Finding My Inner Diva

Yesterday evening, I read a very interesting article over at the Wall Street Journal called “Why Divas Need Make No Apology.” The article deconstructs the meaning of “diva” into both negative and positive traits. In contemporary pop culture especially, diva seems to take on a slightly derogatory meaning. It tends to describe someone who is demanding, arrogant, and always needs to be the center of attention. But this article posits that “healthy divas” have a great deal of traits that others could learn from. Firstly, they always demand their worth and never settle. Secondly they advocate for themselves and others. Thirdly, they are hard workers who believe in themselves and exude confidence.

There is a fascinating anecdote in the article where a comedian describes an article that he read:

“Dan Nainan, a 31-year-old comedian in New York City, says he became more assertive and inflexible a few years ago, after reading a newspaper interview with a call girl. “She said that when she charged $500, men treated her like dirt, so she upped her price to $3,000, and now men treat her like gold,” he says. “That really opened my mind.”

I included the most recent commercial by pop superstar and diva Beyonce above. Whether you are a fan or her or not, Beyonce knows how to command an audience and she knows her worth. As I push through to the next phase of my personal, professional and financial lives, I’m going to find my inner diva. And release her!

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WHAT JAY-Z HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT BUSINESS

Several years ago, a friend of mine and I visited the then recently opened 40/40 club in Manhattan, music mogul Jay-Z’s sports club. We weren’t there 10 minutes and who did we see? Mr. Jay-Z himself. I was then still new to New York and was completely starstruck at the idea of meeting a celebrity. I was content to just stay at our table and make furtive glances his way. But my friend grabbed my arm, pulled me over to him and introduced us to the superstar. Jay-Z was nothing short of warm, generous, and polite, graciously engaging us when he clearly was under no obligation to do so. Since then, I have carefully watched his career flourish to stratospheric levels. Most recently he has extended his already enviable brand to include sports agent. As I begin to build Think Young Media Group one of my “virtual mentors” has been Jay-Z. I find myself thinking back to his example often to find tried and tested strategies for taking myself and my career to where I want to be. Some of the most cogent business tips, courtesy of Jay-Z, include:

  1. Treat everyone with respect. He didn’t know me from a hole in the wall but the amount of respect he showed me coupled with the attention he gave to us has always stayed with me. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
  2. Learn how to read people.  Jay-Z, to me, embodies someone who possesses a range of intelligences, one of which is social intelligence. In particular, he has honed the skill of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of most of those who come into his orbit. There’s this great Jay line in his song “Izzo (H.O.V.A)” that says, “I do this for my culture…Show them how to move in a room full of vultures, Industry is shady, it needs to be taken over, Label owners hate me, I’m raising the status quo up…” Let’s face it, when you are dealing with people you will deal with both the good and the bad. Learning how to “move in a room full of vultures” as well as distinguish those that can add value to you and your company from others is invaluable. 
  3. Protect yourself, your brand and your business. Always handle attacks to you, your brand & business swiftly and then move forward.
  4. Be inquisitive and identify smart, successful mentors who can offer you honest feedback. The video above is one that Forbes did with both Jay-Z and Warren Buffett (another of my idols)! Jay-Z has been very open about his curious nature and his desire to always learn. Smart questions are the lifeblood of knowledge.
  5. Focus first. Then apply this focus to the most feasible, realistic way to make money.
  6. Hard times make you into the person you’re supposed to be. You choose how you respond to the uncontrollable and controllable events in your life. Life from them and move on.
  7. True Renaissance men master one area first before moving on to another interest/business opportunity. Looking back, I think one of the things that has held me back was my lack of focus. I admire how Jay really solidified his reputation in music before moving on to the sports, fashion, and beverage industries. Build your reputation first and branching out becomes much easier.