Snoop Dogg should become CEO of Twitter and I’m about to tell you why.
But first, leave Dick Costolo, the outgoing CEO, alone. When Dick became CEO, Twitter was valued at about $3 billion (now it’s $26 billion). The site was constantly overloaded with traffic and would crash. Now it doesn’t crash. Twitter had 30 million active users a month and now has over 250 million active users a month.
The most important business advice anyone can follow: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But Wall Street and the media are basically stupid and they like pizzazz and action movies. They like thrillers and roller coasters.
In May 2013 I was scared to death to ask Dick to write the foreword for my book “Choose Yourself.”
I barely knew him and I was sitting here for hours composing a three-line email to ask him to please — pretty please — write the foreword. I think I rewrote those three lines 20 times. I was practically crying I was so nervous.
He responded right away, “Of course!”
The Twitter message fit right in with the “Choose Yourself” message. He wrote in the foreword for the book: “If you don’t make courageous choices for yourself, no one else will.”
Now Snoop Dogg, perhaps one of the most courageous and varied artists over the past 25 years, is also making a courageous choice.
What better way to announce?
It seems crazy, but it’s not. Because it seems crazy, it’s exactly why Twitter should consider it. To live an outrageous and amazing life you have to consistently aim for the outrageous and amazing.
The Wright Brothers had a bicycle shop and no money. The government was outspending them 10,000-1 to create a plane. Instead the Wright Brothers used spare bicycle parts. Then they were the first humans to fly into the clouds.
If you aim for 100 ridiculous and amazing things and you only achieve 2 percent of them then that’s how you succeed. And that’s a life worth living.
I think people laughed at the idea and even made fun of Snoop Dogg.
But before someone laughs, try to start from scratch and build a $100,000,000+ empire the way Snoop Dogg has. Try to have the fastest-selling album ever. Try to have the continued success for 20 years that Snoop has had (in music, movies, business) when so many musicians were just one-hit wonders.
Here are some quotes from Snoop Dogg and why I think he would be excellent as CEO of Twitter.
“The most important decision I’ve made in business? The choices of people I have around me.”
This is the one thing that makes or breaks any CEO. If it’s the only thing you can judge about a CEO, judge the people around him or her. Judge how he treats people.
Snoop always learned from his people mistakes (Death Row) and quickly moved to people who were better for him (Master P, Geffen). Because of this, he released 10 successful albums in a row. I don’t know of any other rappers who released that many successful albums.
“There’s so much that I want to do. I feel like I’m the Magic Johnson of rap. You know, Magic was great on the basketball court, but he’s bigger as a businessman.”
Snoop has constantly branched out into movies, television, investing (he’s invested in Reddit, for instance) and even setting up a VC fund to invest in marijuana-related companies now that every state, one by one, is legalizing the drug.
Everyone thinks they need to focus on one thing. To be good at “their purpose” and that’s it. This is a myth perpetrated by the beginning of the industrial age when factory owners wanted workers to just do one thing all day long, 12 hours a day. Hitting the same hammer against the same nail.
There is no one purpose. The average successful person has 14 different careers in their lifetime. If you stick with one thing, you never get a chance to have “idea sex” – to become the master of the intersection of two totally different areas.
This is how change is made; this is how innovation happens. Twitter itself is the merger of two different sectors of technology — SMS and the web. To create success for yourself you have to venture out of your comfort zone and use the skills learned in one area to develop skills in the next area.
“I tell the truth. And I know what I’m talking about. That’s what makes me a threat.”
Hundreds of times I’ve seen the management of public companies lie to their shareholders.
Ultimately those lies are baked into the stock price. The companies that have been as transparent as possible have seen their stock prices rise. Other companies have disappeared. I’ve seen it happen over and over.
There’s an interesting study that shows over the long run if you invest in the companies with the smallest SEC filings, you make more money. Enron, for example, had footnotes covering 3,000 special-purpose entities. Whereas Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report is only a few pages long.
Another example — a tiny company called Odeo, which created podcasting software. It wasn’t working out. The CEO was honest with his investors about Odeo’s shortcomings: “I’ll give you all of your money back unless you want to stay invested in this tiny project we have been working on on the side.”
He knew when to admit defeat and move on. I don’t think the investors ever saw that before. 100% of the investors were grateful. The CEO bought back all of their shares. And then Ev Williams renamed the company to Twitter and became the largest shareholder.
“If you stop at general math, you’re only going to make general math money.”
People say “my number is $1 million” or “$5 million” or whatever. Once you start focusing on a single number, or any number, you just put a ceiling on your growth. You just went from superior to mediocre.
Too much of Wall Street analysis is focused on the mediocre. Which is why companies like Amazon and Google have always ignored Wall Street’s demands. Create value first in whatever you do. Then the math takes care of itself.
“I used to get stressed out all the time when I thought winning was important. Once I figured out it wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about teaching these kids about being men, that’s when I started to relax.”
A leader doesn’t try to step over everyone else to bring success. A leader knows that success comes from the success you help others achieve: Snoop bringing up Warren G and Nate Dogg (and making money off of each of their albums); Snoop appearing in constant movie and TV shows.
This has catapulted him from success to success. Not hoarding what he had to offer but giving it and then receiving back 10x what he gave. A strong leader makes his employees rich. Makes his employees learn. Makes them into the CEOs of tomorrow. The people who don’t do this fade into obscurity.
“If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do, you have to master your craft.”
Snoop learned the secret of mastery. Study the history. Work hard every day. Combine styles to become the best at the intersection (watch his documentary “Reincarnated” to see him combine reggae with rap). Constantly innovate. Surround yourself with good people. Never slow down your creativity. Don’t be the one-hit wonder. Study completely new areas so you can always take what you learned in one area and apply it to another. Always be humble. When he started rapping he was probably already the most talented rapper. But talent and skill are two different things. To get skilled you need to study and learn and be humble.
“Sometimes a loss is the best thing that can happen. It teaches you what you should have done next time.”
Snoop has made mistakes, but quickly learned and moved on to continue his success. How often do we make mistakes and try to water them down in our minds so we never learn from them?
Henry Ford failed at three car companies in a row before he finally achieved success. An ice skater falls 20,000 times before he or she makes it to the Olympics.
“I like going to areas where the murder rate is high and dropping it.”
“A lot of people like to fool you and say that you’re not smart if you never went to college, but common sense rules over everything. That’s what I learned from selling crack.”
Twitter needs common sense right now. Don’t start creating email accounts. Don’t have big splash pages for advertisers.
The company had almost a half-billion users visit the site last month by doing what it does best: just being Twitter. Just having common sense.
I saw the analysis over Twitter’s last numbers. By almost every metric it grew close to 100 percent. But Wall Street wanted to feast and found a metric or two they could criticize. Common sense says that 100 percent growth is good. Looking only to find fault shows that the only fault is with you.
Snoop Dogg has sold 35 million albums in his career. And he works well with others, teaming up with Katy Perry to sell one of the best tracks of all time, “California Gurls.” If it works, do it.
“You’ve got to always go back in time if you want to move forward.”
Nassim Taleb summed this up for me: “3,000 years ago people were doing math on tablets. Now…people are doing math on tablets.”
If something withstands the test of time, use it. Every leader learns from the past. Every leader uses the past as his filter to figure out what will succeed in the future.
We always think of the myth of the “lone genius.” But every genius has stood on the shoulders of prior greatness. Not a single success has ever been achieved without standing on the shoulders of greatness. Google was not the first search engine, it was the tenth. Facebook was not the first social media site, it was the sixth.
– – –
Dick Costolo wrote in the foreword of “Choose Yourself”:
I started out as computer science major. I then got excited about improvisational comedy. I then ended up as CEO of Twitter.
We live in a world where the yellow brick road has many forks and can take us on many incredible journeys.
….There’s no one path. There’s every path. Can you be bold?
– Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter