I saw 2 posts the other day about role models.

One was a traditional role model type question. The other was a post about Forrest Gump. In which Kevin Vandenboss brilliantly details all the things to admire about Forrest that you don’t really think about.

That got me thinking about a more abstract hero or inspiration for me.

I realised that it is Hip-Hop.

Hip-Hop has been a great inspiration and teacher to me. Much of it has become who I am in the business world.

If at this moment you’re thinking “What kind of guy gets inspiration from music that glamorizes violence and disrespects women?”

Then allow me to correct you, that is pop music. It labels itself Hip-Hop and sounds the same but it is not.

Real Hip-Hop promotes unity, respect, love, justice and self-worth.

Another thing it promotes in abundance, is loyalty. I like to consider myself an extremely loyal person. The ghettos of America were a hard place in the 80’s and 90’s (and now!) To get out of there required unity and couldn’t afford anyone in their circle to be disloyal and bad things happened to those that were.

My loyalty is at the forefront of who I am and it is always there when making decisions. My decisions are true and precise and they rarely upset people (unless they themselves are the greedy, disloyal type.) It’s a valuable thing to possess in business.

Self-worth is another big one. Real Hip-Hop always rammed home the importance of being yourself and unapologetically so.If you want to better your life, go do it and be proud of it. You can only be open to justified criticism if your actions aren’t true.

Again, in business, knowing your worth and who you are is vitally important. Making decisions with conviction and with good reason, stand you up well. You might get a decision wrong (no-one is perfect) but if you make them for the right reasons and can explain why you did what you did, people tend to accept that.

Respect. If you walk around in the ghetto without it, you can expect bad consequences.

Whilst the consequences aren’t quite so severe in business (although it has happened) if you fail to respect your staff, clients and suppliers, sooner or later they will cut ties with you and in this day and age with social media, will tell everyone about it as well. On the flip side, if you do treat everyone with respect then you can expect good reviews, understanding and happy clients and happy staff.

Real Hip-Hop promotes having fun. One of my favourite artists called Mr Lif once said the line “If you ain’t doing what you love, you’re losing.” At the time, I was working in insurance. A job I hated and with some people who to be nice to them, weren’t exactly Hip-Hop (they lacked loyalty and respect.) I realised that I was spending 8 hours a day unhappy, 5 days a week. I also spent Sunday evenings dreading the working week. If it wasn’t for Mr Lif, maybe I’d have not been inspired to ensure that I enjoy my working day.

In the business world, they say hard work pays off. Which is true. However, if you love what you do, it doesn’t even become hard work. You work hard because you’re having fun.

Hip-Hop was very anti-establishment and came with rebelliousness. It broke through the mould because it offered a voice to the little man. It was different, it didn’t care for popularity, it didn’t worry what people thought. This ties in with both the love element.

As people get older, their social circles get smaller. The need for popularity is replaced with surrounding yourself in people you trust 100%.

However, in business, people seem to go backwards. They share everything they know to everyone to look great and then they wonder why someone has stolen their ideas. Trust is vitally important in business, especially when collabing.

Hip-Hop has been a cornerstone of my life. I’m thankful for the lessons it has embedded in me. If it had the power to lift up the downtrodden black folks of America for them to find a way out of poverty, then it surely has lessons for us all.