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10 Secrets of Jay-Z’s Successful Life

10 Secrets of Jay-Z’s Successful Life

Jay-Z is one of the highest earning artists in the music industry. Forbes estimates his net worth to be around $520 million in 2014. He is also married to another powerhouse in the music industry, Beyonce Knowles. Together, their combined 2014 net worth is around $900 million.

So what makes Jay-Z so successful? Rumor has it that he is part of the Illuminati (Satanic Music Industry). We don’t know the truth about that, but the list below is what we know for sure. These are the ten principles behind Jay-Z’s successful life:

1. Hustle

Jay-Z was born as Shawn Corey Carter in 1969. He grew up in Marcy, a housing project in Brooklyn, New York City. In 1982, Jay-Z’s father left, and his mother had to support her family alone. It was by following her example that Jay-Z got his unrelenting work ethic – his hustle.

“Without the work, the magic won’t come.” – Jay-Z, from “Decoded.”

Don’t be afraid to work really hard and hustle in the beginning. The future you will thank the present you for hustling hard now.

2. Don’t Wait Until You Have Everything You Need

“It just got to a point where it was, like, ‘Make this decision, because this is something you really love and you love to do. It’s time to really focus on and then get serious about it, give it your all.’ And once I did that, it was no looking back from there.” – Jay-Z, Interview with Forbes

Jay-Z didn’t have a drum kit or Pro Tools growing up, but that didn’t stop him from making beats to rap over (he used his fist and a kitchen table).

If you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. Don’t let imperfect circumstances prevent you from executing your goals.

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3. Don’t Run Your Mouth

Jay-Z was still struggling to break through into the music business when his collaborator, Jaz, got a big record deal from EMI. Jaz was going to London to record and he wanted Jay-Z to come along.

When Jay-Z told his crew about it, their response was less than enthusiastic. They felt like they were being deserted and told him that rappers were just being used by the music industry.

Of course, Jay-Z ignored their negativity, but he also learned a valuable lesson: sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut about your aspirations. From then on, Jay-Z says he knew he wanted to get a record deal of his own, but that he “didn’t go around talking about it to even [his] closest friends.”

It’s tempting to share your dreams and goals with people, but be careful not to talk too much. Sometimes even your closest friends and family members won’t be able to see your vision and their responses may be discouraging. Actions speak louder than words.

4. Skills are Transferable

Jay-Z never went to business school. But that hasn’t stopped him from founding $100 million companies and serving as a co-brand director for Budweiser Select.

While others were out getting their MBA, Jay-Z was learning real-life business skills on the streets. He learned sales, management, and promotion on the streets, so it’s no surprise that he slipped comfortably into the many roles of an entrepreneur.

We all have a breadth of experience to draw from. Try to learn as many skills as possible. What might seem like a useless skill now, might prove to be very useful in the future. Also, always keep a look out for how your skills in one field can be used in another.

5. Know How to Handle Rejection

Jay-Z was turned down by every label in the industry. So did he give up on his dream of becoming a professional rapper? No. Instead, he started his own record label.

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Jay-Z was offered a weak endorsement deal from Iceberg Apparel, even though Jay’s shout-outs for the clothing company were boosting their sales through the roof. So did he accept their offer? No. He started a competing clothing line and sold it ten years later for $200 million.

Jay-Z has an amazing knack for bouncing back from rejection. We would all benefit from adopting this mindset.

We should learn that rejection is part of the journey to success. Do not give up easily when you are rejected by people. Instead, you should see this rejection as an opportunity to improve yourself.

6. Make a Plan

When Jay-Z, Damon Dash, and Kareem Burke founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1994, they drew up a business plan. Jay recalls, “We made short and long-term projections, we kept it realistic, but the key thing is that we wrote it down, which is as important as visualization in realizing success.”

Make sure that you write your plan down on paper. Sometimes we think we know how it’s all going to play out in our head, but there’s something powerful and clarifying about actually writing things out.

7. Don’t Take Your Eyes off the Prize

It’s a common story in the entertainment industry: an up-and-coming artist gets a little taste of success and then everything comes crashing down when they get caught up in the lifestyle (i.e. parties, drugs, and alcohol).

Jay-Z’s music and business career took off simultaneously, but he managed to keep a level head. Even though he rapped about champagne and margaritas, he was only a light drinker. Jay prefers to be sober so that he can, “stay focused on making money.”

It’s this ability to resist temptation that has allowed Jay-Z to turn his initial success into a business empire.

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The lesson that you can learn from this is to always stay focused. Do not let distractions keep you from the main prize (success).

8. Dream Enormous

As a poor kid growing up in a housing project, nobody ever told Jay-Z he could one day be worth $520 million or that he would pack Madison Square Garden.

But he did have a sixth-grade teacher named Miss Lowden who “must have seen something” in young Shawn Carter. That little show of support gave Jay-Z the confidence to imagine a life beyond the projects.

Accomplishing enormous goals starts with the ability to imagine them and the willingness to pursue them.

9. Demand Respect

In 1999, Jay-Z won his first Grammy award: Best Rap Album for “Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life.”

But he was nowhere to be found at the ceremony that night. Jay-Z had boycotted the Grammys because he “didn’t think they gave the rightful respect to hip-hop.” So even though attending the event would have been good for Jay’s career, he passed it by.

Jay-Z clearly has zero tolerance for disrespect – and as a result he’s very rarely disrespected.

You should also know whether a situation is right for you to be firm and demand to be respected by your colleagues. It will make you more charismatic and people will start to respect you more.

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For example: you have been working really hard for many years, but your boss still treats you badly, and you are still being underpaid by the company. Your reaction to his behavior is the key here. If you keep accepting his bad attitude towards you, your colleagues will look at it and do the same to you. However, if you react by being clear and firm that you will not tolerate the disrespect, your boss will see this change in attitude and start to treat you better and show you respect.

10. Accept Help from Mentors

Entrepreneurs and artists tend to be strong-minded individuals. Jay-Z is both, but that hasn’t stopped him from seeking the guidance of a host of mentors through the years.

A good mentor has already been in your position. That means they can see what steps you need to take and what mistakes you must avoid – all while still giving you room to breathe and grow on your own.

Without the role models below, Jay-Z couldn’t have become the entrepreneur, rapper, and championship-caliber performer that he is today.

Some of Jay-Z’s mentors are:

  • Russell Simmons – Co-Founder of Def Jam Records
  • The Notorious B.I.G. – Rapper
  • Michael Jordan – Six-time NBA Champio

There are a lot of things that you can learn from these ten principles behind Jay-Z’s success.

I personally think the last principle is very important. You need to get mentors so that you can significantly improve many important areas in your life, such as your finances, health, relationships, and many more.

I personally have seen many people struggle with their health and body. They have tried to lose weight for a while but with no results. Finding and working with a mentor unlocks their abilities and they start to get results.

How about you? What do you think is the most important principle behind Jay-Z’s success? Share it in the comments section below.

Featured photo credit: Huffington Post via i.huffpost.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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