“The value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves. The value of our lives is determined by what we do for others.” – Simon Sineck
On the morning of April 1, 2019, I woke up to the breaking news on social media and the major news networks of the death of Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle, following a shooting outside his clothing store in Los Angeles. For a while, I was lost, as prior to this, I had never heard of him. The simple explanation was that I am not a follower or fan of rap music and therefore, I have never listened to his music.
My lack of knowledge turned to curiosity after I listened to a report on CNN online (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/31/us/nipsey-hussle-los-angeles-shooting/index.html) and as I followed other news reports, his life and his work captured my attention. What stood out for me was the statement he made in an interview that, “…the highest human act is to inspire”.
Nipsey, whose birth name was Ermias Davidson Asghedom, was not just a rising success in the entertainment industry having just released his debut rap album, which was nominated at this year’s Grammy Awards, but he had built a reputation as someone who made a positive difference by giving back to his community. According to media reports, his good deeds included assisting with the needs of students, providing jobs and shelter for homeless residents and investing in Destination Crenshaw, an art-and-culture project that celebrates Los Angeles’ Black history. Listed among his social causes was a co-working space and center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) called Vector 90, which he opened in his community. He described it as a bridge between Silicon Valley and the inner city to give young people more options and opportunities than he had as a child.
The tributes from people within the entertainment industry and from community leaders, politicians and residents in LA attest to the fact that Nipsey Hussle was an inspiration, through his life and his work as a community organizer, social activist and entrepreneur.
During an Instagram LIVE session hosted by personal branding coach, Naomi Garrick @ThePRChick last week, guest presenter Paul C. Brunson, entrepreneur and TV host, stated that Nipsey Hussle’s personal brand was his “social imprint” which continues to grow even after his death. I am of the view that your social imprint is not just about having a huge social media following or an international fan base but in your impact through acts of giving back to your community or to improving the lives of others, particularly, marginalized groups.
Here are some lessons that I believe Nipsey Hussle, through his life can teach aspiring entrepreneurs about the power of your “social imprint”, which I define as “the power to transform or improve the lives of others through social or community activism.”
1. Our greatest value is in investing in others: If all we live for or aspire to do as entrepreneurs is to make millions or build an enterprise for ourselves, then we will fail as we have missed the real value and purpose of our existence. Our greatest impact is in investing our time, our resources, our talent and our expertise to empower and improve the lives of others and our communities.
2. The importance of integrating “social good” as a core value in building your personal brand or business: Branding experts focus on the value of building a brand through thought-leadership, networking, and using social media and other platforms to position yourself as an expert in your industry or to market your products and services. I believe that another effective strategy in building your brand is in understanding the importance of integrating “social good” as a core value in your business strategy and culture. A “social good” is traditionally defined as “an action or item that benefits society, such as education, potable water or even access to services such as healthcare. The term implies a positive impact on an individual or society as a whole.”
Peter Gasca, entrepreneur, consultant and author and founder of GascaCo, LLC, writing on When Should Entrepreneurs Pursue a Social Good? in the Entreprenuer.com, emphasizes that social good is in fact an investment in a company’s future. He further argues that any Return on Investment (ROI) on social good for any company will always be worth the investment.
The concept of social good suggests that it is not simply donating to a charity but rather the act of giving your resources with a view to helping to solve the problems of an individual, community or society. I believe it is driven by one’s core values, a system of belief in the greater good, a passion to do good and to make a positive difference. I further believe that while the ROI may not be measurable, in the long-term it will build trust, confidence and credibility in you as an entrepreneur and in your brand.
There are many entrepreneurs, entertainers and sportsmen who understand the importance of “social good” and have leveraged their success and resources to help solve the socio-economic problems within their own communities and other communities globally. They are generally motivated by a belief in the greater good and that they can use their resources to improve the lives of others and to make a positive difference to humanity.
3. What you do tells who you are, and it speaks louder than what you say: Your brand is the reputation you build through what you do and how you live. It is not what you market about yourself but more importantly, the impact you make on others and how your life inspires others. To quote Jeff Bezos, Founder, CEO and President of Amazon.com: “your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”
4. Your personal story has the power to influence and inspire change that outlives you: Nipsey Hussle spoke openly about being involved in a gang in LA as a teenager and his experience with gang-related murder and violence. His experience became a motivation for his message for change and advocacy to help create a different legacy for the next generation of youths growing up in LA. In an interview on February 21, 2018 on the Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM he said he wanted his message to impact gang culture and young people living in the areas controlled by gang violence and to help create a different narrative for them.
His work and impact as a philanthropist and a social activist communicated in a powerful way his story and his message. In the words of entertainer, Pharrell Williams, who tweeted, “you were about something .. positive and for your community in every chance you had to speak . . . and because of that You inspire millions . . . millions who will uphold your legacy forever.” Nipsey Hussle, is an example, of the fact that the power of a brand is in its legacy. He had an international fan base as an entertainer, but he has left behind a “social imprint” that extends beyond the entertainment industry and continues after his death.
What Is Your “Social Imprint”?
I believe that our legacy is about creating something that will live beyond us and from which the next generation can benefit and even carry on. Through my inspirational blog, Make Life Count, I encourage others to live every day in a meaningful and impactful way by doing what you can to empower and improve the lives of others. Through your acts of social good, you leave a “social imprint” on the lives of individuals, your community and your world. That is the most effective expression of your legacy.
What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. – Albert Pine
Misha Lobban Clarke is a Public Relations/Communications Consultant, Writer and Editor with over 20 years’ experience. She is the head of ML Consulting Services and the former CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC), a regional body representing the interest of the accountancy profession in the Caribbean. For more visit me on LinkedIn or follow my blog at https://mlcblog.org/