First off, shout out to Harlem for being so unified! It’s clear there are certain things Harlemites just don’t do, like call other men boss (which I guess is akin to elective castration. Not sure on that. I’ll have to watch the interview over.) But anyway, you guys act on one accord. I like that.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, chances are you didn’t watch Dame Dash’s recent interview on The Breakfast club. References to it were flooding my timeline and the “tweet like Dame” hashtag was thoroughly enjoyable. I just had to see what everyone was talking about. Here it is in its entirely if you want to check it out.
Here’s a popular clip if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.
To be sure, Dash is arrogant, and he seems to take a “me and mine” approach to business that totally ignores and disrespects the many support positions that are necessary for any business to thrive and grow. There is no shame in being an employee. The shame is in speaking so poorly of employees when you, yourself, employ others. That’s foul, son.
The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne said it best:
If you’re a businessman, a boss like you say, it’s very dangerous to not show any respect for your customers. When you say things like, “There’s no pride in having a job,” you’re sh**ting on your employees and you’re sh**ting on the everyday consumer …”
Dash said a lot of things I felt were off base and completely unrealistic for most people. You want to encourage others to start their own businesses? Excellent, but how would you suggest they go about that when you’ve told them never to have a boss? If they don’t have a rich father willing to front them seed money and they don’t think it’s wise to get into street pharmaceuticals, how else would the average Joe get the capital to start a business? I’d suggest getting a job and saving up, but Dame told me real men don’t do that.
Let me tell you what I know about real men (and women too): They value work, period. They don’t discount it just because they’re doing it for a business they don’t own. They also don’t underestimate the value of the skills they can develop and experience they can accrue while working for someone else.
Also, this whole “entrepreneurs don’t have bosses/can’t be fired” idea is false. When you work for yourself, your boss is whatever client your dealing with in the moment. As a freelance writer, my boss is whoever’s paying me to create content for them. And I can certainly get fired if I’m slacking on the job.
But, despite the avalanche of arrogance and all his circular reasoning, he said some valuable things we could all share with our children.
“I’m doing it for my kids.”
Dash spent a lot of time talking about his son. Your son too. I think it’s safe to say dude is really concerned about sons, but I get why. It’s unfortunate that much of what he said was lost in delivery, but what he was attempting to say (I think) is that parents should work to establish a financial foundation for their children so they can have options later in life. Every parents wants to be able to make choices for their children based on what is best, not what they can afford or what others are willing to give. Every parent wants their children to grow up to have access to all opportunities that interest them. That’s what I think he meant, and I agree.
I’ve never had aspirations to be filthy rich, but I have always wanted to be rich enough to provide for my children in the way I see fit. That’s a message I share with my children. I don’t just tell them to work hard. I tell them WHY they should work hard, WHY their father and I work hard. Much like everyone in Harlem, we are a unit, a team. So we, the parents, have to work to support the team. If we don’t work, if we don’t produce, the whole team suffers and my son won’t be able to have cookies. I don’t know about you, but I want my son to have cookies! (Watch the video clip above if that went over your head.)
“There is a pride you should have in ownership.”
No one cares more about a business than the owner. The owner has the most at stake. The owner has his/her name on the line. The owner has his/her family’s bread and butter on the line. An employee may or may not be invested, but an owner is invested by definition. Ownership molds and matures you in a way traditional employment can’t. That’s not to knock employment. I’m all for bringing home a reliable check that you can use to feed your seed, but never limit your mind to just that.
Even in these early years, I talk to my children about the possibility, the option, of owning their own businesses. I never want them to limit themselves to the jobs that have already been created. It may be that the position they’re most suited for is something they will have to create themselves. They need to be aware of that now so they can have enough understanding to make the decision later.
“Stop worrying about other people’s pockets, what other people have and what other people can do for you.”
There is nothing wrong with competition, but make no mistake, you are your own greatest competitor. The sooner a person learns this, the better. So many of us go through life trying to keep up with someone else, trying to do what others do. But what satisfaction is their in accomplishing tasks others have chosen for you? You were not put here on earth to serve people. It is not your job to try to keep pace with the next guy. It is your job to carve out your own unique path as you serve God and become the best version of yourself. You can’t do that when all your attention and focus is on what someone else has.
I tell my children regularly that they don’t need the approval of others. All the people who matter in their lives already approve. Everything else is immaterial.
“You don’t need any money for knowledge.”
These days, it’s hard not to have access to information. The internet puts the entire world in your hands, and a great amount of it is free or low cost. Even Ivy League universities like Harvard offer free online classes for anyone who wants to enroll.
I’d love for my children to go to college, but I’d hate for them to think formal education is the only way to gain knowledge. Informal education, the things you learn from world experience and personal study, is just as valuable, if not more so, than anything you’ll glean from a prepared lesson.
It is through my informal education that I was able to check and verify the information presented to me in schools. Because I certainly won’t accept something just because a teacher said it. I question and dissect and test it against everything I already know to be true. No formal schooling taught me that.
If nothing else, I admire Dash’s hustle. He obviously knows nothing of humility and graciousness, but I like how convinced he is of his own potential. He’s the only person who believes in himself more than Kanye believes in Beyonce. That’s impressive. I can’t hate.