Why Employers Need to Be Leaders and Teachers (with Herman Cain)

John Fund - Prosperity 101 Podcast

Behind the Scenes with Herman Cain (Part 1), February 19, 2020

In this episode, Linda interviews successful businessman, sought-after speaker, well-known author, news commentator, and former presidential candidate, Herman Cain.  He shares his passion for our Constitutional liberties and explains why he believes employers need to be leaders AND teachers.  This is Part 1 of an inspiring two-part interview that is full of Herman Cain’s classic wit and wisdom.

Linda: Today’s episode is the first of a two part series that I have with Herman Cain. Many of you know Herman Cain because he is known internationally. He is a successful businessman. He is a politician, having run for president in 2012. He is a well-known speaker and author and a TV news contributor. Herman Cain brings a wealth of wisdom to our podcast interview. Today and in our follow up session and I think you’ll enjoy hearing his take on why employers have to be leaders and teachers. So please, welcome my friend, Herman Cain. 

Herman: Thank you, Linda. You were doing alright until you called me a politician.

Linda: Well, that’s true. And that was one of the things we both said —

Herman: I ran for office.

Linda: You ran for office.

Herman: I’m not a politician.

Linda: That’s true.

Herman: Bury the word.

Linda: Yes. Yes. And there is a part in his bio that you’ll see on his website, hermancain.com, which I loved this.

Herman: Thank you.

Linda: I have to read this. “His success in business, in broadcasting, and as a leading voice on public policies stems from his lifetime devotion to hard work, learning, self-improvement, and the breaking down of barriers. Mr. Cain has never let anyone tell him what to think,” I can vouch for that, anyway, “what his limits are or what they should be or whose rules he had to play by apart from God. He has also never accepted conventional wisdom which drives some people crazy. And that’s just the way he likes it.”

That love of unconventional wisdom is, partly, how we connected many years ago. I think I’ve known you for over 11 years now. And I got to know him through to doing issue advocacy and grassroots coalition development. And it was just always a pleasure.

So when I first developed the Prosperity 101 program in 2009, I believe, Mr. Cain was one of the most supportive advisers that I had. He caught the vision right away. And I’ve sought his advice consistently ever since. And for that, I thank you.

Herman: You’re welcome.

Linda: So his business background spans decades. And he’s so exemplary. I’ll just highlight a little bit. For those of you’ve who don’t know, he got a degree in Mathematics from Morehouse College and then a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Purdue University. He married his wife, Gloria, over 50 years ago. They have–

Herman: 51.

Linda: Yes. Yes. She’s amazing. And they have two children. And how many grandchildren?

Herman: Four grandchildren.

Linda: Four grandchildren. Yes. And they are the pride of his life. He’s an Associate Minister at Antioch Baptist Church. And his faith and his family are the things most important to him. But his steadfast perseverance has helped him to rise in many areas of life, okay.

In business, you were most well-known or came on the national scene in 1994 when you participated as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza in the now famous town hall in which you educated then President Clinton on the effects of the healthcare reform laws on your workplace. Would you like to expound on that–

Herman: Let me–

Linda: — a bit?

Herman: — explain how that came about. That particular day, I was a resident of Omaha. But I had to give a speech in Western Nebraska. I’d already been invited to attend the town hall meeting. And the way it was set up is that they had audiences in the Kansas City Studio, a Tulsa Studio, Omaha Studio. Maybe one other. It was called his midwestern swing, because he was trying to pump some life back into Hillary Care as it became known.

Linda: Became known.

Herman: And so, I’m in the… I almost didn’t go. That’s the irony of it. See, that’s when you let God’s voice resonate.

Linda: Right, give you the nudge.

Herman: You got to know how to listen to God. So, I almost didn’t go, because I was exhausted. I’d given to speech. And I flew in a little small plane. But a little voice said, “Go.” And so, I went. And so, I was in your Omaha audience. And most of the questions in the other studios had been staged. Example, lady stands up and thanks the President for some help that he had provided her and her family. And he says, “Yes. Hillary and I remember reading your letter.” Really? “We remember reading your letter.”

And Loretta Carroll was the TV host in Omaha who’s asking the questions. So, when they did a round and a round, first round of the staged questions, softballs, Loretta Carroll came to me and said, “Mr. Cain, people are changing their channels. You’re next.” “What do you want me to do?” “Whatever you want to do. Whatever you want to ask.” And that’s when we got into this interchange. And then next–

Linda: Fantastic.

Herman: — the next day. And their bottom line of it was I challenged him on the numbers he was throwing about about how inexpensive Hillary Care was gonna be. Now I had taken over Godfather’s. We had worked very hard to turn the company around. And that was the one thing that could break our back if we were forced to buy healthcare. So, I said to  President, I said, “With all due respect, your calculations are wrong.” 

I didn’t realize the impact of that until the next morning. Every major news station covered, “The Pizza Man from Omaha stomps the President.” 

Herman: I’m getting dressed to go to the office. And Gloria, my wife, she says, “You’re on TV.” I said, “Okay. Big deal.” “But you’re on all of the channels on TV.” I said, “What?”

Linda: Reminds me of a few years later when we had the smoking manner.

Herman: That’s right. That’s right. But, anyway, that’s how that all came about. And what that interchange did was it was a wake-up call for businesspeople. Because many businesspeople didn’t feel as if their concerns were really being heard by the politicians–

Linda: Absolutely.

Herman: — the elected leaders. So, at that particular time, I had not gotten into any form of politics. And I think it was a wake-up call to the business leaders. Because then they started calling their representatives and their senators, We made an impact.

Linda: You did make an impact, Mr. Cain.

Herman: We made a very big impact.

Linda: Thank you.

Herman: And I’ll never forget how it culminated, because it was in the United States Senate. And Senator Bob Packwood was one of the ones who understood the business issues and understood how it’s gonna put a lot of small businesses out of business if they forced them to install, purchase Hillary Care for everybody. They keep telling this lie today about how inexpensive it’s gonna be. It is not true. And a lot of businesses will go on.

Senator Packwood spoke in our annual. I was Vice Chairman of the National Restaurant Association. So, Senator Packwood was our speaker for the fall. We had a fall meeting every year where we had restaurateurs coming to town, go visit our representatives and senators. This is how you get your message across. People from that representative’s district, from that senator’s state, you go visit them. And that’s how they, we got the message. We had about 600 restaurateurs in town.

Linda: Wonderful.

Herman: So, Senator Packwood was one of our speakers. While he was speaking to this 600 audience of restaurateurs from all over the country. One of his staff members went to the stage, interrupted his speech, and gave him a note. And the note said– he stopped and read it, “The Senate has pulled the Hillary Care legislation. It’s not going any further.” You’re talking about 600 people breaking into euphoria. 

So that’s how it ended with Senator Packwood. And it started with me telling the President that his numbers were wrong. That was that whole sequence which it wasn’t planned. It was spontaneous.

Linda: Right. But that reminds so much of the impact of the individual. And this is really what Prosperity 101 and Breakroom Economics is all about, the impact of the individual employer to be able to appropriately educate in a non-partisan manner, help employers or employees to understand the foundations of prosperity, which acquainting them with the basic tenets of our government, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, helping them understand their basic freedoms, and why if they don’t work to protect them, they will not only lose their freedom and liberty but their prosperity and possibly their job as well.

So, I have found that employers don’t always understand how to speak to employees. So, I know you and I have both spoken to hundreds and hundreds of groups and people across the country who want to learn. They want to learn what to do. They’re afraid. What would you say to those people? What are you suggestions for the employers who really want to educate employees and help to be that last line of defense for our economic freedoms? 

Herman: Employers have to be leaders and teachers. And too many of them think that just being a leader is all they have to do. No, you also have to be a teacher at all levels. I’ve always spent a lot of time with my associates who reported directly to me to make sure they understood what we were trying to do, how we were trying to do it. And here’s the biggest, most important one.

Linda: I can attest to that. Yes.

Herman: Here is how you impact this organization. I’ll never forget when I was running the National Restaurant Association. And back in the day, people would, actually, answer the phone. A computer then does —

Linda: Well, that’s because we called locations not individuals.

Herman: Right. So that was a young lady named Crystal who was our Receptionist, phone answering for the National Restaurant Association. Every call had to go through her switchboard. 

So one day, I’m going into work, I said, “Good morning, Crystal.” I was my usual self. And she goes, “Good morning, Mr. Cain.” I said, “What’s wrong?” She said, “I think I’m getting bored with the job, bored with my life. And I don’t know what I’m gonna do next.” So, I stopped. And I said, “Do you know the mission of the National Restaurant Association and how you impact that mission?” She said, “No.” I said, “It’s three things. We are here to represent, educate, and promote the restaurant industry. Just remember, R-E-P, REP.” I never thought of it like that. So, I said, “And you are not just the Receptionist or the phone operator answerer. You are my director of first impressions. And every time you answer the phone, you are promoting this organization.” She started to beam–

Linda: She perked up.

Herman: — and perked up. It was unbelievable. Now, that incident gave me an idea as the head of the National Restaurant Association. I then called a meeting of all of the employees and explained to them R-E-P. That’s when you have to become a teacher when you know it might help to elevate other people in the organization.

Linda: Exactly. Well, and employers, we play such a big role in helping to educate the employees. And that fact that there is no job too small. I know. When some of our listeners may not know, but I was fortunate and blessed to be one of two people who convinced you to run for President. So, we had quite a ride together. Lots of strategizing at 35,000 feet.

So, I was Executive Vice-President Deputy Chief of Staff of your presidential campaign. With that, I remember working with the staff and helping the staff to understand that if I’m here cleaning the bathrooms, sometime here at the office, that’s part of my job. You know, as you know, sometimes, people don’t realize the impact of the little things that they do in their job. 

And I think if we translate that to people don’t realize the impact of the little things that they do to become informed about the policies that affect those jobs or how employers can communicate that to employees, you are so great. You’re just a great communicator. And you’re great at simplifying difficult concepts. 

Herman: Thank you.

Linda: We call them, on the team, we call them Cainisms. So, we love it. And I’ve learned so much from you over time.

Herman: Thank you.

Linda: But, so if you could simplify some difficult concepts for the employers out there and give them three to five top line suggestions apart from using Prosperity 101 materials in their workplace, of course, but three to five top line suggestions to really communicate effectively so that they can help people understand when they go to the voting booth they should be educated. They can make their own choice. But, at least, make an educated choice.

Herman: Be informed.

Linda: Be informed.

Herman: I would say the first one is do what’s right, no matter what you might think about the organization and the mission, but the people are watching. And if you’re not doing something right, somebody in the organization is gonna be offended. So, your first responsibility, as a leader, is to make sure that you and your organization that they are doing what’s right. 

Secondly, make sure that everyone in the organization knows what you’re trying to do. Because they go to work everybody and not having the idea or not totally understand what you’re trying to do. It can lead to disengagement and lack of productivity.

Linda: Correct.

Herman: And third, make sure that each individual understands how they contribute to the overall success of the organization. Those three things is where connects to your Prosperity 101 idea, because too many people don’t have a basic understanding of economics. And I think that’s one of the things that’s most important. They see a job. They get a paycheck. And it stops right there. That’s not enough. They need to see the job, how it contributes to the overall organization and overall mission. And understand that if that company does not succeed, they can’t get that paycheck. They need to be able to connect those dots. And that’s where leaders have to be leaders and teachers. 

Linda: And teachers. Right. And we were talking before the broadcast about how Dawson Trotman who founded the Navigators Ministry. He had a quote, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Herman: That’s true.

Linda: And I know so many employers who care deeply about their employees. They care about their families, about their future prosperity. And they see them vote away their prosperity in so many ways. But they feel a little helpless. What would you tell the employers who are, maybe, feeling timid or hesitant or even so far as fearful to talk about issues in the workplace?

Herman: If you are timid about talking about issues in the workplace, get another job.

Linda: I was waiting for your responses.

Herman: You’re in the wrong position.

Linda: It’s so unscripted. Audience, I have to tell you we can never script Mr. Cain.

Herman: Nope. You got to ask yourself do you have the right job? One of the other things I’ve always talked about is passion. If you don’t have a passion for your company or passion for your product or your concept, with your service, you’re not gonna succeed. You’re gonna get sick of it and get tired of it. I have been blessed to have stumbled into opportunities, to be honest with you, because I had, absolutely, no master plan for my career life. Things sort of unfolded at the right times. They happened at the right time. 

But I was always driven by three things. As an individual, didn’t articulate it until later in life. I was driven by performance, performance, performance. Not history like some people want to get hung up on history.

A good friend of mine that I met not too long ago came up with a great quote, “Stop dreaming of a better yesterday.”

Linda: That’s a great quote.

Herman: You’re not gonna change yesterday. Why are you dreaming of a better yesterday? This is one of the issues I have with a lot of the rhetoric today in the media and some of the loud voices that are misleading the public. They want to use one of my acronyms, they want to SIN.

Linda: I know what it is.

Herman: Shift the subject.

Linda: Ignore the facts.

Herman: Ignore the facts.

Linda: Name call.

Herman: Name call. Don’t you see a lot of this today–

Linda: I do.

Herman: — in the narrative?

Linda: I do. I do every time I see it; I think of you.

Herman: Yes. But thank you. Because that’s all they do. That’s all they do. And there are numerous examples of each one of them that I see every day. That’s the basis of my daily show that I post—

Linda: On hermancain.com.

Herman: — on hermancain.com–

Linda: Yes, on hermancain.com.

Herman: — every day, five days a week, brand new show. We’d shoot it here. We do the editing and the pre-production and the post-production in Arizona. It’s posted in Arizona. And it’s up every day focusing on the big issues of the day, not noise, not you know, things that can’t change your life, can’t change your bank account. Why talk about what some Hollywood celebrity’s saying? I don’t care. Remember–

Linda: Actually, you, usually, say it, “I does not care.”

Herman: I does not care. They are paid to act. I am paid, you are paid, to produce.

Linda: To produce. To think.

Herman: That’s the difference. So, I don’t waste my time or waste my audience’s time talking about what some Hollywood celeb had said. No. They are just spouting off in my opinion.

Linda: Well, and they do not have the wisdom that you do, I would say.

Herman: Oh, thank you. I call it–

Linda: You have–

Herman: — experience.

Linda: — experience. And it layers on wisdom. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to the first of my two part interview with Herman Cain. As he explained why employers need to be both leaders and teachers, it exemplified the importance of employers sharing the realities and challenges of job creation with their employees.