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Strange Jay Z Journey from Music to Entrepreneurship


When you talk about Jay Z, probably the first thought that comes to your mind is melodious symphony, a hip hop extravaganza, glamour, Grammy, perhaps Beyonce and their marriage, but what would have never really crossed your mind that there is another aspect of Jay Z as well, a successful entrepreneur.

Jay Z

Jay Z

Not only does he understand music well, but he also made it clear that he understands the business of money equally well. If you have known him as a rapper par excellence, he can also give you a couple of robust business and investment strategies that could surely enhance your investment prospects.

Interestingly in modern times, Jay Z is often compared to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. This boy from Brooklyn with a current net worth close to $520 million has more similarities with Buffett apart from sheer net value.

Single handed brought up by his mother, Gloria Carter, Shawn Carter, Jay Z experienced poverty, violence and drug abuse from a tender age. His transformation from a drug seller to complete surrender to rap and eventual formation of Roc-A-Fella records with two of his friends is extremely impressive. His first album, ‘Reasonable Doubt’ not only sealed his future in the world of hiphop but also laid the foundation of his flourishing entrepreneurial career.

The hiphop master who has sold over 100 million records and won close to 20 Grammy Awards is one of the world’s best-selling artists today, but when it comes to entrepreneurial excellence, this 40 something is often compared to the 80 plus sage from Omaha. Though Buffett started very early in life and Jay, on the other hand, did not begin recording till he was 26, both were driven by their passion and love for the profession more than the prospect of making money. No doubt luck played a key role for both. After all, a lot of what one achieves in life is also about being at the right place at the right time.

While luck could have played a role in the success of the albums of one of this century’s most bankable music stars, it was shrewd business sense and instinctive investment understanding that came to play in helping him create a multi-million dollar investment portfolio across sectors with a varied and extensive range. These not only reflect his keen enterprising capabilities but also could well be an entrepreneurial lesson for many budding investors who might be on the lookout for an idol to guide them in this task.

The Jay Empire

Jay Z’s entrepreneurial initiatives are spread out across the wide range of sectors, his portfolio includes:

Roc-A-Fella Records

He founded this label from scratch with two of his friends and his superb talent coupled with keen business understanding ensured that he managed to create the kind of profitable audience for the product he toiled so hard for. Quite early on he ensured that he never quit ownership of these records and the label, and as a result is still receiving dividends for these early creations. Though Def Jam acquired this label in 2004 and paid an overwhelming $10 million, Jay Z continues to be President and CEO and thus keeps adding further gains to his persona wealth alongside the other stars who are part of this label.

Rocawear

Connecting brands across industries is a great art and, therefore, it goes without saying that the sharp business acumen of Jay Z instantly identified the connect between the music icon he was and a clothing line and in under 8 years. It grew to a level where Iconix Brand Group bought it for a whopping $204 million and in 2007, this brand went on to clock sales worth $700 million. Staying true to his style, Jay Z is the CEO of this brand too.

40/40 Club

It is but obvious that the master rapper was keen to explore the business prospects of a night club and went on to create the 40/40 Club in New York City in 2003. Like all other Jay Z initiatives, this one too has paid rich dividends.

Brooklyn Nets

This surely is one of Jay Z’s most high profile investments. The boy from Brooklyn found his connect with his hometown through this Nets NBA Franchise. Under his aegis with new branding strategies and changed uniform, he clocked a return on investment close to 135% when he sold it for $2.35 million. Such was the phenomenal rate of return and the sharp intuitive business sense of this deal that he got compared to Warren Buffett by the Forbes group.

Barclays Center

It would not be wrong to say that Jay Z sure knows how to make money work and his stake in Barclays Center is a true reflection of that. As financial experts often recommend, Jay Z is a firm practitioner of the fact that if you are flourishing in one investment, it will just excel into other potential investments.

Aspiro

This is perhaps Jay Z’s most talked about deal till date. This Sweden-based company, which he bought for a whopping $56 million is said to provide a strong foothold to Jay Z in the ever expanding world of streaming music. The idea is to pay high royalties participating artists and create a strong return outlook in the process.

Unraveling Jay Z’s Midas Touch

Over the last couple of decades or so Shawn Carter or Jay Z’s business endeavors have helped him earn close to $520 million in personal wealth. Is it that he really has a Midas’ touch or is there some kind of trend in his investing approach?

Here is a look at overall investment pattern that this master of enterprise incorporates.

1. Working Hard, Working Smart

Jay Z belongs to the old school of hardworking entrepreneurs, but the twist is he is also a major champion of working smart in a way that he is able to realize maximum amount of return from minimum input. A king of hustle, he has the required tenacity and strength of character to keep pushing for the fame and power that he began his career for. His ultimate goal continues to be gaining fame, and he is prepared to go to any length and practice as much as he needs to achieve this goal to its final fruition.

2. Focus Is Primary

Jay Z, through practice, has mastered on one basic element and that is the unwavering focus, and it is needless to mention that Jay Z has not compromised on this single aspect through the entire gamut of his entrepreneurial endeavors. Be it the creation of his first label or when he launched his clothing line, his targets remained constant, and that helped him to never lose focus of the ultimate business element of the whole situation. As they say, the rest is history. Profits were never compromised; margins keep expanding and Brand Jay Z continued its move up north in terms of net value, net worth and overall recall value of the product. The single-minded focus also enabled the true meeting point of the rapper Jay Z with the sharp businessman Jay Z.

3. Never Hide Your Passion

When Jay Z’s mother, who single-handedly raised them, heard the young Shawn Carter play out tunes on the Kitchen table she went on to buy a boom box to him, his treasured possession. Even later in life, Jay Z’s strong passion for music and his commitment towards his businesses and investment decisions has always come through and in fact often acted as a source of inspiration for the many who idolize the rapper as their ultimate hero and emulate everything from the style of his watch to hat he wears and how he speaks.

4. Don’t Talk About Your Goals Too Much

While it is very important that an individual, especially an entrepreneur has a clear vision of the final goal, one does not have to talk too much about it. When a struggling Jay Z had shared his goal of signing a record deal with his friends and crew members, there are many who thought that it was way too ambitious and began discouraging him. While you can say that a true entrepreneur is not likely to get dithered by this occasional chatter, the fact remains that the more you hear negative feedback, the less confident you become and this is never a positive situation. So, it is best that you have the clarity in your mind and wait for the opportune moment before sharing with the rest.

5. Experience Is Crucial

This is perhaps another major lesson and similarity between Buffett and Jay Z. Even in the absence of formal investment training, one’s experience in dealing with the day to day investment functions sometimes scores significantly higher and better in giving one the edge over others.

Jay Z for that matter has been instrumental in creating companies worth over $100 million and even served as the co-brand director for Budweiser Select. This surely establishes his credentials as top of the line entrepreneur even though he has no formal academic backing to substantiate the point and never attended a business school. He, for that matter, learnt his business skills and picked his ability for strategic planning during his stint on the road peddling drugs and learnt the initial ropes of promoting a business. Therefore the biggest lesson out there is never let go an opportunity of realizing your talent and gaining as many different types of talent that you could aspire to achieve.

6. Don’t Be Too Disappointed By Rejection

Giving a positive twist to a potential rejection is perhaps one of the best and most positive ways to deal with it. Iceberg Apparel once offered a really low paying endorsement for Jay’s clothing line, but he did not lose patience and eventually gained close to $200 million selling it ten years later. You could almost mutter under your breath that thank God the previous person rejected it. In fact, if you track Jay Z’s long trail of achievements, it is amazing and almost inspiring how he has sprung back with added vigor after every rejection and called much higher highs.

7. Keep A Plan Ready

One basic mantra of a successful entrepreneur is to always keep the plan handy irrespective of the fact how much you are able to achieve from this plan. From the time when Roc-A-Fella label was created to more recent success, Jay Z’s career achievements are marked by meticulous planning and ability to plan out details of every move. Given the overall uncertainty associated with the business world, plan for an entrepreneur always works as a backup reference point in case of every kind of eventuality.

8. You Got to Dream Big

The saying goes that if you aspire to reach the top of a tree, you would at least be able to scale till the middle of it. The moral of the story is that it pays to dream big and no one can better manifest this fact than Jay Z himself. For the boy raised in Marcy Projects Brooklyn, who peddled drugs actually becoming one of the greatest rap stars of the century and one of the most astute investors and entrepreneurs that the world has known till date. It is almost imperative that a budding entrepreneur learns to aim high.

9. Respect Your Mentors

We all need role models in life and more so if you are free willed and artistic in nature. Jay Z has a wide range of mentors who have served as a major force in shaping his career the way it did eventually. Jay Z’s mentors include likes of Michael Jordon, Russell Simmons of Def Jam and the all famous Notorious BIG. Not only did they offer him the basic structure to base their investment but Jay Z got the encouragement to push himself harder for better gains and more far-reaching benefits.

10. Set The Trend

It is common knowledge that a strong and resourceful entrepreneur is someone who sets the trend instead of following it. Jay Z’s brand of entrepreneurship surely makes that almost a hero. Just like in his musical repertoire Jay Z set the trend with his Death Of Auto-Tune at a time when Auto-Tune was the most important trend globally, he made it the norm to do the same in all his other Endeavour including his enterprises. The fact that all of them have been yielding high returns only goes on to highlight the brilliance of it.

Conclusion

Last but not the least it is the sheer force of high ended entrepreneurship that often motivates individuals to extend their bit to the society at large. Given the high return on their investment, it is but obvious entrepreneurs of the mettle of Jay Z also appreciate the spirit of giving back to the world which helps them amass their wealth in the first place. It is this spirit of camaraderie and fellow feeling that actually works to not just improve the prospect of one individual but also the community in general in a sustained manner.

Jay Z along with P Diddy donated close to $1 million to those affected by Hurricane Katrina across New Orleans in 2005. That apart he also pledged assistance in promoting the idea of water conservation and making the world aware of global water shortage through his world tours. Jay Z also played a crucial role in furthering the course of US Presidential elections in 2008 where he did several concerts to support Barack Obama in his fight for the post of US President.

Ultimately it almost always boils down to the choices we make and the consequences that emerge. Come to think of it Jay Z could have continued to peddle drugs at a corner street in Brooklyn with disheveled hair and rather intimidating looks. After all, it might have still helped him in earning decent money, but then, in that way the world would have hardly known who Jay Z is and how commendable his service to the world is.

Again Entrepreneurship through the team spirit that it inculcates often manages to bring out a great tinge of community feeling in an individual’s behavior. The fact that a successful enterprise also frees up the cash flow too is an additional advantage.

Jay Z continues to inspire people with the magic of his raps. What is even more commendable is his grit and self-control in overcoming challenging situations and standing tall despite that. It only goes on to highlight the basics of entrepreneurship like dedication, passion and a strong commitment to excel. The phenomenal success of Jay Z’s various entrepreneurial ventures highlights the common chord between them all. The core idea of entrepreneurship needs to stead fast across businesses. The trick lies in adapting it as per individual requirement and helps in bringing about a sustained and long-term commitment to excellence.

Good luck 🙂



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"Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right." - Henry Ford

4 thoughts on “Strange Jay Z Journey from Music to Entrepreneurship
  1. Great transformation, and we are on our way too.

    thank you for the power up articles dear Chris.

  2. Great article. One thing I see that I think is interesting is a lot of e-business people using themselves as their brand. In one of his songs Jay Z says “I ain’t a businessman… I’m a business, man!”

  3. What a story! Jay z and other entrepreneurs, reading how they started with nothing and made them self into a success and their business!
    One day people will be reading about your students and that will be the greatest achievement.
    Good luck

  4. Very inspirstional. One day Luckscout will be on a successful start up list.

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