Business mogul Russell Simmons has partnered with Tide to inspire and assist young people in achieving their entrepreneurial dreams through the Rising Tide program. The program is all about giving young people access to information, tools and experts who can help them on their path to success.
As a result, Rising Tide is hosting an online contest, offering offer 18-30 year olds the unique opportunity to be coached one on one with Russell Simmons. In addition, the winners will journey on a two-day, one-night trip to Los Angeles with a friend, $5000 and a tablet device. Nine other finalists will receive a tablet device of their own, along with a random distribution of 50 $100 gift cards just for entering.
Simmons sat down with EBONY.com to talk about the power and importance of inspiring, giving and guiding the youth to focus on owning their own businesses.
EBONY: What moved you to get involved with the Rising Tide program and contest?
Russell Simmons: The idea of inspiring young people. Every person I touch creates a ripple effect. So if I can inspire one person to do a little better, put their heads down a little deeper, and use the God-given talents that they have inside, then I’ve done my job.
EBONY: In the contest, the winner wins the opportunity to be coached one on one with you. How do you and Tide hope to be able to help the winners of the contest?
RS: The only way we can help you is if you’re dedicated to the work itself. If the work ethic is there, then we have to respond to the work. The more that they can give to the work itself, the more they add to the cycle of giving and receiving. Giving is a part of being successful.
EBONY: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs about becoming lucrative in their endeavors?
RS: To have faith is the first and most important element. You have people that quit instead of taking a task and learning every day. Don’t worry about failing. For those who don’t quit, they learn that when the road gets rocky, [that’s when] they can find themselves as people and spiritual beings. And they come back stronger.
EBONY: Most people quit because of the fear of making a mistake. How do you deal with the unavoidable truth: the fact that you’re going to make mistakes?
If you want to do something, the first thing you [should] do is go to the library and start researching… just saying, “I’m going to be something” is crap. You’re a business guy? All right, start a business.
RS: I make mistakes every day. And I try to learn from as many as possible.
EBONY: Learning is an extremely important part of business and entrepreneurship. What are your thoughts about the importance of remaining dedicated to educating yourself?
RS: If you want to do something, the first thing you [should] do is go to the library and start researching. If you want to be a doctor, start studying medicine now. If you want to be a lawyer, study the law. Just because you get a degree doesn’t mean you stop learning; it’s a continuous process. You start whenever you start and you never stop. Basketball players play ball. Doctors study medicine. That’s the job. So just saying, “I’m going to be something” is crap. You’re a business guy? All right, start a business. I don’t care if you’re 10 years old. You can pick up and learn that, you don’t have to wait for an opportunity to do anything. You don’t need anybody to verify that you’re going to be something. All you have to do is start.
EBONY: The winner who receives coaching by you is extremely lucky given your mogul status. You have businesses in multiple industries—media, jewelry, clothing, music. But you got your start, essentially, in hip-hop. How were you able to make the transitions into those different fields?
RS: Life experience is critical as you move into different fields. There’s something unique about you that you bring to any industry. Your input comes from your unique experiences. If you imagine every step, one before the other, and have faith in what you imagine, it’s an instant win. All you have to do is have the will to do it. You gain knowledge in whatever it is that you’re studying, and then you surround yourself or people surround you, because you attract people to help you in your mission. In every industry, you serve people, you find what they need.
EBONY: Any last words for young entrepreneurs—especially those who may go on to enter the Rising Tide contest?
RS: Find your calling, work from your heart. Don’t do something because there’s money in it. Do something because it inspires you.