Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
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In an exclusive interview on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour with host Earl Ofari Hutchinson on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles on October 7, John Hope Bryant, Founder/CEO Operation HOPE
EOH: What is your view of what makes a good leader?
JHB: Well, I think you make a good leader. You’re an honest broker and you have consciousness for the community. You don’t kowtow to people, you talk without being offensive, you listen without being defensive, and you try to leave your adversary with their dignity. My mentor, Reverend Murray would often say, “it’s not what people call you, it’s what you answer to that’s important, and never answer out of your name.” It’s hard to be in a place like Los Angeles, make a name for yourself and keep your soul. There are people pulling you left and right, and I think you have been on the right side consistently for 20 years. H.H. Brookins once said “If you think you’re a leader and there’s nobody behind you, you’re not a leader, just a guy out taking a walk.” Leadership, like money and capitalism, has gotten a bad rap. Money is not bad, the love of money is bad; greed is bad. Money is agnostic, we have to make it spiritual, give it purpose. This crisis we are going through right now, many of the clients of Operation HOPE believe capitalism has done them wrong. This is not an economic crisis, but a crisis of virtues and values. This is not a failure of free enterprise or capitalism, it’s a failure of greed. We need to stop talking down Prime Lending because if we keep on talking down capitalism and free enterprise, we may get exactly what we don’t want. We kicked the banks rear ends for 20 years about red-lining our communities and not lending. Then they came in and went too far because of greed. Now we are overcompensating and almost giving them a free ride not to lend in our community. Right now, unless you have an 800 credit score and 20% to 30% down payment, you’re not getting a loan. The problem was not Prime Lending; it’s Predatory Sub Prime Lending; greed, fraud, and people who asked what is the payment, not what is the interest rate.
EOH: Talk a little bit about the love based prosperity you write about in your book, “Love Leadership”.
JHB: This book is on the best seller list again this month for the 14th time. I’m the only African American author in business leadership on the best seller list, which is both inspiring and depressing. We need a new generation of young people to get PhD’s in economics. There are two things in the world, love and fear. The reason this world is all screwed up is that most leaders led by fear. They became experts at what they are against, not they’re for. Obsessed with short term-ism, what can I get now versus what do I have to give. They want to get rich in the short term versus building wealth in the long term. We have basically pimped ourselves. Whenever you do that, you lose. We have taken the by-product and made it the product. Steve Jobs had a dream and was passionate about it, built it up and became rich and powerful. That was the by-product; the product was the power of his idea.
EOH: What are the five laws of Love Based Leadership?
JHB: Loss Creates Leaders is my favorite. I was homeless in LA, living in my jeep at La Tijera and Manchester. I didn’t have enough money to rent an office and an apartment, so I could either profile or be about purpose. I decided to be about purpose. I worked from morning to night at my office, washed up at the office, slept in my jeep, polished my shoes and washed my shirt for the next day. I did that for six months. I became a better person as a result. I learned that love is work and loss creates leaders. If you love your job, you work at it. Of course, Fear Fails, Love Makes Money, Own-ability Is Power, and Giving is Getting are the other chapters. Capitalism is not your enemy. In our community we really gotta get this. There are more people today who don’t have a bank account than didn’t have the right to vote in 1962; 40 million people. We running around flossing with these leased cars, all this jewelry, but we need to understand that don’t mean nothing in the long term. We are getting pimped by check cashers, payday loan lenders, rent to own stores, title lenders, liquor stores; they are feeding on our economic slavery. In the 20th century you empowered yourself with the right to vote. Today if you don’t understand the language of money, and don’t have a bank account, you are an economic slave. We as a nation have to re-commit ourselves to a new movement; teach our children the language of money so this crisis never happens again. When things get tough, our values go out the window. We tend to say, “It’s okay if Cousin Joe stole something, it’s okay if somebody stole somebody’s personal ID, it’s okay with that guy selling drugs on the street corner in our neighborhood.” NO! It’s not okay. There is a lot of love in the word no; “I love you, but you got to go get a job! If you’re going to do a crime, you going to do the time.” You cannot call yourself a community leader and not produce any results. We have to connect with responsibility and accountability, differentiate good behavior from bad. When I was coming up there were 35 kids in the class room, 30 who wanted to learn, 5 who acted like knuckle heads. Today there are 30 kids acting like knuckleheads and 5 kids ashamed to admit that they want to learn. Our kids have been hijacked by thug culture.
EOH: What is Operation HOPE doing to be relevant to these times and the needs of our community?
JHB: I think the Urban League and the NAACP, La Raza, Boys and Girls Clubs, and your foundation have to be on point. We need heroes and sheroes, role models. Don’t wait for Obama to save your life! He doesn’t make your mortgage payment or raise your children. Get on your block, volunteer. If 5% of our people volunteered so that our kids see doctors, lawyers, bankers; professionals, then guess what they want to be like. They model what they see. Let’s take our lives back. Become a HOPE Core volunteer, volunteer at your local organization, and be the 5% that changes our world and makes smart sexy, cause we’ve made dumb sexy for too long. Operation HOPE serves 1.5 million people in 72 urban communities in America. We’re at Wilshire and Hope Street in downtown L.A. We’ve directed a billion dollars in private capital to inner city communities. We have a no cost mortgage crisis hotline for listeners who are in mortgage trouble, all you do is invest your time and energy. We have a youth division and an adult empowerment division. We are trying to continue Dr. King’s dream and pick up where he left off.
EOH: Is it fair to say that the best leaders learn from their mistakes and move forward?
JHB: The only leaders learn from their mistakes, admit them, and move forward. Ambassador Andrew Young said “Men and women fail for three reasons; Arrogance, Pride and Greed.” We are our best asset and our worst liability. No one can hurt us today but us. Everybody knows you’re not perfect, so admit it. All this running around profiling, acting like nothing’s wrong, like they’re perfect, everybody knows it’s a game. So you might as well admit you’re imperfect, but you’re perfect in you imperfection. The more you screw up but are trying the best you can, the more people trust you and have confidence in you because they know you are an authentic leader. Earl, I would love to come back , but I will only come back if your listeners send the message to “bring the brother back.”