by Dr. Boyce Watkins
I’ve known both Russell Simmons and Roland Martin for several years. I consider them both to be respected colleagues and brilliant men in their own ways. They have their own unique styles and models of success that are not always in alignment with my own, but I learn from each of them because we can all learn something from those who’ve achieved things that we have not.
Russell is one of the great pioneers of the hip-hop music industry, which has lost its way over the last decade or so. He is also one of the most energetic philanthropists I’ve seen, working tirelessly to do things that other people will not. I was particularly impressed with the way Russell showed up to play during our campaign against mass incarceration, which led Attorney General Eric Holder to make one of the most significant drug policy announcements in twenty years. At the same time, Russell is a multi-dimensional character with many facets to his personality. I choose not to see him as one thing.
Roland and I have had our fallings out in the past, there’s no question about that. But what impresses me most about him is that he has sacrificed like no other to obtain the success he has received. He has fought through divorce, bankruptcy and a whole host of other challenges that he had to endure in order to get the chance to live his dream.
Martin understands that being a good journalist isn’t enough to succeed in his profession: You must also be an entrepreneur with an adaptive ability to understand technology and institution-building so that you can sustain yourself when you’ve been tossed out by majority-white institutions. After being released from CNN, Roland has landed on his feet, hosting an outstanding show on TV One and doing great work with the Tom Joyner Morning show. If he were determined to live his life inside a box, he would never have been able to survive.
Of course people are going to have mixed opinions about both Russell and Roland, and it’s your right to do so. But rather than simply throwing rocks or sprinkling thoughtless praise, I encourage you to watch this video with a critical eye and seek out the opportunity to educate yourself on alternative avenues for financial liberation.
Financial Juneteenth lesson from this video:
1) You can learn from anyone, even someone you don’t agree with
2) Building wealth requires a certain mindset that you can typically only learn from people who’ve actually achieved the same thing you’re seeking to do yourself. Russell is one of those people.
3) The goal at the end of it all is not just to have a wealthy bank account. It is to live a wealthy life. If you have all the power and money in the world, but aren’t happy, then you’ve actually lost the game.
The video is below: