Strategic, methodical, change agent, thought leader, visionary, and community activist are all the things that embody the entrepreneur known as Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace. — Angela Solomon (Picture credit: Staples Center)
This past week, the city of LA laid to rest an entrepreneurial giant in the Crenshaw community, Ermias Joseph Asghedom, known by his stage name, Nipsey Hussle. It is ironic I write this now, as my brother was telling me about him the week before; Nipsey was a rapper, businessman, and person he very much admired. Suddenly, having a Sunday family dinner, the news came in of his death; it was so shocking, so sad, so tragic. As the week went on, I learned more and more about Nipsey from my kids, my brother, and the news. What stood out to me were a few things: 1) how prolific he was at a mere 33 years of age; 2) his community influence and activism; 3) his ancestral ties committed to raising cultural awareness; 4) and most of all his blazing entrepreneurial spirit that transformed a neighborhood. Some may not agree with his rise-to-fame but you cannot lose sight of losing this self-made entrepreneur, change-making giant.
In this article, I want to showcase the top 3 traits of Nipsey Hussle’s entrepreneurial spirit, and how we can use these tool to enable us to be better going forward.
1) Marathon Mentality – Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, and definitely not for the faint-of-heart. Nipsey grew up in South Central L.A., in a gang culture wrought with drugs, alcohol, and violence; a neighborhood where you had to be careful navigating through the neighborhood certain days and times in order to survive. Where basic survival mode became a form of social, political and economic diplomacy. His ‘hood hardships’, and his life changing trip to his native land of Eritrea solidified his life’s purpose, and gave birth to his entrepreneurial spirit. Nipsey used his experience and money to resurrect a broken down strip mall [that most people forget about or don’t want to know about], transforming it into a cooperative of stores, calling it The Marathon. Entrepreneurship is not an instant reward, it is the commitment to running in the marathon that creates monumental results.
2) Using Wealth and Fame to pay it forward – What shines most about this glowing spirit is Nipsey Hussle’s community activism, and his call to pay it forward. In fact, that very moment Nipsey lost his life, he was helping a former friend, recently released from prison, get back on his feet, by purchasing him clothes and other needed items. Later that day, he was also set to sit down with LAPD, to discuss ways to help the South Central community and end gang violence. Nipsey never left the community where he was raised, instead, he infused his fame and fortune into it. Not many alike can say the same. We tend to get fancy educations, get great jobs, acquire wealth, and travel circles with no familial ties, all for the sake of power and status. Unlike this, Nipsey Hussle saw and acted upon what he acknowledged as neighborhood potential. He saw a vision of what could be. His mentality was ‘if ‘I’m eating, everyone else around is going to eat too’. Many of us use our gifts learned outside our neighborhood; neighborhoods that desperately need us to come back and show that ‘if I can make it, so can you, and here’s how’. Pay it forward entrepreneurship allowed Nipsey to employee the very people from his hood at his stores, keeping the money circulating throughout the community. He was also able to open a STEM based school in south Central LA, as well as contribute to other charitable causes.
3) Uncompromising Vision – entrepreneurs create lanes where there are none, with no excuses. Nipsey Hussle knew this, and turned down record labels because they always seemed to want more than they could offer. Nipsey held out for what he wanted, finally signing to the major record label Atlantic, with a sharing deal, where he would get profit from his music and his masters. His debut album ‘Victory Lap’ under the label was Grammy nominated this past February. But for years, Hussle branded the $100 mixed tape King, and created multiple music and merchandise profit centers, using innovative business savvy to continue his ascend. He stated: “I believe that economics is based on scarcity of markets,” he told Forbes at the time. “And it’s possible to monetize your art without compromising the integrity of it for commerce.”
In spirit of Nipsey Hussle and the Hustle itself, this is call to action to make ourselves better for ourselves, and for our communities. A call to use entrepreneurship for true passion and purpose. A call to work hard for the things we want. A call to stand behind conviction and integrity of business practice. A call to see closed doors as way to build and create your own doors to walk through. A call to stay in the game for the greater good, while not selling our souls for the immediate. A call to truly understanding our business acumen worth, and be willing to hold out for it. Nipsey Hussle’s entrepreneurial spirit was way beyond his 33 years on this earth, and this is why so many people were affected by his tragic death. Strategic, methodical, change agent, thought leader, visionary, and community activist are all the things that embody the entrepreneur known as Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace.
We are better together!
I AM someone who sees incredible potential and opportunity in places where some people don’t think to look. Minorities and women are still marginalized in the working world. As an owner of a diversity staffing boutique, my team and I walk alongside our Clients in creating professional environments that are truly for ALL. I believe in our interconnectedness as a human race and strive every day to use my gifts to empower the workplace’s invisible and powerless. I rarely bet on certainty and always root for the underdog because, after all, those are the best stories to tell.