Learn The Secrets of Black Billionaires: Kanye West (Lesson 2)

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Photo:  ohn Shearer/Getty Images for MTV.com (Getty Images)
Photo: ohn Shearer/Getty Images for MTV.com (Getty Images)

It’s been well documented how Kanye West became the man he is today. Still, how did the rap superstar become one of the wealthiest Black people in the world? As of today, the music legend has a net worth of $2 billion. There are only a few billionaires in this world, but we can learn from them to create a rich and rewarding life. By examining what Kanye did right, we can figure out what we need to soar.

Was it his music, business ideas, investments? Here is how Kanye West became a billionaire and you can use his journey as inspiration in your career.

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Build on your body of work

Photo:  Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Music Group (Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Music Group (Getty Images)

Some of that fortune comes from Kanye’s successful music catalog. Nine out of his 10 solo albums have gone at least platinum and all 10 have been certified gold. His collaborative album Watch the Throne is also certified platinum. The publishing rights to his music are estimated to be worth $90 million. Over time, Kanye built a body of work that represents who he is as a professional and person. It’s important that you too create a body of work that will get you the next job opportunity and help distinguish you from your competitors.

Find your passion

Photo:  Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella (Getty Images)
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella (Getty Images)

In the film jeen-yuhs, Kanye’s late mother, Donda spoke about how Kanye always loved to rap and sing when he was a child and how he grew up to be someone who could perform in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The same should be true in your endeavors, find something that you are passionate about, continue with it, grow and improve. If you decide to make your passion your career, it won’t feel like work. Doing what you love, that on it’s own is success.

Believe in yourself

In the jeen-yuhs documentary we discover that Kanye was rejected by the best of them: Jay-Z, Dame Dash and label executives at Roc-A-Fella Records. However, he continued to work on his raps and production until they were forced to notice his talent. To gain more confidence, it’s important to know that failure is only a path to success. Nobody’s success story is a straight line, there are going to be some bumps and cracks along the way. But if you believe in yourself by learning from your failures, success will find you.

Don’t be afraid to make a move

Photo:  Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS (Getty Images)
Photo: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS (Getty Images)

Back in 2013, people thought Kanye was crazy for leaving Nike. I mean, it’s the biggest sneaker company in the world. But, Kanye saw the value in himself and his image and felt like he could make a bigger impact with Adidas. You should consider the same throughout your professional career. Know your value! If your skills aren’t valued at a particular company, go to one that does.

Have multiple passions and side hustles

Photo:  Arnold Jerocki/GC Images (Getty Images)
Photo: Arnold Jerocki/GC Images (Getty Images)

When Kanye moved to Adidas in 2013, he also started his Yeezy Fashion, which has grown immensely since that time. While making music has made Kanye millions, it’s not what made him a billionaire, it’s his other passions that got him over the 10-figure mark. Find other passions and hustles other than your “job” that can be useful streams of income. If you work at a clothing company, make your own clothing brand. If you’re a writer for a newspaper, write your own book.

Find people willing to invest in you

Photo:  Johnny Nunez/WireImage (Getty Images)
Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage (Getty Images)

Nobody finds success alone, not even the “most” successful people in the world like Kanye. There have been people who believed and invested in him when others did not. For example, Jay-Z featured him on hit songs and used his production talent when nobody else bothered.

Despite his many issues and problems, Kanye gained the support of The company Gap, which inked a 10-year deal with the “Stronger” rapper a year ago. According to the New York Times, Gap hopes that the line will generate $1 billion in annual sales by the five-year point of the deal. You must find people and companies in your life that want to see you grow and be successful.

Learn the skills that companies are looking for

Photo:  Raymond Hall/GC Images (Getty Images)
Photo: Raymond Hall/GC Images (Getty Images)

Sometimes to be noticed or hired by a company you need to have the skills that they are looking for. Gap was looking for someone who could bring cache and hype to their brand. Kanye was perfect. For you, look for a company that need your skills, whether it’s being bilingual, knowing how to use technology or how to speak or write. Most of all, make sure those skills are honed and valued by the company that hires you.

Invest in other people

Photo:  Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic (Getty Images)
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic (Getty Images)

Although Kanye went on a social media rampage earlier this year harassing his ex-wife Kim Kardashian, the rapper still has a $64 million stake in her popular shapewear company Skims. In 2004, Kanye West founded GOOD Music, a record label, that has included a plethora of popular artists over the years such as John Legend, Pusha T, Big Sean, Teyana Taylor, and Common.

Don’t just have people invest in you, return the favor. Invest and believe in other people that have dope ideas or impressive skills. If you see someone with a cool product, buy it! If you see someone with talent that can use some guidance and help, be a mentor! There are so many ways you can invest in others and later on down the line, that investment can pay off.

Take your emotions out of it

Photo:  Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company (Getty Images)
Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company (Getty Images)

Sometimes your emotions can cause you to make a decision that is irrational. Throughout your career, there are going to be tough decisions that are going to have to be made. Sometimes it’s smart to sit on a decision instead of making a quick one out of anger or sadness. Ask people what they would do in your shoes, do your research, do everything you can before making an important decision. Although Kanye is known for being emotional, some of his business decisions have been well thought out and spot on. He could’ve pulled his investment or stake in the company once he divorced Kim Kardashian, but he recognized that it would be a bad business decision.

Make smart investments

It’s important to invest in businesses, properties and people, but make sure they are the right investments. Make sure you are taking the right deal, not just the “best” or most lucrative one. Kanye for example has made many smart and lucrative investments in property. Kanye has $160 million in his bank account in cash and assets. About $100 million of it is from his homes in Los Angeles and Wyoming. Those properties are filled with artwork worth upwards of $9.3 million, jewelry worth $7.6 million, $5 million in vehicles, $3.4 million in furniture and believe it or not, $1 million in livestock.

Master your craft

Kanye once rapped, “Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers.” He got to this point in his career because he worked tirelessly at his craft and put in “10,000" hours to become one of the best in the world. The same could be applied to you. Nobody wakes up one day and is the best at anything. Yes, you can have talent, but talent without hard work is wasted talent. Continue to find ways to improve on your passion because there is something you can always get better at.