Do You! — Book Review

I really do think that in a person’s lifetime, you’re lucky to come across a single book of which you would happily buy a copy for every person you care about. Having said that, I recently found a book that I really think everyone should read.

Russell Simmons

That book is Do You! by Russell Simmons. The front of the book says 12 Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness & Success, & you know what? Do You! really delivers on that.

Make no mistake about it, Russell Simmons is a very interesting man. The co-founder of Def Jam records, he has been stamped with the label of “hip hop mogul”, & has a net worth of approximately $340 million. He is also a vegan & devotee of yoga. He meditates every morning & doesn’t drink coffee. You have to admit that that’s pretty unusual (& pretty cool, too).

I actually picked his book up on a whim, thinking it was kind of funny, but as I stood in the library flicking through the pages, I got the sense that if I sat down with it, I would get more than I bargained for. I am so glad I checked it out! It has really made my brain churn — it’s like a portable light switch. I kept stopping mid-sentence to exclaim, “OH! This book is SO good!” to anyone who would listen!

I think the best thing about this book is that it is about achieving financial success as well as personal happiness. So many books concentrate on one or the other — titles like How To Be A Ruthless, Wealthy, Well-Loathed Shark1 & Being Poor Is Noble2 are all over the place. It is so important for people to realise that they don’t have to choose one thing or the other, & that the two can co-exist! Russell says, “Show me 15 millionaires & I’ll show you 12 unhappy people.” The thing is, Russell has the knowledge to back all this stuff up. He’s not just some average schmoe with vague ideas about what life’s about. He’s BEEN super-wealthy & he knows that it isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems! Some of them, sure; but not all of them.

Russell openly states that he is not the first person to come up with the ideas he outlines in his book. Of course he’s not, but it is really refreshing to hear such ancient wisdom supported by modern examples. Do You! isn’t a rollicking romp through his life — it’s an instructional tome with anecdotal evidence, which makes it really compelling reading. It’s not airy-fairy, though there are some “new age” concepts contained within. It is packed full of practical advice & information that you can actually start applying to your life immediately.

So, what are those 12 laws he thinks are important?

See your vision & stick with it
“Your vision makes your world. If you see the world as a happy, loving place, then that’s where you’re going to live. But if you see the world as a messed up, negative & dangerous place, then that will be your reality.”

Always do you
“From the beginning of my career, I’ve always tried to stay true to who I am. I figured it was about time there was a black man who doesn’t have to give up his blackness in order to play with the white guys.”

Get your mind right
“God has already put a lot of time into you. When you put a little time back into God through prayer or meditation, that investment will always pay off. That’s why when I start my day by reflecting on all the things I have to be thankful for, I’ll have a much more rewarding day.”

Stop frontin’ & start today
“Right now is the only time that there ever is. Yesterday is gone & tomorrow never comes. Whatever you need to do in life, start it today. Put down this book & go follow your dream.”

Never less than your best
“It’s very simple: When you’re working your hardest, the world opens up to you. When you’re not working, your mind becomes cluttered & the world becomes closed.”

Surround yourself with the right people
“No one can find success by him- or herself. When you pick the right team you’ll always win.”

There are no failures, only quitters
“No matter how many times something doesn’t go your way, never give up. That’s because success is a journey, not a destination.”

Plant the good seeds
“Don’t get caught up with always needing to see instant results from your work. Instead, have faith that there will always be a reaction, because that faith is what allows you to make a lifelong commitment toward goodness instead of always looking for the shortcuts.”

You can never get before you give
“Giving, not trading or selling, is the basis of success. The most rewarding thing you can do is just to give the world something good. & ultimately you will be paid so much more for that gift than if you had tried to trade it for something else.”

Successful people stay open to change
“If there’s one message I can get out, it’s how could anybody believe that their god is different, let alone better? They all can’t be nothing but great.”

Be powerful, be heard
“Hip hop is about empowering people to end poverty & ignorance. No matter who we are, we need to create opportunity for those who are locked out.”

Spit truth to power
“We believe that we must continue to tell the truth about the street if that is what we know & we must continue to tell the truth about God if that is who we have found.”

Russell Simmons by Gawker

Russell believes that God is inside each of us. He also advocates eating well as well as practising yoga & meditation, but he’s not preachy at all. He presents his opinions in a very non-threatening way, which I really dig, but at the same time he is honest & open & candid about how these things have helped change his life & shape it in a positive manner. His attitude is that the truth is out there, so it’s our responsibility to get hold of it & then do what feels right. I love that.

From reading Do You!, I really get the impression that Russell is a very cool guy. He’s 50 years old & I think he is probably starting to come to terms with his own mortality & feels like he has valuable information to pass on. He does. I’m so glad he wrote this book. So many of the things he outlines are almost what you could call common sense, but in my experience, the advice that appears the most simple is often the most potent. I love, love, LOVE his modern spin on traditional wisdom & I really wish everyone would pick this book up.

If you’re thinking about buying someone a book this Christmas & you don’t know what to get them — & they have even the slightest interest in improving their life — I swear, Do You! is the book to buy. It doesn’t take a long time to read, & if they polished it off between the 25th of December & the 1st of January, they might just kick off 2008 with an incredible new outlook & purpose. Wouldn’t that be the best thing you could possibly give someone? Yes. I think so.

Five cupcakes out of five! Bravo!

[1] & [2] — Note: These may not be actual titles!