Good afternoon, Thursday. I've had a fun day and excited about some new opportunities.
So I've been watching the incredible series, "The Defiant Ones", on HBO and I'm incredibly inspired by the stories of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, two music industry heavyweights who are living legends. The four part series tells the tale of both dudes, in their own words, with plenty of appearances from the music industry's biggest stars like Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Ice Cube, and many others. If you listened to music in the 90s, you were most likely listening to something from Interscope or Aftermath. And even earlier, their contributions to pop music and culture are indelible. I love that both guys were creatives first, and business people later. I think that creativity informed some of their best decisions. It shows you how important the creative mind is when it comes to business. For those of you who think you can't make that switch, consider watching this and realize how useful all of that artistic juice is for the boardroom or C Suite or starting your own thing. I have always thought of myself as rebellious and defiant in my ideaology- I'm so glad HBO put this on the air. It gave me real hope and fired me up.
So I've been watching and learning a lot this week about what it takes to be a huge success from these two guys. I see this kind of tenacity and drive coming from the tech world, but in the creative world? I just don't know. We need more of these defiant ones to come forward and run the show. I for one am starved for defiance- everything has gotten a wee bit too safe- perhaps it's because we live in such perilous times. All I know is I want to be inspired again by the work we do and the creative world we live in. Regardless of whether you're the next Dr. Dre or the next Steve Jobs, here's some takeaways from this brilliant series on how to work it like a gdamn boss:
Remember where you came from- This goes without saying. I love that Jimmy Iovine, an Italian kid from Red Hook, Brooklyn and Dr. Dre, an African American man from Compton, had beyond humble beginnings. They were not given a single thing but one thing they both did have- a supportive family. Dre's mom (a single mom) did everything to encourage his success, and Jimmy credits his dad with being his very best friend. Even if you don't have that, respect your origins- humble or not. There is no way they have not contributed to who you are today.
Never, ever give up- On yourself. Or on those you believe in or who believe in you. I love how Iovine never stopped believing in himself, Dre, and any of the many risky ventures that he was part of. He was absolutely relentless, often sitting in his bathroom for hours on end, on the phone, pursuing the artists and deals he knew would be a big success. You can't give up. Maybe stop chasing what doesn't matter and focus on what does, but don't ever give up.
Give the people what they want, before they know they want it- Both Dre and Iovine had that Spidey sixth sense for how culture affects the music we listen to- in the golden age of 90s music, it was all about anger and aggression- coming out of the Reagan years, the LA riots, and a move to something dark and angry- think grunge and beyond. Both of these guys are the best fortune tellers out there- they know what you want before you want it. Thus the Beats deal. See what's happening in culture and mass media and get far ahead of it. I love when Iovine talked about the death of the record industry and how Napster sank the whole game- instead of getting under the covers, he met with Steve Jobs, learned a lot, and made one of the biggest deals in history. Stellar. This one feels particularly relevant to people in advertising, by the way. it gets harder to do, but the best stuff is forward focused. We spend a lot of time reacting to every blip in culture, but if you can move past that and see how all of these blips contribute to something more seismic in the future, you're going to turn good into great.
Trust that gut and find your tribe- In my own career, when I've paid close attention to my instincts, I've achieved success. When I don't, it's a whole other thing. I love that Iovine always knew who would be big stars- from Springsteen to Trent Reznor to Gwen Stefani and of course, Dr. Dre. It's a whole lot easier to go with your gut when you are collaborating with people you feel super connected to, who have the same work ethic, values, and creative DNA. Find your tribe and you can't lose. Eminem and Dre have one of the best partnerships in history- because they're both in your face, tenacious maniacs who can't and won't stop.
Put your blinders on- This was my favorite takeaway from the series. Iovine mentions that if you spend your time watching what everyone else is doing and worrying how it relates to what you're doing, you'll fail. He says that when you want something, put your blinders on and run as fast as you can. If you don't, those other ponies may trip you up and you may just be out of the race. So stop watching everyone else's back and don't stop until you get what you want. Great advice. That's the true definition of a defiant one- single vision, f the rest. Love.
As I continue to assess my own career, I'm taking all of this to heart. What an epic series depicting one of the greatest successes of music history. I highly recommend watching this four parter- incredibly inspiring for anyone who is looking for ways to make fearless changes and follow their passion.
What's inspiring you of late?
Cause that's what's up this straight outta Brooklyn kinda Thursday right here in the 718. Yours, in defiant ones, and staying in the race. XO