A few days ago I tweeted a New York Times story about a Silicon Valley investor who uses rap lyrics to teach basic lessons of business. His name is Ben Horowitz and his blog has completely fascinated me for the last week. Two things that are not supposed to go together, the white-collar world and the street life verbalized in the often profanity-laden lyrics of rap music, are combined to teach principles of Ethics, Entrepreneurship, Strategy and last but not least: Leadership!
Yes, it’s true. I did say leadership. It may sound crazy, but consider this quote from Adam Bradley, associate professor of African American literature at the University of Colorado cited in a BBC article about Horowitz:
“Rap presents an immediate test. If you get up on the stage and you are whack, you are going to get booed off. You have to present yourself in the moment and you have to move the crowd. I think there is a lesson there in leadership because it’s about creating pathways of connection.”
While Howoritz’s posts often take on practical business elements that appeal to venture capitalists and those in the executive world, it is important to note a powerful lesson from what Horowitz has done:
- Leadership lessons can come from anywhere!!! (including rap music)
Anything and everything can teach lessons about leadership, from movies to sports to school and everything in between. If we look for opportunities to glean lessons from everything we experience we will become that much more effective at being leaders.
Here’s a rap lyric from Eminem’s song Like Toy Soldiers that I thought of while writing this post. While it may be a little more obvious than some of Horowitz’s examples, it teaches about leadership by example.
I’d never drag them in battles that I can handle unless I absolutely have to
I’m supposed to set an example
I need to be the leader, my crew looks for me to guide ’em
If some s*** ever just pop off, I’m supposed to be beside ’em
Remember that leadership lessons come in all shapes and sizes and from a variety of sources!