Archive | February 2015

Three Times Rappers Taught Us Lessons in Leadership

Important Takeaways from 50 Cent, Jay Z, and Kanye West

“My momma gave birth to a winner, I gotta win.” -50 Cent

Confidence is like wealth. It’s typically unevenly distributed, and famous rappers have a lot more than the average person. But I think it’s important to point out what 50 Cent acknowledges here: he had confidence before he was a famous rapper. He felt he was born a winner, and that he shouldn’t be doing anything but winning.

He didn’t say, “My momma gave birth to someone with average skills, and if used properly, I could get a mediocre job with them.” He didn’t say, “My momma gave birth to a superstar, and that’s why my brother is so famous.” (See what I did there?)

50 Cent embraces the skills that he has and is confident in his abilities to use them.

I second-guess myself all the time, and I hear when other people do it too. In general, people spend way too much time doubting themselves and not enough time reminding themselves why they should win…and everyone deserves to win at some point.

Believe that you have the capacity to make it happen and you will be much closer to getting the victory you deserve.

“I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned so it evens it up for me.” -Jay Z

While you may read this and think it is another quote about winning, this is actually a quote about improving. Jay Z isn’t saying that things always go his way. He isn’t stating that he always wins (T-Pain and Ludacris said that…or was it Howard Wolowitz?). What he is saying is that if things don’t go his way, he’s going to take the knowledge he gained to do better next time.

The implications of this quote are that Jay Z reflects on his experiences and looks to grow from them, something that all of us should be doing on a regular basis.

Real improvement happens from setbacks, and setbacks come when you are passionately pursuing something. If you experience a setback, ask yourself what lesson can be learned from the experience. By doing this, you’re working to save yourself from experiencing the same setbacks in the future…and if it does save you from that future setback, was it really a loss?

“When it feels like living’s harder than dying, for me giving up’s way harder than trying.” -Kanye West

If you haven’t figured it out. Here is the storyline of this blog. First, believe you can win. Second, improve over time. Third, don’t ever give up.

Kanye’s quote suggests that trying your best and sticking to it need to become so second nature that giving up is no longer an option. So when you experience setbacks, you’re not just learning from them; you’re also overcoming them and refusing to let those setbacks keep you from whatever dreams you’re chasing.

Life gets difficult. It is not easy being a human being (Does Kanye still think he’s a human being?). But by believing in yourself, constantly improving, and refusing to give up, things are going to be okay (and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end).

So the next time you experience setbacks that make you feel like all hope is lost or that your dreams don’t matter, refuse to let yourself give up. Push through it. Your breakthrough might be just around the corner.


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What Do Taylor Swift and Cosmo Kramer Have in Common?

And what can you learn from it?

PicMonkey Collage

Why does America follow Taylor’s every move? Why did Cosmo become a staple in a wildly successful sitcom? Why should you care?

I believe that learning from the success of others is beneficial. Lessons in leadership or tips on how to generate positive interactions are oftentimes found through those who do these things well. So what can you learn from Taylor Swift and Cosmo Kramer that will add value to your daily life?

Most people wouldn’t make an immediate connection between a modern young musical icon and a gallivanting jittery fictional character, yet I think they have something in common that we can all learn from.

They both share something that is often talked about, but rarely personified: charisma. 

Think about the last time Taylor Swift received some sort of recognition. What words come to mind when you think about her response?

Surprised?

Excited?

Grateful?

Humble?

Taylor shows emotion in a way that allows others to feel it with her. Her excitement feels like your excitement, and the reason is two-fold.

First, her actions are often big, maybe even toeing the line of “over-the-top.” She doesn’t hide her excitement. She doesn’t act like she’s used to it. She allows her emotions to flow freely.

Second, her emotions feel genuine (whether they are or not).

I’ve often thought about what it would be like to win as many awards as Taylor Swift. The girl has 20 Billboard Music Awards, 16 American Music Awards, 7 Grammys, etc. To be honest, at some point, it wouldn’t be surprising anymore. It would still be cool to win them, but I probably wouldn’t give the wide-eyed, open-mouthed look of someone who had just been asked, “Will you marry me?”

But Taylor does. Why? Because any one of Taylor’s fans around the world dreams about winning one of those awards, and when Taylor wins, she acts exactly how one of them would act if they happened to win; this is what I meant by, “her excitement feels like your excitement.” Her genuine emotions allow you to relate to her on a personal level. Even if she gets accustomed to being famous and winning awards, she allows us to continue to enjoy it with her.

So how do these things relate to Cosmo Kramer?

If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, picture Kramer stepping into Seinfeld’s apartment (If you haven’t watched it, click here). He never walked in to nonchalantly say, “What’s up?” He would fling the door open, eyebrows raised, excitement in his eyes. Even when his plans were outlandish, most of America would have loved to have Kramer as a friend.

He shows the same charismatic traits as Taylor Swift. His actions could be described as over-the-top and his emotions feel very genuine.

So what can you learn?

The next time you have a conversation with someone, think about the perception they have of you. Do you seem interested, present, and attentive or do you seem bored, distracted, and indifferent? If the words you come up with are not the most flattering, look to add a little charisma to your day-to-day interactions.

Charisma is not just a word to describe extroverts. Anyone can add charisma to their personality by making genuine emotional connections to those with whom they come into contact.

So get out there, because as Cosmo Kramer said:

“I’m out there…and I’m loving ever minute of it!”


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