Business advice from the king of hip-hop

2017-11-05 06:15
Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons (Photo: Getty)

Johannesburg - In a bid to inspire young people to never give up their dreams, hip-hop royalty Russell Simmons left audiences gasping when he revealed his most challenging business moments.

He talked about his debit card disaster, saying the Rush Card, which was designed to be a stored value card for people who couldn’t open a line of credit, once crashed due to infrastructure failure. The card was meant to enable customers to shop online and draw at ATMs.

While this debacle unfolded in the media, he said instead of following advice he received not to deal with this issue personally, he got ahead of things and called customers himself. He also appeared on TV and reassured people that the mishap would be corrected.

“Money that people depended on was not delivered. For some people, it was as long as 14 days which is critical ... You should be accountable if something you built breaks,” he added, while the enthralled audience nodded at his every word.

Simmons was a panellist at The Liberty Vuka Knowledge Summit, a two-day conference at the Sandton Convention Centre this week. The theme of the summit was An Awakening of Curiosity, and was aimed at sparking young entrepreneurial minds.

Simmons said he was fortunate enough to have been as curious as he is in his life.

“This theme is great as we can awaken curiosity in those who don’t [have it] and broaden it in those who do. This is a key to innovation,” he said.

“I love culture, it’s inspiring. I do what I can to improve on it or bring new voices forward. It’s about empowering people.”

Simmons said his company, Def Jam Recordings, which is always a fixture on the global hip-hop scene, aimed at exploring the fortunes of culture and empowering others in the process.

The father of hip-hop took his shoes off and sat on an armchair, with his legs folded in a yoga-like pose. One wouldn’t imagine the man to be a yoga enthusiast, but he is. He said business was about finding something that resonated with him, and yoga happened to do just that.

When asked about the role of the yoga sutras in his life, he said: “There’s only so much truth in the world, it is limited and often repeated. You can get this truth from the Quran to the Torah or the Bible.”

Local fashion designer Maria McCloy spoke about Africans’ need to safeguard their culture and not wait for their ideas to be stolen, only to buy them back at exorbitant prices.

(Photo: Supplied)