Rap mogul and master entrepreneur, Russell Simmons has launched the successful ventures of Def Jam Records, Phat Farm and Def Comedy Jam– in addition to becoming the spokesperson for Hip Hop related issues. His accomplishments are attributed to his strong set of principles-or laws-featured in his new book: Do You! : 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success. Through observation and personal experience, Russell reveals that success begins with a connection to your higher self. With understanding and faith, anything can be achieved!
Clutch: What inspired you to write the Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success?
RS: I was inspired by many books that brought a sense of peace and enlightenment to my life—to name a few, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi or Patanjali’s The Yoga Sutras.
But it was really an individual who was my biggest inspiration for this book–a young rapper I’ve been working with named Jinx. He’s not even 21 years old, but he’s already a father, been shot three times and seen so many of his friends die around him. Yet he never gives up. He never stops trying to follow his dreams. So, I really wrote it for Jinx, and people out there like him. I wanted to use my experiences to help them find an easier way to live.
Clutch: For African American women success goes deeper than money; it’s about love and acceptance of ourselves. What advice can you give women towards achieving this?
RS:I think if you understand that success goes deeper than money, then you are already successful. Because then you understand that real success is only possible through a connection with your higher self.
The problem is that a lot of African-American women sometimes can’t see their higher self. The can’t see all the beauty that’s already inside them. That’s why in the book, I encourage them to wipe off their lenses—in other words, to wipe away the dirt of the world—and understand they already posses everything they’ll ever need in life.
Clutch: At times African American business women feel the resistance from our Black community and also the White community. How can we overcome this problem and keep our goals within focus?
RS: The way to overcome that resistance is to have faith in your vision. You’re always going to hear resistance in the form of negativity. The key is not to let that negativity get in your ear. Your ear is like an embryo: negativity can grow there very quickly if you’re not careful. Shut out that negativity and focus on your vision instead.
Clutch: Black women are increasingly becoming entrepreneurs by owning and starting businesses; however high level positions within the corporate world are still male dominated. What are some suggestions that can allow us to step-up and be noticed within the corporate arena?
RS: I hear that sort of concern a lot, not only from black women, but from African-Americans in general. That’s why in the book I write, “Please don’t tell me you quit your job, or you can’t get ahead at your job, because of a glass ceiling. If you think there’s a glass ceiling holding you back, then you’re a slave. Instead, shatter that glass, brush off the shards and get on with your vision.” That might sound harsh, but I really believe that we can’t worry about what other people think about us. We have to focus on our own visions.
Clutch: What are some common errors that you witness African American women doing that prevents them from getting ahead?
RS: In the book, there’s a chapter called “Stop Frontin’ and Start Today.” I think most people already know what they want from life, but they’re unwilling, or afraid, to take the little steps to make it happen. So, if you live in Ohio and want to be a singer, then you need to stop frontin’ and move to LA or New York. Because those are where the labels and the agents are. You can’t sit around Ohio wondering why your career isn’t taking off. It sounds like obvious advice, but most people won’t do it. They become attached to a place, or a lifestyle, and never take the steps towards their dreams. That’s why I encourage people to become detached, to break free of whatever is tying them down and instead start moving towards their dreams.
Clutch: For a lot of us, we have a dream of owning our own businesses but are unclear on what the next step is in order to manifest it into reality. What is the next step after identifying our goal(s)?
RS: Put it on paper. Make it real. So if you have an idea for a business, sit down and write a business plan to the best of your abilities. And if you’re not comfortable writing it yourself, then try to find someone who can do it for you. Because in any start-up business, you’re going to need money. And when you go to people for that money, talking about your idea alone is not going to get that money. Only a business plan that clearly maps out what you are trying to do will get you that funding.
Besides, when you write down what you’re trying to do, it will help you focus your vision internally. You’ll realize what parts of your vision are strong, and what parts need more work. And then you can do that work before you share your vision with the world.
Clutch: We can all agree that there will always be ‘haters’! How can we use their negativity to encourage and promote the positivity within ourselves?
RS: It’s true, there always will be haters. It’s like I said before, you just have to shut them out. Don’t let them get in your ear. Some people find motivation in the hate that comes at them, but I prefer not to invest much energy in haters. Instead, I like to put that energy into my own vision. So rather than “use” the energy of the haters, I would promote shutting the haters out so that you can direct all your energy towards listening to your higher voice instead.
Clutch: How important is faith/spirituality in achieving our goals?
RS: That’s all we’ve been talking about—faith! People like to talk about “The Secret” and “Laws of Attraction,” but those things can’t work without faith. Not to criticize them, but when I went on Oprah, she told me that she appreciated that Do You! focused on faith more than some of these other books out there. Because she understands that without faith in the God that’s already inside you, you’re never going to find real happiness.
Clutch: Attaining longevity is an important goal in having a successful business. You continue to be an incredible player in the media and business world, contributing for the last twenty years. What is the key to attaining this longevity?
RS: In the book, I promote that trying to live under these law is the key to longevity. It is the key to lasting success. It’s a process, but if you keep trying to be aware of these laws, you will find lasting success. I’m not saying you can’t find success when you operate outside of these very basic laws. You can get paid. You can make money and buy lots of toys. But as long as your living outside these laws, then it’s only a matter of time before you get roughed up. Eventually, what you put into the world will catch up with you. But when you try to live under God, the success you have will be lasting. I really believe that. If you give the world good, lasting things, then the world will always give you lasting success in return.