My Response to John Hope Bryant’s Article “If Bill Gates Were Black”

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA


I wanted to share my thoughts regarding John Hope Bryant’s brilliant article that was posted on and by Bloomberg BusinessWeek today. I also wanted to have a healthy dialogue with those individuals who showed their lack of critical thinking skills before they reacted, and quickly responded in the negative, to the article.

It is my opinion that the moment many of us don’t understand something or it rubs us the wrong the way, the remaining of what we read or hear turns more into an episode of Charlie Brown, just a bunch of whah whah whah blah blah blah…and we don’t hear or interpret anything else. We are then too focused on a counter argument, but never on seeking clarification. Here is the link to John Hope Bryant’s article:

Below is my comment that I submitted to Bloomberg, that they will hopefully post in their comments section below the article. After you read John’s article and the comments made by other readers, please share your thoughts about the article and comments (inclusive of mine). Let’s have some healthy dialogue and if possible, some positive solutions to issues facing the Black community specifically, and all underserved communities in general. Here you go:

Economic empowerment and the eradication of poverty first begins with understanding the history of how this country was built, how we rebuild during economic downfalls, and how the least of God’s children are impacted. It requires us to look at the missing piece between the have’s and have not’s. 

So yes, possessing a bank account versus being robbed blind at check cashing centers is a bonus. Yes, having a credit score around or higher than 700, instead of 550 and lower, is a huge predictor of a community’s growth and prosperity—as well as an individual’s ability to thrive not just merely survive. Yes, being financially literate is imperative, because if you aren’t then you run the risk of falling prey to predatory lenders who can smell your desperation miles away.

If you don’t have a bank account then how are you depositing or cashing checks? Are you going to check cashing centers and giving them a portion of YOUR money to gain access to YOUR money? That doesn’t sound like the wisest of choices when you have a choice. Show me one millionaire or billionaire who doesn’t have a bank account. Show me one entrepreneur without a bank account. Show me. I’m sure you can’t.

The banking system isn’t corrupt, there are corrupt INDIVIDUALS in the banking system; just like there are corrupt individuals in countless other systems including government, religious organizations, educational institutions, charities, etc. You can’t blame a crisis caused by unethical behavior on an entire system, because just as there were predatory lenders who knew customers were potentially high risk for loan defaults, there are some ‘victims’ of this economic downfall who knew they bought more house than they could afford, who knew that they didn’t have true job ‘security’ but gambled with the odds anyway, who claimed to earn more than they actually had (and eventually they had more month than money). So unethical decisions from individuals caused our country to suffer these past few years.

This is a brilliant post by John Hope Bryant, that clearly expresses the sentiment that if African Americans had a Bill Gates-type-entrepreneurial role model then the vision for the Black community would not be limited to a mindset of ‘only the lucky get out’, and the ‘victory’ would not be narrowed to simply having a ‘Black President”.  

Think about it, if Bill Gates was a Black man, the money he donates and invests would be injected within his community first and then worldwide. Don’t most of us consider taking care of ‘home’ before we take care of the rest of the world? Don’t we start local and then go global? Well if this were the case, then Black communities would be resuscitated through Gates community giving, and the country (and world) would see a different ‘picture’ of these communities. 

John Hope Bryant is NOT saying that Black people don’t have entrepreneurial role models; he is saying that we need MORE business owners who are employing thousands, not merely hundreds (or less). He’s saying we need more innovators, more businesses in technology, etc. that provide a competitive advantage within the U.S. in general, and within Black communities specifically. He’s saying we need MORE Black entrepreneurs going into the community, going into the schools and teaching and sharing the ‘magic’ in their success. 

He is saying that in order to eradicate poverty and gain economic empowerment in the Black community it is going to take the Black community, not government, not charity, not handouts, but hard work and each person reaching back to an open hand and providing a hand up out of the pit. It’s going to require Black people with 700+ credit scores teaching those with 550 and lower credit scores how they did it. It’s going to require Black entrepreneurs to hire within their community, to bring on interns to learn the ropes at their company, and to mentor young Black children.

The majority of our role models that our children regularly see come from entertainment and sports backgrounds, which there is nothing wrong with that, except if you lack talent in either area, then what? 

Additionally, and no disrespect, but Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson, and others have built BRANDS that employ–but none to the extent of a Bill Gates level; and all three brands represent entertainment or sports. In 2007, Microsoft employed a reported 79,000 people. That was in 2007. Name one Black-owned company that employs 79,000 people?  

So John Hope Bryant’s article says, “what if Bill Gates were Black?” What changes would you see in the Black community? What would Black children aspire to become if they saw a Black employer hiring thousands of people within their community? How many Black people could be employed (since unemployment is HIGHEST in the Black community)? How many of our children would be encouraged to excel in STEM courses and pursue careers in those fields so that they too could grow up to ‘be like Bill’?

We need to take the emotion out; we need to stop wanting to attack everything we don’t understand, and start acting like we are intelligent enough to ASK for clarification if needed, and to ASK how we can individually and collectively help solve the problem.

How many of you volunteer in the Black community? How many of you work with the underserved and underrepresented? How many of you are helping to work towards a solution? Or are you merely only focusing on picking at and tearing down the things you don’t understand, and the things you are against? If you aren’t doing anything to help the Black community, and other underserved and underrepresented communities, then what does your opinion really mean, and what are you truly adding to this conversation? 

John Hope Bryant you did an awesome job with this piece. We need our children to aspire to be entrepreneurs as much as (or more than) they aspire to be athletes and entertainers. Great, they want to be a football star, but let’s teach them to also start and build a business (now) as an additional revenue stream—so when their football career ends, they still have a career…and wealth, not just temporary riches! 

A broke mindset only gets the same results…an unfinished puzzle!



Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

>Sharing and Experiencing Love Through Leadership


Note: Due to Internet connectivity issues I was not able to post to my blog the past few days- so I have been very anxious to get this submission to everyone.
January 29, 2010 I finished reading the book Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World written by my friend, John Hope Bryant. Everyone that knows me knows that I love reading books…I’m a human sponge. Let me be brutally honest…this book is a page turner from beginning to end; no dull moments, no fluff, no superfluous jargon, and no attempt to mislead readers- just love in its purest form…but not ‘soft’ love. If you’re thinking of camp fires and marshmallows then you are far from accurate. John’s delivery is to the point, clear, concise and eloquently raw. He has a way with words, and a gift for showing you how to look within to lead efficaciously and build toward your vision swiftly.
Love Leadership does not need to pound concepts and theories down your throat, or manipulate you into a brainwashed regurgitating ‘puppet’ of theories and catchy phrases; it makes you open your mind and heart and accept whatever limitations that you possess as a leader, and encourages you to seek a positive change, in order to get the desired residual effects from your team/group/family. It encourages you to seek out your desires no matter if professionally or personally, and to focus your attentions on “good” capitalism and not “bad” capitalism…where wealth accumulation does not come at the cost of someone else’s well being or your own. No soul-selling, back-stabbing, shoulder climbing, or cutting of throats here folks!  You can ‘get yours’ the ethical way.
John’s book reinforces my belief that leaders do not need to lead with an iron fist, but rather with love, respect and compassion for the fellow man. John and other well-known and respected leaders share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences on the difference between fear-based leading and one directed in love. Leaders that believe that fear will instill or reinforce the necessary characteristics of disciplined and loyal workers are disillusioned and clearly insecure of their own shortcomings. Leaders that believe that they can cut ‘corners’, overlook unethical behavior or dabble in it ‘this time’ are only setting themselves up for a slippery slope of mania. These leaders eventually fail.
Leaders need to possess a balance of task-orientation and people-orientation in order to lead with a focus on the job at hand and the valued workers that get the job done. When you lead with fear and intimidation you breed contempt and resentment; a sense of inequity grows from deep within and eventually your followers begin to show signs of defiance, which is counter-productive to your organization’s growth and success. 
John Hope Bryant shares five laws of love-based leadership which include:
1.     Loss Creates Leaders
2.     Fear Fails
3.     Love Makes Money
4.     Vulnerability is Power
5.     Giving is Getting
Do not let the tone of these laws confuse your thinking that this book or Love Leaders are somehow soft, weak, or inadequate. Contrary to your preconceived notions to lead in love is exactly what Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., César Chávez, Albert Einstein, and others did. This is the type of leadership that Nelson Mandela, Leymah Gbowee, and numerous other leaders live by and encourage.
I do not know about you, but from my readings and interpretations, Jesus was nobody’s punk or fool…he possessed a strength, passion, desire, conviction, and wisdom that enticed thousands upon thousands to follow and study under him. Jesus is the only person past or present that could bring out the masses in droves like he did. We are impressed when an entertainer fills an arena or stadium, could you see Jesus as the headliner? Talking about standing room only! Now that is a sign of leadership.  
Love leaders are those who earn respect, they do not demand it or expect to receive it freely. They love people even if they do not like the person’s character or behavior. Love leaders understand that it takes the human element in order for the marketplace to thrive and survive. It takes human compassion to truly reach others and re-charge the dead or dying batteries many people have buried within themselves. It takes a strong person to lead in and with love. It takes a sense of vulnerability to expose some or all of yourself to those you lead so they see “you” and in turn desire to invest in your mission and vision.
Let’s look at an example of turnover rates within organizations. I use this example because it is relevant, especially now during our current climate of unemployment and underemployment.
High turnover rates are a sign to me that leaders within that organization are lacking the adequate skills to lead, motivate, encourage, create and maintain healthy vital relationships. High turnover, whether voluntary or involuntary is a clear indicator of a weakened organization that could fall in time like a house of cards…all it takes is one or two cards to move and it all comes tumbling down. 
If your organization is struggling, showing signs of weakness and defiant behavior, reading and genuinely applying the concepts and laws within John Hope Bryant’s Love Leadership book will help create an immediate shift in your thinking…and that of those you lead who then see and feel a shift in the environment they spend most of their time.
If you are planning a business start-up, and you are in your beginning or middle stages of research and implementation be sure to purchase a copy of Love Leadership to help you while designing your business and marketing plans, and operations manual. [I must insert a shameless plug right here…if you need help with your business start-up contact me for a consultation].  
I would suggest that every man and woman that hopes to take on leadership roles whether in the community, in the workplace, your home, or your church, purchase a copy of this book TODAY! Love Leadership also serves as a great read for book clubs and other groups, wanting to share in the depth and breadth of this wonderful principle, movement, and way of being; simply called…Love Leadership!
This book needs to be a part of every organization’s and home-based library worldwide. I share this book review with love and the deepest level of respect…enjoy!
Love Leadership can be purchased at:,,,, through, and iTunes, and of course at a book retailer near you.
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved; except displayed images.

Image of Love Leadership book retrieved from with permission
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