Jay-Z, Warren Buffett & Steve Forbes Walk Into A Diner…

It’s a true story — the cover story from the new Forbes 400 issue featuring “The Richest People in America,” as a matter of fact.

Steve Forbes brought Warren Buffett (#2 on the list) and Jay-Z (“he’s on his way there”) together for a conversation about wealth and the art of giving.

A full video of their conversation is below, but first, here are three things that attracted my highlighter as I read the article in Forbes, and why I think they matter to you and your speaking business:

  1. “It’s funny how it works, just a little bit of attention.” That’s Jay-Z recalling how a sixth-grade teacher paid attention to him and gave him a love for words (which he turned into a very successful career). “The teacher said, ‘You know what, you’re kind of smart.’ And I believed her.” WHAT’S IT TO YOU? You make your living speaking to hundreds and thousands of people from the stage, but don’t forget about the importance of the little things — the one-on-one moments off-stage, with your family, friends, attendees, customers… that’s where lives are really changed.
  2. “When you’re in the studio you’re an artist, you make music, and then after you finish, you market it to the world, I don’t think anything is wrong with that. In fact, I know there’s nothing wrong with that.” That’s Jay-Z again, sharing his philosophy on how music, marketing and money fit together. “Just so long as you separate the two and you’re not making music with business in mind.” WHAT’S IT TO YOU? It’s not so different for speakers. When you’re creating content, you’re engaging your heart, your expertise, your talent… You’re creating something pure and authentic — that’s your music. Many speakers are then afraid to take the next step and “market it to the world,” though — to build a profitable enterprise upon the foundation of their content. I know this is largely because there are a few out there who, in their attempts to make money speaking, have crossed the line into “gimmicky” or “sleazy” territory. Don’t let those few who do it wrong prevent you from doing it right, though — both you and your followers deserve better. I think Jay-Z’s got the right formula here.
  3. “Part of making good decisions in business is recognizing the poor decisions you’ve made and why they were poor. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’m going to make more. It’s the name of the game. You don’t want to expect perfection in yourself. You want to strive to do your best. It’s too demanding to expect perfection in yourself.” That’s Warren on his mistakes and lessons learned. WHAT’S IT TO YOU? “I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’m going to make more. It’s the name of the game.” Made any mistakes lately? Enough said!

Now here’s the full video of Jay-Z, Warren and Steve (from the portion of the conversation that happened at Warren’s office, after they left the diner):

Do any of these lessons from Jay-Z and Warren speak to you? Did something else jump out at you? We’re open for comments!

4 Comments on “Jay-Z, Warren Buffett & Steve Forbes Walk Into A Diner…

Matt Heller
September 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Wow, Shawn – I can see using up an entire highlighter on this! Many things jumped out… making mistakes, being true to your “art”, marketing yourself. Probably the biggest for me was about the few words we might say that have impact on others. I’ve recently been very pleasantly surprised with people relating stories about how they referred to something I said, or acted on advice I gave (and it turned out for the best!). As a speaker/trainer, you SAY lots of words, and you never quite know which ones are going to stick with which audience member. It’s humbling in a way, and I am more conscience than ever of not taking the power for granted. Like Jay-Z said, it only takes a little encouragement to set someone off in the right direction. We could also do just as much damage just as quickly if we aren’t careful.

Thanks for sharing!

September 29, 2010 at 8:22 am

Glad you enjoyed the post, Matt, and you’re right — as a speaker, you never know which “little thing” you say is going to make the biggest impact.

Chip Eichelberger
September 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Really enjoyed that Shawn – thanks for sharing it.

September 29, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Thanks, Chip!

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