#HappyBirthdayPharrell: 3 Lessons On Success From Pharrell Williams
Pharrell is the blueprint for all things successful.
Pharrell Williams has played such a huge role in my life, my choice in music, the moves that I’ve made and how I want to be perceived as a person. Yes, it is possible for a person to have this kind of influence on you and no, you don’t have to meet them in order for this to be possible. I’ve followed Pharrell’s career since High School and I’ve watched how his influence on fashion and music affected the kids that I went to school with. From BAPE and the Billionaire Boys club to G-STAR Raw, Pharrell has played a pivotal role in fashion for almost twenty years.
A husband, a father, a mentor and a friend, Pharrell have always expressed the importance of helping those who are less fortunate. Establishing One Hand To AnOTHER Inc. a Not for Profit Organization in 2008 to providing educational S.T.E.A.M.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Motivation), the future of the next generation, including his own children, have been on the forefront of his mind for a long time. However, it is his music that we learned so much more about him as a man. It is in his music that he speaks freely of social injustice in America (Don’t don’t do it), Worldly intolerance (Kites), and even the posers of the world (Secret life of tigers).
“YOU HAVE AN IDEA, YOU CREATE YOUR BLUE PRINT, YOUR SCHEMATIC. YOU FABRICATE IT, YOU BUILD IT, YOU SET IT FREE, YOU LET THE WORLD SEE IT. WHETHER IT’S A SONG OR A CHAIR, IT’S THE SAME THING.” -PHARRELL WILLIAMS
To celebrate Pharrell’s birthday and all of the things that he has created, valued and given to the industry, I curated a list of 3 lessons that we all can implement in our own personal stories of success.
Do not hide your accomplishments, be proud of them:
In 2017, Pharrell received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree, and during his commencement speech Pharrell spoke to the graduating class and told them his keys to life. It was during this speech, Pharrell told the students that the right balance of self-promoting is a good thing and to be proud of your accomplishments.
Engage and inspire, whether on an individual level or loudly within your communities. Talk about your accomplishments. It’s very important. Be humble, but not too humble. Don’t be invisible. The days of being anonymous activist or participant are over. How can we inspire if we are only behind the scenes? How will an anonymous donation ever inspire another? That was the way of previous generations. No disrespect, but don’t be like them. Let your actions serve as an endorsement.
It is true that most people would label you as “arrogant” or “cocky” for speaking proudly of all of the things that you have achieved. But why should that stop you from being grateful, or even happy? From this quote, I took away the message that it is okay to show people that you are doing you. It is okay to come from behind the curtains and stand center stage. Be tall.
Focus on the big picture and thought-provoking ideas:
There are a lot of CEOs, Founders, and other important business figures in the industry that praises Pharrell on both his productivity and humility. His decision on joining forces with companies has to be organic and harmonious. When Pharrell released his eco-friendly collection with G-STAR Raw in 2014, his objective was to save the oceans. G-Star along with eco fabrics company Bionic Yarn produced the first ever ‘RAW for the ocean’ denim collection. Bionic Yarn produces fibers made from recycled plastic collected from the ocean. “Working with G-Star was an obvious choice because they have a legacy of pushing the boundaries of fashion and denim forward. Bionic Yarn is a company built around performance, and denim is the perfect category to show the world what Bionic Yarn can do. Everyone has jeans in their closet.”
If he were reading spreadsheets, he wouldn’t have joined our company when he did because it wasn’t close to making money. The ideal of it took a lot of work, but that’s the beauty of visionaries like P, who can see what’s possible. He’s not a celebrity who simply attaches his name to an already thriving franchise. – Tyson Toussant, Co-founder of Bionic Yarn on Pharrell Williams
When Pharrell joined the companies of Bionic Yarn and G-STAR Raw, he had one thing in mind, “How to help save the environment”. By choosing what the bigger picture is, Pharrell merged two companies with similar missions to create clothes that benefit the world and looks fashionable. When you look at the bigger picture, you give yourself the space to work through things more calculating. By looking at the most important facts of a situation and the effects of it, you can avoid potential errors and blunders.
Find your purpose, and put it in everything you do:
During an interview with Wall Street Journal in 2014, Pharrell discussed how he took the time to find the sense of meaning behind all of his creative efforts. “It took me a minute to find my purpose. I knew something was missing, and then I realized: OK, you’re able to make music. Now you have to inject purpose. I want to make music with something extra to it—a holistic property… The distinction between sounding amazing and feeling amazing—that’s the thing. People, I think, are looking for a feeling.” He said that there are two ways of living life: A) Live life as you imagined it would play out, or B) Try to make the thing you dream of making.
“I didn’t know what my path was. I knew that I was meant to do something different. I knew that I needed to inject purpose in my music. Keep putting purpose in everything you do. Don’t worry about it; just put purpose in there.” – Pharrell
Pharrell has managed to find the main purpose of his life, what makes him happy, what makes him purposeful and determine and incorporate that into everything that he does. To be successful in anything you choose to do, you have to find your purpose. By turning your hurt into healing for others, or even telling your story, you can learn what it is you are supposed to do in this life. By knowing this, you can add to your community and to the world.
There are much more lessons to becoming successful, and it is life-changing. I chose these three lessons because it defines Pharrell and his career in the most inspiring light. When we find someone whose career we find innovative or ingenious, we should be encouraged to study everything that they do. That’s what I’ve done with Pharrell and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.