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Russell Simmons Gives 'Rolling Stone' Readers Financial Advice

Hip-hop mogul and self-help author also shares his own investment strategies

February 9, 2011 11:20 AM ET
Russell Simmons Gives 'Rolling Stone' Readers Financial Advice
Kris Connor/Getty

Hip-hop impresario, media mogul and yoga devotee Russell Simmons just released Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All, a self-help book designed to set readers on a path toward spiritual enlightenment and material achievement. Now, he responds to questions from readers looking for financial advice.

How does one unlearn the bad financial habits inherited from those involved with their upbringing?Adam, via Facebook

My book is basically a spiritual book, and it’s based in taking control of your life. Without the spirit, you can’t do it. It’s what the yogis refer to as samskara, you do the same dumb shit over and over again.

It has to do with having courage. There’s that simple analogy of, you find yourself on train going the wrong way, you get up, go on the other side and go the other way. It sounds simple, but nobody does it. I woke up one morning, I said, fuck it, I’m not doing no more coke, no more drinking, no more smoking cigarettes, none of that shit, and I took control and that’s what I did. That was 23 years ago. You can have the courage, and do the practices in the book. When you make choices as an individual and you can separate yourself from people going one way, that’s when you know you’re in charge.

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I'm a University student that found out that he doesn't like what he’s studying. I want to go into the music business as a producer or anything to help musicians that have the talent to make it and give the world sick tunes. Any advice?Sebastian, via Facebook

Everybody don’t like what they’re studying. The minute they find a brick wall, they want to quit. Most people who don’t like what they’re studying won’t like the next thing either.

Well, go find a musician and help them. Go and serve. Go help a producer. Go sit under one, work for free. Do what they’re doing. Help them do what they’re doing. Be an apprentice.

I am an ideas person. I have a couple of patents. So how do I take that and self-promote and "brand myself"? Or are there entrepreneurs who simply sell their ideas? Which would you suggest?Patricia, via Facebook

No. The ideas, if they’re new, ain’t shit til you start to execute them. I’m sitting here with Jinx da Juvy, the rapper. He got shot four times total. Now he’s 24 years old, he’s finishing college, and he’s been through a lot of shit. He’s on his hustle right now, he’s bugging me right now with his new record right this minute. He’s making videos, and he’s in school and he’s here. He didn’t quit. So, how do you make it? You stay on your grind.

Since it's tax time, I may have a few extra thousand dollars from taxes. I'll be one to admit that doesn't happen often. I've been thinking about buying a thousand in silver. Good or Bad idea?Matt, via Facebook

I don’t know nothing about silver. I buy convertible bonds. I buy triple A if possible, I diversify my investment in convertible bonds, so if the market goes up a lot I get a bit of money. If it goes down a lot, I get my money back.

Photos: The Hottest Live Photos of the Week

I would like to ask Mr. Simmons what is his take on over 10 years of music piracy which is destroying the music industry and cost those of us in it thousands of jobs.Johnny, via Facebook

The technology is gonna keep evolving. You can sit still if you wanna. There are new ways to monetize music, new ways to be helping an artist and making them money. You only sold the record, and you only wanted the record cos the record is already hot. I’m just saying, the industry has to be innovative. If they sit around and think that they’re losing everything because of technology, and it is true, the piracy is what it is, there’s other ways.

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