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John Hope Bryant on Believing in Yourself, Resiliency, and Worrying Less in High School

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

"I can’t guarantee that being positive will lead you to success, but I can absolutely guarantee that being negative will make you a failure." - John Hope Bryant

John Hope Bryant is an American author and entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses and a non-profit, Operation HOPE, which equips people with financial tools and education to become financially independent.

I had the opportunity to interview John Hope Bryant about what advice he would give his younger self for my brand new book It’s the Awkwardness for Me. In this post, you’ll find additional extended answers from our interview that didn’t make it in the book. They are so good, I just had to share them with you!

Believing in Yourself

Maeve Ronan:

What advice would you give to a young person who grew up in a tough situation and doesn’t believe they can have a successful future?

John Hope Bryant:

“Whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t, you’re right. If you don’t believe you’re going to be successful, you’re not going to be. If you believe that the system is stacked against you, then the system is stacked against you,

If you believe that Caucasian people can’t give you a fair chance, then you will find people in town who are discriminating against you. Whatever you see you will be, so change what you see.

Watch who you’re hanging around. When hanging around nine people, you’ll be the 10th. Watch the message you’re giving yourself, watch the environment you’re consuming, watch what you’re saying to yourself."


John Hope Bryant:

"Understand that nothing good comes easy. Every day in my life is tough, even though I have more control over my life now.

Young people need to build their resiliency. Resiliency is the key to everything. You just have to never ever ever ever ever give up.

You can’t control what other people say or feel about you but you can control your credit score. That’s just one example of what you can control. Up the level of hope in your life."

Maeve Ronan:

How can a young person build resilience?

John Hope Bryant:

"By facing an insecurity or an obstacle head-on— it’s really basic. We say to ourselves, life is tough. We say we are never going to be able to do this or that. But, if you lean in and you try it, you’ll find out 'Wow that wasn’t so bad.' Once you finally achieve that thing, you go 'Okay, well if I did that maybe I can do something else.'"

Worrying Less in High School

John Hope Bryant:

"If I had one thing to say to the 15-year-old, John Bryant, it would be 'Don’t trip, don’t trip out, don’t listen to all these naysayers who say you can’t do this.' I would say just block it all out.

The biggest naysayer was me. I was in my own head telling myself:

'I can’t do this.'

'I’m not good enough.'

'This isn’t going to work.'

'All these people are out to get me.'

One day I just had to free myself from all of it. Instead, I had to start telling myself:

'Of course you can do this.'

'Of course you’re as good as everybody else.'

'Of course you’re not going to give up.'

With Generation Z, someone says something bad on social media and all of a sudden people just freak out, 'Oh my reputation is horrible, this person just said this about me.'

And then a week later it’s been forgotten. We make too much of the criticism other people bring to us and the criticism that we have for ourselves. We just take it too seriously, and most times it is just not that serious."

Final Piece of Advice for Teenagers Today

"Just start. You don’t have to have the best answer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start with good intentions. Just do something. Try it, pick yourself up, brush it off, and try again tomorrow. Don’t overthink it. Just get up every day and do something. Try to go to bed a little bit better than when you woke up in the morning."

You can learn more about John Hope Bryant and his books on his website.


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Now Available!
It's the Confidence for Me

How to Go from Embarrassed and Insecure to Cool and Confident

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