Three years ago, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons published the inspirational and motivational 'Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success.' Now he's returned with 'Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All,' written with Chris Morrow. In his latest book, Simmons offers tips on how to achieve wealth, but readers may be surprised to learn that the road to becoming super rich is not what you think. Obtaining wealth "has to do with how you live'' rather than monetary gain, Simmons says. It involves giving rather than receiving.
Simmons also claims that you can attract success by sharing your talents to the point where others can't live without them and by relentlessly pursuing your goals without appearing needy. If you scamper after money, he claims, it will scamper away from you.
Simmons, a cofounder of Def Jam Records who is involved with the clothing lines Phat Farm and Baby Phat, chatted with BlackVoices.com to discuss his new release:
Russell Simmons: This book is more of an offering because so many people came to me and told me that 'Do You!' changed their lives. Frankly, I was surprised there was such a big response to the first book. What I put in the book was the same profound truth found in all the scriptures, but it was written for a wide audience. Since so many people said it changed their lives, I felt obliged to write the second.
BV: You offer sound financial advice from a spiritual perspective. How do you insert faith into prosperity?
RS: I believe that faith and prosperity go hand in hand. I do not believe that prosperity has anything to do with happiness. A happy, focused, dedicated worker is a prosperous worker. He becomes attractive and attracts prosperity through faith. But just because you are rich, happiness is not laid at your feet. I think they are separate. If you are a focused on being a good giver, you will be a great getter. That is what the book is about.
BV: That makes me think about people who win the lottery and believe it will make them instantly happy. But they soon realize that it's not the case.
RS: Again, money doesn't have anything to do with happiness. It does sometimes change people, and they find the things they wanted are not valuable. One example of this is that some artists get sick, sad and violent because they never thought they would have all of the toys that money could buy. They thought they wanted the toys, but what they really wanted was to write beautiful songs. But before realizing that, some artists go through a period when they are reckless. They want to kill themselves and are self-destructive. That is the typical reaction to a lot of money really quickly, which is why you have to be spiritually grounded.
BV: It sounds like your advice is to be a dedicated worker so you can prosper. What are some of the key principles of 'Super Rich' that you've applied to your own life?
RS: Some of the keys principles in the book that I've applied to my own life include doing what's in your heart, praying and acting accordingly. Avoid being moved around like sheep if you can help it, which means to hold strong beliefs. I, personally, do not eat animals, and I try to protect the environment around me. I try to stand up for the rights of others, not only for myself. I don't go for tax breaks because that would be easy. I'm against it. I'm also concerned with human suffering, which is why I'm against war. When we focus on things and people outside of ourselves, we can find fulfillment and become prosperous. Giving comes through meditation.
BV: The black middle class has all but disappeared. How can it be re-established?
RS: The book can be very helpful to any person who is struggling. Great numbers of American, both white and black, have a poverty mindset. Freedom from that is the first step a person has to take. It involves waking up every morning deciding what you are going to get versus what you are going to give. If you wake up deciding what you're going to get, you are going to be less likely to get. You have to decide to be a contributor or a giver to free yourself of the poverty mindset.
BV: What's next for Russell Simmons?
RS: I have my financial services company that's an alternative to banks because it's cheaper and better. I also have my fashion company. So, I have no shortage of work, which allows me to be a contributor and a giver. That's very important because it allows me to continue to grow.