Jay-Z, the underside of his business

Shawn Cartes, better known as Jay-Z, recently became the first rapper to become a billionaire. At the age of 49, the artist is very successful in his musical career, but he has built his wealth 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 mastery: choosing an area of ​​entertainment and pairing it with a network of business skills. This is what in the management world is called a T-shaped profile, which combines both a broad 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, managing both to acquire specialized and varied knowledge, but also to achieve great success. His example of balance between specialization and generalization should be emulated by many managers, especially for the following 3 reasons.

More professional opportunities

While many experts advocate specialization in a single specialty area, 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 experiences were less likely to “receive more job offers compared to other students who had a wider range of experience. broad”. They also received signing bonuses that were 36% lower than their peers.

This trend could 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. . Each additional function provides a boost that corresponds on average 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 wishes. “For leading positions, the tasks are so complex that it is essential to have ground-breaking expertise and a range of varied skills available. There is no need to choose between specialist and generalist. Success can lie in a clever mix between the two approaches.

More innovation

Since 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 by the state of Michigan found a correlation between the acquisition of varied knowledge and creativity in 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 areas 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 naturalist, a marine biologist and a geologist”. This ability to transcend functions and specialties, like Darwin and Jay-Z, has always been essential to innovation, but applies even better to business today.

More personal management

It is obvious that leaders must have general qualities, such as emotional intelligence or critical thinking, but it is by specializing part 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, states in the book Future-focused management, written by Gary Marx: “Managers 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 and specialization should be the goal of managers in the coming years, both at the organizational level and at the individual level, to prepare careers for the test of time. Managers must be the architects of their own careers, developing both their range of skills and the specialization of some of their skills. This is the strategy that Jay-Z has been using for years and it seems to be proven. The artist had told Men’s Health magazine: “I have a thirst for knowledge. What is needed is to learn every day, to become more and more gifted”.

Leave a Comment