Notes from Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office
How did Jay-Z rise from Brooklyn’s impoverished housing projects to become one of America most successful businessmen? In 2007 he sold his clothing line Rocawear for $204 million. In 2008 he signed a $150 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation. His wealth is estimated at around half a billion. One of the main reasons for his success is his ability to build and leverage his personal brand, something that you and I can learn from, whether we are at a job or starting our own gig.
Here are the business lessons I learnt from Jay-Zs story:
1. Be intellectually curious
He asked questions and listened to the answers and learned very rapidly. In each stage Jay-Z absorbed the best qualities of his mentor, applied his own considerable talents to the subject at hand, quickly surpassed his mentor, and moved on to the next one.
He was always asking questions, If it was backstage or in a studio or a business meeting, he wasn’t afraid to say, “Hey, how does this work?”
2. People don’t need to know how hard you work to get something
In order to be the best hone your craft in privacy.
Jay-Z was a clever rapper but he didn’t talk about it much.
3. Do all the hard thinking upfront to avoid overwhelm later
Know your goal. If you are specific and focused it is possible to create a roadmap to achieve it. Also stay focused on the details.
“he had a plan and he just laid it out for everybody.”
4. Focus on whatever venture offers the most realistic opportunity to make money
“I am a businessman and I will always look at an opportunity.”
5. Make small pokes to reduce risk
Once you see a positive response go after it.
Jay-Z saw music as a fun side project or perhaps a way to diversify his revenue streams.
6. Negotiate to your advantage
Back then, the standard royalty was 20% or 2 dollars per album. To have a deal where you’re splitting the profits 50-50 is far more beneficial for the artist. Jay-Z was very smart to do what he did.
7. Surround yourself with the best
He had very arrogant businessmen around him, that were providing him excellent information, helping him make good decisions.
If you surround yourself with somebody who is doing smart things, you become smarter instantly, because you watch the smart things. You might figure your own way to do the smart things, but if you see it, you understand it.
If he was going to mention a clothing brand in a song, why give free advertising to someone else when he could boost his own sales with a Rocawear shout-out? Continue reading →