Jay-Z, the underside of his business

Shawn Cartes, better known as Jay-Z, recently became the first rapper to become a billionaire. At 49 years old, the artist has had great success in his musical career, but he has built up his fortune by diversifying his investments into many areas.

According to Forbesits capital includes:

  • Armand de Brignac Champagne (in 2014 he bought the brand, now estimated at $ 310 million)
  • shares in Uber ($ 220 million)
  • shares in D’Ussé Cognac ($ 100 million)
  • shares in Tidal, a music streaming platform ($ 100 million)
  • shares in Roc Nation, a clothing brand ($ 75 million)
  • his music catalog (estimated at $ 75 million)
  • a collection of works of art ($ 70 million)
  • real estate ($ 50 million).

Jay-Z’s success stems from his valuable championships: choosing an area of ​​entertainment and pairing it with a network of business skills. This is what the management world calls a T-shaped profile, which combines both a wide range of basic skills (represented in the horizontal bar of the T) and a specialization in a specific field (represented in the vertical bar of the T). ). The artist is the very illustration of this hybrid approach, which manages to acquire both specialized and varied knowledge, but also to achieve great success. His example of balance between specialization and generalization should be emulated by many leaders, especially for the following 3 reasons.

More professional options

While many experts are in favor of specialization in a single area of ​​specialization, some studies show the opposite. In a study, cited by the Harvard Business Review, professors Jennifer Merluzzi and Damon Phillips analyze the records of hundreds of business administration graduates pursuing careers in investment banking. They then discovered that students who had specialized in investment banking through their previous work experience were less likely to “receive more job offers compared to other students who had a broader range of experience. Large”. They also received signing bonuses that were 36% lower than those of their counterparts.

This trend can also continue through a professional career. In an analysis of 64,000 executives on its platform, LinkedIn found that “working across multiple domains, such as marketing and finance, provides a comprehensive understanding of business operations that is critical to the executive profession… boost, which on average corresponds to 3 years of additional work experience ”.

Although this study promotes a more general vision of career paths, it does not neglect the benefits of specialization. Career Strategy Coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine advises you to have a generalist approach and skills, and to specialize according to your desires. “For senior positions, the tasks are so complex that it is essential to have groundbreaking expertise and a number of varied competencies at one’s disposal. There is no need to choose between specialist and generalist. Success can lie in a smart mix between the two approaches.

More innovation

So research shows that the diversity of teams can lead to more innovation, it seems logical to think that the diversity of professional experiences could also be beneficial at the individual level. For example, a study conducted by the State of Michigan found a link between the acquisition of varied knowledge and creativity among many Nobel Prize winners. It seems that “the diversity of experiences allows individuals to think more broadly about their resources and to approach problems in new ways,” explains Scott Sonenshein in his book Stretch.

Darwin, for example, used his knowledge in various disciplinary fields to develop his theory of evolution. Steven Johnson, author of Where good ideas come from, talks about the scientist in his book: “To solve the mystery he had to think at the same time as a natural scientist, a marine biologist and a geologist”. This ability to transcend features and specialties, like Darwin and Jay-Z, has always been crucial to innovation, but applies even better to the business world today.

More personal management

It’s obvious that leaders need to have general qualities, such as emotional intelligence or critical thinking, but it’s by specializing some of their knowledge that they will be able to reach the top, like Jay-Z. Douglas Greenberg, former head of the Shoah Foundation in the United States, says in the book Future-focused management, written by Gary Marx: “Leaders must be generalists, but not only. They must also have a specialty and expertise that gives them a certain legitimacy … You must have solid knowledge to be a good leader, but you must be smart enough to acquire more and more knowledge ”.

Combining generalization with specialization should be the goal of managers in the coming years, both at the organizational level and at the individual level, in order to prepare the career for the ravages of time. Leaders need to be the architects behind their own careers and develop both their range of skills and the specialization of some of their skills. This is the strategy that Jay-Z has been using for many years and which seems to be proven. The artist had told the magazine Men’s Health: “I have a thirst for knowledge. What is needed is to learn every day, to become more and more gifted”.

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