University of Southern California

This Is Not An Economic Crisis
December 11, 2009 • by John Hope Bryant

Dear Friends of Marshall:

This is not an economic crisis. This is a crisis of virtues and values. This is not a recession. It is a reset. Because rainbows only follow storms, this crisis offers opportunity. Our young leaders will be forged by this crisis and will realize that in the end, this was a crisis of misplaced values, of leaders who lead from fear rather than from love.

If we had treated clients as relationships and not transactions, we wouldn't have a crisis. If bankers had made every loan as if it were going to his or her own grandmother, we wouldn't have a crisis.

This is not an economic crisis. It is a global confidence crisis. And that comes from fear. Fear is the ultimate prosperity killer. The most dangerous person in the world is a person without hope.

Watch the video from this event,
“A Conversation On Leadership”
held 12/02/09 at the USC Marshall School of Business

These are some of the thoughts I shared last week in a leadership panel with Warren Bennis and Bill George convened at the USC Marshall School of Business by Dean Ellis. I grew up down the street from USC, which means I grew up in a crummy neighborhood. But my mother led not with fear, but with love. While my friends were dressing like thugs and hanging out on the corners with thugs, and getting shot and dying like thugs, my mother insisted I wear a suit to school. With a floppy bow tie. Girls? Forget it. I couldn't catch a cold dressed like that. But as I wore those suits, I started to see suits everywhere. I saw them on businessmen. I saw them on church leaders. I started to see myself differently -- as a businessman and a leader.

I wore a suit to USC last week. It was made by a young man from South Central Los Angeles who learned financial literacy through the project I started, Operation Hope. He got a loan to start his clothing business. He took classes in entrepreneurship and paid back the loan and this year his company did $800,000 of business. He now leads with love.

That was the message to the audience last week. My message to you: Please join me in supporting the USC Marshall School of Business. They are growing leaders with values who will help reset our world, with love rather than fear.

John Hope Bryant
Founder and CEO, Operation Hope