by DANNY RUBIN
“I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period.”
– Kanye West in an interview with The New York Times
Make no mistake. Kanye West has become the greatest, most influential American icon of our time. How do we know?
He just told us. Duh.
As Kanye’s latest album, Yeezus, invades our eardrums, it’s a good time to reflect on his many, MANY head-scratching quotes. Yet buried under the rapper’s bravado and considerable megalomania are genuine bits of career wisdom. News To Live By sifted through the swagger to bring you…
12 Absurd Kanye West Quotes
That Will Actually Help Your Career
1. “When I think of competition it’s like I try to create against the past. I think about Michelangelo and Picasso, you know, the pyramids.”
Follow me here, but Kanye is right. In our case, though, it’s much smarter to compete against ourselves. Can you top the work you’ve already done? That’s the mark of a person hungry for success and determined to improve every day.
2. “My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”
Pretentious? You bet. But view this quote another way. Have you ever listened to your voice on a recording or watched yourself speak on video? Spend a few minutes doing both. You’ll understand how you look and sound to others and make improvements you would have never noticed otherwise.
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3. “I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus.”
Want to be the ‘nucleus’ in your own office? Make firm decisions and deliver on what you promise. You know, be someone others can trust.
4. “Before, when I wanted to rap, my raps sounded like a bit like Cam’ron; they sounded a bit like Mase; they sounded a bit like Jay-Z or whoever. And it wasn’t until I hung out with Dead Prez and understood how to make, you know, raps with a message sound cool that I was able to just write ‘All Falls Down’ in 15 minutes.”
If you’re willing to admit you have a lot to learn — and then seek out people to teach you — that’s when the growth truly happens.
5.”I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: ‘This is the level that things could be at.’”
A leader sets the tone. That means operate at a high level at all times. No slip-ups, no faltering. The same quality product again and again.
6. “I hate when I’m on a flight and I wake up with a water bottle next to me like oh great now I gotta be responsible for this water bottle.”
Umm, not sure what to make of this one. Don’t sleep on planes?
7. “If you don’t make Christmas presents, meaning making something that’s so emotionally connected to people, don’t talk to me.”
What’s memorable today — and especially on the Web? Creative ideas, compelling stories and vivid detail. Everything else is DOA.
8. “Nothing in life is promised except death. Know your worth!”
Ultimately, the only person who is going to fight for you…is you. Gotta look out for #1.
9. “If you admire somebody, you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers while they can still smell them.”
We’re all out here hustling and chasing dreams. If you toss a compliment to a friend or professional contact — and expect nothing in return — you will brighten that person’s day, deepen your relationship and make yourself feel pretty damn good too.
10. “Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be younger. But they will never be you.”
What makes you special, different and valuable? Focus all attention on that answer, and you won’t have time to notice everyone else.
11. “I’m so gifted at findin’ what I don’t like the most.”
Our twenties are the perfect time to figure out the career path we shouldn’t take. The more we experiment and cross things off the list, the sooner we arrive at our true passion.
12. “I knew when I wrote the line ‘light-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson’ [from the song 'Slow Jamz'] I was going to be a big star. At the time, they used to have the Virgin music [stores], and I would go there and just go up the escalator and say to myself, ‘I’m soaking in these last moments of anonymity.’ I knew I was going to make it this far; I knew that this was going to happen.”
You gotta give Kanye this much: the guy had a dream, saw the promised land and buckled down to make it happen. He’s arrogant, sure, but always strives to give the world his best stuff.
Raw talent + endless ambition = anything is possible.
Heard the new Kanye album? What do you think?
Feature photo from Kenny Sun (Flickr)
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