Jay Z — His Business & Life Lessons Unveiled
To me, Jay Z is the epitome of the American dream: started off in the projects, and now is a self-made (almost) billionaire. Jay Z is more than just a great musician. He’s a business mogul and probably one of the smartest businessmen in the world today. I’m going to unveil his business & life lessons that made him a highly successful artist.
The record industry is known for chewing musicians up and spitting them out. Apparently Jay Z didn’t get the memo.
In the last 20 years, Jay Z has amassed a personal worth of $1 billion while turning the music business on its head. Sure, he’s had hit records and sold out shows — but the real wealth comes from his businesses.
Jay Z is one of the most successful rappers in history.
He has had more number one hits than I can count on my two hands. He has been CEO of two powerful music labels. Unlike many fellow music artists; who will spend all of their money on fancy houses, cars and nights out, Jay Z has invested the money he’s earned from the music business back into himself in the form of building his own businesses.
What makes Jay Z so special is that he works hard at everything he puts his mind to and doesn’t settle for anything less than perfection in anything he does.
If all of Generation-Y gathered around and held a vote on the person whom we all look up to, the winner would be none other than Jay Z. His music gives us all something to love and listen to whether we’re sitting in a cubicle or a private jet. His business moves give us inspiration and education. Jay Z is simply the G.O.A.T.
Jay Z might have 99 problems, but his bank balance certainly isn’t one of them. Neither is his musical or business reputation.
As one of the most successful musicians and businessmen of our time, surely we can all learn a thing or two from him when it comes to our own brands and success stories. So this is our guide to having a Empire State of Mind, a la Jay Z!
Keep reading to find out how Jay Z became not just one of the greatest rappers of all time, but one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 21st century.
So what makes Jay Z so successful? Rumor has it that he is part of the Illuminati (Satanic Music Industry). We don’t know the truth about that, but the list below is what we know for sure. These are the seven business & life lessons behind Jay Z’s successful life.
Lesson #1: Work God Damn Hard
There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for ambitious kids like Jay Z. Given the choice between applying for a job at McDonald’s or becoming a drug dealer, he chose the latter. In Brooklyn, that was the definition of a hustler: somebody who hit the streets to sell drugs.
But Jay Z fit another definition of the word hustler: an energetic go-getter.
Even as he continued to work as a dealer, Jay Z never lifted his eyes from the goal of becoming a great rapper. He and his friend Jaz would lock themselves in a room for hours on end, just working on their technique. It’s that type of hustle that allowed Jay Z to develop into one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Don’t be afraid to work really hard and hustle in the beginning. The future you will thank the present you for hustling hard now.
Jay Z’s “never say die” attitude has taken him to places that other people will never reach because they give up too quickly. Successful people never give up, even when everything looks pretty gloomy. It doesn’t matter which successful person you look at, they have all faced adversities and they have all pushed through them.
Don’t shy away from hard work. Hard work still pays off. Do the homework now, shine later!
Jay Z’s is a classic rags to riches story — he started his music career by selling CDs out of his car. Now one of the best-selling musicians of all time, with his own record label, entertainment and clothing companies, he hasn’t got where he is without years of hard graft.
Grind harder than the next man. Work harder, smarter and faster than your competition.
Jay Z has talked about how he pushed out new albums one after the other. He exceeded his competition in creating new music. How can you do the same? Create better content, offer better customer service, create a smarter business model or simply work longer hours.
Hustle your way to the top. Success won’t happen overnight.
Don’t box yourself up to your existing surroundings or circumstances but rather seek out new connections through constant networking as you never know when opportunity would come knocking on your door! Jay Z did not have many opportunities growing up. But this did not stop him from seeking his dreams. He started hustling and worked hard to achieve his goal of becoming a rapper.
Lesson #2: Don't Run Your Mouth
It’s pretty easy for people to get persuaded by others. Whether it be their friends or family. If you start pouring out your dreams and goals to them, you may not get the right response and support you were looking for.
Stop waiting for others people money. Stop relying on other peoples approval and validation.
So instead of gossiping to them all about your dreams straight away, try and refrain from it. Them not knowing will allow you to focus on your work and heading towards your goals. Sometimes our friends and family will doubt us. Do what you need to do in order to run a successful business.
It’s tempting to share your dreams and goals with people, but be careful not to talk too much.
Sometimes even your closest friends and family members won’t be able to see your vision and their response will be discouraging. Actions speak louder than words. Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut about your aspirations.
When people don’t understand something, they’re naturally apathetic to it. If they misunderstand it, they’re usually negative about it.
If you share your business dream with someone, you want some support. That can be in words or resources. However, if you share your business dreams with anyone, the only support you’ll get is feedback that’s apathetic or discouraging. So looking for verbal support is difficult when sharing your dream with those outside the entrepreneurship world.
Unless you’re sharing your dream with the right people, which are those who have achieved what you want to, any feedback is really noise, whether positive or negative.
In fact, that noise can very well be the reason your business dreams never take flight. Being misunderstood can crush your confidence, especially if sharing your business dream with one who knows little or nothing about the field. It’s best to hold on to that dream until it becomes a reality.
Lesson #3: Brand Yourself
Jay Z famously said “I’m not a ‘businessman’! I’m a business….man!” Now what this means is that Jay Z treats himself as a brand. Taking this approach is crucial if you are going to emulate his success. Everything about you needs to be seen as a part of your personal brand — from your business headshots, to your website, to the way you interact with people at events.
Don’t prostitute yourself to the businesses of others — create your own business.
Jay Z successfully created an enormous brand around himself. Wherever Jay Z chooses to go, the opportunity to make money follows him. Jay Z used to promote the clothes of other brands, and one day realized — he should just create his own clothing brand. The same goes with all his other business ventures — he became the nexus, between art and commerce.
Instead of branding businesses, successful entrepreneurs brand themselves.
Jay Z’s understanding of transferable personal brand equity has helped him. Aside from having an aptitude for rhyming and rapping to a beat, Jay Z is a wonderful story-teller, which invites listeners to connect through a shared personal experience — or at least allows listeners to gain a new perspective.
Back in 1999, Jay Z was the coolest guy in the room — and he knew it.
His swagger was all over the radio with hits “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” and “Big Pimpin’”. His latest album was selling millions and Jay was starting to suspect he could sell more than just records. Jay Z’s success comes from cultivating a reputation as a cool, successful, and stylish human being — and then purposefully transferring that to his business ventures by association.
The reality is that personal branding is an important practice for the modern-day career and in an increasingly connected world, your brand identity is essential for establishing your credibility.
Look at a personal brand as an extension of yourself and what matters most to you –that is the differentiator. It isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will appreciate your work, and enriching your own life, as well.
Whatever brand you are trying to promote it should be directly attached to something you are passionate about.
After all, that is the very essence of personal branding. Get comfortable with your style and brand it into everything you do. Make your image or name synonymous with whatever you are trying to promote through branding.
Lesson #4: Build Your Own Empire
When you think of a hip-hop artist, wealth is something that springs to mind very quickly. Although, there’s a big reason why Jay Z’s wealth exceeds far beyond most other hip-hop artists.
Jay Z sees music as his passion and an excellent way to express himself, but his overall mentality is towards building an empire.
Early on in Jay-Z’s career it became clear that he understood the importance of diversification. He may have picked this up on the streets but either way, he understood that diversification was the key to business success. He’s owned restaurants, clothing companies, bars record labels and much more. This is a state of mind that every entrepreneur should have.
Not only is Jay Z the owner and founder of several companies, he has made smart investments in other companies too.
For example, he invested in taxi firm Uber before most of us had even heard of it. So to be like him, you’re going to need to have your ear to the ground, be an early adopter and know what the next big trends are going to be before they happen. And then look for opportunities to be involved.
Jay Z is a serious entrepreneur. He didn’t just start a business and take it from there.
He created a proper and official business plan to make sure he knew exactly what the plan was before jumping into things. A lot of people think that they might have a pretty good memory, so they don’t need a hard copy plan. But the reality is, that once you have everything written down in front of you, certain things appear much clearer than they would in your mind.
Jay Z didn’t go to business school and learn about portfolio diversification — he simply understood practically business 101.
The more streams, the more money — it’s that simple. From being the owner of a nightclub to owning a percentage of the Brooklyn Nets, the man they call Jay Z has completely changed the way musicians look at business.
Lesson #5: Mentors are Meteors
Jay Z knew that he couldn’t get to the top by himself. Any intelligent man knows that in order to eventually become the teacher, you have to first be the student. Jay Z made sure that he was learning from the best.
Jay Z’s friends and collaborators have attributed his ability to spot knowledgeable people and quickly absorb their wisdom to his humility and curiosity.
By holding onto what Buddhists call “beginners mind,” or a child-like attitude of openness and lack of preconceptions, Jay Z quickly recognized people who knew the landscape and ingratiated himself with them.
Entrepreneurs and artists tend to be strong-minded individuals. Jay Z is both, but that hasn’t stopped him from seeking the guidance of mentors through the years.
The late Notorious B.I.G. was Jay Z’s biggest inspiration and his mentor in the rap game and it has been reflected in his music throughout his career. A good mentor has already been in your position. That means they can see what steps you need to take and what mistakes you must avoid — all while still giving you room to breathe and grow on your own.
Regardless of where you are in life, always look up to people better than you. The advice, wisdom, and information you can learn from others can take you far.
Jay Z knew the opportunity to speak with his mentors was rare, so he used every minute of it to soak up as much information and knowledge as he could. He put that wisdom into action and instantly saw results.
You don’t see Jay Z hanging out with low lives and drug addicts… you see him with people that are either going far in life or have already reached that point.
It is a known fact that surrounding yourself with successful, smart people will help you become more successful and smart. Don’t hesitate when it comes to being social because making friends and connections is essential to becoming wealthy and powerful.
Knowing that you have a credible mentor to turn to can give you confidence when facing difficult business situations.
Similarly, good mentors will praise you when you have made good decisions. Praise can enable you to see yourself as a wise and experienced business person. Seeing yourself confidently this way will help you stand your ground when you must defend or stand by your business decisions.
Lesson #6: Demand Respect
In 1999, Jay Z won his first Grammy award: Best Rap Album for “Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life.” But he was nowhere to be found at the ceremony that night. Jay Z had boycotted the Grammys because he didn’t think they gave the rightful respect to hip-hop. So even though attending the event would have been good for Jay’s career, he passed it by.
Jay-Z clearly has zero tolerance for disrespect — and as a result he’s very rarely disrespected.
You should also know whether a situation is right for you to be firm and demand to be respected by your colleagues. It will make you more charismatic and people will start to respect you more.
At the risk of sounding cliché, no one will respect you unless you respect yourself.
Self-respect is neither narcissistic nor self-consumed. It is instead appreciation for one’s self, resulting in honorable and courteous behavior. Respecting yourself helps you to know what it feels like to be respected, which then causes you to act in a respectful way. This, in turn, allows you to earn respect from others.
If you want to be respected, you first need to ensure that you’re actually worthy of it.
What does that mean? Follow through on promises. Make sure all of your work is high quality. Present yourself in a way that’s professional and polished — including on your social-media accounts. These seem basic. But if those simple elements don’t fall into place, you’ll have a hard time coaxing a high opinion out of anyone.
Stay true to your own inner-set of beliefs. Don’t ride the waves of fads; or else you will drown in the ocean.
Trends are a house of sand — they will be swept away by the winds, like a child’s sandcastle at the beach: You can’t fake whatever the current trend is if it’s not you; because it might work for a second, but it’s a house of sand. Trends don’t last for very long. So if you end up copying a trend in your business, the chances are you won’t earn respect.
Lesson #7: Waiting Is Wasting
There is no perfect time for success, you must take matters into your own hands and create your own opportunities instead of waiting passively for things to come to you. Don’t dwell on the mindset that you need to have everything you need in order to start something.
Many people seem to get stuck in the mindset that they should wait until they have everything they need before they begin on a venture.
This is not the natural order of things. Work leads to growth, which leads to income, which leads to investment in the correct equipment, which then leads to more growth and so on. Jay Z didn’t start by expressing all his rhythms using instruments, he started by simply using his hands on a table to create beats.
Overcome your fears, and take action in life. Words don’t do nothing. Action creates real change in the real world.
Those who are successful overcome their fears and take action. Those who aren’t — they submit to their fears and live with regrets. Fuck fear, and living with regrets. Be noble, epic, and have valor. Go out and make positive change and action in your life.
Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you take action, because to wait for the perfect conditions is to wait forever.
It is true that effective planning, analyzing, synthesizing and organizing are important ingredients to the success of your business; yet they must be kept in perspective as too much analysis can lead to paralysis.
Taking it slow and wanting to make sure you’ve considered every variable is one thing; using that as an excuse for inaction is entirely another.
So stop thinking so much because you’re too worried about what the competition is doing. Stop talking about how great your idea is and start doing what needs to happen today to get things up and running. Don’t dwell on the why-you-can’t, concentrate on the why-you-can.
As you can see, Jay Z has a lot of experience and skill in the world of business. It’s often easy to overlook musicians, but many of them have a lot of business-savvy which has helped propel their success.
Jay Z is the epitome of success in the world of hip-hop and rap. Important in his journey is the fact that at one point he was a substantial drug dealer, mostly in Maryland.
When he finally realized he could make it in the music world, he turned his back on drugs and never looked back. He got out just in time and made the most of his positive transformation, gaining incredible success in music and then expanding into various side-ventures that have proved profitable.
Remember that out of that adversity comes beauty. Giving up is not an option.
Don’t get down if you’re feeling frustrated or nothing’s going your way. It’s natural to run into a little bit of burnout from time to time. Embrace those feelings and work through them. It could lead you to your best work.
Jay Z is a truly successful hip hop artist and entrepreneur, and there’s a lot we can learn from him. Jay Z is his business, he’s selling his lifestyle — and we’re buying.
What do you think? Was Jay Z’s advice and lessons any good? Do you believe that you can accomplish your wildest dreams? What do you think is the most important principle behind Jay Z’s success? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!