What Prince Taught Me About Being A Leader

I’ve had some pretty incredible mentors and role models in my leadership journey. But one of them always surprises people: Prince Rogers Nelson. Yes, the Prince. 

When I was a kid, I had Prince and Michael Jackson on repeat. While I was bebopping around the house to the Top 40 station, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a star right alongside them. But I don’t think I realized how much I was learning from Prince even then.  As a birthday tribute to the Artist, here are the non-musical ways he influenced this Minnesota girl. 

He stayed true to his roots. 

Prince was born in Minnesota and stayed there all his life. Long past when he was expected to move to one of the coasts, he stayed put in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It was where he felt most himself. And he remained a vital part of his community til the end. (Fun fact: he used to say the cold keeps the bad people out!) 

Prince could have lived literally anywhere in the world. It didn’t matter that he became a rich, global icon — he never forgot who he was and where he came from. He never left Minnesota because he remained humble. 

His world was full of strong, ambitious women. 

Prince was slick. Without making a big deal out of it, he introduced the world to the genius of Sheila E., Wendy and Lisa, Vanity, Misty Copeland and more. He was content to stand behind them and use his star power to boost theirs. 

He ignored people who said “You can’t do that.”

Throughout his career, he was creatively daring. When he was signed to his first record label at age 18 (!), he insisted on control of every aspect of his album. Throughout his career, he publicly battled for creative control of his music, refusing to let others (who would profit off of him) make the rules. Talk about knowing your worth! 

Because of his willingness to speak out, it’s safe to say there is no other artist who has done as much to protect the rights of musical artists as Mister Prince Rodgers Nelson. Because he wasn’t afraid to take a stand, he’s remembered not only for being a musical genius but also for being a legendary advocate for the rights of artists. Yes, he fought for his own independence and respect, but by using his voice — by getting LOUD — he fought for the rights of ALL artists.

Obviously not everything about Prince was #leadershipgoals. 

But his insistence on remaining true to himself and to staying rooted in home, even when he attained superstar status, is an inspiration.

Back when I named my first car Princess in tribute to the Artist, (she was a purple Pontiac Sunfire!) I had no idea where life would take me. But like Prince, I always try to keep striving and keep growing while always staying true to who I really am.

PS What lessons have you learned from an unlikely source? I’d love to hear about it. Hit reply and let me know! 

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