The Alicia Keys to success. I need some music. I need some music for that.
People always told me don’t you, you should be wearing dresses and be, and it’s just, wasn’t really, wasn’t ever my thing.
As long as people are like, I feel you, that to me is the most important thing.
I do believe that you can have it all. You can have everything that you want.
– Alicia Keys
Evan: She’s an American singer, a songwriter, pianist, actress, record producer and philanthropist.
Throughout her career, she’s won 15 Grammy awards and has sold over 35 million albums worldwide.
Billboard Magazine named her the top R and B artist of the 2000s.
She’s Alicia Keys, and here’s my take on her top 10 rules for success.
Rule number 10 is my personal favorite, and make sure to stick around all the way to the end for some special bonus clips.
And as always, if Alicia says something that really resonates with you, please leave it in the comments below and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired as well. Enjoy.
Rule #1: Find who you are
Interviewer: So what are the Alicia Keys to success?
The Alicia Keys to success. I need some music. I need some music for that. I don’t know, I’m learning as I got, too. That’s the truth and I think that one of the things I’ve learned most recently is just really to really find who you are. Find who you are and don’t be so worried about who everybody else around you is.
What people tell you you should be like or act like or think like or talk like. Like really try to find it out for yourself and figure out what really resonates with you and what you feel, ’cause you know it. When you know something’s right for you, you feel it.
“Find who you are and don’t be so worried about who everybody else around you is.” – Alicia Keys
And so, I think a lot of times, we talk ourselves out of it, and we say, oh, but I don’t know, my friends feel different, or my boyfriend feels different, or my mother says this. And so, we don’t get a chance to really explore who we are. So that’s one of the things. That’s one of my most recently learned keys to success is really understanding who are and embrace it and be.
Rule #2: Ignore the #littleman
”People told us that was a bad record to go with, nobody plays slow records, it’ll never cross over, nobody’s going to get it, you won’t make it, da-da-da, they told us everything under the sun. But it felt good, and it felt special, and when people heard it they were moved, and all the pieces just fell into place so, it’s definitely my calling card.” – Alicia Keys
When I sing that song, every night, I’m like, wow. Who’da thought that all of this from that, you know what I mean, and people told us that was a bad record to go with, nobody plays slow records, it’ll never cross over, nobody’s going to get it, you won’t make it, da-da-da, they told us everything under the sun. But it felt good, and it felt special, and when people heard it they were moved, and all the pieces just fell into place so, it’s definitely my calling card. It’s my little baby, and I cherish and respect it.
Rule #3: Create magic
I love this song, Girl On Fire. They all mean something, and they all came from something but Girl On Fire is definitely ill. It came from this interview that did. I was reading it, and she said something like, she’s like a girl on fire, and I was like, uh. I loved that.
We were in the studio one day, and I was workin’ with Jeff Bhasker and Salaam Remi. I was like, I’ve been wantin’ to write this song called Girl On Fire. I’m like, what does Girl On Fire sound like? Somehow, we start tossin’ around these ideas and thoughts and these different sounds come out, and these different things come out. Eventually, we came to the chords that are Girl On Fire. And I guess you’d want me to play the chords. So the chords are pretty… That ain’t the chord, hold on. There, there go the chord.
So, it’s like ♫ She’s just a girl ♫ And she’s on fire So anyway, those are the chords, right? So, the CP-70’s on it, too. It’s like a different kind of a little bit twangier type of sound. ♫ Hotter than a fantasy There go the damn chord again. ♫ Lonely like a highway We start goin’ through all these different crazy drums and then there was these loud, obnoxious, just destructive drums, I was like, yes, the Girl On Fire is loud and obnoxious and destructive, and free, you know what I mean.
So, I was like, that’s what a Girl On Fire sounds like. And then, we just went into the room. I just had a mic set up over here. ♫ Oh And it’s just flowin’. It’s like one of these crazy moments that everything’s just flowing, which sometimes happens, sometimes doesn’t happen.
But this moment, everything was just magic. We sat down on the couch, we start writing some lyrics down, I’m like, ♫ She’s just a girl and she’s on fire ♫ Higher than a fantasy ♫ Hotter than a fan ♫ Lonely like a highway It’s just flowing, boom, boom, boom.
Then we go in again, and I just sing it again from top to bottom, and I don’t know what happened, but it was like an explosion of magic fairy dust that came down, and that’s basically what happens sometimes with songs, but it’s very rare.
I just remember being in the bathroom and I’m singing the song, and I’m like ♫ Ah and it’s just going around and around and round and round and round and round in my head. When I left the bathroom, my husband called me and I was like, yo!
And he was like, what’s up? I said, I think we just came up with somethin’. Mmm. ♫ She’s just a girl and she’s on fire ♫ Hotter than a fantasy ♫ Lonely like a highway ♫ She’s livin’ in a world and it’s on fire ♫ Filled with catastrophe ♫ But she knows she can fly away ♫ Oh ♫ She got both feet on the ground ♫ And she’s burnin’ it down ♫ Oh ♫ Oh ♫ Got her head in the clouds ♫ And she’s not backin’ down Now, what I’m going to ask myself is why did I chose to write this song so high.
That’s probably what’s going to come up on some occasions, because I didn’t even get to the chorus yet, and I’m askin’ myself what made me write this song that high. So, now you’d have to wait for the chorus, ’cause we could have a disaster.
Rule #4: Be Different
Even when I was just just starting, I was different, and I looked way different and I played the piano and I had the braids, and I was straight off of the streets in New York. ♫ I keep on fallin’ in and out ♫ Of love with you People always told me don’t you, you should be wearing dresses and be, and it just wasn’t really, was never my thing.
My thing, I wanted to be the everyday girl that I was and be able to relate to other women and girls, and be able to just be who I was, ’cause I didn’t see myself in the music or in the entertainment world or whatever.
And so, now, I feel like I have actually really come back to that place, and really recognizing I’ve always been that person, and as you grow, you try different things and you go different places, but that’s where I’m the most comfortable, and that’s where I really am able to be truly myself.
Rule #5: See Through Things
My mother instilled a lot of principles in me just by being her. But one of the things is she often instilled in me was also just to see things through to the end. Don’t give up halfway in the middle just ’cause you tired, see it through.
“Don’t give up halfway in the middle just ’cause you tired, see it through.” – Alicia Keys
So, that’s definitely somethin’ that helps me get through a lot of things. A lot of people who are creative, they often get shut down by their parents, or things like that, saying it’s not a real job, or it’ll never work, and I’m glad that I was encouraged by her like that.
Rule #6: Always Do Your Best
My goal is to always be the realest that I can be, and bring the best music that I can bring, and that’s the goal. That’s the most important thing. All the other things are illusions, I think, in a lot of ways, but for me, as long as people can feel it, like you said, as long as people are like I feel you! That to me is the most important thing.
Rule #7: Create You Life
“One of my big lessons which was about really even creating the life and the world that you want to live in. You don’t have to necessarily live in this life of chaos and unhappiness.” – Alicia Keys
Everything changed when I went to Egypt, just because it was a turning point in my life. You have these points in your life where you really learn something important, and that was a beginning of me, one of my big lessons which was about really even creating the life and the world that you want to live in. You don’t have to necessarily live in this life of chaos and unhappiness. What is it? What life do you want to have and what life do you want to live? For myself, at that time, that was the question. ‘Cause I was learning how to juggle my own personal life and my professional life, and how to be happy inside of it. And so, that was a big lesson for me at the time.
Rule #8: Be Busy
Interviewer: What’s the perfect day for you?
Wow, the perfect day for me. This is my perfect day.
Interviewer: Do you remember what it was? You said a perfect day would be waking up at three in the afternoon and reading a book.
Mmm! Still sounds perfect.
Interviewer: Back then, and you tell me if I’m right, it did seem to be all about the work.
Oh, my gosh, you kidding me. It was totally all about the work. First of all, I grew up with my mother, who was my everything, and a single parent, and she had to work behind off, and so she also instilled that in me, because being a young girl growing up in the city, you have to be busy or you’re going to get lost.
Rule #9: Connect Emotionally
Reporter: What’s one song that still has the ability to move you when you sing it?
Every song has the ability to move me when I sing it, which is something I’m very grateful for, ’cause the songs that I write, they’re very personal and they’re very emotional, and I can understand them. I can understand them, even if the time has passed already.
“Every song has the ability to move me when I sing it, which is something I’m very grateful for, ’cause the songs that I write, they’re very personal and they’re very emotional, and I can understand them.” – Alicia Keys
I can understand it. I have to say, I’ll probably say Fallin’ is the song for me. Obviously, I’ve sung it a lot, but there’s a magic about that song that is just unbelievable. ♫ I keep on fallin’ ♫ In ♫ And out of love ♫ With you And the way that it signifies the beginning of my career and my life, as I know it in this world. It gives me chills every time. ♫ It’s just a brand new kind of me
Rule #10: #Believe
Reporter: Well, you’re certainly bucking the odds. They always say you can’t have it all at the same time.
I do believe that you can have it all. You can have everything that you want. If you want it and you want to work for it, you can have it. ♫ Don’t be mad ♫ It’s just a brand new time for me
Evan: Thank you, guys, so much for watching. I made this video because a local fan stopped me in the store and said, “Hey, Evan, you got to do a video “on Alicia Keys, she’s my favorite.” So, this one is for you, bro.
Now, if you guys have a famous entrepreneur that you’d like me to profile next, leave it down in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.
I’d also love to know, what did Alicia say that really meant the most to you.
What rule had the biggest impact on you and why?
Leave it in the comments. I’m going to join in the discussion.
Finally, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Nancy Johnson. Nancy, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word. It really, really, really means a lot to me.
So, thank you guys so much for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself, and whatever your one word is. Much love, I’ll see ya soon.
Narrator: She turned down her scholarship for a demo deal with Columbia Records. Alicia co-wrote and recorded a song which featured in the blockbuster film Men In Black. It was never released as a single, and her union with Columbia soon ended. Alicia then met powerful industry mogul Clive Davis who originally signed her to Arista Records and eventually to J Records.
Me and my manager Jeff Robinson, we looked at each other like okay, so what are we going to do? And we believed enough in my stuff to find somebody who also believed in it. So, at the time it was Arista where Clive was, and so he brought my stuff into Clive, and that was the first time he ever heard it, and he loved it, and so he wanted to meet me, and that was how our first meeting was set up. And when all of that went well, sorry I’m giving you the three second version of it, he moved over to J. I had the option to go numerous places at that time, but I felt loyalty to somebody who was loyal to me when I needed help the most, and so we went over there with him.
Don’t Focus On The Negative
I just goin’ forward light. Positivity, good energy. And I think that, really, I think you have to really protect yourself, and you have to be cautious of your choices and stuff like that. But we’re all human beings. We’re all human beings and no one’s perfect. So, I just try to keep forward with light and love and that’s what I focus on. I just don’t focus on the negative.
Stand For Something.
Yeah, but Girl Can’t Be Herself. I think that’s just been something that’s been on my mind so much, and that’s part of what this album is all about. It really started from this place of completely takin’ down any walls, takin’ down any veils, any reason to not 1,000% just speak truthfully to what I was feeling, and what I feel is happenin’ around me and to us.
And so, Girl Can’t Be Herself, I feel like there’s such a feelin’ for us as women, that there’s such a standard, there’s such a high level of scrutiny that happens to women and to young girls, and it’s really, really heavy. It’s intense, and it’s very oppressive, and it’s too much.
And I think that from the minute that we’re able to see, we’re fed this vision of what a woman looks like, or what a woman’s supposed to look like or what a sexy woman, or are you beautiful, or are you not beautiful. It’s like whoa. So anyway, the deprogramming that has to happen to all of us for many reasons, but especially for us as women, is pretty intense, so I wanted to write that song just because that was how I was feelin’.
“Don’t let nobody tell you that you’re not beautiful in any way that you want to express it.” – Alecia Keys
And so, later on, when it came back around later when I was just recognizing that, I felt like I was in a lot of ways just becoming a bit of a, almost like a bit of a slave to always feeling like I had to be made up in order to go pick up my son from school, go to the grocery store, go down the block to meet my friend. And this was my own doing. This is something that I felt that I needed to do. I didn’t want to feel like that all the time. I felt it made me feel crazy.
So again, I was expressing how I felt in my personal journey, and it definitely has never been anything about starting a movement. Let’s all do it! It wasn’t about that, and it’s definitely not about anyone who does wear makeup is now something, it’s not about that. It’s definitely like I want women to feel empowered to do what they feel is best for themselves.
Not because your man told you and your daddy told you and your homegirl said, oh girl, you look like this, or because your boss said if you don’t. It’s like what feels beautiful to you? So that you can just feel yourself. And whatever that is, whatever expression that is, you do that, and do that fully, and don’t hold back, and don’t let nobody tell you that you’re not beautiful in any way that you want to express it.
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