Grimes Gives Lessons on Being A Boss

In an extensive essay for the upcoming Rookie Yearbook Three Grimes shares some insightful lessons

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In an extensive essay for the upcoming Rookie Yearbook Three Grimes shares some insightful lessons on a range of subjects such as dealing with working relationships, the delicate line between resume and talent, managing fatigue, and how to be your own boss. You can read some select excerpts via Elle below.

On being a boss

Something I didn’t realize when I started making music was that any entrepreneurial endeavor involves hiring people, creating a company, and becoming a businessperson. So, while you may know me as a musician, in practice I am also a boss. I’m the CEO of two companies, Grimes Creative Corp and Fairy Tour Corp, and I just started Roco-Prime Productions with my brother. This is simultaneously very cool and very stressful. I’m definitely not the best or most experienced boss. I’m also a young, female boss, which can present a very particular set of practical and emotional challenges. Here, I’ve compiled a list of things that have been useful to me while I’ve been figuring out how to be in charge, in the hope that some of them might help any of you who are doing what I’m doing (aka learning as you go).

On other people’s thoughts

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.

On qualifications and talent

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.

On having a clear schedule

Stop working when you’re tired—but don’t get lazy. I sometimes boomerang between working for 22 hours in a row, and then collapsing and realizing that I don’t have to adhere to a fixed schedule and watching every episode of The Sopranos. I would not suggest this system. Schedules are amazing: eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep. The other eight hours are fair game. (I have not mastered this one, but when I can get it going I’m a lot more productive.)

On professional relationships

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.

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.

On footwear

Bette Midler once said, “I firmly believe that with the right footwear, one can rule the world.” I used to try to wear heels, and it was a disaster. Now I always prioritize comfortable shoes. Also, avoid wearing white: Busy people don’t have time to change clothes very often, and white gets dirty fast (unless you are Olivia Pope). Just find one or two things that look cool that you can also sleep in.

Oh, and if you are tired and “you need to be peppy, drinking a bit of straight hot sauce really works.”

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