Famous Entrepreneur Quotes
Henry Rollins’s Quotes
“I descend from the sky and land on things really hard and I go at everything with that amount of fury.”
“Every damn person who said I wouldn’t be anything, I’m crushing them every day.”
“If you can form a sentence, you can form a sentence, and it doesn’t matter who you are.”
Henry Rollins’s Top 10 Rules For Entrepreneurship, Business and Success
Today we’re going to learn from musician, actor, writer, and comedian, Henry Rollins, and my take on his Top 10 Rules for Success.
#1: Be Driven
Interviewer: You once said in an interview that your life is paranoia and fear and you’re just trying to not get hit.
Interviewer: Is that still true?
“I descend from the sky and land on things really hard and I go at everything with that amount of fury” – Henry Rollins
Yeah. Anger and fear, fear of failure drives me.
Paranoia of things going wrong around me drives me.
I am driven by a lot of like really kind of ugly anger. And so I have a lot of that in me, and it comes from a father who was terrifying and teachers who yelled at me, told me I’d never be anything and so…
I descend from the sky and land on things really hard and I go at everything with that amount of fury.
And I’m not saying I’m going to hit anybody, and I’m not mad at you. I’m quite happy to be here with you and answer any question to the best of my ability, but I go at everything like you think I can’t. Hey, you want to try acting? Yeah, I’ll try acting.
Can you act? No, so let’s go.
Interviewer: I’ve seen Sons of Anarchy, you can act.
Thank you. Fair is for losers. I’d rather win.
#2: Work Hard
Interviewer: You tend to be incredibly modest in terms of describing your talents, and you always seem to belittle your abilities to a certain extent when clearly there’s a reason why this, everything you do’s been working out. I was reading about how you said that to a certain extent that comes from your punk rock roots.
Yeah, there was no other choice.
In those days, there was no idea of this makes money. There’s no idea of like this is my future. It was like a week at a time. We have five shows, we’re going to get to Sunday. Phew. And even those days were like fraught with turbulence.
And so I never really saw a future.
None of us did, and some of us didn’t make it. Some of them are dead, and some of them are just kind of trying to recreate their past, and so I realized that I have to be very hard working because I don’t have kind of the ease of talent, and I come from that, and I think in a lot of ways, it’s served me very well in that I am kind of as hard working as I’ve ever been…
…completely without confidence. I have none. I don’t want any.
Because I think you turn your back on the thing, and that’s when you get gored, is when you think, “I got this.” I never think, “I got this.” I think, “Oh, man, don’t screw this up.” And I go at everything like including you and I sitting here right now.
I’m trying to be fully engaged.
And that intensity, I think has served me quite well, but it comes from punk rock, absolutely. Last boss I ever had was my boss at Haagen-Dazs at my ice cream shop, and to this day, he still comes to my shows, and whenever I see Steve, who got me my first apartment, who believed.
“Every damn person who said I wouldn’t be anything, I’m crushing them every day.” – Henry Rollins
I was living in my car.
He believed in me. Whenever I see him, I get all weepy. I always sound like, “It’s good to see you sir.” “Henry, you can call me Steve.” “I can’t do that, sir.” ‘Cause he trusted me with his money, and I said, “Let me run your store. “I know how to do this, I can do this.” He’s like, “Well, if you screw up, you’re out of here.” I said, “I won’t screw up.”
And it ended up being– I ran his store.
But it was anger that said, “I’ll be here all damn week. “I’ll get this whole thing right.” I fired a staff and rehired a bunch of people, who can really work, and it was, out of anger, like “I’ll be back in four hours “to run this $3.75 an hour job into the ground.”
And then I joined Black Flag, and I thought I was a hard-working person. Then you meet the guys in Black Flag, who are so driven.
You see Greg Ginn work 23 hour days.
Like, “Greg, you’re still on the phone.” “I know.” “Greg, when did you eat?” “I don’t know.” “Greg, when was the last time you showered?” “Uh, do we have a shower?” Like the guy was– we were not going to be stopped, and I kind of go at that intensity like kind of anything I do. Like you’re a very calm, good-looking young man. Look at me, I’m a spaz sitting next to you like, “I’m doing an interview with you.” I can’t help it.
I’m sweating, man– It’s so–
But I’m like this going to the airport like. 10 miles out. And so, but it’s anger that has informed kind of my life, and unflatteringly a sense of vengeance. Every damn person who said I wouldn’t be anything, I’m crushing them every day. Everybody I had to endure in any band I was in, every day into a powder. Yeah.
Thank you. And I wish them no ill. I just wish to shine brighter, and if it burns my body to a crisp, I’m happy to go right now.
#3: Keep Moving Forward
I just do my work. For me, I’ve always been very utilitarian on all of this stuff, and that’s what coming from punk rock gave to me. Well I don’t feel like I’m anybody, and someone wants me to sign something, I’m like, “Sure.” I don’t exactly understand why, but I’ll do it for you. I don’t think I’m anything.
“I keep moving forward boldly because I have nothing to lose. I’m nobody from nowhere.” – Henry Rollins
Interviewer: Maybe it’s also, not just because of the punk rock mentality. It’s also because you were scooping ice cream not so long ago, and maybe there’s an element of insecurity in you that unless you keep working and keep striving, you could end up back there.
Oh I kind of figure that’s eventual. I keep moving forward boldly because I have nothing to lose.
I’m nobody from nowhere.
You should really understand that. I am from the minimum wage working world a hundred years ago, but I don’t ever have it in my head that that’s any less, any more than one tour away of coming back, and so I just, I like to work. It’s not a money or fame or anything. It’s about activity and challenge.
#4: Just Do It
I was a very headstrong young person, and by 1983 or four had started my own publishing company to publish my own books, realizing that no one else’ll publish me, and I was right about that, and so my first book…
I saved my food money from Black Flag.
A little here, little there, and I saved enough to make a fold and staple book. I couldn’t type, so I handwrote out the things, and I made a dummy that I could offset, print, fold and staple.
“You just do it. It’s like you don’t even think about it. You just do it” – Henry Rollins
And I sold them for $2, mainly gave them away, but I sold enough, and they blew out, 500 just went, and then I took that money to make another print run of that.
And from that money, I made my first paperback.
And 33 years later, that’s a fully staffed company with books in translation and hardcover editions and the whole, you know the whole nine yards, but it started with, I’m going to do my thing.
I’ll be City Lights Junior without the talent, and I did that at the same time I was doing my first spoken word gigs, and why did I have the gumption and the audacity to start my own book company?
Because I come from punk rock.
I come from watching Ian MacKaye invent Dischord Records on his mom’s kitchen table. I come from folding and gluing picture sleeves together. Black Flag had their own label. Of course you do it yourself.
You want to make a book, sit down and write it, then go to the printing place. Where’s a printer? Get in the phone book and find a printer. We make records, make some books. It was, you just do it. It’s like you don’t even think about it. You just do it, and I’m sure that writing is just awful, but I did it, and without even hesitation I’m making my own book company.
Stop me. I dare you.
I never thought about it twice. Just because –DIY man– like, let your voice be heard.
#5: Take Your Shot
My last straight job I had was 1981.
Head manager of a Haagen-Dazs in Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. on Wisconsin Avenue at the intersection of Wisconsin and O Street, making $3.75 an hour, $4 an hour, something like that, working 40 to 60 hours a week. I had a small apartment, which I shared with an old pal of mine. I had a small record collection, an ailing VW automobile, and a little tiny life with my minimum wage job, which I liked, and…
I looked at my life and realized, this is probably about as good as it’s going to get for me.
I might quit this place and go work at my friend’s record store ’cause I liked being around records, and I could probably run his store very well, knowing what I knew about retail at that point, and then I got a very lucky break ’cause at that same time…
I was very frustrated.
I said, “Well, this is going to be a very tough life. “It’s going to be a life of a lot of standing on my feet, “a lot of work, taking it from other people, “and having very little to show for it by Friday, you know, “Friday evening,” and then Black Flag, the famous band who was friends of mine, they played in New York.
I was in Washington, I took a ride up to go see them ’cause they weren’t coming down to my town. I jumped on stage and sang with them that night a song ’cause I had to go back down to D.C. and go work like some awful shift. They called me a few days later at the ice cream store and said,
“You know, we’re looking for a singer,”
“’cause the rhythm guitar player wants to –oh I’m sorry– the vocalist wants to move down to rhythm guitar.”
You can tell I’ve told this story before.
And we’re holding auditions, do you want a crack at this ’cause we saw you onstage the other night. You’re pretty wild. I looked at the ice cream scoop in my hand, my chocolate bespattered apron, and my future in the world of minimum wage work, or I could go up to New York and audition for this crazy band who was my favorite. What’s the worse that’s going to happen to me? I miss a day of work, oh, there goes 21 bucks, and I get humiliated in front of my favorite band.
Humiliation in young people kind of go together.
I was used to it, and so I took a train up there, I walked into this practice place in the east village. I’m standing there with the band with a microphone in my hand. They said, “Pick the tune,” and I sang every song they had, you know, improvising most of it.
Two times through we did the set. They said, “Okay, you have a seat. “We’re going to go have a band meeting,” whatever that means. And they came back like 10 minutes later and said, “Okay, you’re in.”
I said, “What do you mean?” They said, “You’re the singer in Black Flag.” I said, “So what do I do?” They go, “You quit your job, you pack your gear, you meet us on the road. Here’s the tour itinerary. Here’s the lyrics. We’ll see you soon.”
So fairly numb, I went back down to Washington with this passel of lyrics in my hand, went to my boss and said, “Uh, I’m not exactly quitting, “but here’s this thing that happened.” He said, “It’s your shot.” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Take it.”
#6: Communicate Emotionally
I feel a genuine need to communicate with an audience, and it might just be the attention I didn’t get as a kid. It can’t come from anything good, but what I try and do is bring the best information I can to the stage and broadcast it, so I’m–
It’s reportage from distant points from a fairly unique standpoint.
And so basically I’m not keeping it all to myself, but I earnestly try to, it’s not about entertainment.
“I feel a genuine need to communicate with an audience, and it might just be the attention I didn’t get as a kid.” – Henry Rollins
It’s about communication: warning, broadcasting, emitting.
And trying to leave something of myself with these, with the audience. It’s not mere entertainment. It’s not just making people laugh or not. It’s got to hurt me. It’s got to leave lines in my face. I don’t like any artistic endeavor that doesn’t extol a price on the one doing it. So I’m not looking to get through these things okay.
These things are actually very difficult and very hard on my psyche–
which makes me think I’m doing the right thing.
#7: Try Out Different Things
“I get to do different stuff and have a bit of access because I just say, “Yeah, I’ll try that.” I mean, why would I hold back.” – Henry Rollins
Guys like me have to do everything three times before we get it right. Thankfully I know that, so I know that I have to get up early and try it five times because the eight year old will be able to get past it in two times, so I have to be on my feet longer, but at least I know it. And so I just go at stuff, and it’s served me very well in that my resume’s pretty varied, and I have a pretty interesting life. I get to do different stuff and have a bit of access because I just say, “Yeah, I’ll try that.” I mean, why would I hold back.
#8: Manage Yourself
The repeating factors of my life have been application, discipline, focus, repetition, you know, a gig, a gig, a gig. What are you doing tomorrow? Eight o’clock on stage. What are you doing the night after? I’ll be on stage. What about two months from now? I’ll be still on that same tour ’cause I manage myself. I know where I’m going. I might not finish it. I might not survive it, but I’m the one bookin’ it.
#9: Learn From Your Past
Interviewer: Do you spend more time thinking about the future or the past?
“The future holds whatever you can make it. So the past has already been determined, and it also holds all your victories and all your accomplishments. But all the bad stuff is there too, so why dwell? Learn from it and move on.” – Henry Rollins
Interviewer: Why is that?
Because I want it, ’cause the past holds all of your mistakes and humiliations. The future holds whatever you can make it, and so the past is already been determined, and it also holds all your victories and all your accomplishments, but all the bad stuff is there too, so why dwell? Learn from it and move on.
Don’t ignore it, and don’t say it didn’t happen.
Don’t deny it, but don’t, you don’t have to dwell on it and be miserable. That happens enough to us adults already. You see someone from your past, you’re like, “Oh, it still hurts,” but the future’s ready for you to not make those mistakes, and to make it great, and now that I have less future than I do past, I seek to make, ’cause I’m well over the 50 yard line of mortality.
I’m 55. You know, there’s no way I’m getting 110 out of this.
I don’t know.
You never know.
You seem pretty energetic, I’m saying.
Well it might just burn me out, but knowing I have less in front of me than behind me, why not be cool with it? Don’t, I’m going to die soon, like look, you got some time left, rock out, like make it amazing, where the past has been done.
#10: Have Passion
[Rollins rocks out hardcore on stage in the following performance].
♫ I can feel your love ♫ It’s hard to be with you ♫ You’re a liar liar with your pants on fire ♫ Tearing myself apart ♫ Waiting on a full ride ♫ Your face ♫
Tearing myself apart ♫ So close, so close, not close enough ♫ Tearing each other apart ♫ When I see you ♫ I want to tell you ♫ But then I lose the words ♫
And it tears me apart ♫ Tearing me apart ♫ Tearing you apart ♫ Tearing us apart ♫ Yeah ♫ Yeah ♫
Better walk away ♫ Better walk away ♫ Better walk away ♫ Throw away ♫ And I’ve got a hole inside ♫ And I’ll keep it deep inside ♫ And I’m cold, cold inside ♫ And it’s there I’ll blow a hide ♫ ‘Cause I got to get away ♫
Trust me if I’m okay ♫ I’ve got to get away ♫ Trust me I’m okay ♫ Sometimes they fall without you ♫ Sometimes they fall without you ♫
And it tears me apart ♫ Tears me apart ♫ Tears me apart ♫ Tears me apart.
I made this video because Kurt asked me to, so if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want 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 Henry say that had the biggest impact on you and why.
What message did you take from him that you’re going to immediately apply to your life or your business somehow?
Leave it down in the comments, and I’m going to join in the discussion. Finally, wanted to give a quick shout out to Rhonda Young. Rhonda thank you so much for all your support of my book, “Your One Word.” I really, really, really appreciate it.
So thank you guys again 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 you soon.
Always Give Your All
I sang with Dinosaur Junior last December because they asked me. I did a song, “Don’t,” which only has, “Why? Why don’t you like me?” so even I could get the lyric. But I did it because Jay asked me, and I don’t want to disappoint those guys, and I remember afterwards, they all came up to me like:
“That was really intense.” I’m like, “What other way do you do it?”
Especially with those guys with Dinosaur Junior.
Oh it was, with Jay, being onstage with Jay was, which is all of them, but that much guitar volume, that was something else. ‘Cause I’m a fan, big fan of that band, but yeah all of that is still there, but if you’re not, if what you’re pushing forward isn’t all the way real, then if it’s 98% real, then the 2% that you’re lying to the crowd, shame on you. I can’t do that. This is hallowed ground for me, and so…
If it’s not 100%, I sadly have to walk away.
The reason I do what I do, the reasons why I get to do what I do all come from 1970 something into 1981, high school to me leaving, punk rock, literature, poetry, realizing the power of putting the pen to the paper and expressing yourself. That if you can write, you can write. Let’s break that sentence down for a minute. If you can form a sentence, you can form a sentence, and it doesn’t matter who you are.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the high school quarterback, going to be with the pretty girl at the prom, or if you’re the loser, which you’re not, and the person who doesn’t get picked to be on the basketball team at gym.
You can write, and you can have as much authority over your own writing as Flannery O’Connor, Earnest Hemingway, or anyone you can imagine.
You can have your own.
And you will find in your life that some of the only real true freedom you’ll ever get is your imagination, your thoughts, and what you can put on the paper, and the good news is you never, ever, ever have to show it to anyone.
It can be like a meditation that you can write to yourself.
“If you can form a sentence, you can form a sentence, and it doesn’t matter who you are.” – Henry Rollins
You can be as angry as you want.
You can make up anything you want.
You are never freer than when you’re putting it down and I always say pen and paper because I have an analog relationship with writing, but if you want to key it in, you can do that too, and you can be a 53 year old man like me and still do a journal entry every day as I do because it is part of my way is to check in with myself. Hey Henry, how you doing? Well, I’m pretty sad today because of this, and I’m very angry about this.
There’s a lot of writing.
I do volumes of it that no one sees, I never publish it.
I just need to check in with myself through the hand, the ink to the paper, and anyone can do that and you never have to show it to anyone, not your significant other, not your brothers or sisters or parents or teachers. It can be exclusively yours.
Henry Rollins’s Rules
- Be driven
- Work hard
- Keep moving forward
- Just do it
- Take your shot
- Communicate Emotionally
- Try out different things
- Manage yourself
- Learn from your past
- Have passion
I hope you enjoyed this article, make sure to check my Henry Rollins’s video on his Top 10 Rules For Success as well.