An ambitious kid from Brooklyn’s rugged Marcy Housing Projects, Sean “Jay Z” Carter has grown to become one of the most successful rappers and entrepreneurs alive. Today Jay Z’s net worth is about $500 million.
He owns a record label and talent management company, a 700 million dollar clothing company, sports bars, fragrances, restaurants, basketball teams and several endorsement deals. His annual sales round out to about a billion dollars.
Somehow, while juggling half a dozen successful businesses, Jay Z has more No. 1 record albums than any other solo artist ever. At 41 years-old, he has secured his status as one of the best rappers of all time.
So, what’s the secret behind his consistent success rooted from humble beginnings? We researched numerous interviews and biographies to pinpoint the four most essential nuggets of advice Jay Z has to offer:
On Self-Confidence: ‘Do things that are true to you’
Young Hov. Hova. Jigga. Lucky Lefty. Iceberg Slim. S-dot.
The man has quite a few nicknames-- call him what you want, Jay Z is uncompromising when it comes to staying true to himself. Jay Z credits the consistency of his success to this rigid belief of staying true to what he genuinely enjoys. “It’s the discipline to not get caught up in the moment,” he tells Forbes. “Whatever’s new and exciting—people tend to make emotional decisions based on that, and jump on the next, hot thing.”
In another interview with CNN, the No. 1 piece of advice he gives to folks who want to gain consistent success is to “get involved with things you love and have a standard for yourself and have some sort of integrity and find some sort of truth in what you’re doing,” he tells CNN.
While his personal tastes have evolved and matured, he’s never strayed away from what’s genuinely true to him.
“I collect art, and I drink wine…things that I like that I had never been exposed to,” he tells Men's Health. “But I never said, I’m going to buy art to impress this crowd. That’s just ridiculous to me. I don’t live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?”
On Your Personal Brand: ‘I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man’
Quite possibly his most famous, autobiographical lyric to date in his song "Diamonds from Sierra Leone"-- it means that Jay Z thinks big.
He's not a cog in the corporate machine —he's a brand and business operation himself. Jay Z has transformed his persona into a classic, respected and lucrative brand. When your unique style, voice and creativity is marketable, there’s no end to your empire.
Creating your unique personal brand like Jay Z is all about selectivity, as CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge mentioned in a recent article. I think Jay Z would agree with Golledge when she says, “Don’t let desperation force you into making career choices that don’t fit you or your personal brand.” Again, it goes back to having the self-confidence to stay true to what you genuinely believe.
On Hustling: ‘How do we win together?’
He's a natural-born hustler. And he learned, early on, that in order to be a great hustler, you’ve got to earn trust and mutual respect.
“I come from a place where you had to keep your word, where people would stick with you no matter what. That's impossible in the music business, where if you're not hot, people are not talking to you. I just tried to be a man of my word,” he told Men’s Health.
Michael Rapino, the president and CEO of Live Nation, also spoke to the magazine and attests to his integrity. “In meeting with superstars about potential deals, there are some who spit out ‘How much can I get?’…[Jay Z] is a true partner, always looking for the win-win. He’s asking ‘How do we win together?’”It’s all about positive karma.
On Work Ethic: ‘Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first’
This lyric comes from "My first song" and it's about how he treats each project with the same enthusiasm as his first. "I believe excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over,” he tells Oprah in a documentary about him.
For Jay Z, this is done through relentless persistence and discipline. With no formal education to support him, he relied on instincts and an impeccable work ethic.
Particularly in the beginning of his journey to fame, when “we went to every single label and every single label shut the door on us,” he told Forbes. “We toured all the way up to North Carolina --- jump in the van and drive ourselves and just do endless shows with sometimes 20 people in the building."
Soon afterwards, he and two friends started a record label of their own. “The genius thing we did was that we didn’t give up."