Knowledge is all around us, if you are willing to look and listen. Business lessons and life lessons are there for you to take. Last month I had the chance to attend Moogfest, a technology, art and music festival in Durham, NC. You can read about my overall experience here.
One of my favorite sessions was the sit down with KRS One. In case you were born after the year 2000 or just don’t get out much, KRS One is a legend in hip-hop. I am actually not a huge fan of hip-hop, but I am always curious about artists that have lasted decades and managed to stay relevant. No matter what the genre of music, there is something I can learn from a person that’s been successful in any industry for almost as long as I’ve been alive.
Here are three lessons on business and leadership that I learned from KRS One.
Business Lesson 1: Being a Trendsetter Is Lonely
I couldn’t agree more. So many people want to be a part of the crowd or fit in with the current trends. It takes a special mindset be different, but that can be lonely. While he talked about this in the context of being a hip-hop artist, this applies to almost any business – profit or non-profit.
Once you set your goals, you can’t let let being different get in the way of your reaching those goals. There are many examples of people who stand out and find success. People who are different/unique and find success. But it’s actually a rare to purposefully be that type of person. The example KRS One used, was rapper Old Dirty Bastard (#RIP). You can truly say that there was nobody like him. You might not like his look, his music or even his name. But you knew who he was and he owned his lane.
We all have to make that choice to either follow the crowd of what’s trendy, or set our own trends.
Business Lesson 2: Choose Respect Over Acceptance
Being a trendsetter is lonely and so is being a leader. When you are leading – you are usually the boss. That can be cool but also a tough and lonely spot.
It’s not a good idea to get too close with people that work for you – someday you might have to fire them.
You won’t always make decisions that are popular – you have to make decisions based on what’s best for your business.
You won’t always be liked. That’s sometimes the price of leadership. But if you focus on skills, on your craft, you will earn respect. Make that the priority instead of acceptance.
Business Lesson 3: Focus On Being Good
One of the example KRS One gave during his talk was how kids used to have so many role models. Whether it was a teacher, the police a minister, there were people in the community that kids looked up to. In current times, yes there are still those good people who exist but we are also inundated with negative news and stories about these very same people.
Whether your a parent, leading your children. You might be a supervisor leading your team. If you are a CEO leading your company. Focus on being good. Everybody is watching you. Watching what you say, what you do and generally how you behave. It’s up to you to make sure that what others see is good.
He talked a lot about hip-hop, stories from back in the day. He gave his opinion on the rap music of today. One the success of moguls like Puffy or Jay Z. He talked about all of that good stuff. But I took away some good reminders of things that are going help me continue to be a good leader.