Hip-hop pro­ducer Swizz Beatz in busi­ness of mak­ing his­tory

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Paul C. Brun­son

At just 40 years old, hip-hop en­tre­pre­neur Kasseem Dean, more pop­u­larly known as Swizz Beatz, has amassed a track record, life­style and nearly

$70 mil­lion net worth that would in­spire most of us to re­tire early. Here are just a few achieve­ments:

❚ Grammy Award-win­ning pro­ducer of songs for ev­ery­one from DMX, Eve, Jay-Z and Bey­oncé to Chris Brown, Gwen Ste­fani and Whit­ney Hous­ton.

❚ Cre­ative di­rec­tor for iconic brands such as Reebok and Lo­tus.

❚ Cu­ra­tor of the Dean Col­lec­tion of art and cre­ator of No Com­mis­sions, an in­no­va­tive trav­el­ing arts event.

❚ Hus­band to global su­per­star mu­si­cian Ali­cia Keys. (I con­sider this an achieve­ment given that Dean him­self says his wife is smarter, more tal­ented and more suc­cess­ful.)

So why does Dean con­tinue to both work ex­tremely hard and at­tempt projects that come with the risk of re­jec­tion? He no longer needs to take risks, es­pe­cially if they come with pub­lic hu­mil­i­a­tion or scru­tiny.

Per­haps a key into Dean’s drive can be found in the last year.

In late 2017, Bronx, New York-born Dean grad­u­ated from Har­vard Uni­ver­sity Busi­ness School’s Owner/Pres­i­dent’s pro­gram, a pres­ti­gious three-year grad­u­ate pro­gram that had pre­vi­ously de­nied him ac­cep­tance three times.

Why did he ap­ply to Har­vard yet again? Why does he con­tinue to work around the clock, pro­duc­ing, cre­at­ing and sup­port­ing count­less artists? What drives Swizz Beatz? Dur­ing our in­ter­view for Un­com­mon Drive, a video series for USA & Main that seeks to tap into the mo­ti­va­tions and magic of world-class busi­ness peo­ple, Dean pro­vided a mem­o­rable an­swer.

You only have so much time – once it’s gone you don’t get it back. Don’t fo­cus on money, fo­cus on build­ing some­thing greater than your­self. “If you’re not mak­ing his­tory, you’re wast­ing your time on Earth,” Dean said.

When you dis­sect his an­swer, you will learn two im­por­tant lessons. The first is in “mak­ing his­tory.” Do­ing so re- quires aware­ness. You must fully un­der­stand what has and has not been ac­com­plished in the mar­ket you’ve en­tered. Dean ap­proaches each en­deavor with the goal of cre­at­ing some­thing im­por­tant that has not been done be­fore and will be re­mem­bered for its im­pact be­yond his years.

The sec­ond part of his state­ment is just as pow­er­ful. In this in­ter­view, he never once said he is “try­ing” or “at­tempt­ing” to make his­tory. In­stead, he has told him­self that re­gard­less of the ob­sta­cles, it’s just go­ing to hap­pen. “I’m go­ing to make his­tory,” Dean said.

Af­ter talk­ing to Dean for nearly 45 min­utes, it was clear that he has re­moved all ego from a state­ment that might oth­er­wise be mis­con­strued as false pride. I be­lieve it’s a bril­liant hack – rather than fo­cus on all the rea­sons why a project can’t be re­al­ized, he has con­vinced him­self of the pos­si­bil­ity. Does it work?

One look at Swizz Beatz’s body of work proves it.

Paul C. Brun­son, host of USA TO­DAY’s video series “Un­com­mon Drive,” is a se­rial en­tre­pre­neur with three ex­its and a pioneer­ing match­maker. He also is build­ing a school in Ja­maica. Fol­low him on LinkedIn or In­sta­gram for be­hind-the-scenes footage and in­sights from his in­ter­views and trav­els.

The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this col­umn are the au­thor’s and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of USA TO­DAY.

ROBERT DEUTSCH,/USA TO­DAY

Kasseem Dean, more pop­u­larly known as Swizz Beatz, main­tains a keen fo­cus.

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