What you can learn from Jay-Z

It’s great to be back from holiday. Well…sort of. I love what I do for a living and I love North Yorkshire. But, blimey, wearing socks is hard work. And long trousers – whoever invented them?

 As you can see, I managed to relax in France. But back to business – and I should have mastered those “sock” things by the weekend…

 You’ll all be familiar with Jay-Z, the hugely successful American rapper.

 I’m sorry? Goodness me, you’ll be telling me next you haven’t heard of DJ Fresh (featuring Sian Evans) or Maverick Sabre…

 As I was saying – Jay-Z. Born Shawn Corey Carter in 1969. Raised in a housing project inBrooklyn. Abandoned by his father, shot his brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewellery. Not exactly the best start in life.

 Fast forward to 2010. Jay-Z has sold 50 million albums worldwide. More Number One albums than Elvis. He’s part-owner of the New Jersey Nets. He owns a clothing line, a record company and hotels; he’s married to Beyonce. He’s come a long way.

 And Jay-Z has a saying. “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.”

 What does that mean? According to Jay-Z it means that every business he’s involved in is an extension of his personal brand. If something doesn’t feel right for his brand, he’s not going to do it – irrespective of the money.

 “My brands are an extension of me,” he says. “It’s not like running GM where there’s no personal connection. It’s about being true to yourself.”

 Now, battling away in North Yorkshire in the toughest economic times any of us can remember, you might say that it’s easy to be ‘true to yourself’ cushioned by the cash flow of 50 million album sales and 20 or 30 business propositions coming in every day. And I’d agree with you.

 But there are still lessons you can learn from Jay-Z’s philosophy.

For the majority of my TAB members, it’s fair to say that their business is all about them. The values and aims of the business are a reflection of the owner’s personality. But in these tough times it’s easy to be seduced by a business opportunity – or a potential business partner – that doesn’t fit with your values and personality.

 As you know, I’m not an NLP expert, but is it called ‘congruence?’ Your actions and decisions being in harmony with your internal values?

 What we learn – sometimes from bitter experience – is that the fundamental truths apply in business as much as in life. Why is it cheap? Because it’s no damn good. If it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true. And if something just doesn’t “feel” right, it isn’t right.

 How many people have gone into a partnership or joint venture where everything looked good on paper? Where logically it made sense – but somehow it just didn’t feel right. Did it work out? Of course it didn’t.

Call it instinct, call it gut feeling – generally we do well to trust it. Interestingly, scientists might even have found proof:  Go With Your Gut Feeling

So however tough it might be at the moment, my advice is to do what feels ‘right.’ As both Shakespeare and Jay-Z suggest, “To thine own self true.” If you do that it will shine through: clients and customers will believe in you – and if they believe in you, they’ll believe in your business.


  1. Rich Cadden · August 5, 2011

    Thats bang-on Ed…… One of the things with business owners is that when they first start out they are very introspective (they know what they want and they know their business)….But as time goes on, and the money doesnt come in as fast as they would like, they start to become more externally focussed and hence leave themselves open to being ‘seduced’ by good offers.
    The key, from an NLP perspective, is keeping hold of that internal focus and creating processes around it. Developing a strategy to make the unconscious/subliminal pointers a more conscious act.

    • edreidyork · August 5, 2011

      Hi Rich – good thought-provoking stuff as ever – hope you’re keeping well

  2. Pingback: Hitting the Right Note | EdReidYork's Blog

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