Timbaland wore something unusual when I met him at a swanky hotel in Beverly Hills last week. The Grammy-winning rapper-producer was strapped into a human turtle shell of sorts -- a silent mini-backpack that intensely vibrates all over, pumping throbbing beats through your insides like you swallowed a bass cannon.
Jiggling organs aside, I was dispatched to the Viceroy L’Ermitage to pick Timbaland’s, aka Timothy Zachery Mosley’s, brain for entrepreneurial lessons and advice our readers can relate to. He was there to promote SubPac’s new Bluetooth wearable, the M2 Tactile Audio System, that funky thing the star donned over his gray shirt.
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While giving the SubPac a spin, I surprised (and embarrassed) myself. I blushed and spit out some salty expletives as the contraption reverberated through my core. Blasting, bass-heavy rap rattled my eardrums from a set of bulky headphones. SubPac's Toronto-based co-founder and CEO, John Alexiou, seated next to Timbaland, wasn’t kidding when he told me that “Feeling is believing.” Mind you, I’m not one who’s easily sold on trendy wearable tech, but the thing damn near knocked me out of my chair.
As cool as the tactile bass delivery contraption that brought Timbaland and Alexiou together is (Vice says it “could be the future of music listening for serious producers.”), especially when paired with virtual reality goggles and earphones, I wasn’t there expressly to see and feel it.
But the clock was ticking, other journalists were lining up outside the small room we were in, and I was only allowed time to ask three quick questions:
What’s your best piece of advice to entrepreneurs who want to make it big?
Timbaland: “There’s no advice on that because it’s about your heart and your drive. Some men are men. Some women are women. Some people are girls. Some girls are girls who don’t graduate to being women. Some men are boys that don’t graduate to be men. It’s all about your determination and being un-prideful about a lot things and going after what you believe in. You’re gonna’ get the door slammed in your face, but do you stop there or do you persevere? There’s no advice to follow because it’s really about what’s in you, and just being good at what you do. Follow you, believe in you and don’t let hard times harden you."
Me: With so many hit songs under your belt, how do you stay fresh, stay passionate and keep innovating?
Timbaland: “Once you find something that you love and that connects to you, you don’t think about innovating. You just do what you do. It’s the same thing as when I got my first hit. I didn’t think about all the music coming from the '90s. It was, ‘How am I gonna’ be this kid from Virginia who’s gonna get his music heard and to the masses?’ You just do what God gave you. You work with the gifts that you were given. You don’t say, ‘I’m going to innovate and be creative.’ You don’t talk about it. You do it. I just love the music and then the music oozes out of me.”
Me: What’s your top success tip for entrepreneurs?
Timbaland: “My success tip is teamwork, building the right team. Always staying prayed-up and persevering, and follow your heart. Never let nobody tell you can or can’t. 'Can’t' should not be in your vocabulary. 'Do' should always be in your vocabulary. I will do. I will.”