1996 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Don’t second guess yourself, or you will start doubting your ability to succeed."
Herman Cain was born in Tennessee in 1945, but spent most of his youth in Atlanta. His father worked three jobs as a porter, custodian, and barber to keep the family out of housing projects. Herman and his brother slept on a roll-away bed in the kitchen until he was in the eighth grade. At that time his father bought the family a two-bedroom house. "It was the first time my brother and I had a room to sleep in," says Cain. "We even had separate beds."
The rules of the house were simple and direct: Don't get into trouble. Don't talk back to your mother. Go to church. Study hard and finish school. An able student, Cain graduated high school and was salutatorian of his class. Encouraged by his teachers, he applied to and was accepted at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He worked after school and during the summer to pay his tuition. After earning a degree in math, Cain went to work for the Navy Department as a mathematician. Soon, he realized that government work would not give him the challenges he wanted. He went back to school and got a master's degree in computer science from Purdue University, and then worked for Coca-Cola as a business analyst.
In 1977, he joined The Pillsbury Company and climbed the corporate ladder quickly. Within five years he was promoted to vice president of corporate systems and services. Cain says his philosophy to succeed was to "always exceed the expectation of the job. Once I knew what was expected of me, I went beyond that." At the age of 36, Cain was made a regional vice president of Burger King, a subsidiary of Pillsbury. Nine months later, he was managing 400 Burger King units in the Philadelphia region. Within three years, his region ranked number one.
In 1986, Cain was appointed president of the then-ailing Godfather's Pizza, Inc. In 14 months, the chain regained profitability, and in 1988, Cain led his executive team in a buyout of the company from Pillsbury. Cain became chairman of the National Restaurant Association and developed the organization into a pro-business voice through national debates and speeches. Following this experience, he was appointed to the Economic Growth and Tax Reform Commission. He was a senior advisor to the 1996 Dole/Kemp presidential campaign.
While continuing as president and chairman of Godfather's Pizza, Inc., Cain became a national keynote speaker. He created a leadership firm and has authored three books on topics ranging from leadership to self-empowerment. In 2002, he became an executive lecturer for the Gallup Organization. Now former CEO and chairman of Godfather's Pizza, Cain is still a board member of various companies. He also serves as an associate minister of Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta.
In 2003, Cain attempted the Republican nomination for the U. S. Senate from Georgia to replace retiring Senator Zell Miller. He currently serves as CEO of THE New Voice, Inc. and is the host of his weeknight radio talk show "The Herman Cain Show."