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What Jay Z can teach you about how to run your life.

If there’s anything I remember from my undergraduate and graduate level economics classes it’s the relationship between business growth and capital investment. That, and there is some kind of problem with lemons.

Take that with a grain of salt though.  I didn’t do so well in economics.  I was more of a “The Art of Listening”, and “Understanding Planet Earth” kind of guy.

If you’re thinking of following in my footsteps, let me save you the trouble and sum up what I learned in non-nerd/ fruit speak:  good businesses make good investments, and bad businesses make bad investments.

I just saved you 2 years and 72 grand in Ivy League tuition.  You’re welcome.


This is obvious, of course.  You know successful businesses invest in themselves.  They put financial and other resources into growing their capabilities to perform and outperform the competition.  That’s why they succeed.

Unsuccessful businesses, conversely, make poor or insufficient investments.  They cash out early, spend profits, award dividends and get the getting, while the getting is good… whatever that means.  Then they fail.

Although, you already know that too, of course.

But do you see your life the same way?

Jay Z once famously said “I’m not a business man.  I’m a business, man.”

I know rappers tip the scales of self-aggrandizing hyperbole when it comes to touting their own merits.  Nas refers himself as “Nastradamous” and Kanye West seems to be comparing himself directly to Jesus Christ on his new album entitled Yeezus, to name but a few, but that’s not the motivation behind Jay Z’s claim.

Ok, maybe it is.  The guy does call himself Hova after all.  But I think he means something else too.

Take a rough glance at the history of Jay Z’s life.  Grew up very, very poor.  Started selling crack to make money.  Used experiences selling crack to fuel lyric writing and invested crack money into music career.  Used money from record sales, plus the contacts and reputation gained from his music career to co-found Rocawear clothing line.  Used Rocawear money and business experience gained running the company to found and invest in a range of other businesses, including the (now) Brooklyn Nets.  Now he’s leveraging that experience to found his own sports agency and even has become a sports agent himself.  Project crack dealer to a man reported by Forbes Magazine to be worth an estimated 475 million USD.   Damn.

How did he do that?  Jay Z has run his life like a successful business.  He has always invested the resources he has into profit making capabilities that allowed him to annihilate the competition around him at every stage of his career.  Today he’s one of the most successful people alive.

How do you run your life?  When was the last time you took a conscious choice to invest your resources, whether time, energy or money, into improving your capabilities to grow and earn?

Make no mistake about it either; you are investing.  You invest your time and money into everything you do.  Are you investing in capabilities or are you cashing in early?  Are you a businessman or a business, man?

Well, you’ve just invested time into this blog, which is all about improving your skills, so that’s a start.  Maybe the next Jay Z is reading this right now.  If so, please remember me when you hit the Forbes list, and introduce me to Beyoncé.

About the author: Hi I’m Dan Green, blogger, entrepreneur, documentary film producer and negotiation specialist. I’ve helped executives negotiate deals worth up to 400 million USD. But before you read on…

3 comments… add one

  • a

    Good blog post. I certainly appreciate this site. Continue the good work!

  • George

    I just wish this kind of information\advise\content were available when I was younger. Very inspiring.

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