Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Created His $1 Billion Fortune
Nine years ago, two unlikely lunch partners sat down at the Hollywood Diner in Omaha, Nebraska. One, Warren Buffett, was a regular there. The other, Jay-Z, was not. The billionaire and the rapper ordered strawberry malts and chatted amiably, continuing the conversation back at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway offices.
Buffett, then 80, walked away impressed with the artist 40 years his junior: “Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. For a young person growing up, he’s the guy to learn from.” This moment, which was originally captured in our 2010 Forbes 400 package, made it clear that Jay-Z already had a blueprint for his own ten-figure fortune. “Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational,” he said.
Less than a decade later, it’s clear that Jay-Z has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire—and the first hip-hop artist to do so. Jay-Z’s steadily growing kingdom is expansive, encompassing liquor, art, real estate (homes in Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Tribeca) and stakes in companies like Uber.
Rob Walker, a veteran columnist and design teacher with an eye for the creative side of life, has just published a delightfully instructive book called The Art of Noticing, meant to help people see the world differently. The most creative among us, he says, “notice what everybody else overlooks,” which is why he challenges his students to “practice paying attention.” He wants them to reflect on “what they notice, what they miss, why it matters, and how to become better, deeper, and more original observers of the world.”
Tom Norman, Professor, Incubator Advisory Board Chairman
Thomas Norman, Associate Professor and past Department Chair, has been a professor in the Management and Marketing Department for over eight years where he teaches human resource management (HRM) and management theory courses. His research ranges from exploring global outsourcing, labor arbitration and management education. Prior to joining the Academy, Dr. Norman worked 18 years in industry in various management positions at Procter & Gamble, Cargill, US Bank, Wells Fargo, and Sun Microsystems. In 2002, after failing to win election to the Minnesota State Senate as an Independence Party candidate, he entered the Human Resources and Industrial Relations PhD program at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Norman tries to keep current on practical skills by maintaining his Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification while building his academic reputation by regularly presenting at academic conferences of organizations such as the Academy of Management, Decision Sciences Institute and the Labor and Employee Relations Association.
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