top of page

Lessons For Entrepreneurs from Kanye West's Documentary, "Jeen-Yuhs"

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Where do I begin!

The documentary is nothing short of REMARKABLE.

"By definition, remarkable things get remarked upon."

~ Seth Godin

Forget what you think about rapper, producer, and fashion mogul Kanye West. The documentary based on his life and career "Jeen-Yuhs" is filled with learnings for all entrepreneurs. If you haven't watched it yet, the next time you're feeling down on your luck and just plain 'over it', watch "Jeen-Yuhs". It's exactly what you need to get moving with more inspiration and precision. Check it out on Netflix.

Here are some of my takeaways:


We all know the 10,000-hour rule (Let me paraphrase it: It takes 10,000 hours of focused work on something to get exceptionally good at it) and it sounds doable, but not many of us get to see what that actually looks like before we commit to the journey. And as the saying goes, 'the unprepared will almost certainly fall short of success.'

Kanye West began his journey to becoming a rapper as a teenager. He locked himself in his room for three summers (in total nine months -- side note: isn't it interesting, that's the time it takes for humans to birth something) and created 5 beats a day in his self-imposed isolation. Why did he do this? He was pushing himself to the limit with the information he had. He was determined to master his craft as a teenager.

"Master your craft

Exceed your potential

Tap into your soul

Fall in love with your purpose"

~ Megha Jalan

Become so good at something that other people believe in you and want to be a part of your journey.

You can only go so far alone.

By the time Kanye West is 18 and actively pursuing his dream of becoming a rapper, he is able to attract people to help him with his vision. Coodie, the filmmaker behind Jeen-Yuhs, abandoned his own pursuit of a career as a standup comedian to follow Kanye everywhere and document his journey. Coodie followed Kanye around for years. This is important! Kanye was a nobody at that point. There was no certainty that he would make it. He didn't know anyone, nor have the resources to open doors. His cousin became his assistant. Why did these people drop their own life plans to join Kanye in his dream? My take: Kanye was so determined and committed to doing the work necessary to be great that people believed him. From watching the actions Kanye was taking they believe that he was destined to make it.

Success is bound to catch up with a man or woman on a mission.

Have you ever met someone who is so obsessed with their skill that you know that it's only a matter of time before they get the 'golden ticket'? They don't have to convince you, you can see it, and truth be told you want to be a part of it.

Let that person be you!

Don't waste your time trying to get people to buy into your vision. Do the work. People will bet on you when the win seems certain.

No One Deserves Success. Everyone Has To Serve Their Way To Success

(Just some word play, you can't take the 'serve' out and get success)

Don't fall into an entitlement mentality just because you've been working so hard. I know! This is a tough one for me too. The reality though, is that no one owes you anything so don't expect anything. We set ourselves up to become bitter and resentful by expecting other people to do what we would have done. They're not you!

Kanye West created so many hit songs for big stars (as a nobody) that it seemed unfair that no one would give him a shot for his own dream. He was literally making everyone rich with his talent but he was still struggling. Selling beats to get by. He did more than pay his dues and never asked for anything.

He simply looked for every opportunity to show what he was capable of.

Sometimes people laughed in his face. Sometimes people ignored him. Sometimes he got no credit for the work. This happened for years, but he never stopped working and helping other people succeed.

"You will get all you want in life,

IF you help enough other people get what they want."

~ Zig Ziglar

To be honest, it looked like he was working WAY too hard for very little money. Truth be told: What he was gaining was even more valuable than money. Even though it didn't look that way for a LONG time.


After being recognised for his skill and finally getting a recording contract, Kanye still couldn't get his career started. The pivotal moment in the documentary comes after he is involved in a car accident and decides he's going to get his music out there no matter what. Even if it is "through the wire" (This will make sense if you watch the documentary.)

"Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship."

~ Denzel Washington

Kanye was ready to make his first album, with no budget and no support from his record label. That didn't stop him though, he had so much 'relational capital' that he called in small favours from everyone and got the job done. In fact not having the record label backing allowed him to do it his way. With every idea they came up with, they simply thought who in their network could help them with it. He had already done so much for his peers in the industry, helping him out was no big deal.


When Kanye was done making his 1st album, he showcased it to his record label and got their go-ahead. They couldn't believe what he had accomplished outside of their formal processes, and that album went on to be nominated for 10 Grammys and won him the Best Rapper Grammy in 2005.


There's always another way. There is no box! Every hurdle Kanye faced, he thought how else can I get this result. There's a scene in the documentary where he's performing spoken word. One would think he's not a poet, but he used the attention to bring awareness to his message. Everything he did was an answer to the question: who is Kanye West?

People can't buy from you if they don't know who you are and what you're about. He followed a simple strategy, step 1: Create brand awareness. Kanye had already mastered his craft and it was now time to do some marketing.

Question every obstacle. How else can I get this outcome?

There's always another way. As an entrepreneur, what else does your target customer enjoy, where you can get in front of them seamlessly and showcase the solution you have for their problem.


The important role that parents or guardians play in the formation of a strong mindset is incredible. Kanye West's mother instilled in him a belief that he was capable of anything. If ever you loved a mother's wisdom, this woman was exceptional. The most memorable parts of the documentary are the words his mother spoke to him.

"You can have your feet on the ground and be in the air at the same time."

~ Momma Donda West

The balance between dealing with reality head-on and remaining above it all is one that we all have to learn. A shift that takes us out of balance in either direction is catastrophic. As an entrepreneur, we may have to do the things that make us money even if they are not exactly where we want to be while we pursue the place we have envisioned. It's all part of the process. The skills of today's work, make tomorrow's work possible.


"A giant looks in the mirror and sees nothing."

~ Momma Donda West

Don't think you are great, rather understand that you are an instrument through which greatness is experienced. Let other people see the giant. When you look in the mirror, see a vessel made for a purpose.

When you watch this documentary and make your own list of takeaways, please come back and share them with me in the comments section.

I don't know a lot about popular culture or the music industry but I do know to learn from everyone. Don't always look at the person, rather seek to understand the great lessons that you can apply to your life from that person's journey.

"Success leaves clues."

~ Tony Robbins

Grateful: To Kanye West, the filmmakers of Jeen-Yuhs, the late Momma Donda West, and the people that helped this story be shared with all of us ---THANK YOU. We celebrate your collective genius.

Have a great week REINVENT family!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I appreciate you.

6 views0 comments


bottom of page