Jay-Z the self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” may seem like an unlikely source to turn to for leadership wisdom. However, the man who taught Barack Obama how to “get that dirt off your shoulder” (Obama quoted Jay-Z’s 2003 hit “Dirt off Your Shoulder” during the 2008 primary) is also CEO of Roc Nation and former CEO of Universal Music Group’s Def Jam label .
Jay Z’s legal name is Shawn Carter and under his leadership Def Jam enjoyed a period of financial and artistic prosperity. Carter not only released successful albums, but he discovered a bevy of young, successful, talent like Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Kanye West.
Carter began his music career and started his own company when he and his friends, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, founded Roc-a-Fella Records and released Jay-Z’s first album. The company was acquired by Def Jam and in 2005 and Carter was appointed CEO.
In 2008, Carter left Def Jam and formed Roc Nation, a multi-armed entertainment company in partnership with live-event giant, Live Nation. Forbes Magazine lists Jay-Z’s current net worth at $450 million.
So what does the man who once boasted in one of his raps, “I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, man,” have to say on the subject of leadership?
Surprisingly, a lot.
Here are the top 7 Jay-Z Leadership Quotes:
1. “Managing people is really difficult. Everyone has their own personality and their own idea of how everything should go. Then you got friends that’s fuedin with each other and you have to be the peacemaker. And the more people you have the tougher it is. But I don’t have a goal to be liked. I want people to relax and just focus on what’s important…” – Rolling Stone, December 2005
2. “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me.” – From the song, Blueprint 2.
3. “Be water. If you pour water in a cup, it takes the shape of a cup. If you pour it in a teapot, it takes the shape of a teapot. Be fluid. Treat each project differently. The best style is no style. Because styles can be figured out. And when you have no style, they can’t figure you out.” – Rolling Stone, December 2005
4. “I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not trying” – From the song, Beach Chair
5. “I believe excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over.” – Oprah Masterclass Documentary
6. “I’m far from being God/ but I work… hard.” –From the song, Breathe Easy
7. “I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning, so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company. “