What do a Run the Jewels rapper and Twitter CEO have in common?
There’s no punchline — just some advice from two successful businessmen.
Killer Mike, a 44-year-old rapper, actor and activist paired up with Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey this week in Atlanta for a conversation about entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses.
The discussion centered on empowering communities by encouraging people to spend their dollars at local businesses.
Killer Mike — known as Mike Render outside of the hip hop world—has been a advocate of black-owned banks and businesses, most notably pushing on social media for 1 million people to deposit $100 apiece in black-owned banks and credit unions during 2016, and more recently by promoting Black Fridays, a push for more people to support black-owned businesses each week.
Tips to avoid robocalls: How do they have my number? 5 ways to avoid being put on robocall lists
Moving up: How to take the stress out of selling your house and buying another home
“When we engage in good business, we are helping the greater community,” Render said Tuesday night at an event that was part of the Square Self Made series.
“Bank black, buy black — all that does not exclude anyone,” Render said. “When the black ecosystem is economically strong, the greater ecosystem is strong.”
Render is also the owner of The SWAG Shop, an Atlanta-based barbershop established in 2011 that just expanded to a second location in October 2018.
Dorsey, a fan of Run the Jewels for a decade, said when he found out that Render also owned a barbershop, he knew they needed to talk business.
“He’s just been an amazing inspiration for me,” Dorsey said. “His ability to identify problems and then come up with super creative solutions — it’s awesome.”
Here are a few pieces of advice from Render and Dorsey on how to be your own boss and help your local economy in the process:
Find good mentors
Dorsey stressed the importance of finding good teachers, whether that included colleagues at work or outside of work. The Twitter and Square CEO said that he dedicates time to write down the things he’s thankful for before going to bed every night. This, he says, helps him recognize daily potential and nurture a greater self-confidence.
“A sense of gratitude is so powerful to expressing oneself,” Dorsey said. “It really puts things in perspective. It shows momentum.”
Share wealth with your community
Render is a believer in compassionate capitalism and says that spending cash locally can bring better resources to smaller, more marginalized communities, benefiting everyone in the long run.
“Communities of like-minded people who look alike or think alike should be circulating their dollars in that small community for a [long] time,” Render said.
As an example, Render mentioned the success of Citizens Trust Bank, a black-owned Atlanta bank that experienced a surge of deposits in 2016 and 2017 after the rapper’s campaign to bolster black-owned financial institutions after high-profile police shootings and concerns about institutional inequality.
According to their annual reports, Citizens Trust Bank saw a 9.9% increase in deposits from 2016 to 2017 but a 6.6% decrease from 2017-2018.
While he might have had the initial idea for his barbershop concept, Render said that much of what he’s learned about the Atlanta art scene and marketing has come from millennials. He credited much of his social media marketing techniques to watching people around him use platforms like Myspace and Instagram.
Render said it’s important to recognize who can do specific jobs best, give them those positions, and learn from them.
“It’s about willing to be a student, always,” Render said.
While Render might not know how to cut hair, for example, he can handle the business side of things while his barbers do the styling.
Dorsey says that critical thinking also helps in the creative process, especially in going beyond surface level entrepreneurship to find root causes of problems and breaking them down into smaller pieces.
“It all comes back to identifying a problem,” Dorsey said. “Solving it with creativity and solving with heart and passion. It’s math.”