Dr. Dre’s Business Partner

Bruce’s manager looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Hang on, Jimmy, I’m going to tell you something that will go against every instinct you have


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Bruce’s manager looked me straight in the eye, and said,

“Hang on, Jimmy, I’m going to tell you something that will go against every instinct you have about how to react in a situation like this:

“This is not about you”. 

– Jimmy Iovine

It’s not often I come across a documentary that really grips me. But that’s what happened when I came across ‘The Defiant Ones’, a documentary about Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine and their improbable partnership.

Together they created Beats Electronics, a company which produces audio products and was acquired by Apple for $3 billion in 2014. Iovine now heads up Apple’s Music Streaming division.

The documentary perfectly blends the back story of both, along with input from the people they worked and lived with along the way. It’s a very honest portrayal of 2 men who were intensely focused on achieving success in their own ways.

The above quote comes early on in Iovine’s career at a time when he’s working with Bruce Springsteen on his album ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ (having previously worked with him on Born To Run).

Springsteen was driving Iovine nuts in the pursuit of the perfect drum sound. And after 6 weeks of trial and error, with no solution, Iovine was ready to give up – and he confronted Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau about having had enough.

That’s where the above quote came in, followed by:

“I want you to understand something called ‘The Big Picture. And at a moment like this, it’s not about how you feel, Jimmy. It’s about Bruce Springsteen and his album. That’s the big picture — not your feelings, or anyone’s feelings. I want you to walk in that room and tell Bruce Springsteen,

‘I am here to support you. I will do whatever you need me to do.’ ” 

Iovine listened intently and managed to put his ego to one side and in his own words, ‘So that’s what I did.’ 

He names it as one of the key business lessons he learned in his career.

He subsequently went on to work with some of the greatest artists of the time including Patti Smith, U2, Simple Minds, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and his record company, Inter-Scope, has had a massive global reach.

I hear something similar all the time from business owners or CEOs when it comes to people in their organisations.

The people who stand out the most are the ones who have an ‘ownership’ attitude i.e. they are looking at the bigger picture for the organisation and not just themselves. They treat the company like their own.

As a result they do, just like Jimmy Iovine, whatever needs to be done. And in the process they win anyway.

The question is what is the bigger picture and are we willing to really support it?


ps – The Defiant Ones is available on Netflix.

pps – You can watch Jimmy Iovine share the full story above at a commencement speech he gave at The University Of Southern California.

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