September 3rd, 2010
I’m Not A Businessman, I’m A Business, Man
He’s had more Number One albums than Elvis Presley. He hangs with Barack Obama at the White House. And he’s riding high after leaving his longtime label Def Jam to work a $150 million deal with Live Nation, delivering some of his best live performances ever. I had the pleasure of meeting Jay Z last Saturday over dinner on Utopia III. Jay-Z stayed cool, he is an observer, he seems like he is always trying to think ahead. As an entrepreneur, he is always envisioning new ideas, plotting his next move, he hears a beat and immediately bops his head, stays quiet but in his mind he already has a hit song. He is a force, he is the brand, like he says I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man! Which reminds me of every entrepreneur who is out hustling, plotting and programming their every move. So what drove Jay-Z to the top? Read the article below it might provide you with some personal and business success lessons.
About Jay Z: Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper and businessman. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America having had a net worth of over $350 million in 2009. He has sold approximately 40 million albums worldwide, while receiving ten Grammy Awards for his musical work, and numerous additional nominations.
Jay-Z’s Secrets for Personal Success Not a Businessman–a Business, Man With nearly 40 million albums sold and a business empire that includes clothing, fragrances, the New Jersey Nets, sports bars, liquor, and hotels, Jay-Z has transformed himself into one of the most potent brands in the world
“With education comes refinement,” Jay-Z That journey to refinement began in the rugged Marcy Projects in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant district, and now continues in arenas and boardrooms, in posh homes and VIP hideaways, around the world. Jay-Z feels comfortable in all of these realms. “I’ve never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people,” he explains. “I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that. People have to accept that. I collect art, and I drink wine . . . things that I like that I had never been exposed to. But I never said, ‘I’m going to buy art to impress this crowd.’ That’s just ridiculous to me. I don’t live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?”
(Jay-Z and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons)
Staying true to yourself might stand as a succinct summary of Jay-Z’s philosophy of success. The notion goes back to Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true,” and further back than that to the Greeks. But for Jay-Z, it has an urgently contemporary meaning. Even, or perhaps, especially, in recessionary times, amid the thousands of entertainment and lifestyle choices consumers have available to them, what separates winners from losers is a commitment to a single proposition: You are the product. If people believe in you, they will believe in what you create. Jay-Z understands this and is down with it.
By selling nearly 40 million albums and building a business empire that extends far beyond music into clothing, fragrances, the New Jersey Nets, sports<http://www.menshealth.com/cda/topicpage.do?site=MensHealth&channel=fitness&category=sports> bars, liquor, and hotels (to name just a few of his seemingly innumerable investments), Jay-Z has transformed himself into one of the most potent brands in the world. But that brand retains its power only if people remain convinced that the product they are purchasing somehow genuinely reflects Jay-Z and his tastes. As he famously put it in one of his raps, “I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, man.”
“My brands are an extension of me,” he says. “They’re close to me. It’s not like running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment.” The reference is apt, given the government’s ongoing potential bailout of two major automobile companies. Jay-Z notes that resonance with a pause and a chuckle. “My thing is related to who I am as a person,” he says. “The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I’m feeling at the time, whatever direction I’m heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows.”
Last summer, Forbes ranked Jay-Z seventh on its “Celebrity 100″ list of the ultrafamous and ultrapowerful. The magazine estimated his annual income at $82 million, and other sources have reported his net worth at $350 million. If that doesn’t seem enviable enough, last year Jay-Z married Beyonce Knowles, one of the world’s most desirable women. It is part of his attitude of ultimate cool that he never publicly talks about her.
(Bill Gates and Jay Z)
Jay-Z moves in exclusive circles of all types. Musicians, actors, designers, politicians, captains of industry, and athletes all want to get next to him. He has developed an easygoing manner that enables him to cross these cultural boundaries in ways that make him seem accessible but still dignified, always aware of who he is. “I’m a mirror,” he says. “If you’re cool with me, I’m cool with you, and the exchange starts. What you see is what you reflect. If you don’t like what you see, then you’ve done something. If I’m standoffish, that’s because you are.”
Along with the dealers who ran the neighborhood around the Marcy Projects, Jay-Z remembers identifying sports <http://www.menshealth.com/cda/topicpage.do?site=MensHealth&channel=fitness&category=sports> figures as his first models of success. “Growing up where I grew up, we looked to athletes,” he recalls. “They were our first heroes. They came from the same places we came from. I mean, you can’t watch TV and see someone who is successful that you can really relate to. That person isn’t real, he doesn’t exist. But athletes traveled the world, had these big houses, and gave their families a better life. We were like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ These guys get paid millions of dollars to play the game they love.”
(Jay-Z and Beyonce)
That’s a quality he brings into the boardroom as well. He’s far from just a figurehead or a media front man. He takes his businesses as seriously as his artistry, and he goes at both with the same level of determination. He’s clear about his own views, willing to listen to others, eager to keep everybody loose and motivated, and far more interested in long-term strategy than short-term gain. Even in the current economic environment, which is challenging to say the least, he’s insistent on executing his game plan rather than making changes that might not ultimately be right for his brands.
He understands himself as a brand, and it’s incredibly well thought out. We meet every week, and there’s nothing impulsive about him. He’s very consistent, and he won’t settle. If something’s not right, he’s not going to do it for more money<http://www.menshealth.com/cda/topicpage.do?site=MensHealth&channel=guy.wisdom&category=career.money> . He’ll wait to get it right. He has a wonderful taste level about where he wants to take the brand. . .and himself.”
(the ROC sign)
“Right there, we knew we had a common agenda,” continues Rapino. “It was like, ‘I’m hungry. The business is changing. I’m a change agent, and I have a lot of years left.’ Then the creativity flows. You don’t become the best in the world at what you do, and then flip the off switch. Jay-Z wants to win. And for him it’s also about the integrity of the win. He’s a true partner, always looking for the win-win. He’s asking, ‘How do we win together?’”
Indeed, part of the refinement Jay-Z has attained entails that big-picture vision of success. It’s a vision that extends beyond business and beyond music. It’s about what makes your life meaningful, and it goes beyond lifestyle to a way of life. “I’m hungry for knowledge,” says Jay-Z. “The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that’s from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.
“That’s what you should be doing your whole time on the planet,” he concludes. “Then you feel like, ‘My life is worth everything. And yours is too.’ “
Source (Men’s health Magazine)