I first learned about John when he was named Innovator of the Year for 2016 by American Banker. We’ve got to know each other over the course of a few phone and podcast interviews but never had the chance to meet in person until this interview which we recorded in his Atlanta Operation Hope office.
John was running a little late so I had the opportunity to wander around the room a bit, peruse through the many pictures and awards presented to him over the years, check out the different books and trinkets he has collected; basically get a feel for the man. His office walls are filled with pictures of John with multiple U.S. presidents including George Bush Sr and Jr, Bill Clinton, and Obama. There are also pictures of John with world leaders such as the Reverend Desmond Tutu, Ben Bernanke, Andrew Young, the Reverend Martin Luther King’s family, and my daughter Alex’s favorite Michelle Obama.
Perhaps the most personal and treasured token I discovered; however, was a simple note on John’s desk from Chelsea Clinton. The handwritten note is only two or three lines thanking John for the flowers he had sent her and for being such a thoughtful friend. This note and this gesture sum up my friend John. He thoughtfully and purposely touches the soul of people he meets and inspires. Including me.