How to Be a Boss (According to Grimes)

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Grimes is a boss, both in the literal and figurative sense. She oversees many creative ventures, including Grimes Creative Corp, Fairy Tour Corp, and Roco-Prime Productions.

Grimes penned a list of tips on how to be a boss for Rookie Mag’s Rookie Yearbook Three. Elle posted an exclusive online excerpt of this list, which has been circulating the internet. Some of Grimes’ tips are incredibly relevant…

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1. You will never hear more people tell you that you’re wrong than when you’re succeeding.

After my album Visions came out, I spent a really long time freaking out because people were telling me that in order to take “the next step” in my career, I would have to become a much better “musician,” that I’d need a backing band, etc. I now realize that (a) none of those people have music careers, and (b) I wasted a lot of time trying to do things I was told were “important for every professional musician” to do, without realizing that as a fan, I am far more interested in things that I’ve never seen before. The point is, listening to haters is pointless. People are judgmental about everything—often because they feel threatened. Ignore them. I think this applies to any business or creative thing, because tomorrow’s world will not look like today’s. Doing something different is probably better than doing the same things that other people do.

2. Hold on to your work.

Once upon a time, Elvis Presley wanted to record a cover of Dolly Parton’s song “I Will Always Love You,” but on the condition that she sign over half of the publishing royalties—money the songwriter gets whenever someone plays or performs their song in public—to him. Dolly said no, and many years later Whitney Houston sang “I Will Always Love You” in a movie, and it became probably one of the most memorable (and lucrative) songs of all time. So it’s very important to maintain ownership of your intellectual property. Copyright everything. DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS. There are so many ways you can get screwed if you don’t copyright your work. Conversely, treat your collaborators with respect and give credit where it is due.

3. Be nice to the people you work with.

It is of utmost importance to treat people with kindness, because you want them to work hard and care about the thing you are building together. However, in order to get things done, sometimes you need to be mean. I’m really bad at this, but you absolutely need to let people know when something is unacceptable, or they’ll keep doing it and you’ll resent them and it creates bad vibes.

4. Just because someone has more qualifications than you doesn’t mean they’re better than you.

We live in the age of technology, so you can Google anything you don’t know how to do. The only thing you can’t Google is how to be creative and unique. Your thoughts have more value than a degree or a parent in the same field or whatever. I always think about my grandfather, who became an engineer with only a seventh grade education. It’s a very cliché thing to say, but nearly anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

5. Really, the most important thing is eliminating self-doubt.

This is basically impossible for me, but I’ve found that if I act like a boss, I can convince myself that I am a boss when I need to be one. I copy things that I’ve seen politicians and actors do; I make eye contact with people; I try to keep my shoulders back and my head high; I gesticulate wildly and sometimes take long pauses (silence can be very intimidating). I try to act like I’m powerful, onstage and off. I am often treated with disrespect, but I respond as respectfully as I can, because it makes trolls look stupid when you don’t stumble. As time has gone by, I’ve noticed that the crappy people have been phasing out and I’m surrounded more and more by people I trust, and with whom I share mutual respect—which, by the way, breeds real confidence.

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4 Responses

  1. Spoken X Digital Media Group

    This is a very interesting article , Grimes , wrote. She has indeed lived her experience that she touch basis on. Here advice about the ownership of copyrights aside from all else is the core element to the position as a boss both inside and outside the music industry. Adding one other protocol to that bit of advice; the first working relationship to be had moving forward in the business of music is an aloof or cozy relationship with the principal attorney at entertainment law. . .–great job , Grimes !

  2. There is something...

    Nina, when you quote an artist in your post, you could at least link that artist homepage / Facebook. Nobody is supposed to know every artist talked about on DMN.

      • There is something....

        Sorry but I won’t call her “mainstream level”. Don’t forget we’re in a lazy world where people won’t even mind searching on Google anymore… Linking an artist can’t hurt.