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What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn from Will.i.Am
What are some of the reasons that entrepreneurs do not succeed? If you were to ask them, you would probably receive answers such as, “I didn’t finish college” or “there was no customer base for my product“.
These excuses, along with all of the others that may be included, are not words that one would hear from powerhouse William Adams aka ‘Will.i.Am’, who has enjoyed immense success despite the fact that both of the excuses cited above could have applied to him at one time or another.
Will.i.am was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He never knew his father. In fact, his formative years were spent in a low-income neighborhood with his mother, who had a dream for her son that went beyond convention. Determined to give him every opportunity to succeed beyond his circumstances, she enrolled him in the more affluent public schools on the west side of Los Angeles, where he not only survived – he thrived.
Will.i.am discovered his love for music in high school, a fact which is evident by his energetic and brilliant creativity as a founding member of the hiphop/dance/pop group, The Black-Eyed Peas.
To Will.i.am, innovation is second-nature, which is what landed him in an enviable position with Intel. He designed his own digital camera with a more powerful lens than conventional cameras, not because he suddenly had an epiphany that people would want this, but because he realized that it would help him with his own efforts to shoot great digital photos.
Will.i.Am designed a cover for the iPhone, which snaps on the back of the device and greatly improves the function of the phone’s built-in camera. The i.am+ foto.sosho hardware fits over your iPhone, turning the device’s eight megapixel camera into a 14 megapixel camera and adding a range of filters and lenses, including standard, fish-eye, wide and zoom. It also includes a keyboard for the sharing and tagging of pictures. He then collaborated on an app that performs functions similar to Instagram with capabilities for editing and sharing photos.
His creative genius can be seen everywhere, from his idea for Coca Cola to launch the Ekocycle project which manufactures products with recycled materials.
Perhaps two of the best contributions Will.i.am has made to the entrepreneurial world is that of the concept of doing and giving back. His his entire objective in formulating the Ekocycle idea was to encourage people to recycle. The earnings from this highly-profitable venture are shared by Will.i.am and Coca Cola, and donated to their favorite charities.
Not all of Will.i.am’s ideas have been successful though. His efforts to launch a social media platform for music lovers (DipDive) did not succeed. When asked about the possibility of the failure of his new iPhone accessory, he simply shrugged and said:
“Well, then I’ve made something cool for myself.”
This kind of attitude has earned Will.i.Am respect as a risk taker who isn’t just in it to “please the people”, and is known to be “the way”, of most mature and successful entrepreneurs today.
Will.i.am has shown that the creative side of a musician contains more substance than traditionally believed by corporate America.
His example is the basis for the reason that large companies seek out his ideas and his innovation for new ideas and concepts. In the past, there has been a misconception that musicians lack the intellect, drive, and business sense that it takes to succeed. Will.i.am is a prime example of how the creativity, that is inherent in the make-up of a musician, is actually an asset that can be tapped into for entrepreneurial success.
What can every entrepreneur learn from Will.i.am?
To sum it up into a list, the items would include, but not be limited to:
1. Your social background, affluence (or lack thereof), race, or creed should not hinder you from pursuing your vision.
2. The only obstacles to success are those which you place upon yourself.
3. Envisioning the goal, then pursuing it, is only part of the formula. Once the goal has been achieved, envision another one.
4. Looking beyond yourself keeps things in focus. Giving back to your community, or even to the planet in general, yields an intangible benefit that keeps “you” as the entrepreneur, focused on the overall picture.
5. Failure should not define the entrepreneur. In fact, it should not be in his or her vocabulary. Call it a re-definition, a refocus, or a discontinued endeavour. The word “failure” implies an inherent shortcoming, which should not be allowed to be a consideration.
6. Sharing the spotlight does not detract from one’s success. Will.i.am saw that the addition of Fergie to The Black Eyed Peas would add improvement to his group, and would benefit to the whole teams success. Your team is just as important as you are when it comes to success, sometimes changes within your team are needed to take you business and vision to the next level.
7. The world is forever changing and so are the business landscapes in every industry, you must be open-minded and able to adapt when trends and interests evolve. Will.i.Am makes sure he is inline with or 1 step ahead of the trends within his industries.
Will.i.am fulfilled the vision of his mother, who saw the value of believing in her son. Through his love for music, discovered in high school, he built upon his musical creativity and used that energy in venues that typically do not reconcile easily, such as the left-brain/right-brain theory.
Entrepreneurs would do well to follow Will.i.am’s example of setting goals, imagining better versions of what we see every day, and then putting those goals and visions into action.
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