Business Management

What Kanye West Can Teach You About Business

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Kanye West

The hip-hop sensation and self proclaimed "Voice of a Generation" may not be a successful real estate investor or powerful business owner – but the words of Kanye West can teach us a thing or two (or twelve) about running a successful business. After all, with more than nine million Twitter fans and worth an estimated $35 Million dollars according to Forbes, Kanye must be saying something right. This post is going to look at some of the Tweets and Quotes said by Kanye over the past several years, and will try to… ascertain… some real-world business knowledge from the inspirational (and generally ridiculous) quotes.

Kanye on Confidence

“I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”

“If I don’t win, the award show loses credibility.”

“Let me please express how amazingly I rap at this point.”

“I want you to document this right here, what I’m saying right now. I am the number one human being in music. That means any person that’s living or breathing is number two. Because I’m number one now.… You are in the presence of the champion. Bow in the presence of greatness.…”

Business Lesson: Clearly, Kanye has a lot of self-confidence. When running a business, it’s important that you effectively lead those around you. If you are not confident in your own abilities, it’s unlikely others will be confident in yours either. You may not feel like “God’s vessel” but you need to exhibit confidence that says “I know what I’m doing, and I’m doing it right.”

Kanye on Money

“Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on”

Business Lesson: Kanye West may have been actually trying to sleep on a fur pillow, but I’d like to believe this is actually a metaphor about the difficulty luxury can have on a business and why running a “lean” business can actually make for more efficiency, less stress, and increased profits. When business capital is recycled, and the money reinvested, the business has room to grow. When the profits are simply taken out of the business and spent on frivolous toys or unnecessary business expenditures, the business will grow much slower. Don’t spring for a fur pillow when cotton will do the trick.

Kanye on Professionalism

“I’ve finally realized as long as you use profanity when you talk about art and fashion it’s better accepted!!!”

Business Lesson: How do your business associates view you? Perhaps profanity and crude jokes are part of your culture in your business (according to Kanye, especially if you are in art or fashion,) but it’s unlikely that the same culture extends to your customers, your clients, or other business associates. Business is meant to be professional, so be sure you are keeping a professional image and not offending the source of your income.

Kanye on Clothing

“I hate khaki cargo shorts”

Business Lesson:Don’t wear khaki cargo shorts.

Kanye on Quality

“When I visited Wayne at Rikers Island, I had a suit on with some slippers, and the guard said, “Man, those shoes are amazing.” And I said, “Yes, they are. I’m Kanye West.”

Business Lesson: Is your name synonymous with quality? Like Kanye and his shoes, you need to be the definition of “amazing” in your industry. Kanye built a reputation of wearing unique (and amazing) clothing by consistently delivering. The same should be true of your business. If you are flipping houses, and a family comes and looks at your finished house – are they blown away? Do they comment on how awesome the home looks? And are you able to say, “Yes it is. Cause we’re (insert company name here.)”

Kanye on Planning

“Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I’m looking to have a conference… not until I get the table though.”

Business Lesson: As I’ve stated time and time again – you would not take a trip from Canada to Chile knowing only that you need to travel “South.” Having a plan, a road map, is essential to every business venture to keep you prepared, on track, and ready. It would appear Kanye understands this. He’s making a plan by getting that conference table before having his conference. Without a detailed plan, you may end up with a room full of people, and no where to sit.

Kanye on Life

“Sometimes I push the door close button on people running towards the elevator. I just need my own elevator sometimes, my 7 floor sanctuary”

Business Lesson: When building a business, it can be customary to spend all your time working on the business, surrounded by a variety of people, and forget that “alone time” is extremely important to your overall health. Take a break from the computer for a few minutes to relax, or walk around the block to gather your thoughts. Some of the best business decisions in life are made while not thinking about business – so give yourself time to develop this. As Kanye says, sometimes you just need to have a “7 floor sanctuary.”

Kanye on Humor

“You basically can say anything to someone on an email or text as long as you put “LOL” at the end.”

Business Lesson: Humor is especially important in a business. Though your company may be remodeling hundreds of homes each year or designing skyscrapers in Manhattan – never forget that a business is 100% made up of living, breathing people. Smile often and let your personality shine through. Not only will your clients and customers appreciate it – you may just find the day going better for yourself as well. And when you need to come down hard on someone, don’t forget to allow for a little bit of grace (and maybe an “LOL.”)

Kanye on Adaptation

“Dating models I had to learn to like small dogs and cigarettes.”

Business Lesson: Kanye gets adaptation. Do you? The world changes – are you changing with it? I’m not talking about following after whatever winds of popularity seem to be affecting the population, but of watching the market and the economy so you are consistently positioning yourself to maximize your exposure and profits. If you are selling a product to people of certain income levels – are the amenities with your product conducive to that market? Have you learned to enjoy “small dogs and cigarettes?”

“If you ask me a question like what is your greatest accomplishment, it should be what I’m about to do.”

Business Lesson: Successful people have a plan to be great. They are always working toward the next big thing. As Kanye says, your greatest accomplishment should be what you are about to do. What are you going to do next? What is your Next Actionable Step?

Kanye on What NOT to Do

“Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish. But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”

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Business Lesson: Everyone makes mistakes … this is one of those that went viral to the whole world. Don’t do what Kanye did. Recognize others, even your competitors, as successful and don’t let emotion or jealousy get in the way. Business is full of disappointments, and the way you handle those disappointments (hopefully much more private than Kanye) will define your image for years to come.

Your Turn!

Business Lesson: What’s your favorite Kanye quote? Did I miss any good ones? Leave them below in the comments and if you enjoyed this article, please click the big Twitter button below to share this on Twitter! If we get enough shares, maybe we can get Kanye in on this conversation!

If you don’t have Twitter – that’s okay! Just click some of the “Share Buttons” below to share this article with your friends on your favorite social networks!

Photo: G.6sou

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He is a nationally recognized leader in the real estate education space and has tau...
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    Replied over 7 years ago
    HAHA! I love this. I’m a huge Kanye fan. Im clicking every share and “like” button.
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks Risto! This was the funnest post I’ve written in a long time. Kanye is such a character – and super talented!
    Erion Shehaj
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Brandon I’ma let you finish. But Sharon Vornholt had the greatest blog post of all time. All time. 🙂
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Haha! I see what you did there! Reply Report comment
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Haha! I see what you did there!
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Glenn Espinosa
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Brandon, A lot of this stuff actually hit home with me, haha. A lot of these rap guys are actually really good businessmen that us real estate guys can learn a thing or two form. Glenn
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Hey Glenn – I agree. Sometimes I wonder if Kanye is a complete Genius and everything is part of his master business plan!??? It seems to be working!
    Chris Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Excellent article Brandon! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was very creative and at the same time informative. Who knew you could learn so much about business from random Kanye quotes? 🙂
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks Chris! I had fun writing that one 🙂 Call me sometime!
    Replied over 7 years ago
    “I bow in the presence of greatness”! Anyone who can write a business article based on the ramblings of Kanye West is ” Greatness “! Great article Brandon!
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Hahahaha thanks Bill! Probably the easiest post I’ve written 🙂
    Tracy Royce
    Replied over 7 years ago
    When I started running again it was to his CD “Graduation”. Love his boastfulness and talent…he’s got so much style! Good article Brandon.
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks for the comment, Tracy! I don’t have the CD – I work out to Podcasts… maybe I should switch that up to get some motivation. Podcasts just motivate me to go make money…
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks for the comment, Tracy! I don’t have the CD – I work out to Podcasts… maybe I should switch that up to get some motivation. Podcasts just motivate me to go make money…
    Leon Yang
    Replied over 7 years ago
    “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish. But my house is the best crib on the block of all time!” …is what you should say to an appraiser.
    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Hahah Imma let you finish Leon, but … 😉