Seriously good career advice from Russell Simmons, meditator and mogul

The wellness-minded hip-hop mogul says finding "stillness" is key to getting ahead—whether you’re launching rappers’ careers or your own. Here's how to do it.
“Meditation allows your guard to come down and your dreams to come up, which makes you realize how easy it is to follow them,” says Simmons. (Photo:


Okay, your career path might not look much like Russell Simmons’s, considering the 56-year-old founder of Def Jam Records and Phat Farm is basically credited with bringing hip-hop to the masses and is now worth upwards of $300 million dollars.

But the media mogul, also known for his devotion to Jivamukti yoga and veganism, has learned a lot on his journey towards super-success.

His latest book, Success Through Stillness, focuses on how 15 years of meditation (Transcendental Meditation, specifically) has helped him overcome career challenges, and they’re most likely ones you can relate to—whether you’re launching rappers’ careers or your own.

“I’m finding that in this new ‘internet age,’ I have more jobs and hustle then ever” Simmons says. “Meditation has allowed me to focus and figure out the best places for me to apply my energy. Otherwise, I’d end up just chasing my own tail.” Wouldn’t we all?

The key, Simmons says, is “accessing that stillness inside you.” To inspire you to give the practice a try, here are seven ways Simmons says that meditation has advanced his career, and can help yours, too.

Success Through Stillness
Want proof meditation and yoga fuel success? According to Simmons, “the only book Steve Jobs ever downloaded on his iPad was Autobiography of a Yogi, by Yogananda.”

1. You’ll stop letting worries about outcomes dictate every decision. “Before, I’d worry if an album was going to flop, or if a clothing line was going to sell,” Simmons admits. “Now I’m comfortable committing myself to work only and forgetting about the results. It’s a much more effective way to live.”

2. You’ll be more present. While we all may be physically awake during the day, Simmons points out that “not so many of us, however, are present.” Meditation is the one thing that allows him to be this way, which he says is key to overseeing his businesses, running several charities, having a personal life, and being a father.

3. Silver linings will be more obvious. In the 1980s, Simmons produced an album by R&B group Blue Magic, which “only” got played on the old school stations, making him feel rejected. “I should have appreciated that I’d been able to put my resources to helping something that was beautiful,” Simmons admits. Today, meditation allows him to see that side, sooner.

4. You’ll tap million-dollar ideas. Every time Simmons meditates, he says that he’s able to access a great idea for his companies or music labels. Even Biggie Smalls used this method, he says, albeit accidentally, since he sat with his eyes closed, mentally composing new lyrics even in the midst of “drinks being passed and blunts being rolled.” (Now that’s concentration.)

5. Fear of change won’t hold you back. “You’re never stuck in anything unless you say you are,” he says. Although Simmons sees a lot of his successful people who’d love to get a fresh start, they’re “entangled in the anxiety that accompanies considering a change.” Meditation allows your guard to come down and your dreams to come up, which makes you realize how easy it is to follow them.

6. You’ll see others’ strengths instead of weaknesses. “When you finally put down all the judgement you’ve been carrying around with you, instead of focusing on people’s perceived weaknesses, you’ll start seeing all the good they’re bringing to the table,” Simmons writes, which will allow you to help them build on those strengths instead of dismissing their value. And a strong team is going to propel you forward, too.

7. You’ll have a renewed ability to focus. No matter what, there’s always going to be lots of “noise” around you, but meditation allows you to tune it all out and focus on the task at hand, which leads to serious productivity. Says Simmons, “Meditation is going to let you accomplish twice as much while only putting in half the effort.” Now who can argue with that? —Jamie McKillop

For more information, check out Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple

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