11 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Will.i.am

William Adams, aka will.i.am, is an award-winning American musician, actor, philanthropist, innovator and entrepreneur. The rapper is best known as the frontman for The Black Eyed Peas and has recently been serving as a coach on the TV show “The Voice.” Like his music or not, there’s more to will.i.am than rockin’ beats.

Outside of the music scene, will.i.am is influential in education, politics, environmental issues and more. His award-winning song, “Yes We Can” inspired a whole generation to say no to outdated “rich old white man” politics and embrace the freshness and change promised by the Obama campaign.

will i am
Photo from Adweek.com | Edited by Milk Digital Strategy

Collaborating with Coca Cola, will.i.am has elevated recycling to art through his high-end clothing and accessories brand, EKOCYCLE. He is a passionate advocate of education – his prime time TV educational specials “i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll” and “i.am.mars: Reach For The Stars” TV special about the Mars were produced with the intent to get kids excited about pursuing careers in math and science.

Will.i.am’s philanthropy continues with the i.am angel foundation, which provides scholarships focusing on underserved students with the best educational possibilities. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2013.

In short, will.i.am understands the incredible power of contribution, taking his art beyond self-expression to a positive global reach.

Now, lest you think that will.i.am is some sort of privileged child, he’s not. He was born in the slums of Los Angeles to a single mother, who encouraged him to follow his passion.

Photo from TheGuardian.com | Edited by Milk it

From his very humble beginnings, will.i.am has made an indelible mark on the world. He is the epitome of a rags-to-riches success story. Here are some quotes by will.i.am that may inspire you to write your own entrepreneurial success story:

1. “I was born and raised in the ghetto, on welfare, two minutes from homeless.”

What are your excuses you tell yourself about why you can’t succeed?

2. “When you follow your heart, you’re never supposed to do things because of what you think people might say. You do it for the opposite reasons.”

Do it because you love it. Not for any other reason.

3. “When someone is denying what they are, then that’s when things start to spiral down.”

Don’t be afraid to be who you are (and do what you were born to do). Anything else is, to be blunt, to some extent a waste of the precious gift of life and ability that you have been given.

4. “If you are a chef, no matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.”

Sharing your talents is ultimately where the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment come from. Not sharing your talents is wasting them and only leads to a life of frustration.

5. “I don’t want to hope anymore. I don’t think we should hope anymore. We hoped enough. Now we have to do. We all have to do now.”

When it comes to your dreams, are you still stuck hoping and wishing, or are you out there with your sleeves rolled up, getting to work on them?

6. “There’s no chivalry in culture any more. Sometimes you meet someone who everyone says is polite and you’re like, ‘Wow,’ but then it’s like, ‘Hang on, isn’t everyone supposed to be polite?’”

The fastest way to get and keep customers, in any industry, is to treat people with respect and compassion, and LISTEN to their needs. It’s not about focusing on you and your bottom line, it’s ultimately about service to others that will ensure the success of your endeavors.

7. “I remember when I was 11, I told my mom, ‘One day I’m going to buy you a house.’ And she said, ‘Boy, don’t you be making promises you can’t keep.’ I was like: ‘No, Ma, it’s not a promise. I’m going to buy you a house one day.’”

Never let anyone talk you out of your dreams. Many people are well-meaning and give you advice to keep you from the emotional pain of failure… but really when they are saying “You can’t” they are really saying, “I can’t.” Leave them to their own limitations but march to your own drummer… and then inspire them with your achievements. If they choose to remain uninspired and look down on you, again – they are looking down on themselves and it doesn’t need to affect you.

8. “I don’t need anyone to validate me.”

While it’s nice and it feels good to be validated, appreciated, respected and admired, ultimately it’s how you feel inside that matters. Do what you love. Do what moves you and makes your heart sing. The right people will come to appreciate what you contribute.

9. “If I didn’t mould my reality then I’d still be in the ghetto where people like me are supposed to stay. You have to dream your way out of the nightmare.”

Success in anything starts with a vision – a grand dream. Then, the more emotional power you give your dream through frequent attention and inspired action, the more you build momentum until you are absolutely unstoppable. Any and all circumstances can be transformed, if you want something badly enough.

10. “I’m good at thinking outside the box, so much that you realise it’s not a box to begin with.”

ALL of our limitations are self-imposed. They are nothing but constructs of the imagination, and as such they are no more real than you decide they are. Train yourself to think in terms of “Yes, I can” instead of “I don’t think I can” and in terms of what can go right, instead of what can go wrong. The only box that exists for you is the one you believe in. So instead of thinking outside the box, eliminate the box.

11. “Philanthropy is the thing that I am really excited about, and having success means I can do more.”

If you think about success in terms of the benefits you will receive, you are severely limiting your scope. Think about it: you are either improving the life of one or a few people (you and yours) or you are improving the lives of thousands or millions. It can be a small improvement or a monumental one, but if you always think in terms of how others can benefit, the level of your success will rise to the occasion.

You may not have thought you could ever learn something from Will.i.am… but here you go. Will.i.am is making his mark on the world as an innovator, philanthropist and entrepreneur. You can too – whatever your means of self-expression, start thinking about the greatest reach you can possibly have… and go for it. Reach. That far. Only good will come, if you’re doing it all for the right reasons. I call these reasons contribution.

Tell me what you think in the comments below, did you know Will.i.am was more than the music? Tell me how you want to contribute to what’s important to you, whether it’s family, education, the environment, your community.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top