By prioritizing voter education and disrupting traditional election approaches, we can empower citizens to make informed decisions, strengthen communities, and shape our country’s future with audacious confidence. For today’s episode, we have special guest Gino Herring, the founder and CEO of Best Candidate, to delve into navigating the elections process. He discusses the disconnect between voter education and the whole elections process. He explains how his company’s mobile platform attempts to fill that gap by improving communication and education between voters and candidates, ultimately revolutionizing the way we conduct elections. Gino emphasizes the importance of voter education and how it can lead to better-informed decisions, stronger communities, and more effective leadership. He also discusses the need to disrupt the traditional approach to elections and the impact it can have on the future of our country. This episode is a must-listen for everyone, as it does concern us all. Tune in and learn how to become a more informed and engaged citizen and make a positive impact in your community.
Watch the podcast here
Listen to the podcast here
Disrupting the Political Landscape With Gino Herring
With me in this episode is Gino Herring. Gino is the Founder and CEO of Best Candidate, a mobile platform designed to increase communication between voters and candidates. He’s a past Director of Voter Education for the Local Elections Board for twenty years and is itching to disrupt the way elections are run in this country, 1 candidate and 1 voter at a time. Welcome, Gino.
Thank you very much but I sound like I’m an old man after reading that.
No, you started in the stroller with your mom.
Yes. For my whole life, educators were all around me. I’ve been doing this for a long time.
We had a conversation before and you had this brilliant idea for this platform but then you were thrust into this leadership role unwittingly like, “How did I end up as the CEO of this whole shebang?” Tell me a little bit about that journey. What was that learning curve like for you?
When you’re a leader, sometimes you realize that everything you do is being not just sponged up by other people and people that are around you but scrutinized too. You want to always do the best and set examples. I felt as though I wasn’t educated enough. I took some time and went back to school. I got some real solid knowledge behind my belt so I could be able, at least, to have some more self-awareness of the things I was efficient in and be able to get some people around me to take up those efficiencies and the experts in those fields. It’s tough at first.
Many people don’t take the time to do that and gain the leadership skills that they need to continue to lead people. That’s why I have a job. A lot of times, people are promoted into positions of leadership without any leadership experience or having led anyone. They end up floundering. It’s not that they’re not a good employee or weren’t brilliant at what they did. It’s that you’ve shifted them into a new role without giving them the tools. It’s good that you’ve sought that out yourself.
I feel exactly that. I feel like you’re going to be at some point not knowledgeable about your trade or even the group that you’re supposed to be leading and guiding. You have to look inside yourself a little bit. I found that you’ve got to be able to bury yourself and say, “I don’t know this,” and also be willing to learn from the people who are around you. Someone that can do that will gain the trust of the people that they’re leading and guiding.
My coach and mentor always say that the most important thing that a leader needs to have is increased self-awareness. That’s your gold right there.Self-awareness is the most important skill that a leader needs to have. Click To Tweet
Without that, you’re fooling yourself. I put myself back to when I was teaching. I realized then that I was as responsible for being in that classroom as the students were. They expected things from me also and I had to realize that. I expected them to be in class every day, do the right thing, do their homework and those things but if I wasn’t there one day, sick of something and the next day I was there, they’re like, “Mr. Herring, where were you? We missed class. You were making sure we were here every day. You better be here too, Mr. Herring.” They got in my face.
That was the first time I realized, “I’m just as responsible too.” I’m preaching it and I’d be able to show them that I’m as liable to scrutiny. I need to be able to pull my weight as a professor, teacher and guidance person to stand and deliver a topic just as much as I expect them to be able to receive that. It’s a two-way street.
As you went back to school to learn some of these skills for leadership, aside from self-awareness, what were some of the other big lessons that you learned going back that you weren’t doing that now you could implement?
The very first thing to realize is that I was afraid to fail. I want this so much. I want to be able to help people so much. What we’re creating is such a game-changer that I was afraid to even admit that I didn’t know things. Once you’re able to admit that, also not afraid to fail but fail early, you’re going to be building up those failures and know exactly what not to do anymore. The light bulb was made with 1,000 attempts. The first 999 failed but that 1 time, we have lights.Once you're able to admit what you don’t know and let go of the fear to fail, you're going to be building up those failures and know exactly what not to do anymore. Click To Tweet
It’s the same thing with any product, guidance or leadership approach that you have. You’re learning constantly from the people that are around you but you have to acknowledge that you don’t know things and have the integrity enough to say, “I don’t know this. Let me learn from you.” That creates a bond with the folks that you’re around. I had to be able to know and relinquish that. Once I did, it felt like I was being bombarded with things that I need to know. I was receptive to that more.
Elon Musk created that culture around innovation, creativity and creating things that fail. We celebrate and get excited when we fail because that’s one step closer to getting it done. We know what we’re not supposed to do the next time. He would celebrate with them every time they failed a rocket launch or something like that. It’s this culture of, “Let’s keep going. Don’t beat yourself up because it didn’t work.”
How many successful launches come after the unsuccessful ones? That’s the most important goal. Those launches aren’t going to work. At some point, something’s going to go wrong but if you can harbor the right attitude that lets you know and allow yourself to keep going, then we can check those boxes off, “That didn’t work. Let’s change ignition processes. Change the fuel. We know that doesn’t work. Let’s change something else and keep on going.” The team around him also had to have that same perseverance. They know that he’s leading us to get this thing done. To be able to look at that coach, teacher or leader and see the confidence in them, gives you the confidence too on coming back to work.
How did that build your confidence? When you realize that failure is your next step to success, it’s not the end. It’s not like, “What is wrong with me?” That helps build your confidence because you know that’s part of the process.
That’s a great part of it. In thinking about that, I realized more and more, you’re going to come across things, even in my endeavor to get this thing out, application or service. I’m going to come across failures, interested people, people I’m working with, working for me and with me who aren’t doing their part. I got to know how to take all of the goodness that they have provided and brought and count on those. You’re going to have people every single day that are not going to realize the value and something that you’re creating or bringing to the table.
They’re going to show negativity towards you as well. If you could take one thing from them, be a sponge to their negativity so you know what not to get from the next one. Don’t let it spread. Somehow someway, everything is valuable, whether it’d be a negative comment or something else. I know to expect that thing from this group, that person or this process that I’m implementing.
I always tell people, “Take this as data points. Don’t take it personally.”
If you have the wisdom enough to do that, definitely.
That’s why I love the book, The Four Agreements, which says, “Don’t take anything personally.” When you start taking things personally, you can get derailed but if you take it as data then you’re like, “They said that. Put that in this column over here. Let’s evaluate it and see the truth in it. What’s true and not true? Let’s pull it apart and see if maybe there might be a little kernel of truth in there and what can we take out of that and use it for our benefit.” Don’t always take a negative comment personally or something is wrong with you. Look at it as data. When I say that failure is a part of your success, it’s because when you look at babies trying to walk, they don’t fall one time and give up and say, “I’m never going to do that. I’m going to sit here the rest of my life.”
None of us would be walking and we’d be crawling around everywhere.
Everybody would be sitting. We looked at everybody doing it and tried. This isn’t working. Everybody takes it to the most basic part because we get to be adults and start thinking that everything has to work out and perfect the first time and it doesn’t work that way. Let’s talk about this bright idea that you had. You’ve been in voter education for twenty years. What made you want to disrupt? What made you come up with this idea in the first place?
Most importantly, I start by saying that government is not a fictitious entity or abstract. It’s made up of people. People run the government. We elect and put them into power to represent us. People that vote are behind the DMV line when you go there and talk to them. Those are people. The institution itself is one thing but we tend to forget that they’re actual people that do the work.The government institution itself is one thing, but we tend to forget that there are actual people that do the work. Click To Tweet
Even in selecting those folks to work for you or with you, a lot of times it’s overlooked that you need to have certain people in line to do certain tasks. Instead of filling a seat or giving a paycheck, it’s important to know that there are two different kinds from the standpoint of the government and the standpoint of actual capital, companies and businesses. It’s two different things.
My case in point is if an organization sees 15 people out there and 1 of them decides not to buy their candy bar, that person is not as important but if all 15 don’t buy it, there’s an issue. You got my attention as the employer or the owner of that business. Take elections on the other side of that. For some reason, the people or the masses aren’t important unless all of them are swinging one way or another. However, every single one of those people is important because if that one person doesn’t vote, that could determine the outcome of an actual election.
People don’t understand that. A lot of folks don’t understand that my vote doesn’t count, I’m not going to even bother. I don’t like those people. I can’t deal with this process. Everything’s getting crazy. Being in elections for twenty years, I was able to see a lot of beautiful things, mind-blowing positivity and people getting together and voting. It’s like a beautiful choir singing. You see Whitney at the front there, hear this orchestra and see the beauty around you.
An experience that comes to mind is there’s a young lady who gets there at 7:01 and the polls closed at 7:00. She has three children and she says, “Can I please vote?” She starts crying because I have to tell her, “No, you can’t. I apologize. You got here at 7:01 and the polls closed.” The three kids looking at her crying. Those are three children are asking, “Why are you crying, mama?”
She didn’t realize the polls closed but they told her at work that she could leave at 6:45 and she was 30 minutes away from a polling place to vote. The education did not filter down to her. She promised that her mother, who was Creole-Haitian, who just got naturalized and became a citizen for the first time that she was going to vote, yet she couldn’t and three kids were also crying.
Those kinds of experiences have a lasting effect on me and the process knowing that I am in charge of voter education for 1.2 million people and I have a staff of 3 to do it. The government sometimes as an entity cannot control the actual monies coming down to an unfunded mandate, meaning having to educate 1 million people with 4 staff.
The entrepreneurial spirit in me kicked in several years ago. There’s got to be some way that we can make a change and some way that we can get in the households of people who are moving from out of state, students that are turning eighteen years old and are ready to vote, people that are coming here to the country for the first time being naturalized who are ready to vote but don’t know how, when or why they’re doing it. There’s got to be a way.
I thought to myself, “I can do this. I can create some application because everybody’s got one of these phone things in their hands all the time.” We transfer billions of dollars every single day back and forth. Why can’t we do voter education? Voter education is the foundation of democracy. Why don’t we prioritize that? That light bulb went off in me and prompted me to step out of the standard box that says to do it this way all the time. For 246 years, that’s how old our country is. We still hadn’t prioritized this little thing called voter education. That is why.
We’re talking about leadership. When we are voting for someone in power or someone to be our leader, if we’re not informed correctly, not just about what they stand for, what their platform is and all the false stuff that’s out there, which is a lot of that but simply the process of getting there. I had an experience. I could vote for the first time in the last local election because I got naturalized. I’m a citizen. I could vote and didn’t know some things. I registered and never got my voter registration card and stuff in the mail. I was going to vote early and didn’t get that in the mail either.
On election day, I was like, “I can’t vote. I don’t have my voter registration. I don’t have my mail-in ballot.” I was on the phone with a friend and they said, “Take your driver’s license and go.” I’m like, “I could do that?” He’s like, “Go and show them your driver’s license. That’s all you need because you’re registered.” I was like, “I didn’t know that.” I went and voted but I didn’t have the education. I didn’t know that I could go with my driver’s license and do it because not every state could do that either.
You need to understand the state that you’re in and the state that you’re voting, what are your rights as a voter, how you vote, what you need and what you could leave at home like you don’t have to bring a passport, birth certificate and all your stuff. You need to understand these things even in the process of doing it. Let’s talk about all the misinformation out there because there is a lot of it.
That’s weeding through the craziness. You bring up a huge point. First and foremost, procedures and policies change by state. Every state has a different set of election laws and people aren’t aware of that. 1st-time voters aren’t just 18-year-old students turning 18 for the first time. First-time voters are folks that are newly naturalized citizens. First-time voters are people coming from California, New York or Georgia, to the state of Florida but they don’t realize that.
A lot of folks don’t understand that because where is that education? As soon as you cross the border, there’s not a big old sign that says, “Get ready to vote because you’re new.” That doesn’t sit there sometimes in the nationalization office. You’re not going to see that in your high school’s billboard where it’s coming from. Your civics is gone from the educational system. We might get some civics if we turn on the TV and Jailhouse Rock.
You just showed your age.
Civics is absent from our curriculum.
Even just the process. When I was naturalized, they said, “Now, you could vote,” but what do I do? Where do I go to get that information? Do I have to go down to the Board of Elections? There is that disconnect. There’s a lack of understanding of what that process is and how to get a hold of it. How does Best Candidate address that gap?
Best Candidate fills that void of missing information from the process of elections in the State of Florida, particularly. I keep saying that because we go down to the foundation of creating an MVP, Minimal Viable Product, which means a skeleton-based bare bone. What that is for us is a voter education toolbox. When you create a profile on your cell phone, you are accessible to a toolbox of information. You can see your sample ballot and precincts. You’ll be able to find your polling place. You could see a glossary of terms.
That was another thing. Where do you vote? They’re exactly like, “What is your district?” They’re always redrawing district lines.
That G-word, I don’t mean Gino, I mean gerrymandering. There are things that we’re attacking with this application. We say attacking because we are disrupting an age-old process that for many years didn’t even include us, me as a male, Black African American and you as a female. For the most part, it still doesn’t as long as we don’t have accessible information.
The voter education toolbox is the first and foremost. Aside from that for the candidate side, better information is better for candidates and voters. If first-time candidates don’t know how to get their forms turned in on time, who’s going to make them aware that you got to have a certain amount of money in your campaign finance fund? How do you get in front of voters? You got to knock on doors. What do you have to do?
Unless you hire a campaign manager, you’re behind the eight-ball for many months. By that time, somebody else is raising $1 million and is on TV that is showing everybody why they shouldn’t vote for that person. There are signs on your grass and all over the place. That’s how we know the elections are coming because the signs are everywhere. They only come around every four years, unfortunately sometimes. Local elections never get that publicity. That’s a problem because the local elections are the most important. Those are the ones that affect our backyard.
They’re governing our cities and communities. Those are the important ones. That’s going to help us understand. From the candidate side, if you’re looking to make a difference and want to run, you have an opportunity not just to learn the process of doing that yourself but also to get in front of potential voters.
That’s right. You’re usually having to raise millions of dollars to get on TV and radio. That gives a lot of people under the radar for their whole campaign. This allows you to reach people exponentially for a fraction of the cost. I keep going to my cell phone but you have probably thousands of people in your contact list. If you have a profile as a candidate, the first thing we allow you to do is access every one of those folks.
You could push a message out to them like, “Come see my platform. Come read what I’m all about here. I’m having a live rally on my phone which you can log into your voter app and see us. We’ll be in our living room and you can be in yours as well. You don’t have to get out in the rain and go 15 miles to the park where we’re going to be but you can sit right there in your room. You can put us on TV if you want and see it. There’s a cabinet of files that I could file for my staff as a candidate. I can give you updates as to when these documents are due to the local board as a candidate.” “This is due coming up tomorrow. You better get on it.” Those kinds of things keep people from staying in the race.
Many times, good people are shut out because of technicalities. They didn’t file something in time or something like that. Even as hard as you try to do the right thing, if you don’t know all the intricacies of the process, you are left on the sideline. This helps the candidates as well as those who are voting have more access. As you’re talking, I’m like, “This is taking grassroots to another level.”
It’s Democracy 2.0.
You can launch a whole grassroots campaign from this app without people ever having to leave their homes. You can reach them and not with annoying text messages.
Also, phone calls in the middle of the night.
Robocalls and all those things. You’re the Uber of elections as you’ve described.
I’ll take it as long as we have some progress.
Another major time election is coming up so this is being launched at a time when all the negative ads and all that stuff we’re getting ready to be bombarded with. If you want to know the truth, investigate or research it more, you don’t have to start digging and spend your whole day trying to look at this and that. You could go to the app and source out what is this candidate all about.
A lot of times, we hear stuff. You see an ad here and then you see the counter ad there. You’re like, “What is the truth in this?” Instead of waiting for ABC, NBC or CBS to come and tell you, “We’re looking into the truth in this,” you can go into the app, find the truth yourself and stop believing all the negative things that are being thrown back and forth.
Let me ask you about this. Maybe a lot of people don’t know this about social media but they streamline based on what you’re interested in. They will start feeding you only that. If you click like on something, they will keep feeding that to you and won’t feed you the other side or anything else. They will keep bombarding you with the stuff that you’ve already said you liked.
If you’re someone who’s a truth seeker, you want to know, “Is this true?” That’s me. I question everything. “What are both sides saying about this? Not just what are both sides saying about it, let me investigate the person. Did this person say that? What is the whole speech?” Not just the little sound bite that you took that they made and manipulated for your advantage. “What was the whole sentence?”
It’s precisely what we’re trying to do. The three stars in our logo represent something. The first was going to motivate folks, going to educate them and have to participate. The second three resemble our judicial system, the executive system and the legislative system. Those are 3 branches of government or 3 checks and balances I should say.
We have the same in place with Best Candidate. There are three checks and balances for everything. For candidates specifically, the first thing they’ll do is create a profile. They have the option to click to send out and fill out an oath of ethics. They’ll assign that oath of ethics. That says from the start or the very foundation of this application, that as candidates, they’re going to operate in an ethical manner as long as they’re on this platform. That means to say the right thing, say the truth, do the right thing and don’t blast other people. We’re starting with a foundation that lets people know this is going to be good here or wholesome. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is we want to make sure that all the fact-checkers out there have a say as well because they’re doing the work for us. They’re turning that engine or weeding through the crap. They’re finding out the source. We’ll partner with them as well. The last part about this is the crowd, the population or the people. We will also be able to say to you, “You did not go to Harvard. You put that on your resume here. You did not go there because I went there. I never saw you.” The three things there for fact-checking create a perfect foundation for truth.
If we can put those three together and daily have that a part of this system that allows candidates to go on there and level the playing field for them, they’re no longer beholden to the millionaires that give them money so that when they get the office, they have to do everything they tell them. That’s gone.
People are giving them notoriety and attention. Those are the folks you’re beholden to. You’re representing them. Not Microsoft, not all these people all over the country or Wall Street. That will organically end so long as people put a priority on voter education. That is what the real purpose of this is. Nonpartisan and non-biased voter education.
When is it officially launching?
We have the design of the UI. That means the development side that has all of the pictures and “click on this” and we’re going to go and use it. We’re creating the backend, which means the actual software. That means when you click on it, it has to go somewhere. That’s how they explain it to me.
I’m not a software developer. I just have an idea.
I’m saying it back because that’s how I learned it. I’m not afraid to say it because it’s a learning experience for me too. We’re developing that portion and then we’ll be able to check and make sure it works well. We’ll push it out in the fall of 2023 hopefully as a beta test. That’ll be the first opportunity to see it. We’re taking pre-subscriptions. Folks go on our website, log on and put in their information. We’ll then send them an email saying, “It’s live and ready to go. We want you to test it.”
We want a beta test of about 2,000 at least people that are willing to say, “I want something better. I want to know where my polling place is. I want to be able to check this candidate and find out if they voted for things or what they stand for. I want to know the truth about them because they put it here. It didn’t come from Channel 7 or Channel 10. They put it on there.” I got to be on the fence. I can’t say which is which but being an election official in the past, I’m used to being in public. Some people ask me what party I represent and I’m having to say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
When we’re doing this app, we have to make sure that everybody is involved. This is a place for everybody. I’ve got teenagers that are afraid to speak up to their friends because they don’t want to lose their friends. I have one young lady say, “I’ll create a civil war in my house if I come home and tell my dad that I’m voting this way when I turn eighteen.” There’s no safe space for them. At the dinner table, we can only talk about how good the food tastes or how bad it tastes. We can’t talk about religion and politics. Where do they go? What do we do? We put it under the rug. That’s what apathy is. We’ve got to address that apathy because all of us individually have a sin.
A couple of things that you’ve said that are very powerful is that every vote counts. If you abstain from voting because you don’t like or know the candidates, this will address that because you wouldn’t have an excuse not to know them. You’ll be able to go in and see it for yourself. Hopefully, this will address abstinence. Everybody’s vote counts. Everybody needs to vote. The other thing we talked about is sweeping things under the rug or having to suppress them because it creates a civil war.Everybody's vote counts. Everybody needs to vote. Click To Tweet
Since the Civil War, politics have not been as divided as it is now. It’s so polarizing. This is an opportunity to discuss the issues and stop talking about the people or the personalities. We’re getting into too much of whether you like this one or that one. It’s the personality thing. Instead of, “What do they stand for? How are they going to impact my life and the life of my children and my grandchildren? How is this trickling down into the generations? This policy that they’re implementing now, how is that going to affect my girl child in the next twenty years when you’re taking away certain rights or blocking certain things?”
You’ll get the facts and then you can vote more aware and educated, which is what this whole thing is about. It’s about education. Confident leaders seek out the truth and education. This is why I wanted this episode of this show. It is so important as we’re choosing the leaders, the people who are going to take us into the next decade or so because everything they do has an impact for decades. It’s not just for that day they signed that bill.
We tend to look a lot at our candidates and it gets discussed. That makes us go away but the scenario I brought up about me teaching and my students, we’re both involved in that process. You can’t give up because the leaders you’re finding aren’t leadable. That makes you also less of a student. You’ve got to also do your part and demand certain things of people because they’re representing you but you can’t do that without the facts and information. Our app is going to do two things. It’s going to make better candidates. It’s also going to give you better information and that’s all we’re trying to do.
That part about making better candidates is huge. If you’re like, “This is the voter pool and this is all we got,” people without money aren’t having access. You can have good people who have the passion for making change and be a part of the process without having to have millions of dollars to get recognized.
That 30-year retiree school teacher that’s been in the community all her life knows the community and all the kids that are there not only because she worked there but because she’s also been there for her whole life. She’s running in the election but she doesn’t have the funds to stay in the race. Does she know the committee? Is she the best person for this job? Yes, because she knows it at the back of her hand but she can’t stay in the race because she can’t raise that million dollars to get on TV.
You have someone from another state or even a county that comes here and doesn’t know the turf yet but has the means. They’re going to be on that ballot. They’re making traction and going to be your new representative. That shouldn’t put someone who’s well-qualified out of the race or conversation. That should no longer be something that prevents people from representing the people that they grew up with, know and love.
If we can level that playing field and make a dent in that the first couple years and make sure people know this is viable to get in the hands of everybody because everybody has a cell phone, which is a good thing and a bad thing. If we use our tools where it’s supposed to be used and have some limitations on them and things, it could be a viable tool for change in the positive direction. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Thank you so much for coming on. We’re going to jump into the rapid fire. The first question I have for you is what’s the biggest leadership mistake you ever made yourself or were a victim of?
The biggest leadership mistake that I made is not relying more on the people that I was leading. I was trying to do it all myself. A good football coach knows he doesn’t know linebackers and quarterbacks but he will hire an expert at those positions and that makes him, the team and the whole process better. I was relying on my know-how and not getting everybody else a chance to show their expertise. I wish I had but I learned early on enough to know that I need to do better at that, let people shine and step back a little bit as a leader.
What’s the best leadership advice that you ever got that you’re implementing?
Best leadership advice as the Voter Education Director, I was responsible for the education of 1.2 million people. South Florida is a very diverse county and I wanted my staff to resemble the people that we were interacting. I’m so glad that I have a Creole-speaking person, a Hispanic person, a White person and myself, an African-American. I was trying to make sure that we represent the people we’re serving. There’s no greater heart than that of a public servant. I wanted folks to know that you can come in and get their information from us because we’re going to give it to you straight. We’re going to give the natural stuff. It’s no BS in our voice of message and it’s nonpartisan at all times. That was the best thing I’d ever done.There's no greater heart than that of a public servant. Click To Tweet
As you’re saying, it has to represent you. I remember when I grew up in Australia, I didn’t feel represented anywhere. I was like, “I couldn’t see anything that represented me.” I believe that is vital. That’s so important when you show up somewhere that you don’t feel like, “They’re not going to talk to me because I don’t see anybody here that looks anything like me.” What’s the most JEDI audacious leadership move that you ever made that was so out of the box but it worked?
I had this crazy notion that students should be able to go together to the polls and vote for the first time. We made this happen with the help of the 100 Black Men in Broward County, the Urban League of Broward County and also NAACP. We had early voting sites at 20 locations around the county and had about 15 buses from high schools. They’re pre-registered and had their voter information card and driver’s license with them. They got on the buses, had some teachers chaperoning them and walked into the voting sites.
One particular site that comes to mind is Hollywood Library. There was a line outside there. This is a big old election of 2004. This line parted and these students got off that bus and went to the front line. They went in as children and came out as mature adults so you could see it on their faces and everybody in the line clapped.
I got goosebumps.
I did too because it was the most beautiful thing that we did. CNN came down for the next one. It was a beautiful moment for everybody.
If you were a castaway on a deserted island, what three things would you hope washed as shore or was airdrop to you that you couldn’t live without and one of them cannot be a cell phone?
Three things I couldn’t live without, a water purifier because I got plenty of water and can’t drink it and a nice fishing pole but seriously, a wash-up bottle of hope. If you uncork a bottle of hope, anything is possible. It stays within you and you have another day to go for. Without that bottle of hope, you have nothing to go for. A lot of us needed that. We need some hope to keep going.
Who’s someone that inspires you every day?
It’s my mother. She inspires me and doesn’t know it. She was born and raised in Colombia and Panama. She came to this country by herself to go to school with a full scholarship. Her siblings were younger than her. She’s scared to death but she made it happen and stuck it out. When it was time for me to go to college myself, I wanted to go somewhere local but I love the school up North and I didn’t want to go because so far, she said, “Gino, if I, a person from a different country with a different language can leave my entire family and come to another country to go to school, you can go a couple of miles. Get your stuff and let’s go.”
I said, “If my mom can do it, I can do it.” I think about that so many times. She’s telling me about the first naturalization process that she went to and got her citizenship. It keeps me grounded because we tend to look at people for their value. A lot of times, we don’t find value so we put people beneath us and we need to stop doing that as people. Everybody has something. It may not be for you but they have value. Take that and be worthy that you’re around them. If everyone thought that way, stop being so polarized, agree with everybody and everything has to be the same, what world would that be? It could be very boring and not have a whole lot of future.
If you could choose one person, real or fictional, alive or passed, whom would you want to sit and break bread with?
I’m a spiritual person. Not religious but spiritual but I also am someone that’s drenched in the present or the now. I saw Barack Obama come down when he was campaigning. I was in the office. I sat down and talked to him about his experience and the way he handles adversity. Being the first African-American man in the White House, I can’t imagine some of the overall palpitating daggers in their eyes looking at him with their comments and whatever beliefs. He came out of that a more perfect man.
He was able to overcome and still have some grace. A lot of times, I want to go and crack somebody over the head because of how they’re looking at me. I don’t deserve that but in the meantime, grace keeps me back from doing that. He’s got to have the grace of anyone of his time aside from the 1960s. He would be my alive person and Jesus Christ would be my everlasting person. He had to go through 10 times, 100 times or 1,000 times more but that grace that you can still come away with is priceless.
The last one is what book are you reading now? Give me three of your favorite book titles if you’re not reading currently.
This one is not a book. It’s a movie. It’s one of my favorite movies, The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington. There was so much going on in that movie that we didn’t realize until the end of the movie. When he talked about winning the race and completing everything he’d done, there was a reason why he was on that path. He didn’t know it. I tend to try to figure out what my path was early on in life but now I got it. My path is to get folks’ education somehow the best that I possibly can with the people that are around me.
Another book that comes to mind is a book that I wrote several years ago called The Other Box. It was about a little kid who didn’t look like everybody else but his teacher in school wanted him to choose one box that said, “Which race are you?” He wanted to choose two boxes and got in trouble for that, hence the book. The Other Box is putting people in a box. I felt that at that time.
I was backed by my mom. She said, “You’re an African-American male and your mother is Hispanic. You want to choose both boxes. That means you’re not forgetting about me and I appreciate that. Let’s go to bat for you, Gino,” and then she did. I always felt like because the masses don’t see you, it doesn’t mean you’re not there. Other people love that idea and that box and that book.
I thought more about another book that I was reading and it has to do with a great whale and a captain trying to capture him. I saw a movie about it but the book dives into what we think we need as a society but don’t because our minds haven’t come together enough to create something better. We look at electricity. Now, we’re talking about solar.
Before that, they killed whales to get that energy. Their oil was used to power our homes in the streets and things. We were able to move past that because folks said, “Enough was enough.” We’re at that crossroads again. We need to understand that’s where we are. We’re at the crossroads of us being able to stand up and having the audacity to be ourselves. We have to be able to do that and know we have worth.
That is Captain Ahab?
It’s Moby-Dick. Captain Ahab was torn between trying to get out there and getting this whale. He was showing his family that he could do it and ended up being shipwrecked. He came back and had a good life after that but things changed after that. It’s him against the whale and the sea.
This was great. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your knowledge. What is the website that they can go to and pre-register if they’re in the State of Florida?
It’s BestCandidate.net. You’ll see the prompt there on the back where you put your full name, email and phone number if you want to. What happens is you get put on the actual list so that when the app is ready, you’ll get an email prompted to go ahead and sign up for the app.
Is this rolling out in Florida to start or is it rolling out nationally? Everybody reads this all over the place. It’s global. Hopefully, Best Candidate can expand.
That’s the goal. It doesn’t matter where you are. You could be anywhere in the world. If you sign up, you’ll be on our list but the folks that’ll be able to use it when we launch the beta test will be here around South Florida. Soon after that, after we test it, make sure it’s right and working in a good condition and what the people want to see it does, then we’ll roll it out to the rest of Florida, South of the country and then the rest of country, the parts North, East and West. Also, different countries as we get bigger and better but we can’t do that without the first people to start rolling. We would appreciate that. That’s BestCandidate.net
Thank you, Gino. Thank you for your brilliance and courage with the need to disrupt.
Thank you, Alicia. This was great. I appreciate it.
- Best Candidate
- The Four Agreements
About Gino Herring
Gino Herring, is the Founder and CEO of Best Candidate, a mobile platform designed to increase communication between Voters and Candidates. He’s a past Director of Voter Education for the local elections board for 20 years, and is itching to disrupt the way elections are run in this country, one candidate, and one voter at a time!
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! https://aliciacouri.com/podcast/