You probably know that I’m a big fan of inspirational sounding rap songs/quotes, as well as the moguls behind the music like Eminem, Jay-Z, and 50 Cent. In 2008, Forbes reports that Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) pulled in $150 million in cash. It shouldn’t be surprising considering that he invests in everything from Vitamin Water (sold to Coca Cola for $4.1 billion) to African platinum mines to real estate to restaurants to video games. If you want to read more about his business dealings, I’d recommend the piece “The 50 Cent Cash Mashine” by Forbes writer Zach O’Malley. Like any entrepreneur, he is described by those closest to him in the following light “He’s got the work ethic of a robot. I think he works 24 hours a day.”
Well just yesterday, I learned that 50 Cent has a new reality TV show on MTV and I decided I’d check it out. MTV is with the times and they offer free streaming full-versions of the show online here. It’s a bit cheesy (in a reality TV sense) and the contestants aren’t particularly captivating (that’s probably why the show itself has gotten poor viewership), but it’s cool to see Curtis Jackson show us his business side. Typical storyline: 14 contestants compete for $100k investment from Curtis Jackson into their business plan. Think of it as “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump replaced by 50 Cent.
Each episode has a “lesson” or “code” that Curtis teaches to the contestants on the show.
Here’s a quick run through the lessons so far with some thoughts on each:
1) Choose Your Crew Wisely
The people who you surround yourself with are paramount influences on your success, attitudes, and general outlook on life. At the end of the day, we have a choice on who we spend our time with. The key is to choose good people who you trust and like. Good people win out eventually. Surround yourself with positive, trustworthy people. This isn’t just important for business — it’s important for life.
2) Turn Shit Into Sugar
This episode had contestants literally shoveling horse manure in a competition. Some of them were afraid to get their hands dirty. If you want to win you can’t care. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty and get grimy. Those opportunities that are particularly messy also have less competition. The key is just getting in there and getting it done. In real terms, that means being on the front lines of your business.
3) Truth = Money
I loved this episode. 50 Cent explains to them that the real key is being truthful, honest, and genuine to who you are. His example is that people like his music because it’s real and it’s who he is. This example generalizes very well to the business world where you will run into endless characters who make grandiose claims, tell a lot of stories, and are fake. There’s a fine line between business development/sales and fake behavior. The key is not succumbing to outside pressures to act big/powerful. The real value is staying grounded in who you are and acting truthful in all your actions. People are not stupid. Eventually people will figure out who you are and what you’re saying. Lies and exaggerations will always catch up. Ask Bernie Madoff.
4) Respect the Hustle
This episode is really about getting out there and selling. 50 explains that if you want people to buy from you, you have to connect with them and put in whatever energy it takes to get your work done. Hustling takes many forms, but it really just boils down to going 110% in whatever you do.
5) The Hustler’s Eye
This rule isn’t as self explanatory as the other rules, but it deals with seeing people/things for what they really are. In some ways, this is really about being able to spot people who violate rule #3 and try to mess with your perceptions. You need to be able to make your own conclusions and judgments. Don’t let other people shape your reality for you.
6) Use Your Cents to Make Change
Probably something that’s particularly relevant during the holiday times, this rule is about giving back. 50 Cent is involved in various charity efforts and he teaches the contestants about giving back to the community. Pretty straight forward.