Notes from the Black Excellence on Forbes’ 100 Greatest Living Business Minds
Forbes has assembled “the greatest ever collection of business wisdom” for its 100 Greatest Living Business Minds issue. Warren Buffett graces the cover of the latest issue from Forbes that celebrates the magazine’s 100th anniversary. Along with Warren, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and Michael Bloomberg also make the list. You know who also made the list? Some of our favorite black business people, of course! Here are some personal and business notes from the black excellence on Forbes’ 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.
Sean Combs- Hip-Hop Mogul, Fashion Mogul, Liquor Mogul
“I started my business career at age 12, delivering newspapers. I had a lot of elderly customers, so I would always put the newspaper in between the screen door and the door — that caring made me different, made me better than the last paperboy. Since then, I’ve always understood that if I give the customers my best and service them differently, whether music, clothing or vodka, I’ll get a return on my hard work.”
Berry Gordy Jr- Genre Creator, Founder of Motown Records
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to see me in Detroit at the peak of the civil rights era. And I was, of course, honored. He said, “What I’m trying to do politically and intellectually, you’re doing with your music. I love the feeling people get when they hear your music. And so maybe we can make a deal.” That was the biggest compliment that I could think of. And we put out three albums covering his greatest speeches. It just goes to show that if you do the right thing, the right thing will come to you.”
Patrice Motsepe– Founder and Executive Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals
“After I completed my first significant transaction, buying mines that were closed or about to close, with a demotivated workforce of 8,000, who for years had been told, “Guys, you’re not cutting it,” people asked if I was mad. But we ran our business differently and it worked — we paid our workers based on profitability, with bonuses based on aspirational targets that, if achieved, created money for the mine workers, the company and its shareholders alike.”
Oprah Winfrey– Talk Show Master, Syndicate Superstar, Founder of Oprah Winfrey Network
“I was invited by Nelson Mandela to stay at his home for ten days. At first, I was very intimidated. I’d said to my partner Stedman, “What am I going to talk about for ten days and ten nights at Nelson Mandela’s house?” And Stedman said, “Why don’t you try listening?” So when I was there, halfway through my visit with him, I got comfortable sitting and being with him. First of all, when you go to Nelson Mandela’s house, what do you take? You can’t bring a candle. What I wanted to do really was leave something that would be of value. When we were talking one day, we started a conversation about what was in the newspaper: poverty and how to change it. And I said, “The only way to change poverty is through education, and one day I would like to build a school in South Africa.” And he said, “You want to build a school?” He got up and called the minister of education. By that afternoon I was in a meeting, talking about building a school.”
Russell Simmons- Hip-Hop Pioneer, Serial Entrepreneur, Yoga Guru
“The self is the greatest teacher: The more you dig, the more you learn. So the self-discovery is your journey. Yogis refer to the state of yoga, which is the same as heaven on Earth. If you’re present and awake, you become this great thinker, this great worker. You become a fine-tuned machine.”
Shonda Rhimes– Televisionary, Hollywood’s Top Showrunner
“Storytelling has become ubiquitous, across so many mediums, creating an audience that’s ever more sophisticated. But it doesn’t matter how many people tell stories or how many platforms they go on. Storytelling remains basic: It’s just a campfire, the human connection that says you’re not alone. New mediums like VR will go so far as to put you inside, but there’s going to be a lot of dissatisfaction there. If you decide the ending, there’s no adventure. In a world of unlimited voices and choices, those who can bring people together and tell a good story have power.”
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