James Prince owns private islands, 1,000-acre ranches and the best cars money can buy; these are the fruits of his labour and perhaps even, compensation for his most humble of beginnings. The CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records and manager to Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward gives us the blueprint to his success. From the streets to the boardroom.
“Light would not exist without darkness. “
Born and raised in the Fifth Ward, one of the most impoverished ghettos in Houston Texas, to a single mother, James lost his sister in a tragic accident at the age of 11 which set off a chain of events in James’ life. The night before the accident, James made a promise to break the poverty cycle for his family, a promise he kept.
Entrepreneurs are by definition resourceful, however growing up amongst crime and drugs in the ghetto means being an opportunist on the wrong side of the law. It means being a hustler – and James excelled at that. Taking advantage of the crack epidemic and associated enterprises, by the age of 24, James became a multi-millionaire, yet at the same time, he was a praying man. James asked God for a sign, and then one night after many signs were sent, James finally decided to listen. James gave up all of his criminal activities to pursue legal ventures. This became the launchpad for his success in the corporate world, creating the worlds largest independent Hip Hop music label and later a boxing management company with A-List fighters.
Without J. Prince you may have never heard of megastars in hip-hop like Drake, or boxing superstars like Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather or Andre Ward.
In this interview we delve into the man behind the stories; James codifies his success – he gives us his blueprint to winning and overcoming adversity, no matter the industry or the game.
Pay attention, not just to what he says, but what he doesn’t say.
What I learned
- A good leader is first a good follower: You can’t know how to be a good leader unless you’ve experienced or seen good leadership yourself.
- Set goals. Commit relentlessly and play to your strengths: James wrote down a list of goals he wanted to achieve in life, the biggest one was to break the ‘poverty cycle’ for his family, he put a plan together for each and then he achieved every one of them. Behind every goal James put 100% commitment, he burnt the boats and made sure of success and he was never afraid to make tough decisions (from deciding at 11 to move away from his mother to be with his grandmother in order to break his own depression, to firing his own brother from the music label because he wasn’t respecting the business). Then, when it came time to executing, James would always look to play to his own strengths, not somebody else’s. When you know what you want, write it down, set a plan to your strengths, cut off anything that might detract your focus, and follow through.
- The ingredients are the same, no matter the game: James made millions in the streets, in music and in boxing. It’s one thing to succeed; it’s another to repeat success several times in different businesses. James says that the fundamentals are always the same, it’s the rules of the game that’s different. It always takes the ingredients of resilience, hard work, planning, and controlling the choice of the playing field you wish to engage your competition on. Once you understand that, you adapt it to the rules.
- Keep control of what you can control: This is a lesson from James’ $100m mistake. James discovered Vanilla Ice and asked his business partner to handle the details instead of following it through himself. James’s business partner didn’t think Vanilla Ice would work so decided not to sign him without telling James. Then the hit ‘Ice Ice Baby’ happened. Not long after that James decided to have more of a hands-on role in the management of the company rather than just the artist and brand development. That control would also eventually lead to renegotiations of contracts and record profits.
- Book: James Prince, The Art & Science of Respect
- Prince on Instagram
- Napolean Hill, Think and Grow Rich
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