Belief in Himself – Kanye West

Kanye West believed in himself and his talent, even when the chips were down. He proved that he was good at what he did.

Forbes recently said Kanye West was a billionaire 

In 2016, he was in $53M of debt plus had a host of psychiatric problems.

This is a story of how negotiation changes your life forever and why betting on yourself is right.

In 2007, he created a shoe for the Japanese apparel brand – A Bathing Ape.

While on a flight, West happened to bump into Nike CEO Mark Parker. A confident West came up with several sneaker designs with Parker.

Parker was impressed that decided to collaborate with West.

Yeezy was born (from “Kanyeezy” nickname Jay-Z gave him in the intro to a 2003 song). West collaborated with Air Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield to bring out a range of distinctive shoes. 

In mid 2008, the prototypes were made public and in April 2009 he launched it. Different variations of the shoe were released in 2012 and 2014. 

In 2016, West tweeted, stating that he was $53 million in debt (he asked  Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion to help fund his creative ideas).

Yeezy was doing very well at Nike but West felt that the company was treating him like just another celebrity dabbler. “It was the first shoe to have the same level of impact as an Air Jordan, and I wanted to do more,” West says.  

Nike was not ready to bargain more. They were unwilling to give royalties on the shoes. Instead, Nike offered to give a small percentage towards charity.

West refused, stating that he should be treated like an athlete. Plus, West wanted ownership of his brand. 

Adidas had heard of West’s unhappiness, so invited him to Germany.

After negotiations West decided to partner with Adidas and he signed in 2013. 

A deal like never before: a 15% royalty on wholesale prices, plus a marketing fee. (Michael Jordan gets royalties around 5%, and he doesn’t own his brand) 

Kanye and Adidas went contrarian to increase sales & overall brand value. Their model relied on a combination of exclusivity & scarcity.

For instance. limited editions/ drops, routinely selling 40,000 pairs within minutes.

Adidas and Kanye used exclusivity to drive consumer interest in years, but have recently increased supply to drive sales.

His wife Kim and her family had millions of social media followers. He leveraged that to showcase Yeezy 

In 2019, Yeezy did an estimated $1.5 billion in sales – up 50% from 2018. (Jordans do approx $3 billion yearly)

In earnings, Jordan got $130M from Nike last year & Kanye was paid an approx $140M from Adidas last year – or $10M more 

Key learnings

a) Believe in yourself

b) Leverage your strength and passion

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