Video Transcript

00:10 Host: Is there a difference though between accountable to yourself and accountable to the broader universe? Are there certain people that you have in mind while you're developing a project?

00:17 Russell Simmons: I don't... Look, I don't take much stock in the universe and that shit that come out. I don't...

00:19 Host: You know what I'm saying? Because some people say, I'm thinking about my mom or I'm thinking about... You know what I'm saying?

00:23 Simmons: No.

00:23 Host: No?

00:24 Simmons: No. My mom's gone, unfortunately, and my dad's gone. I don't have anybody else I owe anything to. I kind of feel the universe, I look at... That's why I meditate so I can make choices that are not... I'm not a sheep all the time. I'm a sheep most of the time. Sometimes, I can see better than to do what everyone else is doing all the time. In other words, I make choices. I learned. I don't smoke no more. I don't drink. I don't eat any animal. I'm basically a monk, drink tons of green juice. I don't do shit to hurt my body. I try to spend my time in service and I think it makes me happy. I'm not doing it because it's written and I'm told. It's... I really feel that I've learned. I like my morning meditation better than my late night drinking, and I've been that way for a long time. So, I do things that make me... That are part of the process. I want to... I want to do everything with the idea that I'm working for God. I don't, but I want to do it [chuckle] I don't, but I want to do it.

01:31 Simmons: So, even all my service, I wanna go and believe that it's a part of a process because I'm always... The idea of evolving to a space of enlightenment where you might have heard the idea of samadhi. These Yogi's believe... Christians have Christ consciousness, Buddhists have Nirvana, Muslims have Taqwa. This idea that I'm in union and I'm at ease is something that I really desire. And I find that this path that I'm on moves me faster towards this goal and I feel more and more at ease as I walk this path.

02:09 Host: When do you know when it's time to move away from something, or to let a business go, or to transition into something else? How do you know?

02:18 Simmons: That's a problem. I don't really know when that is 'cause I always say like that idea the imagination is God. It's hard work, dedication, focus, and resilience. If a person just... And faith. Now, if a person has enough faith, the miracle workers would promote that. If he had this much faith, he wouldn't have to... The hard work, and the dedication, and resilience, all that shit disappears, instant miracles occur. But since we are normal, and not enlightened, and not in perfect union, we have to work. But this work towards the goal... I mean, I generally don't quit. I outlast all my partners. I buy them out. I live longer and eventually I get it right. So, idea of sticking with your goal and having faith in your goal, and maybe the path may change a little bit, but the goal, something that you invested in, sometimes it takes a few mistakes, especially if you're doing something original.

03:20 Simmons: My financial service company was original. There was nothing like it. No one had made the mistakes. I made them. It took seven years for profitability. My fashion company, there were no African-American companies at all, period, in the fashion business. It took time. It took six years. Everything takes time. It takes that faith and that resilience. So, I don't move away from my ideas very easily. I moved away from 360 Hip Hop, the internet company I started, because we lost $40 million dollars in [chuckle] holding it and that thing crashed, and then I went right back. And now I have and I'm very resilient in that. And we fucked that up three, four times. And now... It was only 15 million then [chuckle], but now, it's really flourishing. And it's gonna pay off the old debt and this debt, and it's gonna make a lot of money. I'd give it away, but couldn't make it. I know that we needed this and I wanted to do it and it's... And I'm doing it. So, I don't really quit on ideas much.

04:28 Host: Do you... But was there ever a moment where you just thought I want to fast forward and...

04:30 Simmons: Always. I've seen it many times. I've had in Phat Farm, before I sold Def Jam, I remember I was borrowing money. No one believed it, but I was. He said, "Why you keep doing this shit?" And I was like, "Passion. I wanna do it." And no one wanted to stay in the financial service business with me and we did... I did convince my partners. I didn't have to buy them out. And no one wanted to be in any of my businesses, and no one believed in almost anything I did, and no one wanted... If I think about the TV things I did, no one wanted to put Poetry. HBO hated those four black comedians cursing out at America and I begged them to let it play. And no one wanted to see Rev and [05:11] ____ students. They wanted to know when he's going to curse his family out. No, I don't really have a bunch of good ideas that people can endorse out the box. So, it takes resilience.

05:22 Host: But you know, that's the question I think a lot of people here would be interested in because you're at a point now where you've got the track record. You can say, "Okay, look, I've been through this before, experienced this... "

05:29 Simmons: No. I'm buying a TV network. No one wants to see me do that shit.

05:33 Host: Well, how do you get over that humbled feeling, the constant the no, the no, the no and nobody believes in it, but me? What... Is it something that goes on in your body or is it... What is it that keeps you over that hump of the low point where everybody is like no, that ain't going to work, no, no, no?

05:47 Simmons: Well, I have had some experiences that weren't good and those were the ones that were gonna work. So, [chuckle] I kind of shy away from those. [chuckle] I think, I must like it. But I like the idea of filling a white space. It's never been done if it's new. I talk about TV now and I'm really focused on it because I look at this... Whenever these networks talk about integration... Oh, I'm sorry, they talk about diversity.

06:12 Host: Diversity is the word.

06:14 Simmons: It's segregation. Let's do another black network. I don't blame the networks and the old guys so much. They need diversity. I think some of them even know they need it. The old black executives, they live in Beverly Hills. Their best friends are black. They're segregated too. Elijah Muhammad told that whole story about being chained up and the chains are gone. There's a lot of that too, but there's still segregation and there are some kids who are consuming content in a post-racial way. And there's such a thing for some Americans as a post-racial America. And I never liked... From the days when I put Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys together on the road, or did Al Smith and Run, or put Def Comedy Jam on HBO and would not put it anywhere else, I always thought that broadening the reach... I don't wanna sell nothing' into 6% of this country's economics. I think, certainly as a cultural person, black culture is mainstream. It's not mainstream because some black executive said it is and he's gonna turn his back on 80% of his audience.

07:16 Simmons: When hip hop was selling to 80% non-African Americans, those people are taste-makers too, many of them are core rap fans, and you have to understand why is your culture good to everybody who buys it? It's not yours exclusively. And that idea of broadening it takes that kind of... Even my staffing at Global Grind, it takes that. And so, that's a TV network. As a TV network, you need to have... I don't know why... Why would you give Paris Hilton a show if you were thinking reality and not give it to Amber Rose? 'Cause you don't know no better. 'Cause you're the gatekeepers of culture who are old and you don't know that America is shifting, and they're more tolerant and they love each other more, many of them. And all the networks can't be segregated. And so, that's why I wanna do a TV network.