[Dr. Mathew Knowles]:
You know, everybody always ask me, "What are you going to talk about?"
And I always say, "I'm excited about hearing what I'm going to talk about, because I never know."
What Georgia didn't tell you, she was trying to get a record deal backstage. She left that part out.
You know, I just have a conversation.
I always like to look at the room.
Something about being quiet and still, and the energy that you give, so I thank you for that.
So, today I was checking in my hotel, and this gentleman said to me, he said, "You know what, Dr. Knowles? It's not about the destination; it's about the journey."
Think about that.
It's not about the destination; it's about the journey.
So that's what I want to talk about tonight. I figured out about five seconds ago what I'm going to talk about.
I'm going to share my journey.
I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama.
So how many people know where Gadsden, Alabama, is?
Raise your hand all — everyone — who knows, who knows, who knows? And there we go.
Nobody knows about Gadsden.
Well, my dad, Matthew Sr., was a truck driver.
He made $30 a week, $30 a week.
But he convinced the owners to let him drive that truck all the time.
And he tore down old houses and sold all the metals, bought old cars, and sold
every part on the car.
My mother was a colored maid — made $3 a day, $3 a day, $15 a week.
Do the math — $45 a week.
That's what my parents made, $45 a week, Michael.
But you know, my mother would get her best girlfriends, and on the weekend, they would
sew these beautiful quilts.
And by the way, I lived on a dirt road in Gadsden, Alabama.
Now imagine that.
Imagine Beyoncé and Solange's dad, living on a dirt road, parents made $40 a week, and I have the privilege of talking to you.
And I see a lot of young people, I'm fortunate, privileged, to be a college professor.
So I just want to talk to you for a minute.
I can be here, if I can be here, growing up in Gadsden, Alabama, on a dirt road — and by the way, I left out another important part.
We were, probably I was 14, 15, before we had what they call "outhouses."
I know you're not — you have no idea what that means.
That's where I — that's been my journey.
That's been my journey.
Growing up in Gadsden. Never went to a black school — I'm 68 years old.
That makes me the oldest in the room, right?
So I was the first: first in elementary school, one of the first Blacks in junior high, one of the first
Blacks in Gadsden High, one of the first Blacks at University of Tennessee.
But you know, my dad and my mother, they always instilled in me, to be the very best that I could be.
They taught me how to dream — the impossible dream.
They taught me how to dream the impossible dream.
What was that dream?
How to find my passion.
How many of you know your passion?
Raise your hand.
My passion is to motivate and to educate, in three areas.
Music business, entrepreneurship, and we'll talk a little bit at the end about health and wellness.
By the way, I have to look at this time clock — ok, there it is.
So, what is passion?
It's the thing that energizes you!
It's the thing that makes you determined.
It's the thing that wakes you up in the morning, excited like I am, every day.
Yesterday I was in class at Prairie View A&M.
Got home at 12, midnight.
My class is at 6:40 in the evening — weird, weird time, 6:40.
And I have to drive an hour. I don't do that for money.
I do it because I love it.
My wife asked me, "Why did you get home so late last night?"
I said, "Finally, you know, semester just started, the fourth class, we finally connected, me and my students."
And so what does that mean?
That means, after class my students finally wanted to have these dialogues and conversations.
And I loved it.
That's my passion.
My passion is right here, right now, this moment — to be in front of you.
Because when you live this wonderful thing called passion, you know, people ask me, "Well, dude, when do you sleep?"
I sleep well, because when you live your passion, you never work a day in your life.
That has to be quite an experience, to do something you don't love, that's not a part of you.
Please, find that passion.
And passions change, by the way.
You know, what I was passionate about when I was a young man, I wanted to play basketball.
Played high school, played University of Tennessee.
And I have a lot of young men in the room that might think that sports and hip-hop is the only
way, rap is the only way.
Let me tell you, that's a 1 percent industry.
The music industry is a 1 percent success rate.
To get into the NBA, NFL, baseball, that's 1 percent.
So, give you an idea: 37,000 albums we make a year, 307 are profitable.
So if that's what you want to do, you better be practicing.
But you can't practice, and give it your all, unless you're passionate about it.
Because what coexists with passion?
Work ethics coexist with passion.
You know, I always say, "You can maybe outsmart me, but you're not going to outwork me."
And I can say that because I love what I do.
I'm very fortunate.
I get to live a life today that, I don't have to do anything I'm not passionate about doing.
I can't wait till you can have that sense of ownership about the word "passion"
and those work ethics.
And certainly I can't, in this brief moment, talk about these ten traits.
And hopefully we'll have another opportunity.
But I will talk about a few, other than passion and work ethics.
You know, and I'm going to talk a little bit — I don't normally, this is something I've never done, actually.
I'll talk about Beyoncé.
Do y'all know her?
[ Cheering ]
Y'all can do better than that.
[ Cheering ]
So I'm going to tell you, you know, one of the traits I find out about highly successful people is we — and I like to put "me" in "we" — learn from failure.
You see, I've learned through many mistakes.
Mistakes in my marriage, mistakes in my being a father, mistakes owning my company, mistakes even speaking.
Hell, I've made a few already.
But what I've learned is, failure, mistakes, they're all opportunities to grow — not a reason to quit.
And for me — before I get to Beyoncé — a lot of my failures had to do with ego.
Ego! So I'm going to give you a definition you have never heard of ego. Not in Webster.
I'm going to give you that definition.
It's the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.
Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.
Dropped the mic on that one.
See, I love doing this to have fun and hopefully share, I don't get uptight and, you know, there's no right or wrong way for me.
It's what I feel at the moment.
This moment we'll get to share — for the rest of our lives, we spent this moment together.
So it's a very special moment for me to share it with you.
So Beyoncé was a young kid, and at 9 years old, she was on this show called "Star Search."
So think "American Idol."
These girls were little girls, kids.
They lost. But guess what?
Justin Timberlake lost.
Boys II Men lost.
Christina Aguilera lost.
I can go on and on and on.
And you'll find that these highly accomplished people that we all look up to, they failed in their lives.
They lost. Beyoncé lost.
Then her and her girl group, Girls Tyme, then got a record deal, with Elektra Records. They got dropped!
For those of you that don't know what that means, they got fired.
That's what it means.
And then, Destiny's Child went on to be the most successful girl group in the world.
I did say the world.
[ Applause ]
But guess what?
When Beyoncé made her first solo album, Columbia Records said, "There's not one hit, Beyoncé, on this record, not one."
They were kind of right.
They had "Bugaboo," "Crazy in Love," "Dangerously in Love."
I could start naming — she only had five.
They were kind of right, she didn't have one — she had five hits.
What is the question aside, what is the point?
The point is — and if we had time, we would talk more about being a visionary, and others, but you know, sometimes people don't understand your vision. And when you're passionate, and you have the work ethics, and you have the right team, you still will make mistakes.
So I share to you my largest, biggest, professional mistake.
Solange, my youngest daughter, got signed to Interscope, Jimmy Iovine, a legend, Dr. Dre, a legend. So they had this new product that they wanted me to help them get into Wal-Mart.
And I said to them, "I don't want to get a check; I want ownership."
They said, "Mr. Knowles, unfortunately we can only give you 1 percent."
Well the company was the Beats, and they sold it to Apple for $3 billion.
My wife reminds me all the time when she's angry, "You know that $30 million?"
That was a big mistake. Boy.
Thinking outside of the box, I did want to say that before I leave and close.
Often I have a box, and I ask one person to get in and invite someone else to get in the box.
And let's imagine this square is the box.
And the person they invite, I ask them why.
Because we have been conditioned since childhood.
Since childhood — what we can't do, because we're poor, because we're Black, because we're Hispanic. We've been conditioned what we can't do — not what we can.
I call that boxed-in thinking.
And so we put people in our box just like us.
That's the only people we want, boxed-in thinkers, that think, because we were conditioned.
So all of our life, all we do, if we pretend that this was a box, we would hit walls all day long, because we've been conditioned.
But once you step outside of that box, there are no walls.
There are no walls.
And hopefully someone understands what I'm saying, once you step outside of that box.
So I'm going to close now, and I always do this.
I've had the opportunity to speak many times, and I ask everyone to stand for a minute, please.
Could you please stand?
So I like to tell a story.
I travel a lot, and I was going down an escalator.
But you know, I want to regress and back up.
In July of last year, I had a dot on my t-shirt. Imagine a red dot.
Take a pen, a piece of white paper, and a dot was on my t-shirt, inside of my t-shirt.
The next day, another dot.
The next day, another dot.
You know, I was fortunate — 20 years I did diagnostic imaging. I sold xeroradiography, the leading modality for breast cancer, the first black man to sell MRI scanners in America, and ended up a neurosurgical specialist.
So I knew, when I saw that dot, something was wrong.
And I sold mammography equipment, and, yes, men do get male — what I call male chest cancer, also known as male breast cancer.
And I went and got an X-ray, a mammogram, actually, an ultrasound, and found out that's what I had.
I immediately had surgery, but the first thing I asked myself: "Why?"
And I remember going down that escalator, then I started that story.
And there was a nun from Mexico.
She had a jar, and a missionary, she asked, "Please give."
And I gave.
She gave me a card, like some of you might give me a card today.
I'm very transparent. I'm not going to read that card.
But I finally one day looked in my pocket, and I did read this card.
That's what I want to end today with.
It said, "Pray not for a life free from trouble. Pray for triumph over trouble."
For what you and I call "adversity," God, the universe, whatever name you want, calls "opportunity."
That was an opportunity for me, and I go all over now, and I spread this story about male chest cancer, and early detection for men and women, and BRCA genetics that you never heard, and I don't have time to explain.
But I wanted to share, just like today, this man said to me, out of nowhere, "It's not the destination; it's the journey."
[ Music ]