from Nothing and How the Poor Can Save Capitalism. He served as a member of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, the vice chair of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and chairman of the Committee on the Underserved. He's also received an honorary doctorate degree from Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas. The Crystal Heart Award from the University of Southern California School of Social Work. Was named the 2016 Innovator of the Year by American Banker magazine and is currently the first entrepreneur scholar in residence at Clark Atlanta University.

So, John, I could keep going on that bio, as you well know with lots of other awards and recognitions that you've gotten. I watched a number of your speeches on YouTube in getting ready for this discussion, and you are such an inspiration in so many different ways. Your speech at the Global Dignity Day in Norway in 2011, where Reverend Desmond Tutu was sitting in the front row. To anyone who has some time after potentially listening to this discussion. I would strongly suggest you go listen to that speech because it is really, truly something else. But there are two true gifts you have, John. One is you're an amazing storyteller, and the second is that you remember a lot of facts. When did you realize that you were smart? 

John Hope Bryant: First of all, I'm honored to be with you and what you didn't say Willy is the biggest credential I've got here is that you and I are new friends. You're stuck with me for life, which I feel sorry for you. And to underscore the fact that we're not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience and that energy matters, relationship capital matters almost more than everything other than culture. I met you through Shawn Horowitz, another sweet, amazing, brilliant soul. And I met Shawn through Clayton Wyatt, who's a genius. 

Willy Walker: Indeed, he is. 

John Hope Bryant: And that trajectory was tied to a business of mine that we are now growing. But it's all because we really liked and respected each other, not just because the numbers worked, and that was more of a relationship than a transaction. And I feel like I've known you forever because you have this authenticity about you. I told you that when we talked earlier, you're just normal and it's very abnormal to be so successful and to be normal. And I just want to underscore and commend you. You were raised well. Parents did a really good job with you. 

Willy Walker: I'm seeing them after we're done with this today. They both said they were going to watch today, but I will relay that to them. It's very kind of you to say that. 

John Hope Bryant: And so, no, I'm just being accurate. I mean, they did a really good job. And, you know, success amplifies who you are. You grew this company from $50 million to $5 billion and one of the Fortune 500 fastest growing companies consistently now publicly traded and outside success and 3X the revenue etc., and still kept your integrity about you. Still a nice guy. You see money and power amplifies your jerkdom or your niceness. If you're a jerk, money and power make you a really powerful, wealthy jerk. If you're a nice person, it just makes you an incredibly nice and warm, wealthy individual who does more for the world. And you're the latter. 

I've never said this publicly before, my wife knows it, and a couple of my friends know. My mom told me when I was in elementary school that I passed some kind of a test that I had a genius IQ. And this is Compton, California. So, they didn't keep good records. And luckily for me, the records fell away. The memory fell away. So, I didn't keep it in my consciousness. I just knew that I had to hustle every day because I didn’t have a trust fund or hook up or I didn't know Willy yet had or Shawn yet or Tony Ressler yet, or whatever. So, I just had to hustle and hustle. That became my moniker: get up early, work late, forget lunch and, you know, an entrepreneur works 18 hours if you can get a job. So, I got two ears and one mouth. You listen twice as much as you talk and always have been really curious like Quincy Jones. How do you get so smart, as nosy as hell? That's what I was asked. I'm really nosy, but I think the key, Willy, is that my mother told me she loved me every day of my life. There's nothing more powerful than your mother telling you that you are loved.

And so, I've said this quote, at Operation Hope over the years, there is a difference between being broken, being poor. “Being broke is economic, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind, a depressed condition of your spirit and you must vow never, ever, ever to be poor again.” And so, I've been homeless, living in my Jeep for six months. The jeep that payments weren’t made on, so they were chasing the jeep. I lived in that for six months. I failed repeatedly from age ten to 18, to 20 years old. I've had lots of failures. But success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm taking over vitamins. I think it's not so much about being smart as about being resilient. There's a lot of smart people out here, a lot of people who are very learned, but they don't have good common sense. They maybe have high confidence, but low self-esteem. It’s probably the most dangerous person in the world beyond the person with no hope is a person with power, money, position, confidence (confidence means you have competence) and low self-esteem, fear, and insecurity. Now, I'm not going to name a name if they can get an image of a few people for whom what I just described and the fact you don't need to say a name, it just sort of jumps out at you. I think in that way the world is dangerous and you've got to handle people like they are emotional hand grenades because you walk into every situation that can implode or explode or possibly blossom with the potential that you can nurture their fundamental goodness. And I think I'm resilient. I think I see the glass is half full and not half empty. I never give up. And I see possibilities in everybody, and I try to nurture those possibilities. 

Willy Walker: So, let me back up. You mentioned a number of different things that were fundamental to your upbringing, your mother letting you know that she loved you every day, which is just so powerful. But you also said during that time when you were growing up in Compton, that you were surrounded by prison, probation, and parole, the three P's. And yet when you were ten years old, you started a candy store because the local liquor store owner didn't want to listen to your suggestions about what candy to actually carry. And so, you got the right candy and you understood what buying wholesale and selling retail was all about. And you start up your own candy store. But someone asked you, how did you have the gumption? How did you have the confidence to start it? And you commented, it never dawned on me that I couldn't. That's unusual. That question doesn't happen unless what you did is unusual as a ten-year-old to have the confidence to go do it. So, what was it beyond your mother telling you she loved you every day and beyond, maybe prior to that or after that being told that you had a really high IQ that said in you “huh, I ought to go do it”? 

John Hope Bryant: I think that you're asking the most important question probably I've been asked of me in any interview even before the pandemic because it's everything. This book Up from Nothing that I wrote is the last one, I've written five, three of them bestsellers in business. And this one I tell a story of a guy named Mike Maples, Jr, his dad was President of Microsoft Products and Services. But so, the short story is I was with Mike, and I said, “Mike, how did you get to be this big venture capitalist?” He is very successful. “Oh, nothing.” Tell me about your parents. “Oh, they're just... Well, my dad worked at Microsoft.” Okay, more. “He worked for Bill Gates.” Everybody worked for Bill Gates, technically. Well, he said products and he never even said he's President. Humble guy. Okay, to get to the end of the story. He had started a video game company at 12 years old and it became pretty successful, Willy. And he went to his father. He said, “Dad, this thing is so successful. I think I want to sell this company to Disney.” His dad said, “I'm really disappointed in you, young man.” Excuse me, dad? Now, in my neighborhood growing up Willy, if you have a 12, 20 or 25-year-old kid who starts a business and is legal and is successful, you just applaud. But Mike’s dad is different. Mike's dad said, “I'm ashamed of you. We don't think like that in his household. You don't create a business and sell it to Disney — you create a business to buy Disney.” Drop the mic. 

His father was building not a surviving mentality, not a thriving mentality, middle class, the cashing checks, but a winning mentality, writing checks, building things. A winner knew they were a winner before they ever won anything. Think about LeBron, think about any basketball player or football player or sports athlete you want to pick. Your parents poured that into you. My mom told me that my dad owned his own business. They were financially illiterate. But my father, who had me older at ‘54, was born in 1921. I think his dad was born in 1871 in Mississippi. He's probably born into slavery. So, my grandfather was a sharecropper, and owned a farm. And that farm was worth $700 in 1921. Certainly, my great grandfather was a slave, without question, but my grandfather was probably born into slavery. So, slavery, independence, farming, business owner, entrepreneur - me. My mother's mother did not tell her she loved her. But my mother poured into me that she loved me and I'm all about love. My grandmother barely owned her own home. My mother bought and sold seven homes on an hourly salary from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft. I now do promise loans on 700 homes. This is not accidental. It's role modeling. You think about inner city neighborhoods. 

Why do kids want to be rap stars, athletes, and drug dealers? They're not dumb and they're not stupid. The kids are modeling what they see. If all you see in your neighborhood is symbols of success. Our rap stars can't model that because you can't replicate a T.I. or Killer Mike or whatever their individual personalities. It's not scalable. I know these people. I love them as human beings, but not scalable. Athletes? Same thing, not scalable. You cannot have 40 million black people trying to be 4,000 professional athletes or 2,000 rappers. And you don't want to be a drug dealer. There's no retirement plan, and it's a business plan that kills. But that's what you see as symbols of success. And if you hang around nine black people, you'll be the 10th. A lot of people are watching this and listening to this podcast, and this is why I love you so much, because you understand you had the luck of the gene pool. It’s not that you're a genius. You were born in the right family. You have the right DNA; you have the right soil. 

You know Steve Jobs’ father didn't want him. His grandfather definitely didn't want him because his mother was white, and he had a Jordanian father. So, his grandfather was like, no, that's not happening. You're not marrying a Jordanian dude. Get rid of the kid. So, they tried to get the kid adopted to a wealthy family that decided they didn't want him. Got kicked to a middle-class family that had good credentials in Silicon Valley, by coincidence, called hello – the Jobs family. The rest is history for the rest of the world. But if Steve had been adopted by a single parent household mother in the South Side of Chicago, he'd have been the biggest drug dealer the world had ever seen. Because brilliance is transferable everywhere. 

Willy Walker: After starting the candy store, though, you did pursue entertainment and you did go into a career of acting and also a little-known fact that I ferreted out. I don't know how often this comes out, but you were actually a dancer on Soul Train and American Bandstand. I'm not going to ask. 

John Hope Bryant: The connection is getting really bad, Willy. I can barely hear you. 

Willy Walker: I'm not going to ask you to stand up and do it. I've seen you do it once or twice, live on and on video. But you did transition to that. And I think one of the interesting things about it, John, is this. You transitioned to entertainment. You were clearly capable and successful at doing it, whether it was dancing on one of those shows or actually being an actor. But when you were broke and you were living out of your Jeep and as you have said, “when you're broke and on the floor, you can't fall any lower.” Which I love in the sense of you only got one way to go, which is pick yourself up and go. But most people in that situation double down on what they know. So, the natural move would have been for you to push harder on the acting and push harder on the dancing and kind of continue in that. But instead of doing that, you decided to become a banker and you said, “Hey, hang on a second. I think I can go and actually sell credit. I think I can go work for a bank” and obviously, not obviously, when you went to the bank, the bank said, “oh, great, here's this really talented black guy. Maybe we'll send him to sell credit in parts of the city that we don't know how to penetrate.” And you said, “hang on a second, that ain't where you're sending me. You're going to send me to the entertainers who I know how to penetrate, and I can really do some stuff.” But my point is this: why when you were down and out, when you were on the floor, didn't you double down on what you knew rather than changing, going just for something that you didn't know? 

John Hope Bryant: Because without banking and finance, you can't grow communities. Capitalism and democracy are horrible systems except for every other system, that democracy can be a force for good and capitalism can be a force for transformational change. And it has been. And all legitimate wealth came from capitalism and all the developments that we see in the world came, including the technology we use today, came from entrepreneurship. But no one gave black folks the memo on free enterprise, capitalism, economics, and opportunity. There was a bank created by Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War through the Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1865 called the Freedman's Bank March 3, 1865 to charter, to quote, teach free slaves about money, which was his attempt to give blacks what I call the Jewish experience of going from slavery and really being beaten upon and besmirched to really having their freedom and then setting them into using their brilliance, talents and that hustle to set into a free enterprise and capitalist system, teach them about money and let them unleash untapped GDP in America and around the world. Unfortunately, Lincoln was killed the next month. 

So, in January 1865, the 40 acres we hear about in the history books was built in ‘15, North Carolina and South Carolina all the way down to Florida along the coast. We don't have time for the story, but it was beachfront property in a time of agricultural age. So really not very useful. But we worked that land so hard they said, my God, they're so industrious Black people give them a mule. January 1865. February 1865 the mule. In March the bank came to finance the land. And then Lincoln was killed in April. 

So, we never got the memo on free enterprise, capitalism, economics, leadership, and opportunity, which is why black folks generally cash checks but don't write them. 96% of all black businesses in America or 3 million black businesses don't have an employer, don't have books and records, don't have backend infrastructure, can't get access to credit. Half of black folks in this country have a credit score below 620, which means I don't care how nice we are, how many times we go to church and how sweet we are, we're really forgiving people. We didn't even make this country pay a price for slavery or those who enslaved us, which is why I think this obsession with guns come from. But that's a whole other conversation that goes back 150 years. People want these guns everywhere, but that's what I will hopefully get to, what I call Unhealed American Story, my next book. 

But the fact that we never made this transition in the free enterprise of capitalism, economic opportunity is what I call the unfinished work of the third reconstruction. We had basic freedom. We had to get a job, get access. That was civil rights in the 1960s. And then we had what I call silver rights, which is economics, access, credit, opportunity, banking, finance, wealth creation, cheap credit, to quote Tony Ressler, getting in the 21st century, which is where we are today, social justice through an economic lens. I like math because it does not have an opinion. 

So, let's now go back to the story you told about the candy shop, because all this relates. The question you didn't ask me, and you should, is why was I not intimidated at or angry at white people? Given that I grew up in the hood. Given that the only white folks that my friends saw was a police officer shoving them against a patrol car and that made them angry. And the only white man I ever saw, really, with a suit on was a detective. And it was a really bad polyester suit. But when I was nine years old, my teachers who were white, bought what I was selling on my mail order catalog. It was a positive experience. And then I had a white banker come into my classroom. First year Community Reinvestment Act 1977 to teach me financial literacy through home economics class. Now, I just told you blacks never got a class in free enterprise, economics, and opportunity i.e., the Freedman's Bank. It failed and then lost to history. We actually got the Free Treasury Annex Building renamed across from the White House to be renamed The Freedman's Bank Building, which it is today. But this white banker comes in teaching home economics. He didn't want to be there because he was forced to. But after a week of coming, he's like, you remind me of my children. Translation: We're normal, just like them. You guys are not so bad. I got comfortable raising my hand and asked: “Excuse me, sir. What did you do for a living and how did you get rich legally?” And he said, “Young man, I'm a banker, and I finance entrepreneurs.” And I said, “Sir, I don't know what an entrepreneur is. I've never heard that word my entire life. No one's ever taught me that word.” I was nine years old, and I pay attention. Well, whatever it is, if it’s legal and you're financing it. I'm going to be one. And I went home and opened up the dictionary. Young people watching this or listening to this, that's called a Google search today. And I looked over the dictionary, French word Entrepreneur: build something, create value from nothing. Boom, that's what I'm going to do. Changed my whole life. Endorphins kicked in my head. Where creativity, hope, well-being; the right side of your brain, hope, well-being, love, charity, compassion, joy, self-belief. And I decided I was going to become somebody and break out of this poverty situation and bring everybody else with me. And I found that that works thus the story of me going to work at a liquor store. He tried to get me to sell candy. I said, no, I want to be a box boy. He said, That's the worst job I've got. I want you to be a salesman. It's the best job I’ve got. But I don't want to sell your stuff; I want to sell me. So, I went to become a box boy to find out where he was buying and selling his product, how much it was, what was the markup, by the way, that company RS Foods was bought by the company I later sold to the board of Areas Management, Michael Arougheti, Tony Ressler. 

I borrowed $40 from my mother, my banker. Bought some inventory, ate through half the inventory, hate candy to this day, sold the rest of it, made $300 a week on a $40 investment, very much like you will see in your numbers there Willy, and put the liquor store out of the candy business. Imagine, Willy, what that did to my self-esteem. So, in one fell swoop, self-esteem is UP, confidence is UP, my relationship with white America is positive, my relationship with myself is positive, my belief in myself, my endorphins have all kicked on about belief. I realized this was not just about me. That money wasn't enough, buying another Ferrari or whatever was going to make me happy. I wanted to be about something other than just myself and God had given me too many gifts to just be selfish about it. And so, I realized I had a calling in my life. And I really believe, and I've said this very rarely in an interview that if Dr. King was alive today, this would be the work he'd be doing. I think that we've got to move from civil rights in the streets to silver rights in the business. Some issues of race and color, issues of class and poverty. The color should not be red or blue or black or white. It should be how do we all get some more green? We are better together, and we got to knock it off and stop hitting it at each other, knocking at each other and complaining about each other. Everybody wants to be an American, but Americans we have to realize that China is at war with us. They want to beat us, and they can't win in a fair fight we’re only 350 million people in a world of over 8 billion, we are an incredible force of nature, this country. But if we conspire against each other, the Bible says a house divided cannot stand. We have got to knock it off. We got to stop criticizing each other. Critique is fine, criticizing, no. And we got to find out how we can become once again this great mosaic called America. And that is my calling. My calling is to unleash the untapped potential of the bottom of the pyramid, which includes my poor white brothers and sisters in rural America, rural white America, to unleash 2 to 3% of sustained untapped GDP and growth. And I think that will reduce the stress, lower the depression, and increase the hope and really create a software on capitalism in this country. And I think we're sitting, Willy, in a moment in history right now. 

Willy Walker: “The software upgrade on capitalism.” I heard you say that, and it caught my attention. You also said it in an interview on CNBC when you and Joe were going back and forth on capitalism and Joe was going to lower taxes and typical Republican mantra. And you said, Joe, “you sound like a capitalist with a heart.” And he honestly didn't know where to go. I watched it three times, John, and he's sitting there going, hold on a second- is that a compliment or is that a criticism? And I thought it was so interesting. Your comment about capitalism needs an upgrade and you did make that comment as it relates to collect it like a capitalist, spend it like a socialist. 

John Hope Bryant: Well, no, no, no. (You did your research, man, I love your brain.) Shimon Peres, God rest his soul, told me this in Jordan: “Even if you want to distribute money like a socialist, you have got to first collect it like a capitalist.” So, I want to make sure I am a capitalist. But even folks who want to give it away have to realize that it is accumulated legally through capitalism. 

Willy Walker: And so today we seem to have this great divide between the purely capitalist society of just make money, low taxes, go that way, versus let's distribute it and use the tax code to redistribute income. And that inherent conflict between those two viewpoints today seems to be what creates a huge chasm between Republicans and Democrats. So how do you bridge that? Because that whole issue that you just clearly, if you will, refined my comment and corrected my comment is sort of the major difference between the two parties. And you have been so successful at working on both sides of the aisle. Your first presidential appointment was from George W. Bush. And there were a lot of people who said, who's this guy? He hangs out with a lot of Democrats and Bush says he hangs out a lot with Democrats, but he thinks like a Republican. And then you go to various Republican confabs, and they all sit there and say, yeah, he hangs out with a lot of Democrats, but he actually sounds a lot like a Republican. He talks about self-will. He talks about capitalism. He talks about, “don't give me a handout, give me a hand up”. So how do we bridge these two things, John?

John Hope Bryant: As you know, I've served Clinton, Bush, and Obama from three different administrations, and we were honored by five presidents. I've known eight, and most of them are good people. By the way, black America who talk about George W. Bush, like a dog when he was president, would beg to have him back today. Oh, my God can you bring back George W. Bush? He seems so reasonable, and he makes common sense. You know, he says things that actually are based on facts and so on. Back in the day when Republicans and Democrats actually talk together, his dad, George H.W. Bush was probably the last moderate Republican. I probably have a Republican head and a Democratic heart. That's my ideal sort of politician. I think that we're asking the wrong question because it's an either-or conversation versus an and conversation. And we're talking about, well, are you going to take my money and give it away to redistribute to somebody else? 

So let me just get this out of the way. If you take all the wealth in the world and distribute it as my liberal friends would want to every person in the world equally takes the top 3%, redistributing the money to everybody equally, what will happen? In five years the top 3% will have it again because they got the memo on wealth creation, not just making money, but building wealth, which is what you do in your sleep compounding. And everybody else did not. So, you cannot just give away money, but give nothing to do nothing. Give a homeless man a million bucks, do nothing else. He would be broken for six months. So, you've got to do more than that. To quote Andrew Young, my mentor, Dr. King's right hand in the civil rights movement: “To live in a system of free enterprise and not to understand the rules of free enterprise must be the very definition of slavery.” 

So, let's now break this down real quick. All my friends who say that they got here all by themselves, it's a lie. It's just a lie. And they know it's a lie, right? They are winking at themselves. You know, I said earlier if you hang around nine broke people, you'll be the tenth. It's also the opposite is true. Why do you go to Harvard? I know you went to Harvard. I've taken classes. I've got a certificate from Harvard. Is it just because it's a great university with education? No, you go there because the class of 2022 is going to hook each other up for the next 40 years. Same reason we go to country clubs, private clubs, Sun Valley, whatever it is you're going to, it is because it is a fraternity. And wealth creates more wealth, relationships either move you up or down that stream. You can be dumb, blind, half stupid but if you have the right relationships, you'll still do well. You can be a genius and poor and you at best will be a drug dealer. 

So, let's just knock it off that somehow people got there on their own. To be honest, it was the GI Bill after World War II that created the white middle class, and that was the government bestowing upon returning GIs a mortgage for a home, as much education shoved down your throat, and an apprenticeship for a new job. That's the government redistributing somebody's wealth you want to call it, but I call it an investment. Now, 99% of that money, by the way, went to white people, even though blacks fought in the war. That's a whole other topic for another time, we may do another podcast. I'll walk you through 40 years in 4 minutes and why we got here and why we are in this unequal system we are today. But it created the white middle class, a beautiful, good thing, by the way. It's a good thing. And that created a foundation for the people above that to say, I don't want to work a business, I want to create a business, the kids, and then the next generation, well, I want to become an entrepreneur, i.e., the freedom that we have today. What we need is an investment. We need tax credits for internships. And I mean, at scale, I mean, tens of millions of dollars. You got to give a kid a reason to want to go to school. I mean, it's like telling somebody to eat the vegetables. Eeehhhh! How do we stop smoking? Is it because the government said the stuff will kill you? It's on the back of the box, yet it didn't stop anybody. It’s when successful people on TV were college educated and weren't smoking cigarettes then people would stop smoking. You gotta connect education with aspiration. Get connected to an internship with a C+ or better in school and, you'll just see dropout rates collapse and graduation rates go through the roof. Internships, apprenticeships for those who already are in the workplace and need to be reskilled. 

We talked about the Great Resignation the last couple of years, but no one's talked about the fact that is the largest uptick in small business creation since 2004. These are not lazy people, Willy, who went out and sat on their couch. These are people who said, I'm tired of this dead-end job as a waiter. I'm tired of somebody not taking care of my health care. I'm tired of working to the bones. I've got too much month at the end of my money getting nowhere. I'm going to invest in myself. The government gave me some stimulus money. I'm gonna call it venture capital and I'm going to start a business. And by the way, the biggest group among them, Willy, black Americans, 38% increase in black business creation year over year. And the largest group among that, the number one group starting businesses in America and during the pandemic are black women. So, there's all these little jewels that we're missing. We're better together. Let's invest in education. Having a dumb country, stupid. We should not have K to high school but K to college. I mean, you need an educated workforce in a technology centric world. Kids should get a course in financial literacy and a course in computing. Hello! College education? I don't say it should be free, but it should be a public good, not a private asset. So, these are investments and I've got much more, you know, that I could spill out that there should be a literal obsession on creating entrepreneurship in this country, a generation of entrepreneurs, because there's not enough jobs to go around like we did 100 years ago. Goldman Sachs were two Jewish guys off the boat who couldn't get a job in the office tower. A guy named Goldman and a guy named Sachs selling financial services door-to-door created their own business that's now this conglomerate, called Goldman Sachs. Walmart is the same thing, and UPS was the same thing - Jim Kelly in a bicycle and a delivery route. 

We forget our story, Willy. (Not you.) But many people forget their own storyline. We think we got here on our own, but we didn't. That's a lie. We all need somebody. People listening to this, be honest now - you're doing well, and you make six figures, maybe seven figures. Did you get your job on jobs.com? Did you get your jobs because you fill out an application somewhere and you've got better grades than the person next to you? No! Somebody put their arms around you and asked: "Do you want an internship?" "You want a job over here?" "I think you'd do good at this, what do you think?" That's how you got your promotion, if not the job. It's the hook up, it's the relationship capital. And we need to understand that we need to reach out to somebody else who doesn't look like us and give them a shot. 

Willy Walker: So, as you run through all that and you talk about relationships, one of the things that is immediately evident when you listen to you speak, is that you have met a tremendous number of people throughout your very prolific career. But you haven't just met them, you've created relationships with them. You've followed up with them. You've created real connectivity. I was in Detroit, Michigan, where we had an event on a building that we financed in downtown Detroit. It was the first conversion of a dilapidated office building into a residential building right after the great financial crisis. Head of Fannie Mae was there. The mayor of Detroit was there, the head of Quicken Loans was there. And we had a bunch of kids from Project Destined who were also at the luncheon and afterwards were sitting around and I'm at a table and our head of marketing, Susan, who was just on the webcast previously to say hello and get this thing going, was sitting at the table with me. I said to these predominantly young black girls who were between 15 and 18 years old, I said, “Did you enjoy the day?” They all said, “Oh yeah, it's been great.” I said, “Who's the most important person you've met?” Somebody goes, “Oh, I met the CEO of Fannie Mae.” And somebody else goes, “I met the mayor” and somebody else goes, “I met the CEO of Quicken Loans”. And I said, “Those are all very important people. Do you think you'll ever come in contact with any of those three people again?” To which all of them said, “No, no, no, no, and no way ever.” I said, “Well, then that's not really an important connection. That's not an important relationship. If you're able to get Susan's email address, and you create a connection and a relationship with Susan and can follow up with her when you're coming out of college, and you can write to Susan, and you might be able to get a job at Walker & Dunlop or somebody else that Susan knows. That's the most important connection that you have.” And all of a sudden, seemingly in front of me, all their heads kind of spun around and they said, maybe the most important person isn't the person with the greatest title, but the person you actually create a long-standing relationship with. But you have done that time and time again. How do you do it? 

John Hope Bryant: I love people. And I love you. I just met you, and I've got a man crush on you. (Willy Laughs.) I mean, you're just a good dude, man. And it really makes me tear up. I just love meeting good people who are reasonable, who have an open hand, not a closed fist. All these stories come to mind. President Bill Clinton once told me, "It's hard to get somebody to agree to the truth when the lie is paying their paycheck." It's so hard to get people to do the right thing, because all the incentives are on the wrong side of the balance sheet. What I tell people is, and what I tell my wealthy friends for whom being a good person may not be enough to get them to change their behavior, my wealthy friends need my poor friends to do better, if only to stay wealthy, and my rich friends need my poor friends to do better only to stay rich because 70% of this economy is consumer spending. Most of the economy is people with too much month at the end of their money, but that's who's holding the largest economy in the world up. But they're getting no credit for it, and they're getting no investment. 97% of all venture capital goes to three states. The people whom we already know. Now, I'm not saying to throw that business plan out because of course, success begets success. But where's the next Steve Jobs? Where's the next Robert Smith? Where's the next you know, John Hope Bryant? Where's the next Willy? That's what we should be leaning forward on.

When we die, we die twice. You die physically and you die the last time somebody mentions your name. And I just try to point out to people that you've got to live with something larger and more important yourself. If all you do is find your own life and find your own obsessions, then no one's going to remember you when you're gone. Everybody wants a legacy. Everybody does. Watch how you live your life with maybe the only Bible anybody else reads. I try to reach into people and find a way to manipulate their fundamental goodness, pull it out of them, pull it out of them, and show them that you can do better by doing well and doing good and being about WE than just being about ME. It's better to have a relationship than a transaction. It's better to build wealth than just to get paid and make money. It last longer and it feels better. 

Willy Walker: You just used three sayings that all are so impactful. And one of the things that I've noticed about you is this not only in response to my question, but you also threw in statistics that underscore the importance of what you're saying. 97% of venture capital in the United States goes to three states. I didn't know that. But that then talks about where that money's going and who's getting that money and who's allocating that money. And, oh, by the way, just as a quick aside, of all the industries in the United States that needs to have diversity and inclusion, it's the venture capital industry. And they sit around, and they have a good talk. And then you go look at who the partners are. I don't need to name Benchmark or Kleiner Perkins. I'm not trying to point any one of them out. But you look at the partners in those firms. It's a joke. Because they sit around and they talk about this, but they don't actually put their own money and capital behind bringing people in of a diverse background, women or minorities. 

John Hope Bryant: You put diversity and inclusion in your proxy statement before it was in vogue before the pandemic. To me, that's so damn sexy. I mean, you're making smart, sexy. We’ve been making dumb sexy for too long. 

Willy Walker: Where I was going on this John was this: Rodney King, 1991 or 92?

John Hope Bryant: April 29, 1992. 

Willy Walker: That was your calling to start Operation HOPE? 

John Hope Bryant: My realization that I was a schmuck. 

Willy Walker: But hang on a sec. I got to say, in starting that and as you talk about why you started it, you say, “Sometimes you don't have justice. You have just us.” How do you come up with that? Seriously? Like, where does that come from? Because that is so encapsulating of that judgment that said that we all saw the video. We all know what the police force did. And somehow the jury says, nope, they're all good. That's just us. That's not justice. But by putting it that way, you encapsulate this incredible sentiment about what actually happened, and you do it time and time again. How do you test those? They just kind of come out of your mouth and just say, wow, that worked. 

John Hope Bryant: I don't make decisions or give speeches or whatever mentally, I do it intuitively. Intuition to me again, I said, we're not human beings having a spiritual experience. We're spiritual beings having a human experience. This is why I think the world is depressed. We've lost our way. We've forgotten that we're actually from Him. Anyway, I think your intuition is God speaking to you and through you. I think that women are more connected to it because women are the creators of life. They are the only ones who can give life, but it's like your terminal to a higher power. And so, all my decisions are intuitive decisions. I just became reasonably comfortable in my own skin at an early time. I clear the cobwebs out of my soul and spirit. So that is a very clear tunnel. And I'm very sort of calm in the center of what's going on around me, maybe in a coma space. The hurricane is the center I've just always been very centered in, and I'm relatively calm no matter what goes on in my world. And I make decisions from that intuitive place in my brain as a GPS device to get me where my intuition has told me. So, when I'm doing business with somebody, or partnering is an intuitive read, but the larger context of that is I've got one foot in black America, one foot in white America, I've got one foot in poverty and one foot in wealth, because that's been my one foot in Republican, one foot in Democrat, one foot in liberal, one foot in conservative, one foot local, one foot in global. I'm curious, but it has also been my life experience. And so, I said in 1992, to rationalize is to tell rational lies. And the lie I told myself, well, it was that racism was dead. Because if I could succeed, this is what kills me about these black Republicans, these conservative black Republicans who want to blame poverty on the poor, or people like our Supreme Court justice who came up through affirmative action and then want to say affirmative action is useless. It is a lie. All affirmative action is, I believe the James Brown version of affirmative action - Open a door, I get it myself. Anybody giving you a job?

A friend of mine. I won't name his name. I don’t want to embarrass him, but he called during the pandemic during the George Floyd aftermath. “I want to hire two black interns. Can you get the HBCUs there (historically black colleges and universities) to get me 20 or 30 candidates from whom I can pick down, get down to interview those two, and hire them?” I said, “I'm not doing that”. I actually used a curse word, but I'm not saying it on this podcast. And he said, “Why?” I said, “You're offensive. I love your heart, but your head's offensive.” I said, “Look, when your biggest investor called you and asked you to hire his lazy nephew or his son in law or whatever, for whom his wife or whoever was telling you got to get the dude a job. Did you put them through all that? Did you just say send them over? You just hire them because I was your largest investor. To rationalize is to tell rational lies. But you're going to take these brilliant people from HBCUs who are probably 15 times more intelligent than your nephew or your cousin or whatever. And put them through all this drama, tell 38 of them NO, destroy their spirit and their self-esteem. They're already uncomfortable. So, you can hire two? Get out of here with that. Why don't you just do what you do with your nephew? Just hire him and see if he works out or she works out. Fair change is no robbery. Treat them like you treat everybody else. Either hire them all, or don't hire any of them. (Siri also jumps in the conversation here.)

Willy Walker: You're getting pinged by your technology here. 

John Hope Bryant: Oh, so that's the issue. I just want fair play and I want us to stop the lie. And I think by having these honest conversations, starting with myself, the reality was I blame poverty on the poor. I figured it was because I succeeded and when I met with a Jewish friend of mine, he said, “John, your experience is not a rare black experience, it is a rare American experience. You had a mom who told you she loved you, a dad who owned his own business. They backed you 100%. And now you feel like you can do anything. Stop blaming poverty on the poor. It was a Jewish friend of mine setting me straight. 

And when I saw Rodney King was going to jail, he did something wrong, but his officers are going to be in the next cell with him because they beat him on videotape. And officers got off because it was Simi Valley where law enforcement lived, and they were a jury of their peers and they let them off. And I realize that I was a fraud at that moment, that I blamed poverty on my own people. And I had done the worst thing possible, which was to get up the ladder and pull it off after I got there. So, I closed my office down. I'm making good money, building wealth, and went to my church in South Central L.A. I was devastated. I asked my pastor, what can I do to help? There were all these politicians, community leaders. It was Jesse Jackson and Governor Pete Wilson; I think it was. And Mayor Tom Bradley were calling him a Democrat. And he said, John, all these politicians can't build anything. Take your business skills, your banking skills, your finance skills and put them to use rebuilding our community. Because the best way to stop a bullet is a job. Build wealth and opportunity in our neighborhoods. That's what you're good at. I did the Bankers Bus Tour of the next week to put bankers on a bus tour. 

Willy Walker: You've done 18-19 of them, didn't do it during the pandemic, but you've done them every year subsequently, correct? 

John Hope Bryant: That's right. I just did one on the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King riots. April 29th was front page news, the L.A. Times, where, by the way, for the first time, Koreans and Blacks hugged the police officers and gang members shook hands. The politicians, Republican and Democrats, found a way to agree. They found out they were actually better together. 

Willy Walker: So, in that you talk about a hand up and not a handout. And in talking about what Operation HOPE does, you talk about the fact that if we create a homeowner, that's good for the bank because they need a mortgage. If we create a homeowner, that's good for the government because we created a taxpayer. And if we create a homeowner, that's good for the community because the community then has a new policeman on the street. You use this at one time, you said your mother used to say to ruffians in your neighborhood, “you better back off my porch” underline my get off my porch, and that sense of home ownership and that sense of an ownership society. And one of the things that I do think back on that, John, and given that you worked for him, but, you know, during the Bush years, we had the sense of the ownership society. President Bush was a big, big believer in the ownership society. And what we ended up doing was sort of putting the home ownership on steroids to a point where we actually got the great financial crisis, and we got a huge mortgage crisis and everything else that came out of it. How do we, if you will, make sure that capitalism doesn't go off the rails as we get really good ideas about an ownership society going? And yet we clearly saw that excesses took it off the end of the cliff. 

John Hope Bryant: So, there was nothing wrong with a subprime loan. Let me start with it. Most people in this country are subprime, “less than prime”. It's all that means, right? The problem is it was a predatory subprime lender. Intention does matter. when you try to take a size nine foot, put it on a size six shoe and you put grease on it and juice on it and squeeze it in there as much as you can. It's called a pick a pay loan or a negative amortization loan and you don't give the people any financial literacy and you're interested just in the fees. Again, the Bill Clinton quote some might agree: "It's hard to get somebody to agree to the truth when the lie is paying their paycheck." They're earning all these fees. You can rationalize almost anything, tell rational lies. Of course, it is going to explode. And so, then we want to blame poverty on the poor and say it was all a horrible idea. By the way, the number one group that filed for foreclosure during the subprime crisis was single white men, not minorities. Again, another misnomer of fact, but the narrative was that all these minorities defaulted on their loan. The reality was there's nothing wrong with capitalism. It's the greed. It's the ready fire aim. What we need now is what President Bush actually should get credit for a good heart, but he doesn't follow up with a good head. President Bush has done more for Africa than any president in the history of this country, before or since. He certainly deserves credit for that. But when I tried to get him to do financial literacy for eight years, the urgent always crowded out the important. We don't probably have time for this story. You'll tell me we have time. I'll come back to the story of how I got this done. I did get him to create financial literacy as U.S. federal government policy. Unfortunately, I didn't ask for money to back it up. So, it's an unfunded mandate at the federal government level only. But there's a cute story behind that. 

But today, Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart and I are co-chairing financial literacy for all to make financial literacy, the civil rights issue of this generation, embedded into the business case, to get Fortune 500 companies and Fortune 1,000 companies to embed into their business plan. And as we've gotten Delta to do it for their employees, free financial coaching for their employees, UPS free financial coaching for their employees is what health care was 30 years or 40 years ago was health wellness was ten years ago. Financial coaching relieves the biggest stressor on workers today, which is financial stress while they're on the job. If they're on the job, they're thinking about their bills. And so, we're going to get Congress to pass this, the Senate to pass it, the President to pass it, to hopefully bring this country together with something we can agree on. This three is probably 300 years past due, which is financial literacy for all. That was a missing piece Willy, is we didn't tell people. Everybody's paymentized, man. What's the payment? Working-class people, middle class people? They ask, what's the payment? Do you know you can finance an NFL ticket? Do you know you can finance a trip to the Bahamas? Do you know you can finance a hotel bill? I mean, people watching this should be stunned because this is the world they live in. But you can finance a $5,000 prime Super Bowl ticket. If you can't afford it. You may only make $35,000 a year. You can finance a Hertz rental car charge. It's ridiculous. So, we're not asking what the interest rate is, we ask what the payment is. And poverty is not rational. If poverty was rational, poor people wouldn't be poor. You wouldn't have a check casher across you from a bank branch if poverty was rational. So, we've got to sort of re-imagine once again what our priorities are. Are we predators or are we builders? Because every place with this problem in this country, white rule and black and brown urban, here's what you see: check casher, next to a pay loan lender, next to an extra rent to own store, next to a title lender…

Willy Walker: Next to a Dollar General. 

John Hope Bryant: They're not a bad player. I don't mind them being there. 

Willy Walker: I'm not saying Dollar General is a bad play. I'm just saying that's the reality of what you see. 

John Hope Bryant: You're right. Pawnshop. A title lender, literally lending against titles of cars and other things. Renting wheel shops, which is unbelievable. Renting rims and a liquor store. I mean, in a church down the street, trying to make you feel a little bit better once a week. That's a 500-credit score neighborhood. All of our problems are concentrated in sub 600 credit score neighborhoods because 700 credit score neighborhoods don't riot, they go shopping. We have got to get the economic vibration up. Pop credit scores a 100 points neighborhood by neighborhood, the country stabilizes. I know that sounds really simplistic. 

Willy Walker: So, your comment about not getting the funding for financial literacy makes me think of a book that I just read that's a fantastic read. It's called Making Numbers Count by a Stanford professor, Chip Heath and Karla Starr. And in that book, they sit around, and they talk about how numbers kind of distort reality. And they said, you know, there are a lot of people who pocket the food stamp program, this being this great government giveaway. And it's a $68 billion a year federal line item for the food stamp program in the United States. 

John Hope Bryant: More white people are on food stamps than anybody else by the way. 

Willy Walker: Well, regardless of whether you think it's a white or black program, the interesting thing about it is you do the math on what that is per meal, it's $1.37 a meal, the assistance that food stamps recipients receive. I remember back when I was in high school and we used to go play sports teams and when we would come home late, they'd give us $3 to go to McDonald's and have dinner and this was back in the 1980s, and I couldn't stretch $3 to have a full meal at McDonald's coming back from a lacrosse game. The concept that it's $1.37 is what we're giving people out of food stamps. Yet there's plenty of people who criticize a $68 billion program. It's sort of back to the old saying, give someone a fish they have a meal for a day, teach them how to fish and they can feed themselves forever. 

I could keep going with you for hours. We've only got a couple more minutes. I got a couple other things I want to touch on before we call it a day. You're not only incredible on all these issues as it relates to financial literacy, racial justice, building businesses, entrepreneurship, but you're also really, really good on the issues of sort of change leadership. And I've heard you speak about rainbows only follow storms. I've heard you talk about loss creating leaders and that nobody changes when they're comfortable. They change when they are uncomfortable. And you're so inspirational on those issues, John. What's the loss that you have felt that has made you such an inspirational change leader?

John Hope Bryant: I think that I was humiliated. People can read this book Up from Nothing. It's about my failures, not about my successes. I think that success is easy. Really. Shopping, going on trips. That stuff's easy. How you manage failure defines who you are. Life is 10% what life does to you and 90% how you choose to respond to it. Most people I know can't handle problems, and I don't want to be next to anybody who can't handle problems or a hard time. You can go to the military academy, but if the bullet whizzes over your head and you pee in your pants, you're not much of a soldier. I think that it was the fact that I was homeless, and the fact that I was dismissed and discouraged, not just by mainstream America disrespecting me or dismissing me —but some people in my own community who were obsessed with civil rights but didn't respect silver rights. And civil rights is really important, critically important, but this country is not defined by what we're against, we're defined by what we're for. You can't just be an expert in racism, and you can't be an expert on discrimination, bias, and injustice. Those things are really important, but you've got to flip that switch and figure out how to build something - how to create jobs, how to create opportunity, and how to create a tax base. And unfortunately, we've been so traumatized by our experience. African Americans in this country, it's almost like we're still enslaved, but it's mental slavery now. 

And I think that because I was able to escape that because I was broke but not poor. I feel a responsibility. I was able to break through. People were trying to define me. I took the road less traveled. I had not just confidence, I had self-esteem. If I don't like me, I'm not going to like you. If I don't feel good about me, I'm not going to feel good about you. If I don't love me, I don't have a clue how to love. If I don't have a purpose in my life, I'll make your life a living hell. Because whatever goes around comes around. So, I have enough love for me. And enough love for you, too. It's okay if you don't like me. I like me. I like me and I like you even if you don't like you or I don't know enough to like me. If you get angry at me, that's not my fault. And it's not even your doing. You don't like yourself because you don't know me to like me. Only you. I mean, somebody that I just met for my philosophy, for a living. My suggestion for people watching this is talk without being offensive. Listen without being defensive. And always leave even your adversary with their dignity. Because if you don't, they'll spend the rest of their life trying to make you miserable. It becomes personal, and an eye for an eye means everybody goes blind. We have got to knock it off. We've got to learn to love each other because love is the only self-renewing energy on the planet. Everything else needs a reboot, a refill, everything else needs. And by the way, badness comes from goodness. Badness is failed goodness. Darkness comes from light. The devil is a fallen angel. God gives the devil permission to exist. The devil is a punk. He's nothing. All things in this world come from light. And light comes from love. And love comes from Him. And so, we are winners. 

There's never been a movement over 50 years in length of bad people that ever succeeded in the history of the world. And the world is 5 billion years old in life, what we're human beings are 200 million years old. Never have bad people succeeded long term. So, you've got to be on the force for good because we're at war between good and evil here. And when you die, how are you going to be remembered and what's your legacy for your children? Because you got to watch how you live your life, maybe the only Bible anybody else reads. 

I know we're out of time. There's so much you and I could have covered. I would like to do it again or something, but I would like to leave people with this story of Robert Woodruff. I think I shared it with you. If it's okay. I want to encourage the private sector leaders here who say this is not my responsibility, just like the rap stars and professional athletes, friends of minds are like, oh, I'm not a role model. Then don't accept the tens of millions of dollars with the contract. Just go play basketball on a court somewhere. Don't be a role model. Once you take that contract, you are a brand and please keep in mind if you're a private sector leader watching this today, you are the change we need to see in the world because 88% of all our jobs come from the private sector and all legitimate wealth. 

In the 60s, the civil rights movement was integrated in the South by the private sector, not by government. Government stood in the doors and said, over my dead body, elected officials, it was JCPenney, Woolworth, it was Photoshop. All companies who took down those whites-only signs because it was bad for business, Willy, and we don’t have enough time for the story. But that was Andrew Young going behind closed doors and cutting deals with these business leaders in every town to get them to take down the whites-only signs. And as we sit here today, I say diversity and inclusion is good business. You want to find a company that's more profitable than its peers, find one that has embraced diversity, inclusion and openness and opportunity. Want to find a region of the country that's doing well? New York, California, Atlanta, the south coast, these are places that have embraced diversity and inclusion. Want to find an economy stuck on stupid? Find one that wants to argue about who goes to a water fountain or whether, you know, race is the issue. Are these other dumb issues? Memphis. I love Memphis. Birmingham. I love Birmingham. It's like 1960 all over again because they couldn't get out of their own way. Atlanta decided to argue over who got the contract, not what color you were. The color green was a color. 

So, Robert Woodruff, the CEO of Coca-Cola in the 60s was the biggest supply chain company in the world back then, Dr. King just won a Nobel Peace Prize. (This reminds me of you, Willy, by the way. Reminds me of Shawn. Reminds me of a lot of people I met through you.) The mayor heard that the private sector community in Atlanta did not want to honor Dr. King when he won the Nobel. Oops. Dr. King was on his way home with Andrew Young. So, the mayor calls Woodruff from Coca-Cola, “I need your help” Woodruff came in from hunting. Get all these guys in my office. “Let me make this clear to you. This man has won one of the most important awards in the world. We're the largest global supply chain company in the world. I don't care if you don't like him, he’s trying to create change. And of course, you don't like change because it messes with your taxes, your wealth or whatever. But change is coming, whether you like it or not. I don't care about that either. If you don't want us to honor this man, we're moving out of this little backwards town, Atlanta, because we don't need Atlanta, Atlanta needs Coca-Cola because that means you're not progressive. But we are. We're part of the future. You're stuck to the past. You've got a week. Either you sell out this ballroom or you're going to have a problem with us. My guess is most of you are vendors of my company. You got a week. Goodbye. I'm going hunting again. So, if you go and look at the archives. Ballroom sold out honoring Dr. King. But that was only because somebody loved this country, loved principle and values, loved right enough to stand for it and that was Robert Woodruff, who, by the way, today lives on through the Woodruff Foundation, the Woodruff Art Center. His legacy lives on and Coca-Cola, by the way, is still incredibly powerful, profitable, and held up for 40 years by black consumers here and Africa. You can do well and do good.

Willy Walker: And with that, we all ought to think about doing well and doing good. When Walker & Dunlop starts to back financial literacy, John you're coming to our opening event and you're doing a Soul Train dance because I got some static coming your way when you were telling me I'm doing this, and I got it when I was telling you about the Soul Train dance. So that's a deal, I hope. We can keep going forever. We got to call it a day. I'm super appreciative of your time. I look forward to seeing you in Sun Valley. And thank you for all you do. You make this world a better place. And I hope the two of us work together to do some really great stuff to move all these issues forward. 

John Hope Bryant: Willy, your parents did it right. Tell them I said so. 

Willy Walker: I will, my friend. Take care. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Take care. 

John Hope Bryant: Peace and light.

Filter by Category