Bring the Ruckus: Why Every Leader Should Follow the Wu-Tang Clan

                                                                                                                                                                            Photo from Canis Hoopus

                                                                                                                                                                            Photo from Canis Hoopus

 

Back in the early 1990s, a force out of the New York rap scene was just starting to take over the scene. Following in the mantra and footsteps of old kung-fu masters and films, the Wu-Tang Clan, consisting of leader RZA, Ghostface Killa, Method Man, Raekwon, Ol' Dirty Bastard, GZA, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and Cappadonna, not only changed the entire rap game, but put the entire record industry on lockdown.

How?

For starters, their ringleader (RZA) had a true vision, knew how to leverage his group's and his own collective talents, understood the social and viral power of Marketing, and never, ever backed down. For starters, he negotiated both a group contract andindividual contracts for each rapper in the group, so that they could also explore their solo careers and build their collective followings.

When people feel they are still developing their own talents and skills, while alsogrowing with their team, building something bigger than themselves, and mastering teamwork, leadership, co-existence and more; organizations start to grow, and both individuals and the team start to prosper. Contrary to much of the old school thinking that employees are at work only to build skills for their company and its own dreamsare long gone. And they should be. It is foolish for leaders and CEOs to believe that their own people do not have dreams of their own that are not related to the company. However, if these leaders and their employees work together to better align the talents of their individuals with their future goals and the company's future goals, can you imagine the possibilities?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Human beings are a complex species. We may have simplistic needs and desires, but, our attitudes can change at the drop of a hat, and what we wanted one year ago, may differ greatly from what we want today. Heck, what I wanted for breakfast twenty minutes ago has already completely changed, and now I'll settle for nothing less than a delicious bacon, egg, and cheese bagel.

It's just human nature.

Back in the early '90s, RZA created the Wu-Tang Clan with a clean and clear vision for success. After exploring some time as a solo MC and not having much luck, he decided to channel his energies in creating a team of rappers assembled to build respect throughout the New York City scene. Building off of the teachings of kung-fu fighters and films, RZA understood the potential for a smörgåsbord of rappers with different styles, viewpoints and flows, and built what is now known as the legendary Wu-Tang Clan.

RZA and his crew brought something new to the scene that wasn't being done anywhere else, and understood the true power of leverage, commitment, hard work, marketing strategy, love for your craft, and much more. According to a story on NPR.org,

"Behind the scenes, RZA negotiated unprecedented deals for the group. Those deals protected the Wu-Tang Clan as a group and allowed each member to have a solo contract with another record company."

Aside from this, they also built their own clothing line and printed their logo everywhere.

Branding, anyone?

However, according to the same article, much of the group began to quarrel over how to divide the money among one another. Internal problems grew deeper and deeper, and before they knew it, the Wu-Tang Clan had gone their separate ways. But, with many things in life, it is important to focus on the positives surrounding a situation. Could the Wu-Tang Clan have done some things differently to stay together? I'm sure they could have. But, let's also remember that the music industry is one of the most lucrative, if not, the most lucrative industry in the entire world. With the perfect clash of ego, fan worship, massive money deals, press, music videos, tours, wild parties and more, it's almost inevitable that most bands do not last very long. It's nearly impossible that any groups make it out alive if you really think about how crazy the entire concept of the music industry really is.

But, who's to say that their legacy does not live on?

While much of the professional world differs from that of the music industry, it is still important to note that ego can always get in the way. Do your best not to listen to the hype, and if (and mostly likely when) you do (human nature), go sit in a room full of people 5 times smarter than yourself, and start making some conversation. That'll humble you up pretty quickly. However, there are five takeaways I leave you with in the aftermath of the Wu-Tang Clan and the legacy that they left. Keep these in mind when moving forward, and there is no stopping you.

Bring the ruckus.

1.) LET GO OF YOUR EGO.

2.) Learn how to Market yourself, your team, your boss, your work, your life.

3.) Branding is very important. People are attracted to logos and storytelling and colors and all kinds of crazy things. Remember this.

4.) You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to.

5.) Do what you love, follow your gut, build things, work hard, don't back down, learn how to negotiate, and understand that you have one life to live so you might as well enjoy it.

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