Alicia Keys – Musical Artist/Entrepreneur
By Muriel Vega
You know her as the Grammy-winning singer with hits like “No One,” “Superwoman,” and her latest collaboration with rapper Jay-Z “Empire State of Mind.” Alicia Keys has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making her one of the best-selling R&B artists of the last decade. With eight-figure endorsement deals with Dove and Vitamin Water, she earned a spot on Forbes’ Top Celebrity Earners. From her poignant performances in movies like The Secret Lives of Bees to her constant philanthropic work, Keys is a force to be reckoned with.
Now Alicia Keys is a full-fledged entrepreneur. “As an artist and a person that has been in business for a lot of years, going outside of my main business of music, helps me discover my creative potential as an entrepreneur,” says Keys.
With her love for Oprah and her humanitarian ventures as motivation, Keys’ created AK Worldwide to invest in smaller businesses and help them realize their full potential. Her latest venture, IAmASuperwoman.com, will encourage women to find their voice and share their ideas through an online global community.
Here, she talks exclusively to PINK about the business of inspiration – and her secret hobby.
PINK: Why did you pick a jewelry line as your first business venture?
Alicia Keys: The jewelry line I’m investing in is actually a company called The Barber’s Daughters. It brings this artist, Gisèle Theriault, and her beautiful crafts to a broader scale. She has such a unique style and her pieces are timely as well. They are one-of-a-kind jewelry with prayers, pearls and poems on them. It’s something that connects emotionally to the buyer.
PINK: What are some ventures you already have lined up with AK Worldwide and Keep a Child Alive?
A.K.: The next venture to launch sometime this spring is IAmASuperwoman.com. I’ve had this project in my mind for a while: to create a community for women to express themselves. From their favorite places to go in their city and their thoughts to their business ideas and relationships, they can discuss issues that we are all trying to figure out in our lives in this website. Over the course of the next year, it will grow into a full editorial site. I will also be contributing as a writer. I’m also continuing my philanthropic work with Keep a Child Alive. We started an initiative where people text “ALIVE” to be eligible for a trip to Africa in June with me.
PINK: Why is it important to do philanthropy work?
A.K.: It’s important for all of us to do philanthropy work and we all have the power to do it. We have the ability to tell our story and help others. Help one person and you can help change the world in some way. Our lives can get very hectic, and sometimes we get a bit selfish. It’s very important to be able to connect with each other and know what we are all going through. You need to look beyond yourself.
PINK: What’s your leadership style?
A.K.: I’m a very open person. I like to encourage people to be their best. I’ve never agreed with making people scared of you or putting people down to put them in their place. The more you encourage people, the more genuine results you’ll get. It’s a very professional environment. It’s important to me to have a clear guide of where we are going and what’s expected. I have an amazing, intelligent group of people around me.
PINK: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
A.K.: Business is about trial and error. There’s no foolproof [business] plan and whatever you end up doing, you need to be passionate about. It’s not about getting rich overnight, but about your belief in it and your passion – that’s the way amazing things happen.
PINK: How do you handle your Life/Work balance?
A.K.: It’s a process of learning and understanding. When I look at my calendar and I specify when I’m going to take time for myself. If I’m working for four months then I’m going to take one week off and I put it in the calendar way in advance. You should also have one quiet moment a week when you can do whatever you want to do. Make it a main priority – it’s easy to make other things a priority, but we don’t find ourselves to be as important. I spend 20 minutes in the morning, before I start my day, writing in my journal. I cherish that quiet time by myself.
PINK: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
A.K.: I find music and culture to be deep and beautiful. I love history and learning about past civilizations and their cultures. I never liked it in school. But now, the more I see people, where they came from and where they are today, I find it unbelievably inspiring.
PINK: What is one personal goal you haven’t yet achieved?
A.K.: I’m looking forward to the day when I have a family and children. I have a beautiful, strong family and I can’t wait to share that with my own family.
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