Doin’ what you love to do. Doin’ what you love to do is the way that you’re going to give the best to the world!
And for me my brand is about the live performance. It’s about touring. It’s about, you know, comin’ out here and hostin’ these parties and havin’ fun touchin’ the people.
Once you make this stuff, put yourself out there so people can hear it!
Ryan Leslie’s Top 10 Rules For Success
Evan: He’s an American recording artist and record producer from Washington D.C.
He’s produced hit singles for a number of prominent artists in a variety of genres.
He’s also the founder and CEO of SuperPhone, and NextSelection Lifestyle Group.
He’s Ryan Leslie, and here is my take on his Top 10 Rules For Success.
Rule number 10 is my personal favorite! Also as Ryan is talking if he’s says something that’s really meaningful to you, please leave it in the comments below, and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired as well. Enjoy!
Rule #1. Do what you love
Rule #2. Work hard
Rule #3. #Believe in what you do
Rule #4. Deliver
Rule #5. Build your brand
Rule #6. Live within your means
Rule #7. Pursue your dreams
Rule #8. Put yourself out there
Rule #9. Be authentic
Rule #10. Inspire
Rule #1. Do What You Love
Interviewer: At 15 years old, you went to Harvard, scored 1600 on the SAT, graduated-
Did your research!
Interviewer: Graduated at 19, and at 19 when you gave the commencement speech at Harvard, you said that you wanted to be a performer, and some people laughed. Tell me about that.
Well I mean you just have to think, you know, after four years and $120,000 worth of, you know…. arguably one of the greatest educations that the world has to offer, at Harvard. There’s so many other opportunities and pathways that you could take as a young, bright, and even an African American, you know, there’s like, you know, there’s already so many African Americans that want to rap, or that, you know, they want to make music. Why can’t we have an incredible outlier? Why can’t we have someone who’s, you know, an incredible spokesperson like other-
“Doing what you love to do is the way that you’re going to give the best to the world!” – Ryan Leslie
Interviewer: But we can!
Another Barrack Obama so to speak, you know? And for me, it always once again comes back to what we touched on before which is, doing what you love to do. Doing what you love to do is the way that you’re going to give the best to the world!
And I knew that anything else that I did, whether it was takin’ a job or boss of consulting group or, you know even the community service and philanthropy initiatives in which I was involved. You know I have a passion for those things, but none of them even remotely touches the passion that I have for live performance and music.
Rule #2. Work Hard
Number two, hard work. ‘Cause guess what? The life that I live, goin’ from country to country, stage to stage, shootin’ music videos in the studio, it seemed like everywhere I go people ask me, “Ryan, how can I get that life?” The only way I was able to get it was by working harder than everyone else who said they wanted it, but didn’t work hard enough to get it.
Rule #3. #Believe In What You Do
My words of advice are really the same words that I spoke on when I was a teenager, and I needed money for college. And so I head to the speech competition for Rotary International and… the topic that they asked me to speak on, was… “Do what you believe in and believe in what you do”.
And even now 12 years later, when I look around, that’s what I strive to do everyday, do what I believe in and believe in what I do. For everyone out there that has an aspiration, do something!
Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do! If you got a dream and a goal and a passion to do it, you know, I can’t tell you the amount of people that told me, “Look Ryan, stick to stand behind the synthesizer or, if you go and sing, don’t try to rap, or if you rap, don’t try to sing, or if you produce, don’t try to be an artist, if you’re an R&B dude, don’t try to go into the rock or alternative side, or if you don’t dance, don’t try to dance, or if you dance, don’t, you know, don’t decide it you just going to stay behind the keyboard.”
“Do what you believe in and believe in what you do” – Ryan Leslie
Really for me, I think artistry, the beauty and the joy of artistry and the beauty and the joy of just havin’ the freedoms that we enjoy in life, is that we can pursue anything that we want to pursue and with the right mix of drive, desire, discipline, and dedication we can achieve anything that we want to achieve and so for all you all out there that have a dream, I encourage you to keep striving, pushing forward toward that dream, and make it happen, man!
Rule #4. Deliver
There’s a lot of rap artists, or hip hop artist, you know, or urban music artists that go overseas and they just assume that, you know, it’s a privilege for that market to have them there and they don’t really deliver on the, in terms of a live experience, you know, they come over, they might give a half an hour show, 40 minute show, they do it to track, they go out there, they collect the money ’cause it’s good money out there, and they come home and because their touring base is in the States, they leave a lot of fans, really disappointed, you know?
And it’s been my strategy to go out there and really just shatter anyone else’s live performance, at least at the level that I’m doin’ it right now, we doin’ 1,200 to 2,000 seaters, you know, maybe 3,000 in some markets, and really just shatter everyone’s expectations about what egotism, you know, an American artist might have by comin’ out there, and we’ve built an incredible tourin’ base, you know.
Honestly if you average it out, we doin’ probably $1.2 million a month in Europe, you know, if we go out there for a month. So, that’s 40,000 tickets at 35 Euros a ticket top-line, you know, you do the math.
Rule #5. Build Your Brand
Interviewer: I also read that this new project you plan to release each song with a video?
Interviewer: For free?
Interviewer: So why do take this major bet like you giving music?
Well I mean, really, if you look at the economics of the music business right now, you’re really making money when you’re on the road, and when you’re touring. And so, it’s like… Have you ever paid to download a Coca-Cola commercial? No.
Have you ever paid to download a commercial for a car? No. So, all the money that they spend in creating an advertisement for just a can of Coke or Pepsi, I mean, the Superbowl just happened in the United States.
All of the big advertisements, the amount of money that they spend to create those advertisements, you’re watchin’ them for free. And what it really is is a call to action for you to buy into the brand, and for me, my brand is about the live performance, it’s about touring, it’s about, you know, comin’ out here and hostin’ these parties and havin’ fun touchin’ the people.
I want people to have a reason
And so, when people are paying that, you just really have to think, when someone pays $20 to come to the club, that’s double the price of an album, you know, and they might do that three of four times a year, as opposed to buying your album one time for 10 dollars.
So I’m lookin’ at this as an advertisement for, Ryan Leslie the brand, Ryan Leslie just the personality ’cause I like to come out, you know, I want to be able to touch the people, and I want people to have a reason to want to come and interact with me. Yeah, so I look at it that way.
Interviewer: Okay, so you plan the future to no more rely on the album or CDs or…
Experience that you can’t download
I would say there’s very few artists that actually even make money from record sales, right? Because the record labels have given them an advance and they only make money when they do shows, or they do appearances, or they sell t-shirts, you know?
We go the “NS For Life” hoodies, man, you look at my man right there you get the “NS For Life” hoodie, you know? It’s something that you can’t download, that experience you can’t download, and I’m not stupid, man.
I know what’s goin’ on, I mean, you know, when you look at the streaming services, when you look at the file sharing services, people are going to share your stuff anyways digital, you know, whether it’s a photograph, or a song so the concert experience… that’s something that you can’t download, you know?
Either you have a ticket to the Jay-Z concert, or you just at home, you know what I mean? You can’t download that experience. So, my interest in making an album with all the visuals and all the music, is to create a demand for that concert experience that you can’t download.
Rule #6. Live Within Your Means
Interviewer: So you’re not strictly an artist? You’re a businessman!
Interviewer: What could you really say in terms of handling your business in an economy like this that people really have to focus on these days? Cause I think very few people who are watching this right now could really say, you know, I’m good for 10 years, financially. Most people are living paycheck to paycheck, month to month, they may have a little bit of savings but they’re not sitting on a decade’s worth of living expenses.
You know it also depends on what you’re living expenses are, you know, I live within my means. You know what I mean? So-
Interviewer: So that’s the first thing. The first thing is that you got to live within your means.
Yeah, you know, so, if you decide that, you know, and I have friends that decide they want to be in the penthouse before they can afford to really be in the penthouse but they can afford to be in the penthouse for a year maybe, so they go and do that for a year. And, I mean, to each their own, everybody has the prerogative to live however they want to live. So, we’re not promised tomorrow, so there are a lot of people who just have the idea, “Hey, let me live for today!” You know what I’m sayin’?
Interviewer: Fault to a fault.
Yeah, you know what I’m sayin’? So, it’s all good! I mean, for me it’s just about just bein’ responsible and cognizant of what you need to be happy, yeah? And so, for me, all I need is, the ability to keep creating, and uh, I’m good.
Rule #7. Pursue Your Dreams
Interviewer: The first time I met you, you told me that, this is when you were a producer for Bad Boy, and you told me that Tommy Mottola and Puff used to always tell you, “Why do you want to be an artist? You’re hustling backwards!” What did they mean by that, and why did you persist to continue to become an artist?
Well I think they really, being the luminaries that they are, and the moguls that they are, you know they were talking much more in terms of just the generation of income, and for me, generating income in a way that, you know, is just left of center of what you love to do is not the way I want to live, you know?
And I feel like the American dream, which is, you know, what I really consider myself the embodiment of, I feel like the American dream is bein’ able to make a living doin’ what you love to do.
And so for me, production was always just a stepping stone to amass enough money so that eventually as the music industry shifted, I could buy my contract out, and reinvest all the money that I had earned into doing what I really love to do which is bein’ on stage playin’, and you know just goin’ runnin’ around the world and playin’ shows for screamin’ audiences all over the world.
Rule #8. Put Yourself Out There
When you want to get your music out… people usually think it two ways, radio and television. In 2010, there’s a new way, it’s called the Internet. Right? Youtube! Right? So once you make your stuff, once you make your stuff, put yourself out there so people can hear it! And if enough people respond, I’ll give you three examples, Soulja Boy.
Audience Member: Justin Bieber!
Justin Bieber. And also, And also, the guy who you see standing right here. Right?
Rule #9. Be Authentic
If someone’s a true fan they will actually, you know, they’ll let you know what their opinion is but, at the end of the day, it’s entertainment. So, if they don’t want to listen to what I’m talkin’ about, there’s plenty of other people out.
I mean, just go search Youtube, R&B singers, and you can go find a whole bunch of R&B singers, but if you like what I do, which is, just being as honest as I can be, and you know, makin’ the records from scratch, I mean, that’s really, that’s really where I have biggest fan base, right?
It’s from the Youtube videos of me in the studio. So nothin’ about that has changed at all, I mean, I’m still in the studio makin’ the songs from scratch and, you know, I have a different perspective, I have a different life experience that I’m writing from.
Rule #10. Inspire
I’m going to say an affirmation, and at the end of the affirmation I will ask, “Who am I?” And you will respond, “I’m a Harlem Jet!” Who am I?
Audience: Harlem Jet!
Ryan: That’s right! Now I understand that obstacles are really opportunities, to learn, and to grow stronger! So when I am met with the challenge, I will rise to the occasion, and I will do my best to set an example of perseverance, of persistence, and of discipline, for my community. Who am I?
Audience: A Harlem Jet!
Ryan: That’s right! Now I might not have all the money in the world, but I do understand I have the same 24 hours in a day as anyone else. And so in the interest of becoming great, I have no problem making the commitment to invest more of my time, in becoming the best representation of myself that I can be. Who am I?
Audience: Harlem Jet!
Now I understand that whether I’m on the field, or off the field, the same principles of love, teamwork, fairness, and collaboration. I understand that those principles apply in my everyday life, and I will do the best that I can to treat other with the same respect with which I want to be treated, and do the same for our environment as well. Who am I?
Audience: A Harlem Jet!
Now I understand that no matter where I am today, no matter the struggles that I’m going through, or that my family is going through, no matter what my world looks like today, the world that I will live in tomorrow, will be the world that I create, and I will never allow anyone to keep me from pursuing my dreams. I love life, I love my family, I love my community, and I love my country. Who am I?
Audience: A Harlem Jet!
Ryan: Who am I?
Audience: A Harlem Jet!
Who am I?
Audience: A Harlem Jet!
Who am I?!
Audience: A Harlem Jet!!!
God bless you all, God bless Harlem, and God bless the USA, I’m Ryan Leslie.
Evan: Thank you guys so much for watching! I made this video because Perle Pons 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 Ryan say that left the biggest mark on you, what change are you going to make now after watching this video? Leave it down in the comments. By writin’ it, you’ll solidify your intent to actually follow through on it, and hopefully inspire other people as well so leave it in the comments, I will join in the discussion.
I also want to give a quick shout-out to Paulette from totallyinspiredmind.com. Paulette bought 10 copies of my book, thank you so much it really, really, really means a lot to me! Thanks 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!