I was introduced to Sean and his Mother, Myra by a mutual friend and accomplished Social Entrepreneur Towalame Austin, Executive of Philanthropy for Roc Nation. Towalame, and I go back over 15 years and have worked on numerous social entrepreneurial ventures together. Sean, Myra and myself quickly formed a strong bond cemented by a common goal of creating economic mobility opportunities for Detroit residents. Sean’s humility, spiritual balance and desire to give back was definitely instilled in him by Myra, but his unwavering love for the City of Detroit was forged on the Westside where he grew up.
From launching the Sean Anderson Foundation to developing career pathway programs for youth in the entertainment and fashion industry, Sean is a social entrepreneur committed to empowering the next generations of Moguls across all industries. I had a chance to sit with Sean during his inaugural DON Weekend in Detroit last summer to find out what drives him as a Mogul and Social Entrepreneur. Enjoy!
Wilson: So, tell me about the Don weekend.
Big Sean: I just wanted to do a charity weekend where I could give back. I called it Don weekend because you know a lot of people call me Sean Don. But then I realized DON, D-O-N could be, “Detroit’s On Now” … and Detroit IS on now. That just describes the whole energy of the city. It’s being transformed, and I think that’s something to celebrate. Buildings that had been abandoned since I was born have been turned into new businesses and new hotels. That’s something to acknowledge and really pay homage to. So that’s what the Don weekend is all about. We’re bringing people together.
Wilson: I like that there were a lot of activities to benefit people in the community.
Big Sean: Yeah, we did a Fashion Mogul challenge, where out of a couple hundred people, we chose 20 finalists to design Puma shoes and Promo Apparel. The winner got $20,000. We showed people that you don’t have to be a rapper from Detroit to do this. You can empower your community just by coming up with an idea, having the right people around you, and just executing it. Don’t keep those ideas to yourself.
Wilson: I feel a sense of responsibility to reach back specifically to brothers and help them. I think we all have to do that, no matter what position we’re in.
Big Sean: We’ve just got to support each other. Because you never know how that support impacts somebody. You never know what inspiration you can give somebody just by helping them out that day, or being there for them. You know what I mean? They could be the next Albert Einstein you know, the next Obama. You never even know the impact you have when you support somebody and support your community.
Wilson: What would you say is your purpose in life?
Big Sean: I’m somebody who is just here to show people how real it is to be what they want to be. To spread wisdom, spread inspiration. If I can enter a room, I can do a concert and make you feel like the most upgraded version of yourself and give you inspiration and get on it, that’s what I’m here for. You know what I mean? That’s my purpose. My purpose is to share wisdom and inspiration.
Wilson: Any advice for budding social entrepreneurs?
Big Sean: Every opportunity, and I mean EVERY situation that you take as a loss is really an opportunity. If you get rich and go broke, that is your opportunity to come back 10 times harder and stronger. Even if you’re completely on your last leg, on your last strand, you can figure out a way to make it, because that’s just what God put in you. You know? As much as I get burdened upon, I know I can make it out. I know I can survive!
Wilson: What’s the number one thing you’ve learned from a mentor?
Big Sean: I have different mentors for different things. I know that sounds easy; but given some of the extreme circumstances, pressures, and decisions that have to be made, and not being experienced in this field of work, there is no degree or blueprint, you have to strengthen your intuitive and spiritual side. That’s one of the things that I learned is to really listen to your heart, because your heart talks to you. Your gut talks to you. That’s really crucial that you listen to that. That voice and feeling is really something to not be ignored.
Another thing is face time and face value is one of the most important things that you can do with somebody to get anything done. You can call somebody. You can email somebody. You can text somebody. One of the biggest keys to success is sitting down with somebody and letting them see your heart. Letting them see the type of person you are. Getting your point across where they see what you’re saying, and also doing it in a respectful way. Not being a push-over, disrespectful, or thirsty, but properly taking the time, respecting somebody else’s time and getting your point across with face value. That goes longer than any email, call or text. That’s how real bosses do it. They take the time and meet up. I learned that from my manager, Jay Brown.