Rolling Out

Why John Hope Bryant chose Ambassador Andrew Young and Quincy Jones as mentors

Why John Hope Bryant chose Ambassador Andrew Young and Quincy Jones as mentors
John Hope Bryant. (Photo courtesy of John Hope Bryant and Operation HOPE, Inc.)

Financial literacy entrepreneur John Hope Bryant didn’t get to where he is today by himself.

The serial businessman had the guidance of two very important figures, former Atlanta mayor, Ambassador Andrew Young and iconic, legendary producer Quincy Jones, as he recently told rolling out.

Why did you choose to have a mentor and develop a relationship with an older Black man (Andrew Young)?

I was trying to be international when I was 19.

I didn’t want to be a Black businessman, I wanted to be a great businessman who happened to be Black. Where are my role models?

At 19 years old, I didn’t see any international Black businessmen. The only Black businessman I saw doing anything nationally was Reggie Lewis.

As I looked at international leaders, I saw Quincy Jones, and I saw Ambassador Andrew Young. Quincy was in music and Ambassador Young was cross-fit in politics and social justice, I went to both.

We don’t have time for the stories here, I put it in this book Up From Nothing, I won’t waste it on this interview, but I tracked both down.

God made a way to allow me to bond with both.

My relationship with Ambassador Young is much stronger than my relationship with Quincy. Quincy and I have had a wonderful decades-long relationship, (but) he considers me his brother, not his mentee.

Ambassador Young adopted me as a surrogate son. I want to thank Bo Young, his son, his bloodline, Andrew Young III, for allowing me, and not being intimidated or insecure, about me having that facilitated relationship with his father.

I wanted to know how do you operate in 100 different countries? How can you be the best at what you do, and not just be the Black guy doing what you do? That was Andrew Young. He is iconic, he is the closest thing we have, I’m not being hyperbolic here, I want people listening and watching to tell me: who else do we have? Other than Ambassador Young; who is like Nelson Mandela in the world today? One hundred and thirty honorary doctorate degrees, 130. Presidential Medal of Freedom, French Foreign Legion Award, first Black man to be a (United Nations) ambassador.

We think it is normal to have a Black ambassador, he was the first. First Black man to be a Congressman for weeks since reconstruction in the South. Only Black mayor to be mentored by Dr. King. Built-in Atlanta, the only international city in the South, it’s literally true.

He brought the Olympics here, brought international companies here. He, Maynard Jackson and others, made it the 10th largest economy in the country, which it is today. We can go on and on, people don’t have any idea of the impact of Andrew Young because he’s humble.

He’ll tell you he’s not a businessman, but he does understand business. So, I wanted to be mentored by the best and he has integrity. He is nice and kind as he comes off. I sort of outgrew my parents in the sense of my ambitions, my aspirations. I needed to adopt spiritual parents for that next level of travel- that’s where the mentor should be. The ring you reach for.

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