The Egotist Interviews: Russell Simmons

By The Portland Egotist / /

He’s a legend in the Hip-Hop world. He’s a clothing mogul. He’s a best-selling author – his new book “Super Rich – A Guide to Having It All” provides readers with the tools and ideas needed to attain absolute greatness and prosperity – in wallet and in mind. And he talked to the SF Egotist about all of the above and more. Check out our interview with Russell Simmons.

So from the title of your new book, “Super Rich” one might think it’s all about how you¹ve built your fortune. But that’s not really what the book is about at all, is it?
Super Rich is really more about how to build a heightened state of consciousness. Now, as you become more consciousness and connected, there’s no doubt you’ll become better at whatever you do— a designer, doctor, teacher, rapper, etc. And a result the money will follow. But no, despite what the title suggests, the book is not about becoming materially rich.

What made you feel like now was the perfect time to write this book?
I don’t know if “now” was the perfect time, because I like to think that in many ways the principles I’m promoting in Super Rich are “timeless.” In other words, these are the same principles that you’ve heard from your mother, and your mother heard from her mother.

So while these principles might seem appealing in an environment like this — one where people are really struggling and searching for ways to improve their conditions — they’ll work during good times, too. To put it into perspective, my main influences are books like the Yoga Sutras and The Bhagavad Gita, which are thousands of years old. So while the instructions in Super Rich are certainly applicable to what’s happening in the world today, I tried to root them in something much deeper than any sort of current condition.

A lot of people know about your business success – Def Jam, Phat Farm, et al – but tell us a little more about the spiritual journey you¹ve taken and how it¹s changed your life.
I think I was always instinctively aware of spiritual concepts like giving, service and consciousness when I was building those companies, but I didn’t being to be able to articulate them until I embraced the practice of yoga, and later meditation.

Look, whether you go to Church every day or have never set foot in one, you’re still on spiritual journey. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience, never the other way around! Yoga and meditation made me more aware of that truth, but I’ve always been on the journey.

You seem to have an uncanny ability to take the companies you create and turn them into serious, world-wide brands. What’s the secret to it?
There’s no secret, all my success has come from being able to tap into my higher self. We all have great ideas inside of us, it’s just that often we have a hard time hearing them clearly because of the noise of the world. But if you can slow down, become still and listen carefully for what your heart is telling you, you’ll be able to create great brands, build businesses, charities—whatever it is that in your heart.

Obviously you¹re a busy man. So how do you balance the frantic pace of business success with the need for personal, inner success.
Again, my balance comes from the practice of yoga and meditation. I’ve been out on the road for several weeks promoting Super Rich, but no matter what city we’re in, or no matter how many radio stations we have to hit, or book stores we have to visit, every day I make sure there’s time in my schedule for meditation and yoga. That’s non-negotiable.

Those are the practices that work for me. But I believe everyone should have a similar practice in their lives—maybe it’s cooking, jogging, gardening—whatever—that helps them slow down and find that balance. Otherwise, the noise of the world just gets too loud.

Where does your creativity come from?
It comes from getting involved in ideas that I have a true passion for. From hip-hop to fashion to writing books like Super Rich, I have a real love for these forms of expression. It might seems like I have my hand in a lot of different ventures and business, but if you check closely, you’ll find that I’m only involved in things I have a true passion for and believe will provide a real service for the world.

What¹s next for Russell Simmons? Where do you go from here?
Well, I’m very excited and humbled by the reaction to Super Rich. When I hear back from prisoners that I’m helping them transform behind bars, I feel like I’m doing something very helpful. So I want to try to make sure I reach as many people as possible with the book.

I’m also very excited about the work we’re doing with the Rush Card. To be able to serve millions of people who have been shut out by the banks is very important to me. The banks have been bullying and robbing poor people for a long time now, so I feel very useful to be able to provide those people with an alternative.

What three short pieces of advice can you give our readers when it comes to being “Super Rich”?
a) When you operate out of a calm and happy space as opposed to a nervous and distracted one, you’re going to be a beast at whatever you do.

b) Putting your head down & working your hardest at any task is actually a very powerful form prayer that will bring you closer to your highest self.

c) When you stay focused on your work without any expectations concern with the fruit of your labor, there will be no limit to what you can achieve.

Fan Question from BakerBob12: Is there one moment you look back on in your career where you think “THAT was it. That¹s why I¹m where I am today.”?
Honestly, I don’t like to look back, because I try to stay as focused on the present as possible. But if I had to pick one moment, I’d probably say it was hearing Eddie Cheeba rock the mic at Charles’ Gallery in Harlem back in the day. That was my first real introduction to hip-hop and the energy I felt that night was so incredible and contagious, it certainly had an enormous impact on my journey.

Fan Question from CMcintosh: If you hadn¹t gotten into music or clothing, what do you think you¹d be doing right now?
It’s hard for me to say, since music and fashion have both been passions of mine since I was a child. But, if for some reason I hadn’t become involved with them, I would hope that whatever path I followed would have involved serving and inspiring people. Because that’s what it’s really about. If you can provide the world with a lasting, stable service, then the world is going to give you lasting, stable happiness back in return.

Originally posted by our West Coast cousins, The SF Egotist.