Round of applause

Yo. Your reputation matters. But the person who endorses your reputation matters much more. Hear me out.

I can remember when Katt Williams showed up in Friday After Next. When Kevin Hart showed up in Paper Soldiers. When Drake showed up on Dedication 3.

No one knew the kid Big Daddy Kane brought with him to an interview in a 1990 appearance on BET’s Rap City. His name is Jay Z. We were there when Chris Rock showed up in Beverly Hills Cop II, thanks to Eddie Murphy.

When Jay Z says Cole is the one to watch. When Dr. Dre says Kendrick is the one to watch. When New York Times and Amazon say the book is #1. When Netflix suggests a film you’d like. When Pandora knows exactly what you want to hear.

Or, when Trey Songz shows up on a billboard wearing the new Rocawear line. Or when Johnny Depp shows up on the billboard next to it sporting the new Dior cologne.

We are more open to listening to things that come highly referred. It’s no wonder the hiring manager is only looking at certain resumes. No wonder the blog can’t get popular. No wonder no one listened to that mixtape. By the way — that mixtape, whoever’s mixtape it is, is probably a classic. That’s the point.

You may be the perfectly qualified candidate for what you seek to do. In fact, you are just as qualified if not more than the one who got picked. Perhaps, you need the endorsement.

And not just any endorsement. But an endorsement from the one who is at the top of your game. The tricky part is finding the person who will say out loud, at the top of their lungs, “Pick this person!” The sad part is, not many people are willing to do that. But you don’t need many. You just need one.

People don’t clap until they look around to see if others are doing it first. The method is to get people around you, those you already know, to clap for you. You will notice that the others, the strangers, the ones who didn’t want to hear from you, will start clapping, too. And they don’t even know what they’re clapping for. Social proof is a powerful thing.

Do good work. Build trust. And nurture the right relationships. You’ll need a lot of them, including the major one that will change everything. But first, you must inspire the first few clappers.

So, thank you, Ice Cube, for giving us Katt Williams. Thank you, Dame Dash, for giving us Kevin Hart. Thank you, Lil Wayne, for giving us Drake. And thank you, Drake, for giving us The Weeknd.

Someone has to be willing to go out on a limb for you. And you’ve got to be willing to do it for someone else. God bless.


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