Living Case Studies

4 Principles of Success Lived by Kanye West

kanye west success vision

To Be [Successful], Study Those Who Are [Successful]…. And Be That.

Emulate their commitment to their vision; do your own thing in your own way.

Kanye West profile:

Born June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Kanye West (whose first name is Swahili and has been translated as “only one”) was raised on Chicago’s South Side in an upper middle class family.

Father: Ray West, a former Black Panther who earned two master’s degrees, becoming an award-winning photojournalist and later a counselor.

Mother: Donda West, an English professor at Chicago State University.

Famous for: his ego. He is an American record producer and rapper who has released 3 albums, received six Grammys, critical acclaim, and commercial success. West also runs his own record label, ‘GOOD Music’.

1. Have a vision…

His abilities first became apparent at school talent shows: “I would help the others because I just knew I was going to win anyway. The teachers used to say, ‘This ain’t meant to be the Kanye West show.'”

“When I was on tour with U2 and the Rolling Stones, I would think about making songs big enough to rock these stadiums,” West says.

“It’s hard when people are depending on you to have an album that’s not just good, but inspired. I mean, my music isn’t just music – it’s medicine. I want my songs to touch people, to give them what they need. Every time I make an album, I’m trying to make a cure for cancer, musically. That stresses me out!”

What does it feel like to be a golden boy?

“It feels like everybody feels about me like I always felt about myself. I always planned on it. I used to talk more s___ before I got the accolades. People say losing is a humbling experience. No, for me, winning is a humbling experience. I don’t have to talk as much because everybody else is saying it for me.” – 10 Questions for Kanye West, Time Magazine

2. Be yourself. Let your ego serve your greater vision

His refreshingly honest response to criticism about his massively hugely big ego:

“I do have an ego, though; and rightfully so. I think people should have an ego. Think about it: I don’t offend people, I don’t put anyone down. Do I name names, or bring people down? That’s not my thing. But I give myself big-ups. I feel good about the music I make.”

Some charge him with arrogance, but West, as he put it in his autobiographical track “Last Call,” uses “arrogance as the steam to power my dreams. I always say you have to be a little postal to push the envelope.”

3. Think for yourself and do what you think is right, aka Integrity

West left Chicago State, becoming the college dropout later referred to in the title of his debut album. After The College Dropout became a hit, West took criticism from some who believed he was encouraging young African Americans to abandon their schooling. In response, he drew a distinction between high school and college: “I feel like high school is a necessity, but college is a choice… [Some people] have no idea what they’re even going to college for, other than they believe that’s what you’re supposed to do.” West backed up his commitment to education by forming the Kanye West Foundation, whose “Loop Dreams” initiative helped finance production equipment for school music programs.

4. Go for it and make your life what you want it to be

The double-platinum, triple-Grammy award success of Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout, was a surprise to many in the industry, but not to West himself. The young rapper and producer had confidently touted the classic status of his work, shaped creatively during a harrowing period of recovery from an auto accident. “Being that I was so close to dying, I realized that nothing in life is promised except death. So, while I’m here, I have to make the most of it.”

10 Questions for Kanye West
Kanye West – the ego has landed
Kanye West Biography