Six Things I Learned About Business from Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons is an incredible man. He’s been a rock star for more than 30 years with his band KISS. He’s conquered the worlds of business, film and TV and recently, published his hit book ‘Me, INC’ which focuses on his many business successes.
So what did I learn from this self-proclaimed Rock God about being successful in business and life?
1. Hard Work is Important Above All
When Simmons was a young boy growing up in Haifa, Israel, he was dirt poor. He lived with his mother (his dad walked out) and they had little money.
One day he hiked up Mount Carmel in the hot sun to pick fruit that he later sold to commuters at a local bus stop, making about two dollars.
This desire to work hard carried over into later years and as a college student in the U.S. he took typing classes and leveraged this skill into a typing service for his fellow students.
At the same time he was working night shifts as well as a side hustle dealing in comic books. By the time he was in his early twenties, he’d saved up more than $20,000 — a lot of money in the 1970s.
Even now, Simmons is a machine. KISS are still touring and he runs numerous successful business linked to and independent from the band. His example (by his own confession) really is a case of ‘hard work beats talent’.
2. Identify as an Entrepreneur
Gene Simmons doesn’t see himself as ‘just a rock star’, in his book Me,Inc. he regularly refers to himself as an entrepreneur and a businessman.
I’ve heard the Dilbert creator Scott Adams say something similar — that he consider’s himself to be an entrepreneur, not a cartoonist or artist. He’s also worth about $70 million so he must be on to something.
Why limit your creativity and opportunity by saying you’re an ‘X’. If you identify as an entrepreneur — someone who takes risks and looks for every opportunity to get ahead, are you more or less likely to succeed?
3. Make Money From Your Passions
Gene Simmons is passionate about two things: Rock n Roll and comic books. You can see the comic book influence in KISS and their stage characters.
Before Simmons was in KISS, he was buying and selling comic books. He knew what they were worth because he was a fan, spending years studying them and their value.
The KISS comic book series was a massive hit and he still heavily invests in comic books and merchandising.
It’s hard work making money from something you don’t care about or worse, loathe. If you’re good at something and enjoy it, wouldn’t it be better to make a living from that?
Not everything you love will make you money though. I love writing, but making serious cash as a writer is tough. So I have other sources of income that either work from my writing such as my eBook editing service or affiliate marketing (see point 2 for more).
4. Be Relentless
If there was one word to describe Simmons’s approach to business it would be relentless. Since hiking that mountain to pick fruit, he’s been committed to making money and being a success 110%.
His example is truly inspiring — all his friends at college were slobbing around and partying while he worked his ass off in a lawyer’s office, copying papers and filing through the night.
In Me, Inc, he lists the businesses he’s involved in. It’s a staggering report of companies and enterprises which he either owns or is a partner in. His business knowledge is all self taught — something he takes real pride in.
5. Treat Yourself as a Brand
In the early days of KISS, Simmons trademarked the band member’s faces. Not their actual faces but the way they appeared on stage. This became a lever for all kinds of KISS merchandise from T-shirts to a wedding chapel (no, I’m not kidding).
For Simmons, branding is everything. Image is everything. You can learn a lot from this approach in the work place or in business. How do people see you? Do you have a strong brand or are people not really sure who you are.
Simmons worked hard to build his personal brand and that of KISS — how can you follow his example in your situation and build You INC?
6. Maintain a Work — Life Balance
By his own admission, Gene Simmons’ passion for life and success nearly cost him his relationship and his kids. He was within a hair sprayed hair’s breadth of breaking up with her.
He confesses to having spent too much time on tour, too much time chasing his own dreams while letting her take care of the kids.
Thankfully he realised in time an was able to save his family.
This is a sobering note to finish on. Sure, it’s important to chase your dreams. But is it right to do it at the expense of those you love?
If you’re a Dad, then you’ve got a whole host of responsibilities to others before you go chasing after your own dreams. That’s why Simmons encourages you to make your money before settling down to start a family.
It will be much more difficult to juggle those priorities when you have kids. Trust me.
Be Inspired, Build ‘Me, INC’
Me, INC is the one of the most inspirational books I’ve read all year. Simmons is a great story teller and brings to life the stories and struggles of a successful entrepreneur.
You would do well to follow his example and build Me, Inc.
P.S. You can buy Simmons’ book Me, Inc. on Amazon.