Russell Simmons On Giving What You Have To Give

by Rohit Bhargava   •  

When you think of opportunity, what word would you put with it? Of course the focus of today has been making the connection between opportunity and creating an “opportunity nation.” In the conversations we have had throughout the day today with people participating as audience members and speakers – two words continually come up in addition to nation: creating and seizing. Creating more opportunities for people to become successful and achieve their dreams, as well as individuals taking responsibility to seize the opportunities they have and turn them into something.

This afternoon, we had the chance to interview businessman and promoter of hip-hop culture Russell Simmons about what opportunity really meant to him. The conversation started in an important place – with what is broken in our system. Simmon’s pointed to the “legalized bribery” of politicians from any special interest groups who have a vested interest in issues as a fundamental problem that we must fix. 

More specifically, he shared what he felt each of our roles must be when it comes to opportunity – and it came down to one word: sharing. As he said, “The opportunities I enjoy are no good unless I give to others.” The real power of that statement comes from the idea not of what we sieze or create, but rather of what we share. As Mark Twain once said, “Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

For Simmons, this has a more real application for any of us today: “You have to give what you have – even if it is only a smile.”

Rohit Bhargava

SVP, Ogilvy & Professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown University

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