'From Poor To CEO'


This article was sponsored by Tolli/Cain Entertainment.

In a time when more and more young people seem to be turning to the proposition that the American dream simply isn’t there for them the way it was for their parents — that hard work won’t bring them the goals, the living and the spiritual satisfaction that they desire — how do you counter that?

Simple. You point to Herman Cain.

Cain is a man who grew up in the Deep South when Jim Crow was still very much alive. He was born to a father who worked three jobs and a mother who cleaned houses. He graduated from Morehouse College. Joined the corporate world and moved up through it. Married, had two children. Became CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. Was a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s board of directors. Ran for Senate in Georgia in 2004 and president of the United States in 2012.

That’s the American dream — the dream that Cain captures in his upcoming documentary, “From Poor To CEO.”

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“I was part of how America changed. I was part of the change going on in America,” Cain said of the experience recently when he talked to The Western Journal. “I am thankful for that.”

People today, he said, “need to hear people reassure them that [the American dream] is possible.”

“When I was at Arizona Christian University a few weeks ago, I actually had a student ask me during a Q&A session, ‘What is the state of the American dream in America?’ I couldn’t believe the student even asked me that,” Cain said. “And my answer was simply, the state of the American dream in America is alive and well. And I am walking proof.

“There’s nothing wrong with the American dream. What’s wrong is those people who are trying to discourage people from pursuing their dreams.”

Herman Cain was born in 1945 and grew up in Atlanta, the son of Luther and Lenora Cain.

“My parents were from humble beginnings,” Cain said. “And both were undereducated. Not uneducated. They were undereducated by today’s standards. But they both had a lot of common sense. They knew how to provide.”

They also taught him a valuable lesson in not letting the circumstances of the period make Cain into a victim.

“We didn’t realize the negative impact of the social conditions of the time,” he said. “We just learned to live with it … and we never allowed the social conditions of the time to keep us from dreaming big.”

Dreaming big for young Cain was real simple. “I wanted to make a lot of money. We didn’t grow up with a lot of money,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to make a lot of money. I wasn’t going to steal it. I was going to do it honestly.”

Cain said corporate America was the way he saw his fortune coming. And it was — he moved up the ranks quickly, although he noted that won’t be everyone’s American dream. It’s a matter, he said, of allowing “yours to develop and unfold at whatever rate God wants yours to unfold.”

Either way, Cain succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

That’s the kind of story that the executive producer and director of “From Poor To CEO,” Barry Tolli, believes needs to be heard. He’s the one who convinced Cain that the project was worth doing.

“I was drawn to the project because I was truly inspired by Herman Cain’s truly American dream story,” Tolli said. “I believed that his story gives nobody else an excuse not to be successful because he has earned all of his success through hard work that he learned from his dad and has now shown his kids and grandkids.”

“He had to overcome obstacles that people today have no understanding how difficult they would be and he did it without any ill will towards anybody,” Tolli added. “He genuinely loves everyone.”

Those obstacles weren’t just his family’s poverty or the racial climate of the era. He has survived Stage 4 cancer, something his faith got him through. (Even though Cain has moved out of the lower-class neighborhood where he grew up, Tolli said, he still drives the 30 minutes back to the childhood church where he was baptized to attend services every Sunday.) He has undertaken two runs at political office, something that can deplete one’s energy (as well as financial) resources. And yet he continues to be an avatar of the American dream.

Which is why “From Poor To CEO” is more vital now than ever. Cain said he believes it will “be an inspiring story for a lot of people who are trying to pursue their American dream or people who have given up on the American dream.

“And they’ll see in this movie that I never gave up on my American dream — and in fact, I exceeded my own expectations. … It’s not only a story of my American dream, but a story of where America has come from.”

“From Poor To CEO” will be released in July. Organizers are trying to get the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta for the world premiere — a theater in which Cain and his family had to watch movies from the balcony during the 1950s because African-Americans couldn’t sit in the main area. A West Coast premiere will follow in Las Vegas.

The movie is in post-production; a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to cover that and marketing has been set up and can be found here. The film will feature a mix of live-action principal photography, interviews, archival footage and animation.

Kickstarter donors will be able to choose many different levels that include different perks. These range from DVDs and signed merchandise to lunch with Cain and tickets to the red carpet premiere. You could even get a producer credit.

And beyond that, you’ll be a part of reminding our nation that the American dream is alive and well — no matter what the doomsayers might tell you.

For more information, visit the Kickstarter or the movie’s website.

Sponsored content is a service paid for by an advertiser and produced by Liftable Media.

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