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Why Prince was the Pinnacle of Business Savvy

As a person born and raised in Minneapolis, losing Prince was tough. I’m still not really over it. Whatever you thought about him, he was undoubtedly the coolest Minnesotan still living in the land of 10,000 lakes.

And in many ways, Prince was the ultimate independent contractor. When he wasn’t happy with the way corporate America was treating his product, he went off on his own to serve his constituents directly. And how could you deny the branding chops of a man who named himself  after his own logo? In that vein, he has a lot to teach the real estate industry (and that’s beyond the importance of style and lake access). So with much help from my colleague and fellow Minnesotan Erica Christoffer, here are six lessons from the purple one that we believe can help real estate professionals in their daily work lives.

1. Be yourself and you will attract the people who you want to work with.

We’ve talked a lot at the magazine about authenticity and working with the customers that fit your way of doing business. But perhaps Prince himself phrased it best when responding to the haters. There are many quotes about how he was so unabashedly himself, but I really love this one for the sheer ability to see others’ motivations:

I don’t really care so much what people say about me because it usually is a reflection of who they are. For example, if people wish I would sound like I used to sound, then it says more about them than it does me.

2. Don’t be afraid to try new tools to cut through the noise and speak to your sphere.

Prince was an innovator in the digital music scene in the 90s, and he never stopped trying out new ways to get the word out, from tweeting out “secret” shows to dropping singles directly to his fan club. The key here is that he wasn’t out there looking for publicity. Prince used these tools to make his fans feel valued and special, and he created this perception that they were getting something secret that others didn’t.

3. When you’re not happy with what others are giving you, try DIY.

After he got out of his Warner Bros. contract, Prince started distributing his own music. He created his own recording studio and venue, getting the city kids to drive all the way to Chanhassen to party with him. He did it on his own, and by doing so, owned it.

4. Care for others coming up in your industry.

Prince was clearly a huge mentor and inspiration, as we’ve heard from so many artists since his death. But for him it wasn’t a passive activity. He actively studied the music scene, going to shows and reaching out to local radio DJs and music industry types to foster conversation about up-and-coming artists and new sounds. As he put it:

That’s what makes the world go around. We all need each other, and again, it’s about good mentoring and good teachers. I had a lot of good people around.

5. Care for others, period.

Prince wasn’t showy about his philanthropy, and I think that’s because he wasn’t doing it to get noticed. As he said:

Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.

6. Do it because you love it.

To us, this is the biggest Prince lesson. He never apologized for his art, and he saw that putting oneself out there for any other reason leads to not only personal unhappiness, but a mediocre product:

All people care about nowadays is getting paid, so they try to do just what the audience wants them to do. I’d rather give people what they need rather than just what they want.

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

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