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The Godfather of Hip-Hop offers entrepreneurial insight

By Margaret Zheng
On October 18, 2010

Russell Simmons, hip-hop pioneer and founder of Def Jam Records and Phat Farm clothing line, answered questions from a diverse crowd of about 500 students inside Stamp Student Union's Grand Ballroom Wednesday night hosted by Student Entertainment Events.

The music and fashion mogul, whose newest book Super Rich: A Guide To Having It All is set for release in January, stressed that his success in the industry has certainly not always translated into personal happiness. Although many students were particularly interested in Simmons' wealth, he convinced the audience that "eventually, you run out of things to buy." Instead, he encouraged his listeners to find their passions and pursue them. "Uncle Russell," as some students affectionately called him, shared his personal philosophy that "imagination is everything, but dedication and faith are critical."

Hopeful entrepreneurs in the audience hoping to follow in Simmons' large footsteps questioned how he was able to hold onto his business ideas. In response, the hip-hop legend revealed his key to success when building his empire.

"Write down your business plan and execute it—own it like a property," he said. "Get on the Internet and build a buzz. An idea is nothing until you develop it."

In addition to applying for an official patent, Simmons suggested that students with business plans generate their own hype in order to sell their ideas.

Both relatable and inspiring, Simmons' lecture left students with one resonating theme that the entrepreneur claimed as one of his greatest life lessons: "In the end, I learned that it was more about what I could give, rather than what I could get." 

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