The hip-hop mogul wants you to be wealthy AND happy.
By: Ursula Lauriston
One of hip-hops most successful players, Russell Simmons is worth over $340 million and that figure is growing by the minute. The mogul is in the District this weekend celebrating the Martin Luther King Junior holiday and promoting his new book Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All. Twenty Something grabbed a moment with the busy CEO to talk books, money, and spirituality.
Twenty Something: With so many experts coming out with “get rich” books, what sets your book apart?
Russell Simmons: This book has everything to do with being happy and being a servant. It’s a fact that when we operate in order things come to us. If you’re an intern who serves everyone and you make your work your prayer then there’s a result. You give until they can’t live without you and one day they’ll look to you for guidance. Then whatever you imagine will come to you.
Super Rich is about needing nothing. It’s about giving. The happy giver is a great getter. Neediness is what causes suffering. Everyone is so anxious and anxiety filled. Happiness is inside of you but the noise on the outside separates you from it. This book is meant to ring a bell and wake you up to that.
TS: You say we don’t need anything. What about food? No food?
RS: You don’t need food right now. No one needs anything this second.
TS: Why did you think a book about making money at a time when so many are without jobs was important?
RS: This book is about hope for people who are struggling. In my last book I told those who were without a job to wake up every morning and sweep the front of a store. Soon enough they will let you in the store. Next thing you know you’re the manager of the store. When Diddy was an intern he used to put coffee in my hand before I needed it. Now look at him. I’ve seen people start from nothing. They work hard and keep their head down. It’s not about money. Money is just the byproduct.
TS: What were you like in your twenties? If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your Twenty Something self?
RS: I wouldn’t change anything. I learned a lot. I took a lot of drugs. But all the experiences make me who I am today. Today, I tell young people that heroin makes you sick and it’s not even good the first 10 times you take it. Cigarettes are bad. They don’t even taste good.
TS: What should every twenty something know about success and wealth?
RS: Success is happiness and wealth comes from happiness. The happy giver makes money. Block out the noise and anxiety and focus.
TS: You talk a lot about anxiety and “noise.” Do these things cause people to fail?
RS: It’s a distraction. When the noise is gone, there’s bliss. There’s God. Being focused is brilliant. Have you ever passed by a field and noticed every flower? We miss so much because we’re not focused.
TS: You’re a practicing Buddhist and Super Rich talks at length about the importance of spirituality. What role has spirituality played in your success?
RS: It plays every bit of a role. No matter how busy I am, I leave and go to my yoga class. I meditate everyday. When you are present is the only time you can be open to creating things. We need to get away from the noise.
TS: You know better than anyone that it takes money to make money. What do you focus on when you’re making just enough to pay your bills?
RS: Did Diddy have money when he first started? No. Focus on doing a good job. Focus on helping someone else make money. I guarantee if you do that you will make money.
TS: What is the future of African-American entrepreneurship in America?
RS: I think African-Americans have to collaborate with one another and amongst everyone else. I believe that every other community is integrating but us. And they’re integrating despite not being on the bottom. We have such a rich, popular culture and we must share it. It’s about broadening your cultural perspective. We have a black president. Anything is possible.
TS: The last and probably most important question– will you adopt me?
RS: How old are you?
RS: You’re older than my girlfriend. Come to the book signing, meet my girlfriend and we’ll talk about it.*
Book signing for Super Rich: Friday, January 14, 2011: 9 p.m. – 11 PM; $20 general admission; $40 VIP; 808 Adams Mill RD NW, Washington DC, DC 20009; DJ’s Dirty Hands and Spinster Tracy will be providing the beats and music.
Ursula Lauriston is the author of Twenty Something, a social diary blog where she sounds off weekly on dating, D.C nightlife and events, career etiquette, and more. During the day, Ursula stays in step with the pulse of DC with her work as a Deputy Press Secretary on Capitol Hill. Follow her on twitter @urdiggy.