Title: Empire State of Mind–How Jay Z went from Street Corner to the Corner Office
Author: Zack O’Malley Greenburg
Why I Read This Book:
–“Wait a minute….You chose to do a book report on a book about….a Rapper?? Why???”
I will tell you why–Proverbs 1:20+23 “Wisdom shouts in the street…If you turn and pay attention, I will pour my spirit on you…”
Wisdom is everywhere..Especially in Federal Prison..Since I self-surrendered 15 months ago, I have learned about Personal Finance, Investments, Trucking, the Food and Beverage Industry, the Drug trade, Agriculture, Real Estate, the Clothing Industry, Sociology, Physics, Computer Engineering, and so much more! Much of this wisdom has been obtained from people and much more from books…I have also learned about music and one thing I have learned about music is Jay Z is more than just a “Rapper”. He is an international Brand worth over $1 billion! Music, clothing, alcohol, professional sports team ownership, sneakers, watches…Jay Z even OWNS his own COLOR..Jay Z Blue…Look it up…So as I was waiting for one of my books to arrive from my family I was looking through the small library here at Thomson Federal Prison Camp and I saw this book and once I started reading, I could NOT stop…
I have been taught things in Federal Prison from former stock brokers, real estate professionals, attorney’s, as well as drug dealers and drug traffickers…Again, Wisdom is everywhere..The question is–Are you listening?
Jay Z, or Sean Carter, is from the Marcey housing projects in Brooklyn, New York. Usually, when someone is born in the ____ projects, they were NOT born with a silver spoon….Everything had to be EARNED..And for many inner city kids, the only way out of the projects is to EARN money….How does one earn enough to move their family out of the projects? Many sell drugs…Is it because they WANT to do illegal activity? Or they WANT to worry about getting robbed, shot, killed, or snitched on to the Feds? It is because they HAVE to in order to TRY and make it out.
Jay Z knew he could write lyrics and he and others knew he could deliver them in a way that was so different than everyone else, he was pegged as a future star very early on in his teens. But, by observing and being patient, he also learned that many artists sold their soul to Record Labels early in their career because buying studio time and hiring professional music engineers is so expensive. So Jay Z saved, and waited, and learned more, and eventually he dropped his 1st album at the mature age of 26 years old. From there, Jay Z knew there only was 1 direction to go—UP!!
What I Learned From Reading This Book:
As Jay Z’s star began to brighten and he quickly became one of the top Rap/Hip Hop artists of all time, it was easy to see that there was 1 question on his mind constantly–“What’s in it for me?”
Now, again, it is very easy to jump to conclusions and say “Oh, how arrogant!!” But think about this for a second:
–What if every time you showed up to work, you were so well liked that production and sales jumped 200%. Would you not think you deserve a cut of that?
–Just because you mentioned to somebody how much you like a certain accessory, sales jumped of said accessory by 150%–All because of YOU.
–Same for alcohol, shoes, and even cars.
Jay Z realized his lyrics and music videos were so powerful, he could make economies move by rapping about them and showing them in his videos..Now, did Jay Z ask for endorsement deals from these companies? NOPE! He instead went 1 step further than anyone else would have and he (very quietly and very under the radar) would visit Armand de Brognac champagne or Hublot watch company and eventually be offered a stake in the company! Then came the lyrics, then came the hit song, then came the video, and then came the sales..
Jay Z was not just becoming a brand for music (he started his own music label–Roc-A-Fella Records), clothing (Rocawear clothing line), and shoes (thanks to Reebok), but he discovered through his lyrics and music that he can build an EMPIRE…The pen is truly mightier than the sword!!
Why I Will Be Successful After Reading This Book:
Before I read this book, I knew Jay Z was a very popular Rapper/Hip Hop Artist and I knew he was married to Beyonce. What I did NOT know was how much of a student he was in everything he was involved with BEFORE he put his own money into it. He LEARNED about the music business before he allowed anyone to profit from his work. He LEARNED about what it takes to run a Record Label before he agreed to become President of Def Jam Records. He LEARNED about what athletes needed before starting his own Sports Agency (Roc nation Sports). It takes A LOT of humility for a superstar with hundreds of millions of dollars (Now over a $1 billion) to admit “I don’t know enough about this–teach me”.
Without even knowing it, I took a page out of Jay Z’s playbook by NOT assuming I would not learn anything from a book about a Hip Hop artist. On the contrary, I learned A LOT from one of the most admired business men around!!
Speaking of, I will forever remember 1 quote in particular from Jay Z–“I’m not a businessman….I’m a business, man.”
In other words, he knows he is not just a musician–He is a BRAND. A brand with multiple revenue streams in multiple industries. Jay Z knows he can’t make music forever. Too many artists assume “I’ll just make another record or another hit song and I will be fine…” WRONG!!
The reason why I will be successful after reading this book is because, going back to the beginning of this book report, I am going to take ALL the wisdom I have learned from ALL the different sources and I want to have a life that is as diverse as the population inside this Federal Prison.
I don’t want to be a businessman…I want to be a business, man….
My name is Jeff Piecka and I was sentenced to 34 months in a Federal Prison Camp in Oxford, WI and have since moved to a Federal Prison Camp in Thomson, ILL after committing a white collar crime several years prior to being arrested and immediately pleading guilty. Before self-surrendering on June 6, 2022, I promised my wife and family that I WILL exit Prison a better husband, son, brother, father, Christian, future employee, and overall better member of society because I am going to better myself daily in three ways:
- Physically–Not just for vanity purposes but a better operating body equals a better operating mind.
- Mentally–Reading only non-fiction books, newspapers, and magazines that educate and elevate my mind and expand my vocabulary.
- Spiritually–For ME, this means learning more from the Bible, but it can mean whatever “Greater Good” you believe in.
Shortly after self-surrendering and reading Michael Santos’s book “Earning Freedom–Conquering a 45 Year Prison Term”, it inspired me to want to help just 1 person who is possibly heading to Prison so I started emailing my family Posts that my sister uses to post to Blog on Reddit dot com called “Letters From Federal Prison”. I believe to date it has over 10,000 views and shares plus there are several comments from people advising that the Blog has helped them. This has motivated me to keep writing (which I have NEVER done anything like this before) and I REALLY want to help more people when I return to society at the end of this year.