Life is all about the people we meet. Sometimes we meet them in person; sometimes we meet them through a video; other times we meet them through a book. Such is the case now: I would like to introduce you to Mr. John Hope Bryant and his book The Memo. I came across this book while browsing in a Barnes & Noble, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
I enjoyed the book even more as I researched Operation HOPE and learned of the work he has been doing over the past two decades. It is one thing to present information; it is even better when that information is coupled with wisdom and practical advice from experience.
This is a book review and book report combined. I have begun doing this for books that I read for two reasons. First, it helps me fully digest the information and wisdom in the book. Second, it allows me to capture my thoughts on the book so that I can return later and see what the major takeaways were and remember how the book impacted me. If you can use any of the questions below for your own book digestion, feel free.
I recommend you read his book and check out the work that he does with his organization, Operation HOPE! And if you need financial literacy assistance, I recommend checking out his website at www.operationhope.org and seeing if there is a local branch. I have not worked with him or his team directly (yet), but I believe investing in his book will be worth it.
Question to Answer before you read:
What were your thoughts/expectations prior to starting this book?
I had no real expectations prior to reading this book. I had not heard of John Hope Bryant or his Operation HOPE or anything else. I purchased the book because of the title and the idea of economic liberation. I also purchased the book because he was a black man in a suit, and he looked like he had some great information to share. (In this instance, initially judging a book by its cover may have paid off.)
Questions to answer after you read:
Did the book meet your expectations?
The book exceeded any preconceived notions that I had. After reading Ong Hean-Tatt’s Secrets of Ancient Chinese Art of Motivation, this book seemed to be a perfect next step. Mr. Bryant illustrated the breakdown of The HOPE Doctrine of Wealth & Poverty. The way he captured the wealth mindset, and the factors, was fascinating and it was great to see how it lined up with the Secrets of Ancient Chinese Art of Motivation.
50% = Self-Esteem (Positive Self-worth) and Confidence (Belief in oneself)
25% = Role models (Positive examples lead to brighter outlook) and Environment (Positive and nurturing friends and family)
25% = Aspiration (A life full of hope) and Opportunity (Equal access)
This breakdown is insightful as he discusses how having these areas fulfilled leads to wealth and how the opposite induces poverty.
What were your favorite/most meaningful quotes (and why)?
- Preface xvii – Your power comes from economic independence, which is also what protects you against social injustice, economic manipulation, and profiling on all levels. Nobody is going to give you that power. You must gain it for yourself. Don’t waste time on anger; instead, use your inner capital to level the playing field.
- Preface xx – I wrote this book because it sticks in my brain that the wealthiest eighty-five individuals have more wealth than 3.5 billion people on the planet, and this is simply not sustainable. It is immoral. It is not good – even for the wealthy that belong to the club of eighty-five. Even more troubling to me, in the United States, the wealthiest 1 percent captured 95 percent of the post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
- 27 – I believe that fully half of modern poverty – beyond basic issues of sustenance of course – is tied to a poor mind-set, to low self-esteem and a lack of confidence…This is why I hammer so hard on the issue of self-esteem and confidence. Because it is the beginning of everything.
- 30 – True wealth, like true poverty, has nothing to do with money.
What is your biggest take away after reading this book?
“There is no more important relationship than the one you have with yourself. Everything else in your life pivots off that relationship.” (P. 41) In a recent interview with Pastor Steven Furtick, Bishop T.D. Jakes talked about how he is more in tune with himself than most people. I have no doubt that his self-awareness contributes to his effectiveness as a leader, teacher, and writer. Part of what he shared included his parents, grandparents, and his ancestors from the Igbo Tribe in Nigeria. His knowledge of where in Africa his family came from and that they are known as the Black Jews for their resourcefulness was a major point in his statement. This leads me to understand that a major part of knowing and being in tune with yourself is knowing from where you came. Knowledge of one’s self is directly linked to their self-confidence and self-esteem.
From Page 27, it is tough to see the value of education without seeing the value of oneself. It is important to provide information, encouragement, and examples to children, so they are aware of their potential and pursue their purpose. Education is exposure. Exposing people to their family history (for black people, that means going beyond slavery and back to the African empires and tribes) can build that confidence and self-esteem. In turn, that enables children to be more willing to learn and not be ashamed of their intelligence and willingly stifle it.
Preface xix: The Invisible Class is people who are experiencing a twenty-first century crisis of confidence and personal faith, which is impacting their self-esteem. People in the group are giving in to fear and giving up hope that they can realize their dreams. They don’t even think that their children will do better than they have. Truth be told, they are pretty confident that their children will do worse. People in the Invisible Class don’t feel seen, and, this I know for sure, everyone wants to be seen. Everyone wants to know that they count. They want to know that they matter and that what they believe, do, and think is important. This group equals more than 150 million people in the United States of America, and more than five billion people of the world’s seven billion population around the world. These are people – black, white, brown, red, or yellow – who never got the Memo.
The people in this group have a lot in common (despite racial differences), but they have been pitted against each other.
“Someone (other than me) has to be the one to blame for the mess called my life,” goes the narrative, which plays on deep fears of a class environment and standards of living in constant decline. This narrative is offensive to the soul, as it gets each subgroup further and further from the essential truths about their respective lives, truths needed for a reawakening of their potential.
I think this is the most powerful section of the book; it may explain why President Trump was elected (he was able to tap into this group and make them feel seen) and why churches like Life Church, Elevation, and others are booming (they are reaching out to this demographic that feels unseen). 150 million people is a vast and seemingly limitless group to help. I am curious how that number breaks down by state, and which communities need the most injection of hope.
“The people in this group have a lot in common (despite racial differences), but they have been pitted against each other.” Again, this quote within the larger quote speaks to the need for unity but makes a great case as to why certain people may want to maintain a level of separation and disunity; if we as the Invisible Class recognize what has happened and come together, change will happen. Amazing things will happen when we choose to unify despite our differences; when we choose to focus on our similarities as we use our diverse backgrounds to create the best, comprehensive solutions.
Please write any additional thoughts you had while reading this book or after finishing it that you would like to capture in this review.
I believe that this book is directly in line with Bishop T.D. Jakes’ book SOAR, even though I have yet to read it. In the same interview with Pastor Furtick, Bishop Jakes talks about writing SOAR for the people that don’t have access to all the other business tools. He did not use the term specifically, but it sounds like SOAR was written for the Invisible Class, to help them gain confidence and tools to move forward in the pursuit of their dreams and goals. To encourage them to take personal responsibility for their lives, their futures, and their children’s futures.
I believe this book will lead to me meeting Mr. John Hope Bryant and working with him and possibly his publishing company. I almost didn’t write the previous sentence. However, I believe it and I really am impressed with the work he has done and the example he has set as an African-American leader, entrepreneur, and man of action. This book gave me a chance to see what good work is already being done. It is encouraging to see how much of an impact he has made since beginning Operation HOPE twenty years ago. It excites me to think about where DICEi and other projects will be twenty years from now.
-David A. Brown-Dawson, 20 November 2017