Mathew Knowles, Professor, Strategist, Lecturer, Founder, CEO, Manager, Grammy Award (Executive Producer) Recipient, Entrepreneur and Author, continues to have a passion for specialized endeavors. Having established, along with Tina Knowles, a respectable “Empire”, the old adage: Each one to teach one, manifests, as a personal emblem for him and his family.
From humble beginnings and cognizant of struggle, Mathew Knowles has meticulously strived to attain his successes, authenticating that early childhood poverty is not eternal. After decades of practical introspection and expertise, he has generated another enterprise that details the strategies needed to thrive in today’s business and music arena. In his new best-selling book, “The DNA of Achievers: 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals”, Mathew Knowles imparts acumen and life lessons.
RM: Please tell us your beginnings.
MK: I was born in Gadsden, Alabama in a really small town, thirty thousand people. I lived in a house on a dirt road; my parents were poor. My dad made twenty dollars a week driving a truck, my mom made three dollars a day being a colored maid. But, they were both entrepreneurial. He drove his truck all hours of the day, seven days a week, to go to other houses and pick up metal. On the weekends, my mom and her best friend would make these beautiful quilts to sell. I learned entrepreneurial-ship at a very young and early age.
RM: You were a first in several situations. Being southern born and raised, what tools did you use to combat racism?
MK: Being the first (African American) in elementary and junior high, one of the first in senior high and at the University of Tennessee; there were a lot of defining moments. Some (moments) were terrifying, unhappy, bad moments. Still even today, I made it through determination. All of those things that happened, I realized, can make us even more determined. What is important is that we don’t confuse determination for passion; because it’s two different things.
RM: Is racism still prevalent in today’s music industry?
MK: I think racism is prevalent in the world. In America specifically. All types and sorts of racism. I am now working on a Destiny’s Child autobiography, but as soon as I finish, my next book is called “Racism from the Eyes of a Child.” It looks at my life and childhood growing up in Alabama, going to corporate America, and the music industry up to today; and how racism effects and affects people of color.
RM: Congratulations on your new book “The DNA of Achievers: 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals”, being on the number one best seller list.
MK: Thank you! My team’s strategy is getting it to number one. The release date is October 15th, however the book is in pre-sale mode and can be purchased now. You can go to Amazon.com or dnaofachievers.com.
RM: You write about trait number 5: Planning.
MK: Well, you either plan for success or you’re planning to fail. You have to be strategic with planning. That’s the keyword, strategic planning. Often in business and in life, music, acting and entertainment, there is no plan.
RM: You stated that some people are afraid of success. What does that mean?
MK: When you are truly successful people are going to put you under a microscope. Most know that you have to work extremely hard for success. It’s easy to fail and easy to quit and hard to be successful.
RM: The number 8 trait deals with learning from failure.
MK: For any accomplishment of highly successful people, there are probably 10 failures. This is because within success, and think about this; the key is that failure is an opportunity, a reason to grow and learn, not a reason to quit.
RM: What are some of the strategies a successful person can use to overcome professional difficulties?
MK: The core is (I have found in music and entertainment), most people attempting to get into the industry are not passionate about doing what’s required to be successful; take seminars, vocal training, acting lessons; to do whatever is required and not use excuses.
RM: What are some pitfalls that you would caution young artists to recognize?
MK: This industry has changed significantly over the last three years, let alone over the last 18 years. Young artists today have to really understand the possibilities have gone down in the music industry. We have to have incredible songs, great song writers and producers. The imaging world, the video world, you have to be in it, especially if you are a woman. It becomes at times critical, new artists have to build and make that team: an agent, a producer, a manager that knows the business.
RM: You said networking is the key to success. What do suggest are the first two things to get on the right track?
MK: One, they need to come to my seminar, two they need to come to my seminar. (Laughing) But if you have the passion and you are new to this, it takes years to have the ability to put together a strategic plan. It requires work. You can’t do this by yourself. It requires a team and help from other people.
RM: Has being an Omega Psi Phi member contributed toward assisting in your business endeavors?
MK: Absolutely. I had the opportunity (in the form of networking) to meet some wonderful people that are my fraternity brothers. Steve Harvey, Ricky Anderson, and Tom Joyner are Omegas. Ricky Anderson, who is in my book, is one of the top African American entertainment attorneys in Houston. He is the attorney for Monique.
RM: What is your take on the 360 music industry recording contract deal?
MK: I am an artist manager, and as well, the owner of a record label. For example: if you are buying stocks at Apple, would you want to get paid as an investor just on the iPad? Probably not. You would want to get paid on the iPad, iPhone and everything that they sell.
RM: Do you still own and operate all of your entertainment entities?
MK: I sure do. More in a catalogue environment, rather than front line. I do have a new girl group that I am very excited about called “Blushhh Music.”
RM: Has your success been mostly in picking the right talent or in grooming a very talented individual(s)?
MK: It’s been a combination of both. Strategically, when it has been the right fit and a win-win for both sides.
RM: You obtained your MBA at 63 years old?
MK: Yes. I just got it in June, on Father’s Day.
RM: Do you encourage your artists toward obtaining degrees in the music business?
MK: It’s important if they are going to be behind the camera or behind the microphone. Yes, I think that is absolutely important. Speaking specifically for an artist, it is important to have a general knowledge of the business, junior college, taking important classes and attending seminars.
RM: The school system as a whole does not educate or promote entrepreneurial academia. Currently a professor at Texas Southern University, what are your thoughts?
MK: Well, I am frustrated. With the energy that we have, the intellect, our approach to problem solving, that’s what entrepreneurial-ship is. I think that particular course should be taught even on a high school level.
RM: How do you suggest this curriculum be integrated into the high school level?
MK: It’s very easy. There’s no reason why it couldn’t. There has to be an involvement of parents, government and city officials that understand and view that this is very important. Especially in predominately Black schools, it should be understood that this is a class that should be taught.
RM: Do you believe in using lyrics of music to educate and not just entertain the youth?
MK: Absolutely. When I mentor kids we have the Kids Rap Radio, and use the top beats of Hip Hop songs. Little kids come in and they come up with new lyrics and some of it is educational.
RM: Please tell our readers about some of your philanthropic associations and contributions. (Readers, he really didn’t want to go there but I insisted).
MK: We have a Survival Foundation, an apartment complex that we donated the Roland Center for Youth, and a number of houses I built for families. I want to give, not because I want the world to know I gave.
“If you don’t have these 10 traits, don’t understand them and don’t have passion, then you will have a small percentage of success. If it doesn’t naturally come about with understanding and knowing, it starts with that word…passion.”
– Mathew Knowles
Mathew Knowles is the book. Before the publication of this article, “The DNA of Achievers: 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals” hit #1 BEST SELLER.