Lessons from "Me Inc" by Gene Simmons
I just finished reading Me Inc. by Gene Simmons and if you are pursuing entrepreneurship, I highly recommend this read. Gene Simmons is the perfect person to seek advice from about business. Besides starting the successful rock band KISS, he owns a record label, restaurant chain, a professional sports team and has successful business ventures in many other fields including television, technology and marketing. Born in Haifa, Israel, Simmons moved to the US at the age of 8 with his mother. As an immigrant who did not speak english, have much money or an understanding of American culture he had to overcome many adversities and wrote Me Inc telling us he still made it, so we can too. This book is full of awesome gems of wisdom, so I'll share with you 4 of my favs! Let's get into it...
1. Create your own hype.
- In their early days of KISS, the band had a coming out concert with two other musical acts. Gene Simmons created a press package and invitations to send out to record labels. Though KISS was not headlining the concert, Simmons only listed KISS on the invitation and the time slot of their performance. When industry people showed up to a room full of screaming fans, it was assumed the fans were there for KISS. The band used their resources to print T-Shirts and posters, making record labels feel that KISS was a huge deal. This was so smart, what label wants to feel like something new and trendy is going on and they were last to know about it? Simmons explains that you do not have to lie, but you do have to create an image that makes people want what you have.
2. Educate yourself.
- Gene Simmons career has required education that is not taught in school. Before having a manager or record label for guidance, Simmons had to learn about the music business. He read Billboard, Cashbox and Record World. He checked the charts weekly to see what was selling and learned about different music industry figures. A lack of formal training is not an excuse, to this day Simmons can not read or write music but has written hundreds of songs. The Beatles never took music lessons, they are self-taught in all the instruments they play. This can be applied to any field, we are all responsible for our own due diligence. Pretty much everything I know about television and film, I learned post college. I had to work for free to get hands on experience and learn what it takes to make television happen. I am still constantly trying to educate myself more, even by reading this book.
3. "Jump in the deep end and start swimming".
- Even though he was told otherwise, Gene Simmons knew he could do anything. He says if you aren’t qualified, you can become qualified. Who cares if you are attempting something no one has done before, you can be the first. Sometimes you have to just dive into your endeavor and Simmons has dived several times. Without a background in Production he co-produced the New Line film Detroit Rock City, and created My Dad the Rock Star, a cartoon series for Nickelodeon. He cofounded Cool Springs Life, without experience in life equity strategies and Simmons tells us “You can do it. Because I did". Us at Brown in the City, did not have experience building a website or creating a logo, but we did. We were passionate about the idea for this site so we just started swimming!
4. DON’T TAKE VACATIONS
- Chapter 15 is titled “Vacations, Holidays and Other Wastes of Time”. Simmons explains in this chapter that he never took vacations; he considers it a privilege to work. I personally LOVE to travel and I’m going to Punta Cana in about a month so this chapter really hit home. He advises young people not to take vacations, instead use all of your time to “further yourself, educate yourself, dream big and do big”. While this did not make me want to cancel my vacation, it did force me to think more about my spending of both my time and my money. I do plan to spend more time this year putting in the work to pursue my career goals and less time brunching, shopping and vacationing!
There is so much more in Me Inc that is impacting the way I am currently pursuing my goals. Simmons has an entire chapter dedicated to women entrepreneurs and playing to win in a man's world. Then there's the chapter about failure, where Simmons explains that EVERYONE fails at some point using examples like himself, Oprah, Henry Ford and Bill Gates. Whatever your career goals, whatever your field, I think this is a book all of us go-getters can benefit from.
Check it out and let me know what you think!