I sit here overwhelmed with both admiration and intrigue at the formidable rise of rapper, entrepreneur, philanthropist and self-confessed tech geek will.i.am.
The musical star of Black Eyed Peas, The Voice judge and visionary entrepreneur headlined Entrepreneur's 360 conference in New York City this week and I was delighted to say I was there.
"We live in a noisy world. How can you be louder than that noise?" Listening to him speak, it is clear to anyone that Will is one smart cookie. He understands the nuances of modern society and leverages every opportunity to his advantage. But he is clear, his own profile and wealth is not the aim. "It should never be about the money" he said, as he began to talk about his philanthropic projects with young people. The audience tittered as he asked why kids these days aren't learning iOS. He said "it's not a chuckle chuckle, giggle giggle point."
Who is going to give our kids these dreams?
A bold question indeed. will.i.am knows his purpose and has made his mission the heartbeat of all of his work. He criticised the 'dumb-thumbing' society which aimlessly thumbs across content on smartphones. Speaking of his Puls watch, which works without a smartphone, he said that wearable tech will soon be a 'duh' conversation and that he believes wearable technology will be key to future iterations of success.
Above all, Will's drive and motivation comes from, as he said 'giving back hope and opportunity in the hood.' He makes a good point - in 1915 the Industrial Revolution was taking hold and certain demographics were never a part of that evolution. He blames everyone, individuals, for not taking the initiative to help the world to grow and evolve and boldly asked "What are we doing to make the world awesome?"
And I absolutely agree. People-powered change is what will.i.am is about, in futuristic, clever and technological ways which open up so many vast opportunities for innovation and creativity.
His secret sauce to success, he says, is in the science of knowing what people want and replicating it. He calls it 'hit making' both in music and business. "I don't like the word brand, consumer, brand bible."
This guy is just refreshingly bright, savvy and on point. "My passion is to get the unlikely candidate from Watts or the South Bronx or from the fifth ward in Mississippi to be a part of this conversation," he said.
This is will.i.am - 'i am. i can. i will.' An outlook and philosophy on life and business we all need to adopt. I certainly salute you Will!