Known as the CEO of hip-hop, Russell Simmons has done it all—he co-founded Def Jam records, created the Phat Farm clothing line and has pursued countless other business ventures in jewelry, fragrance, television and movies and on Broadway. Now he's sharing his success principles in his book Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success. Gayle talks to Russell about his book and how he's come to find fulfillment in his own life.
Russell says his monumental success all began with a personal vision. Despite naysayers who said hip-hop culture could never go mainstream, Russell says he listened to his gut. "Every film or television show or clothing company—all those successes were based on the obvious hole in the marketplace," he says. "I could see where there was a void, and it seemed to me no one was filling it because they weren't in touch with the people."
A vegan and yoga devotee, Russell says his friend Bobby Shriver took him to his first yoga class about 15 years ago. As his business empire grew, Russell says the introduction of yoga into his daily life helped him stay grounded and spiritually centered. "My [nick]name was Rush, I was a total insomniac and I had no idea I was moving too fast," he says. "I used to think that the anxiety and the noise is what made me successful, and in fact, you find that the stillness is from where everything comes."
Russell says the lessons in Do You! are based on Buddhist principles and teachings. He says much of the wisdom runs parallel to those of other major spiritual philosophies, with truisms that include, "Money doesn't bring happiness" and "There are no failures, only quitters." "When you become more faithful, you become more present, you become happier, and therefore, greater contributors," he says. While the message may not be new, Russell says he's hoping to connect with a new generation.
After sending an advance copy of his book to Oprah, Russell says he received an important life lesson himself. Originally titled Twelve Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, Russell says Oprah called him up and said it was "corny" and suggested he go with the title of one of the book's chapters instead. "I knew it rang a bell instantly to me," he says. Russell says he immediately dialed his publisher, who had the title changed and destroyed the 150,000 books that had already been printed.