JAMES BAILEY ~ THE PEOPLES CHAMPION OF CHANGE!
In 2015, James created one of the nation’s most innovative private equity firms, Greenwood Archer. His firm re-imagines the way America’s most underserved communities leverage assets, establish wealth, strengthen infrastructure and create jobs. He is also chairman and founder of the Phoenix Leadership Foundation, created to positively impact the lives of young black men. Before Greenwood Archer, James served as CEO of the southeast region for Operation HOPE, a global nonprofit organization focused on economic empowerment. Prior to HOPE, James served as President and CEO of Landmark Global Corporation, a Real Estate investment firm managing over $7 million in assets by age 27. An Atlanta native, member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and die hard Georgia Bulldog, James has a proven track record of success. Recognized by three of the last four U.S. Presidents for his efforts, in 2012, he was one of eight Americans honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change”. James is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Leadership Georgia and the ARC’s Regional Leadership Institute. He was named to both the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “40 Under 40” and was selected as one of the 10 Most Outstanding Young People of Atlanta.
BWS: A lot of people already know who you are, but for those who don’t, please tell them a little about you, your organization and what brought you to this point.
JB: To try to keep it as brief as possible, I started my first business at 12, bought my first house at 19. I made my first million at the age of 24 and I was homeless at 28. At 30 I was running a global operation with locations in 52 countries around the world. I was doing a lot of great things, but I was pregnant while working for a baby that wasn’t mine, if you understand what I mean brother. I had this feeling that caused me to move. I’m born and raised in Atlanta and I wanted to do something to make where I’m from better. I was doing a lot of things but they weren’t what I wanted to do. I looked around my city and the less than 40% graduation rate of black males was staring me in the face. I wasn’t out to change everything, but I wanted to play my part. The incarceration/graduation/recidivism rates HAVE to be addressed. We absolutely HAVE to have an economic framework.
BWS: That’s really impressive. One thing that stuck out to me was the fact that you were homeless at 28. How did you go from millionaire at 24 to homeless at 28?
JB: I had a lack of role models, no training and I only wanted money fast. I got into real estate and the money came quickly, but I had no exit strategy. When the bottom fell out, I lost everything. Role models are KEY! You have to know the rules of the game before you ever start to play.
JB: It’s bigger than us. I’m getting married soon (October) and I realized that I can’t just pray/hope/dream of being a great father. I have to pray for my grandchildren, great grandchildren and my great-great grandchildren. Think generationally not just one level ahead. Truthfully, we’re still living off of the interest of the blood and tears of those who died before us. I take these tragedies as personal motivation. Think about this, black people are entirely dependent on other cultures for: education, health, land, clothing, food, etc.
BWS: That’s very true. We don’t own any planes, ships, manufacturing of any kind. If all of these businesses decided tomorrow that they don’t want to serve us anymore, we’re finished don’t you think?
JB: Absolutely brother. If you created a basic algorithm and extended it 50, even 75 years with these factors, it spells extinction. Think about any species that is totally dependent on external sources for their survival. When those external sources stop, that species stops also.
BWS: For a while now, the thought of pooling our money into black-owned banks has been championed. You recently were named Chairman of the Next Generation Advisory Board for Citizens Trust Bank (black owned). Congratulations! For those that are skeptical, could you explain why this is beneficial?
JB: For those skeptics I would ask, who would you rather place your trust in? People who look like you or those that don’t? Citizens Trust Bank has been around for 95 years and had placement in historic Black Wall Street. There is cultural familiarity. There is an emotional component also. A black kid going into a bank seeing people of his own kind does something to that kid. It puts the belief in them of possible. They can see themselves as a manager of a bank. They know it is POSSIBLE.
BWS: I agree with that. It’s interesting though, just last night I was watching a video about the banking system and in the research I’ve done on it in the past confirmed what the video was talking about. In it, they discussed how money is really debt. How rather than choosing to create assets, banks choose to create fictional money with the money they have on deposit. This was an old video, but in it they said banks can loan 9 dollars for every 1 dollar on deposit. I’ve seen estimates now that say it has grown to 20 dollars for every 1 on deposit. Knowing that banks operate in this manner how is it beneficial to work with them knowing this?
JB: You’re right, leverage is the real currency. The story about black dollars and the buying power we have dispensed is a myth that isn’t tangibly qualified. I’m sure you’ve heard people say that black people have X amount of spending power, but this isn’t true. Do you know not ONE black owned bank exists with at least a billion dollars in assets? We have 400 million in assets but 1 billion lets people know you’re serious. To your earlier point brother, with a billion in assets, we could leverage 20 billion. Then we could cause real change.
BWS: Mastering money is a difficult and even impossible task for some people. If you could limit money mastery into 5 steps, what would they be?
JB: I would say:
- Learn – KNOW the rules of the game you’re entering
- Invest – Wisely
- Build – Infrastructure, Land
- Share – Community, Family, Legacy
BWS: In a perfect world, racism, bigotry and other forms of hatred don’t exist. Imagine to get you to that perfect world, you have to create solutions to end racism. What would they be?
JB: Racism is taught through cultural ignorance. It’s not going anywhere. The only images a racist sees of us are in the media. We don’t control the messages. We don’t control the narrative. We don’t control the imaging. We don’t have an economic undergirding. If we did, it would give us an effective shot. We need to control music, television and movies because everything negative is profitable.
BWS: I couldn’t agree more. It’s interesting; I’m from Ohio and just moved to Illinois. The Walmart across the street has dedicated aisles to people of Mexican descent. When it comes to us, we have one area, the hair care section and that’s a very small area. They go out of their way to cater to other races and not to our own.
JB: They have no choice but to cater to them because the Latino/Mexican marketplace has proven that if you don’t cater to them, they will completely ignore you and create their own infrastructure within an infrastructure. They’ll build grocery stores owned/financed by their own people and they will shop them. It is beneficial to cater to them. We haven’t demonstrated that. We purchase our products from people who are not of our own race and only want to profit from our lack of unity.
JB: Well we just completed the change of our mission statement. We’ve condensed it down to one word, exposure. We suffer from a lack of exposure to many positive things. We have dreams but without anything in real life to nurture them, the dream dies. We’re about to begin “Be The Plug Movement”. This is a movement that helps walk our youth down the path that they want to go. For example, if a child wants to be a doctor, we don’t just say, that’s great. You want to be a doctor? We’ll connect you with one so you can ask all the questions. We’ll connect you with a medical school so you can see what it takes to become a doctor. If you want to be a lawyer, accountant or anything else, we will connect you to the right people. Hope and aspirations are the keys to success. In the hood, the hope and aspiration comes from the drug dealer. The drug dealer has what a kid wants, a nice car, clothes, power and more. We want to show them there is a better way.
Phoenix Leadership Foundation’s “Be The Plug Movement” is slated to begin at the end of August/early September 2016.
To find out more about this great organization, please visit their website at: http://www.phoenixleadership.org/