I graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in mathematics in 1967. Back then, we didn’t use fancy calculators to solve problems. Instead, we utilized formulas to “solve for x.”
The same holds true in life. Throughout my own, “solving for x” meant learning how to nurture a family, how to navigate the corporate world during unfavorable times and how to deliver results. In delivering these results, I have always maintained a sense of humanity while achieving bottom lines and profitability. It stems from my humble beginnings, upbringing and spiritual compass.
I grew up in a three-room house during the height of segregation. My father worked three jobs-- as a barber, janitor and chauffer—and my mother was a domestic worker. They toiled tirelessly to provide for my brother and me in hopes of giving us a better life than what they ever knew. And they did.
After I graduated from Morehouse College, my wife and I moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, where I earned my Master’s degree from Purdue University in 1971. Though my coursework was rigorous, I also worked full-time for the Department of the Navy, helping to develop ballistics and fire control systems for America’s military. It was here I learned that each person should contribute whatever he or she is able to defend this great country.
After six rewarding years in the Department of the Navy, I began to blaze my trail in the corporate world. Here, I formulated my “common sense solutions” strategies that helped to “solve for x” in the various problems of corporate America. I took these “common sense solutions” to Coca-Cola, Pillsbury, Burger King, Godfather’s Pizza and the National Restaurant Association. They even worked during my tenure as the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Later in life, “solving for x” meant finding a way to survive stage 4 cancer of the liver and colon. Sustained by an unmovable faith and the love of family and friends, I am now five years cancer free.
Over the course of the last year and a half, I have crisscrossed the country and shared my vision for America. More importantly, I have listened to the concerns of folks all across this land -- from the farmer in Iowa to the retiree in Florida to the student in South Carolina. Throughout my needs assessment tour, I have learned that America faces significant challenges and we are right to demand a return on our investment. We see ourselves as putting so much in, and getting so little out—in the form of widespread joblessness, runaway debt, skyrocketed energy prices and an unclear foreign policy agenda.
But, we remain undaunted. Americans know that “solving for x” simply means using the right formula. What’s that formula, you might ask? Working on the right problems. Asking the right questions. Removing barriers to success. Surrounding yourself with the right people.
This is my “common sense” approach to real leadership. This approach is coupled with a steadfast belief that politics should never compromise principles. And my principles are rooted in the Constitutional guarantees of limited government and individual freedom.
I believe in a strong military and clear foreign policy that ensures the safety of our country. I believe in lower taxes, less regulation and private sector job creation that ensures the economic stability of our country. And I believe in the moral foundation upon which this nation was based and continues to make Her strong, independent and free.
In the end, it will be up to the American people. They will decide if my “common sense solutions” make up the proper formula to “solve for x.”
Herman Cain is the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.