Lessons Learned from The Demon

September 1, 2015 Jeffrey Hayzlett

We may have butted heads initially on “Celebrity Apprentice” but over the years Gene Simmons and I have grown to respect each another. When I asked him about his first business on All Business, he told a story of how he sold cactus fruit to hot, tired workers in Israel. After his hard work he bought himself an ice cream cone, and gave the rest of his earnings to his mother. Did I mention he was only six-years-old! This entrepreneurial spirit has been with Gene all of his life, leading him to the success with KISS as its frontman The Demon and in licensing over an estimated 3,000 products.

Talking with him I learned:

  • Work hard. I always say they don’t call it hard work for nothing, it’s hard because it’s work. Work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor – or in Gene’s case, an ice cream cone.
  • Don’t rock and roll every day. Gene said it best when he called it the “music business”. Gene worked hard at everything he has done in his life, including his music career with KISS. In other words: play hard, work harder. Yes, you can enjoy the fruits of you labor but, more importantly, you need to make sure that the work that needs to be done is just that – done.
  • Be a shark. “You don’t want to be called a lamb.” Gene told me, “God gave you two pockets, either you are self-sufficient and making money, or you’re standing still losing money.” In business, you need to constantly change and adapt – or you die. If you stand still for too long, chances are there’s somebody else out there working harder than you, and you’re losing money.
  • Surround yourself. “You can’t do everything yourself. You have to recognize what you know and sure as hell know what you don’t know,” Gene shared with me. I am successful today because I have made some great business decisions, but not all were great so it’s important that I’ve always had a great team around me to back me up. Surround yourself with people that will jump off a bridge for you. You can find great value in having a great team behind you.
  • Money is NOT the root of all evil. When people get into trouble it’s usually due to a lack of money. Don’t be afraid of working hard and don’t be afraid of making money.
  • English is the language of business. Gene told me, “People who come here from other countries need to wake up to the fact that it doesn’t matter how proud you are of your culture, you need to learn to speak English well, and the better you speak it without an accent, the more money you will make.” A very strong stance to take, but one Gene believes in wholeheartedly. Gene was an immigrant from Israel and when he was eight, he began learning English. In fact, it’s his third language. You may disagree with his stance, but Gene’s success speaks for itself.

Overall, Gene is a business mastermind. From rock god to real estate to owning his own arena football team, Gene has worked hard all of his life to get to where he is today. Gene walks the walk and talks the talk. He thinks big, and acts bigger. Tune in to more great interviews on Play.It!

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