The Definitive Guide to Business

Russell Simmons never fails or gets stressed out — here's how

Russell Simmons
Nicholas Hunt | Getty Images
Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons believes he has never failed.

Some of his customers might disagree, however. For example, the Rush Card, a prepaid debit card launched by the hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur, had a technology problem last fall that temporarily prevented customers from getting access to their accounts.

But when CNBC asked Simmons about his biggest failure, he said he didn't have an answer. He's made plenty of mistakes, of course, but he doesn't see mistakes as failures.

"I think everything is a learning experience. At the moment it feels like a failure, but then you look back on it and [realize] it gave you direction or inspiration," says Simmons, who started his life slinging drugs on the streets of New York and rose to become a hip-hop impresario.

The record label he founded in 1984, Def Jam Records, has signed major rap artists, including Public Enemy and LL Cool J. Simmons went on to found more than a dozen ventures, ranging from the street-style fashion brand Phat Farm to the digital media company All Def Digital.

The entrepreneur attributes his success to his determination. "Stay on your hustle. You can't fail until you quit," says Simmons, who at 58, is now a mentor for other young entrepreneurs. For example, he is one of a handful of leaders — alongside the likes of Tony Robbins, Daymond John and Tim Ferriss — giving advice to business owners as part of the Shopify Build a Business program.

Part of what gives Simmons the ability to see his mistakes as learning experiences is his commitment to staying calm. The mindfulness advocate, who meditates twice a day and practices yoga every day, says he's learned to let go of control and to stay present in the moment.

"You can't fail until you quit." -Russell Simmons, hip-hop mogul and serial entrepreneur

"Things go right or they go wrong," says Simmons. "Things go as planned or they go not as planned. But they should not affect your nerves; they should not make you sick or ... stressed."

"Sometimes things are more difficult to digest," he admits, "but mostly I just accept it as it comes."

"You have to start letting go of results and really embrace the process."