Yes We Can: President Obama, Clemson and the Path Forward

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By Derrick Braziel
Founding Partner

Tonight was an incredibly emotional night for me.  Tonight, I witnessed the end of an era.  The end of my youth.  The end of my immature flirtations with immortality. Barack Obama, in so many ways embodied the modern spirit of my heroes.  He was the epitome of grace, the champion of the American Way of Life, a complex leader for our complex times.  Tonight, my fearless leader finally stepped aside.


Now, where do we head next? I believe that by looking at three lessons our President taught me, we can see the road that lies ahead:


  • When people decide to work together, anything is possible:  When I was in college, I wrote a methods paper on the electability of past African-American Presidential candidates.  In essence, I wanted to identify trends which led to the election of President Obama versus other candidates, such as the charming revolutionary, Jesse Jackson or the self-taught, Ivy league PhD, Alan Keyes.  What I found, is that Americans elect Presidents based upon a common, almost rudimentary litmus test: They want to have a beer with you.

    What Obama has shown time and time again is his ability to connect with those across our society.  He appreciated the rich alongside the poor.  He welcomed each outsider with a red carpet fit for kings; showing that each of us has value, no matter our background, disposition or appearance.  Starting from his days as an organizer in Chicago, President Obama shows us that when we work together and value each other; we can change the world.
  • Put in 110% But also practice self-care:  Being an introvert is really hard.  In a world full of extroverts, introverts are often mis-labled as soft, sensitive and/or moody.  As a result, we have to exert extra energy to “show up” when we’d rather be left to ourselves.

    Barack Obama was a notorious introvert who was ferociously protective of his alone time after long, difficult days.  One of my favorite stories of the President revolved around how he spent his nights, reserving “seven almonds” – no more and no less – for himself every night.  Obama understood the rigors of his profession and he practiced self care every night he could.


In today’s world, it’s more important than ever for entrepreneurs and dreamers alike to remember to take care of ourselves and one another!


  • Never forget where you came from – and how you got there:  Has any President been more proud of where they’re from than Mr. Barack H. Obama? Chicago, Baby! Every speech, from his presidential announcement from the steps of the Old State Capital to his farewell address tonight include odes of thanks to those past and present who helped him along his journey.

I wouldn’t have the ability to even write this blog if it weren’t for the people who continue to support me on a day-to-day basis.  I could never thank them enough and I’m going to try!  In today’s world it’s more important than ever that we let our supporters know how much they mean to us!

So – where do we go from here? I believe that we must endure.

Another event of cultural significance happened this week – the Clemson Tigers upset the formidable Alabama Crimson Tide to win the College Football National Championship.  Why do I bring this up? Dabo Swinney.

During the post-game hysteria, Coach Swinney shared an anecdote about his speech for his players going into the second half losing to the Crimson Tide.  He essentially said, “I have no idea how we’re going to win, but the difference is gonna be love.”  What an incredible statement.

As we stand toe-to-toe against the almost insurmountable opponent of hate, fear and intolerance, I say to you, “I have no idea how we’re going to win, but the difference is gonna be love.”

Let’s do this. Together.

@Barack Obama, in so many ways embodied the modern spirit of my heroes. -@DerrickBraziel #ReadMore Click To Tweet

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