This week we go Off the Cuff with entrepreneur and music manager Kenny Hamilton. Kenny reveals how the COVID-19 environment has impacted him as a music producer and what he his doing to maintain his physical, emotional and mental health during these challenging times.
In this interview, Kenny discusses the following issues:
Kenny Hamilton is an entrepreneur and music producer. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982. Between 2000 and 2003, Kenny served in the US Navy as an Operations Specialist. Following his discharge from the service, he began working as an intern at an Atlanta radio station. He worked his way up to securing on air weekend shifts. He then became a radio personality for Cumulus Broadcasting. In 2008, Kenny secured a position as an on-air personality for the Atlanta based radio station 95.5 The Beat.
Around 2010, Kenny began working with his best friend Scooter Braun to develop musical talent. Their first success was with the artist Asher Roth. Then Scooter discovered Justin Bieber and the two began working on building his career. Between 2011 and 2013, Kenny was the road manager and personal bodyguard for Justin Bieber. He then went on to become the Director of influencer Marketing for Beats Music as well as being a management lead for Spotify.
In recent years, Kenny founded CSH Management Group, which is focused and discovering and building up new musical talent.
Kenny now manages a large stable of very successful recording artists. He also has interests in a range of businesses, including The Cabin restaurant.
Thomas: … with 1AND1 Life. I am very honored like I said and privileged to have a ridiculously successful and very kind, big hearted human being, Kenny Hamilton joining us today. Kenny is a mega manager. He manages, he has a conglomerate that represents some really awesome artists, Rotimi, Ghost. I know you could go down the line and name that. I also know you’re a partner business wise in tons of stuff. One of my favorite places in New York City to eat, probably my favorite place, The Cabin in East Village. Shout out to Dre, shout out to Joey. For those that may not know the breadth of who you are and what you do with the 1AND1 audience, maybe you could just give us a little bit of background, who you are right now, and what’s been keeping you busy.
Kenny Hamilton: Yes. I started a management company a few years ago. Early in my career when I got out of the military, I started a career in Atlanta in radio. Started as an intern, worked my way up. Got hired as hosting on air on the weekends. The weekend swing shift guy or the guy that you would hear at the car dealerships and the movie premieres. Also, interned for Jermaine Dupri back then at So So Def. I started off early on doing that, trying to get into management, and get into the executive side. I was managing a couple local artists around Atlanta. Then, my best friend at the time, Scooter Braun, was also at So So Def. He had left and started his own label. Then, I was pretty much working with him, helping him with artists, and things like that. Our first real success was Asher Roth. We had a record called I Love College that started getting pretty good buzz, it went gold. We put that album out. Then, during that time we found Justin Bieber. Then when we moved Justin to Atlanta, there was no dignified, there was no specific roles for anybody. It was just like this shit is new, we’re going to figure it out. The kid is talented, we’ll see where it goes.
Kenny Hamilton: He just started taking off a lot faster than we expected as far as the growth. It was myself, Scooter, and Ryan who Ryan was one of Usher’s assistants who Usher had fired. He was like, “Yo, he’s such a good dude. We got to keep him around to do something.” Then, Ryan was the one that ended up being with JB when he was like 15, 16, taking him to studios and running him around because I was still on the radio, I was still working at CarMax, hustling, and doing everything else I had to do. When he started taking off, it was just like we got to fill different spots, so one was “security.” Since I had military background and also I have a martial arts background, it was an easier fit for me to slide in there, but at the same time Scooter was explaining, “I know that’s not what you want to do, but we need people around him that we can trust,” so if he’s not in the room, then I’m going to be in the room. Plus, I had been around, taking … me and Justin used to go hoop and do all the little stuff when he was like 14, 15, 16.
Kenny Hamilton: That began the journey of the whole I guess Bieber Fever where we created all that stuff. After the second tour, I ended up leaving and starting my own company. Actually, no. I left because Larry Jackson and Jimmy started a new social platform, music platform called Beats Music. Larry was recruiting me to bring me over there. I went over there and was head of Influencer Marketing. Then, I was there for a little bit because he didn’t tell me that Apple was about to buy the company. I was mad about that. I was like, “Damn, if you would have told me, I probably wouldn’t have came.” Two and a half months later, everything changed from what we had just discussed prior to me taking the job. I ended up leaving, which was fine. Did that for a bit, went to Spotify for a little bit, but then I’m one of those people that was like, I like to control my destiny, I like to control what I do, but also I understand that it has to be a great team that you can build around it. That’s been my whole focus and my goal.
Kenny Hamilton: My company, CSH Management Group. I just did a partnership this year actually with my guy, Juan G. We’re just really focused on building talent, new talent, building it up, and just really putting it all together. That’s my every day focus. Getting music out, which is what we’re doing during quarantine.
Thomas: It’s in my thoughts to touch on that a little bit later because I’ve always said I think the most powerful language is something that will always stand the test of time is music. Even right now in times like this, it’s not only something that can bring people together, but you see tons of artists that are like, “I’m just going to drop something,” because now is the time music is obviously connected directly to emotions and people need that right now. I think what’ll be some really cool insight I know for our audience, even your audience, and me personally is your time in the military. I think it goes along with what our platform, what we’re trying to do, try to talk, and have these conversations with people like you about modern wellness and what wellness really means in the different silos of wellness. How did that time in your life prepare you as far as mental strength and discipline leading on to post military and what you’re doing now?
Kenny Hamilton: It’s funny because when you’re in it, you don’t see it, but now I realize certain things will flash back in my head and I’m like, “Oh, I’ve seen this situation before, so let me do it this way.” It’s crazy because when you first get to bootcamp … when I joined, I wasn’t like a career family, military person, nothing like that. I honestly joined because after my freshman year of college, I went back to Atlanta, and me and my cousin was doing a lot of crazy stuff. We was selling dope, I mean we had the Marshalls raid our apartment because his girlfriend missed a couple court dates, she had warrants, and we had all kind of stuff. I got pulled over with a lot of stuff in the car and I was like, “Man, what am I doing?” I think the life was starting to pull me in this way and I was like, “I got to get out of here. I got to figure something out.” Me and my father weren’t having the best relationship. I was just like, “I just want to get away.”
Kenny Hamilton: I literally was sitting on the couch, I was smoking a blunt, and this Navy commercial came on. I was like, “Man, I’m going to go into the Navy.” I was literally looking at the TV like this. I called an uncle of mine who I wasn’t super close with, but I knew he was in the Navy back in the 80s. I asked him about it and he was like, “Yes, man. It was a great time. We went to a lot of different islands. I saw all kind of different countries. The women in all these different countries, it was beautiful.” He’s from North Carolina. I got to thinking. I was like, “Man,” I had two of my closest friends that we grew up with, they went into the army the year before. They were over in Kuwait at the time telling me about the bombings and just all kind of crazy stuff. I was like, I don’t want to do that. I was like, “All right, I’m going to just go to the Navy.” I literally joined and left within 10 days after making the decision, which is a little weird because when I got there, I did have a moment of, what the hell did I just do?
Kenny Hamilton: I’m like, “All right, I’m here now. I made the decision.” The one thing about me is that I never want to quit anything. If I start it, I got to see it through. Through bootcamp … I did all that build up to say in basic training as they like to call it now, they break you down mentally to build you up the way that they want you to be. They want you to be a militant soldier, sailor, whatever it is, whatever branch you’re in, they want you to conform to what they’re doing, but they also look for the leaders that’ll stand out. I realized that I think within the first two weeks because there are people that they tried to commit suicide during basic training. They would literally drive themselves up the wall because they had no self discipline on the inside. I think that also goes back to my martial arts training and things like that of being self disciplined and really pulling something out of yourself. Once you figure out, it’s like the worst things in the world can happen to you, but you can’t focus on the stuff that you can’t control. You can only focus on what you can control in yourself, so I call it seeing through the smoke.
Kenny Hamilton: You got to see through the smoke. Everything can be on fire and stuff, but I got to find that one pocket where I can just look, just zero in, and say I can go this way. That’s really what it was about. Even now in my line of business, it’s always different things and things are always changing. Even up into this whole predicament now, I canceled … for Rotimi, we had a tour that were announcing literally a week after we had got shut down. I just finished getting all the venues done. It was 20 dates, but I had seven different spot dates before he went on tour and I had another eight after, so it was close to about 35 shows that I ended up canceling. I can sit here and be like, damn, calculate commissions on everything, after parties, merchandising sales. You know it was going to be a great payday, but I can’t count things that’s never in my pocket. I look and say, how can I build him as an artist more? He’s been an actor on a great show, so how do I get people to keep understanding and realizing that he is an actor, he’s a great singer, so let’s put out things that we can do since I got everyone’s attention now. It’s about the mental shift and not focusing on the trauma or really what’s going in. That’s one of the biggest things I learned in the military.
Thomas: Wow, that’s amazing. I see you’re wearing the Jordan sweatshirt. I’ve been watching the documentary. I know you have. Something that you said actually was synonymous with something that I really took a lot from, from the last episode last night. I forgot the name of the journalist, but the journalist was talking about the biggest strength that he thought Michael Jordan had. He said it wasn’t his athleticism, it wasn’t his ability to score the basketball, it wasn’t really his leadership skills, it was his ability to live in the moment, control the moment, and control what he could control, which is essentially the same thing that you’re saying with the see through the smoke. That’s relevant for not only athletes, but just entrepreneurs in general, especially right now with that we’re going through, and businesses too. Even with our business and so many other people that I know, there is a shift, there is an adjustment that you were forced to make. I think it would be really cool to get to hear from you the personal shift and the business shift.
Thomas: With the personal shift, what have been some things because of what’s going on that either you’ve done differently, that you’ve been like, wow, this is something that has either allowed me to create a new habit or see something differently because of what’s going on? Then as far as what you do in music, I think all the time about how digital marketing, eCommerce, wellness, content, all that stuff is changing. How do you see what’s going on may be changing music and music experiences because that’s something that obviously is integral in what you do?
Kenny Hamilton: Yes. I mean, it’s crazy because when the shock of the pandemic and everything first happened, this is a situation where it hasn’t happened to anyone in our generation ever. At first, I was like, “I got nothing but time. I’m going to do this, this, this, this, and this. If I don’t come out down like 50 pounds and straight lean, it’s going to be a waste of time.” Then two weeks later, I was like, “Man, fuck that. I’m just sitting on the couch.” I literally watched every episode of Chicago PD on Ion, USA. I watch Golden Girls at night. I’m smoking weed because I have a 10 year old son. He goes between me and my ex wife. He was just with me for three weeks. Then, he went back to her place Friday, but he’s like, “I’ll be back next week,” because I bought a PlayStation. As you know, I bought a PlayStation. I haven’t bought a PlayStation probably in 10 years. Man, I bought this PlayStation, I bought Call of Duty, I bought the little headset so I can yell at little kids online and shit. I bought all that and NBA 2K.
Kenny Hamilton: I played Call of Duty once. I’ve been playing nothing but 2K career mode. I’m in season two and it’s crazy because I’m like, “Man, I got to get out the house or do something.” I go for walks and try to get on a workout routine. One thing that I did. It’s going to sound so crazy, but one thing that I started doing is when I work out, like after this I’m doing a workout, but I still play 2K during the workouts, so I wrote it out like this. Every time that there’s a timeout, so let’s say like yesterday, I did … what did I do yesterday? Yesterday, I did chest. I got bands, I borrowed my homie’s 30 pound dumbbells, I got a yoga mat, and I got pushup bars. You see I got stairs and everything else. I got the other bands too with the handles. Every timeout like yesterday, it’s 60 seconds, so that’s my set. Every time they call a timeout, I got to do a set. Every time I get taken out of the game, that’s 10 pushups, or yesterday I was just doing 10 sit ups.
Kenny Hamilton: Then, I do that over the course of however long. If it’s a foul, if somebody’s shooting a free throw that’s not me, that’s five squats. I literally did all this shit to where I counted last Thursday, I did 250 squats, 220 pushups spaced out throughout like four hours, five hours. Now, I’m feeling like, oh shit. I’m feeling good. I woke up this morning about to go on a bike ride, but it was raining outside for some reason. It’s crazy because my energy is getting better, so I just had to adapt and figure it out. Actually today as well, I just started … a buddy of mine, Andy Frisella, who I really admire, he owns multiple companies. One of his companies is 1st Phorm. I get a lot of their supplements and stuff at times. Andy’s a very successful business guy, he’s in Saint Louis, and he started this thing. He does a podcast called the Real AF Podcast, but his first podcast that he started was the MFCEO Project. I don’t know if I can curse on here, but it’s called the Motherfucking CEO Project. It’s one of the greatest podcast you’ll ever listen to in your life.
Kenny Hamilton: Andy started this thing called 75 Hard. For 75 days straight, it was two a day workouts. One workout has to be outside rain, sleet, or snow. A diet of your choice, you got to read at least 10 pages out of a book, and all this stuff. 75 was a lot for me to try to take on, but today I started a 30, so I did a little modified version of it, but we’re starting a 30 day situation. No alcohol, no weed, no nothing. This is me and some of the homies just trying to push ourselves to be different and still strengthen our mental state as well. That’s what I’ve been doing personally.
Thomas: You’ve been gamifying it, man. Corey and just trying to figure out what we can do at home, and the live workouts we’ve been doing for people, we’ve found that people don’t really understand how much you can get out of just 30 minutes or 45 minutes. When you gamify it like for example, I’ll send you some stuff it’s really fun to do. We got this card deck workout called the sweat deck where you write down four exercises, so for example hearts will be-
Kenny Hamilton: A friend of mine does this too, yes.
Thomas: Hearts will be squat jumps, I’m just throwing shit out there. Diamonds will be pushups. Clubs will be … you can throw some core in there. You can design it for what you want to do. Say clubs will be low plan jacks or whatever. Then, face cards are 10 reps, then aces are 11. Say you draw a three of clubs and clubs is squat jumps, you got three squat jumps, but then you utilize the jokers. Every time the joker comes up, you got to do every exercise 10 times in a row. The cool part about it is you shuffle the deck, you never know what you’re going to get. You may get high cards in the beginning. Then, it’s really cool because the thing I’ve learned about gamifying workouts and just ways to stay active is just like how I know you are, how I am it’s similar to what I’m learning about Jordan in this documentary. I’m competitive. My biggest competition is myself. If I’m able to be like I got through the sweat deck in 28 minutes, I’m going to try to get through the sweat deck in 25 minutes next week.
Kenny Hamilton: You do the whole deck of cards.
Thomas: Whole deck of cards, 54 cards. Yes. It’s cool because you can be like, do you know what? I’m going to make this sweat deck just straight cardio and abs, so I’m going to do high knees, I’m going to do jumping jacks, I’m going to do burpees, and then I’m going to throw sit ups in there or you can be like, I’ll switch it up. I’ll throw some pushups, throw some tricep dips in there to get some upper body. That’s been cool. Then, another one we’ve been doing is dice workouts. I have two dice, I have two red dice, then I have a blue die. Then, I write down five or six exercises to choose from. I roll the dice and say I get a five on one and a six on the other, that means I got 11 reps of an exercise that I choose. That one’s cool because it’s cool to do it with someone else that can hold you accountable. We do it on our live streams a lot. I’m the one that controls it. Then whenever I want to throw a blue dice in there, it’s three dice, then it’s like burpees.
Thomas: It’ll be like the blue dice will be … if I roll a five, five, and six, guess what? I got 16 burpees. You know what I’m saying. That’s the cool part about having these conversations with people like you because wellness means so many things and I think that it’s not about everybody trying to go in the gym and being a body builder, but in the time that we live in, it obviously has been proven that everybody is more stressed than they’ve ever been. Everybody has things that they’re dealing with mentally more than ever before. A way to cope with that is just activity even if it’s 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever it is, just the fact that you’re doing that and gamifying what you’re doing is so cool, that could be the difference in you feeling a certain way throughout the day. Do you know what I mean?
Kenny Hamilton: Yes, because I was like, “Man, if I’m going to sit here and play this damn PlayStation,” I’ve been doing calls and if it’s not on video, I’ll sit there like this, I’ll be on the phone and be like, yes. I think it should be this way though, but you know what I’m saying. If it’s something I really got to focus on, I’ll pause it and be like, look. Then, go through it, but most of the stuff is just low hanging fruit type of situations for the most part. Even professionally now, it’s different because if you’re one of the top percent artists like top 15 I would say, the Drakes, the Weekends, if you’re at that level already, it’s easier for you. If you’re a mid-tier, lower tier artist right now, it’s hard. Now, everybody can put out music, but as far as getting the coverage and the traction if everybody can put out music, guess what everybody’s doing? Putting out music.
Kenny Hamilton: It’s like if you go on Instagram now and you look at lives before this pandemic, you might have four or five people on live. Now, you got everybody on live. Every trainer I know is doing live workouts. Every Instagram model I know is going live training fitness workouts in the morning with some trainer or somebody else. Everyone’s having music conversations, interviews, starting shows, and stuff. It’s so inundated, so it’s like, “How do you stand out?” Musically, because also you got to think of everyone’s been affected by this whole pandemic, but all the press people, the Billboard, and all those music publication folks, they aren’t working either. There’s a lot of people that aren’t working, so guess who’s going to get most of the coverage if they only have a few staff? The Drakes, the Weekends. The bigger artists get those. Now, you’re trying to fight and claw for attention and everything around you is hard, which is why a lot of people are trying to get these TikTok challenges and all these other challenges going on, which is pretty crazy to get going as well.
Kenny Hamilton: It’s those little intangible things that you got to think of that people have to … people just got to make sure to pay attention to because there’s a lot of things like I’m going to just throw this out. You still got to have a plan. What’s your release plan? What’s the marketing plan behind it? What type of digital marketing can you do that’s different now since everyone’s sitting at home? You’re selling merch, not everyone’s working, so that’s not really going to be a smart way. How can I get people to look at my stuff over this stuff, is the biggest question right now.
Thomas: Yes. I mean, just like everything else, you got to figure out how to differentiate and create a narrative that’s fitting, but while at the same time trying to obviously provide as much value as you can. Leading into that, you’ve already touched on how you see artists and people in music being able to take advantage of the moment, but thinking about the future, and even performances, which performances, in person things, and stuff like that is obviously a way where artists and musicians bring in a lot of revenue, a guy that works with us is like a pseudo creative director for a lot of what we do is running this whole Airbnb new experiences platform by me. He’s like, “Yo, the program that you can do on this. People are doing performances on this.” Because of what’s happening, we’re probably not going to be seeing a lot of concert type things and gatherings for a long time. What’s your thought on how artists may down the line and how the industry as a whole, how it may look after all this stuff is done?
Kenny Hamilton: It’s definitely going to be a change. Right now, it’s looking like there might not be any live shows until the end of 2021. Then, you also got to think about it too with something so serious as this coronavirus and the COVID-19 spread, even if there’s a vaccine for it, there’s still people that don’t take vaccines for measles and all this other stuff. I mean, I haven’t had a flu shot in nine years, I haven’t had the flu in nine years either, but that’s a whole other story. I got vaccinated last year when I had to go to Africa, I had to get a lot of different things for the different countries that I went to. I don’t have a problem with vaccinations, but what if you go to a concert that’s even a venue of a thousand people, and 10 percent of that which is a hundred aren’t vaccinated? Then, they spread whatever they spread to whoever else and so forth. I think that’s going to be in people’s minds for a while.
Kenny Hamilton: One change that I’m seeing now is there are so many companies that are now pitching for online streaming concerts. Yes, that’s going to be a new way, but now it’s like if 25 are doing it, let me find the one, two, or three that are really doing it well and the model is foolproof. That makes sense, instead of just jumping at every opportunity. The business as a whole, it’s shifting, but it’s making us become critical thinkers. The biggest stage, I talked to a few different friends of mine that are at labels. I’m like, “Are you all still signing people?” They’re like, “Yes. We doing Zoom meetings and everything trying to sign artists.” With labels, overheads, and the way that they make money from touring, that touring revenue is huge because you got merchandising as well that ties into that. All that takes a big hit, so it’s going to be very interesting to see, especially when people are able to get back to work as far as people are doing because I’ve heard everything. I’ve heard there was a station out here that was thinking about doing small intimate gatherings where they can have people social distance and spread out.
Kenny Hamilton: It’s cool if you’re only paying 30, 40 dollars a ticket, I can’t pay my tour staff off of that. The margins are going to be very interesting, which is why I’m sitting back waiting to see what other deals I can do with corporations because the marketing budget is going to be bigger now because these shows are going to have to be sponsored by somebody. These shows are going to have to be sponsored by different companies and corporations. I have Rotimi doing Jack Daniel’s thing. We just did an Old Spice. Old Spice did the whole don’t rush challenge. We just did that, that went live last week. I’m looking at things like that now. I’m like, okay. How can I get the music still rolling, but make sure that these companies know that he’s marketable? For my other group, we just had them shoot a video in Atlanta this past weekend. We got three songs that we’re putting out, so I’ve been talking back and forth with Atlantic as a plan of, how we going to roll that out? It’s just trying to figure it out. It’s forever going to be changed for a while. It’s going to be very interesting to see.
Thomas: Yes. Leading off of that, I only got a couple more things I want to cover. Leading off of that for all the entrepreneurs watching or other people that are running their own businesses and obviously able to learn a lot from you, what would be just some quick advice for people whether they are in a position like you where they have their own business and it includes management, marketing, and deployment, distribution and things of that nature? Even it’s probably advice that someone running a regular big corporation could use. What is your thought process on the best way to adapt during something like this as an entrepreneur and how to keep your mind in that area of being able to control what you can control?
Kenny Hamilton: I think a few things. I think for a lot of business owners and people that are just entrepreneurs, I would do this. I started doing it last week actually. Write down everything that this pandemic has affected as far as your mode of operation. Then, write also … I make a few lists. Write down the things that have been affected. Your second list, you should write down the things that you can’t do because of the pandemic in a sense of if the distribution warehouse is closed because I can’t get people there, then also write down things that you can do. Once you look at everything that’s written out and you’re like I can do this and this, that gets your mind running and moving. I use A Beautiful Mind, that movie with Russell Crowe, as an example. If you give me a whiteboard, I’ll have the whole thing just written up with all kind of stuff just so your mind can just see it. I think if you write out lists of the things that you can’t do, then write out the list of things that you can do, the reason I say write the things that you can’t do first is because that list will be longer and the things that you can do will be shorter, but when you see it, you’re like, damn. How do I get this longer?
Kenny Hamilton: Now, you’ve shifted the thought of, how do I fill my cup now? I feel like my cup is empty, but now I’m looking at it and I’m like, I can do this. I can do this and this. That’s where I look at what I would say as far as any type of advice to give entrepreneurs, especially just right now. Don’t worry about the things that we can’t control like I said earlier. You can sit here and be mad as crap on your couch and everywhere else, but instead of being mad, try something new. Try to cook or try to keep active if it’s not working out or doing whatever. Figure out something else within yourself to just keep pushing through mentally. This is the biggest mental test I think we’ll ever have in our life. I hope it is.
Thomas: That is an incredible point. I’m like, man. 50 million people almost unemployed. In any type of matrix or planning that you could ever do for anything, you could never expect, forecast, or plan anything like this to happen. That’s why I think it’s so valuable to hear from people like you because it’s so many people. We live in an instant gratification society, it’s 2020, it’s Instagram. One of my biggest pet peeves is all these people who are like I’m a guru, and I’m blah blah blah, I want to hear from people who … it’s valuable to hear from people who have done it, they’ve earned the stripes, and their jerseys in the rafters because that’s the real information that is able to not only inspire, but really allow people to realize maybe if I try this, if this is the spark, it can really benefit me.
Kenny Hamilton: You just got to keep pushing because it’s like I didn’t come from money and I’m not rich now, but when you look at it now, it’s like I’m drinking these gallons of waters, I literally drink probably three of these a day. I drink them so I don’t get so hungry all the time so I’m not eating through all my groceries because since March, I’ve gotten two commission checks that have come in. I got to pay my ex wife and I still have an assistant that I’m paying right now. I’ve modified what I’m paying out, but I got to watch what’s coming now because the well has slowed up tremendously. There’s plenty of almonds and stuff. I’m not saying I ain’t got no food, but at the same time my whole mentality is like I can’t just be out here pigging out like I’m going out to eat every other night and things like that now because money ain’t coming in like it was. I need to adjust. How do you adjust? You got to adjust and adapt. That’s just one of the realest things I can ever say. I’m sitting here now thinking like, “Well, that check’s coming, but there’s nothing else.”
Kenny Hamilton: I’m trying to create opportunities, but another thing I do as well when it comes to business, I never do a deal for money. If I did a deal for money, I don’t think Rotimi would be where he is right now. I think I would have put him in a bad situation with a bad record deal, so I took a lower end record deal that I really didn’t make any money off of just so I can build him up to get a bigger deal that he would be deservedly so of. You know what I’m saying. That’s the biggest thing. Just not panicking. I can be like, shit. I don’t have nothing else coming in, I’m just holding onto this. If I keep looking at my bank account, it going to keep going down. You get the little Apple alerts where iTunes took this out, and you’re like, oh shit. I forgot that was coming out. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be okay. You got to really believe and I’m really big on the law of attraction.
Kenny Hamilton: I learned this later on in life. Thoughts become things and your deepest darkest thoughts will come to flourish or they will come to destroy you. It’s really just about what you think. There’s not a doubt in my mind that after this, I’m going to be completely fine. I actually think I’m going to be 10 times more after this just because when we’re able to be back to normal, it’s just like okay, yes. Now, it’s go. Especially after watching The Last Dance, I’m like, “Man, I hope no one ever tells me that I was talking to them crazy.” You got some sensitive people, you know it’s a sensitive time these days. I’m like I just need everybody to be accountable and do your job. That’s it. I ain’t trying to be your friend, just get the job done.
Thomas: I saw this meme. It was like, “I wish someone would tell Michael Jordan that coronavirus told him that …”
Kenny Hamilton: Oh, yes.
Thomas: That whole insight, it was so good for me because it just was like the fact that he created a scenario in his head to give him something to motivate him was incredible.
Kenny Hamilton: You know there’s two sides to that, that I want to just say real quick because I want your opinion on this as well. Think about this. You know how people tell you to let go of grudges and let go of things?
Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenny Hamilton: I believe in that, but I also believe that does drive us. Seeing that, proved that theory that I’ve said before. People are like, man, you just got to let it go. No, fuck that. I’m going at their head. That’s how I’ve been taught. They’re like, “You tripping, you crazy. This is why this and this.” It’s like, no. I’m just going to sit back and get rolled over. I still remember in the Navy, I failed a drug test for smoking weed. I had three months left. What they ended up doing, the captain, they put me on restriction. They pretty much put me in the jail on the ship. Well, it wasn’t jail. It was just I couldn’t leave and I had to shave my head. They took all my ranks off of everything. I was cool with the guys in the admin office, so they processed me out in like four days. I was gone. I just remember this one officer came to me and was like, “You just ruined your life. Where else are you going to have three meals whenever you want, all the benefits, medical and dental, this, this, and this?”
Kenny Hamilton: I literally looked at him and I was like, “I’ll be okay,” and just walked away. I still remember him. I’ve been trying to find him on Facebook. I’m friends with a few other people that. I was like, “Whatever happened to …?” I don’t say why. I’m just like, “Whatever happened to him?” I really want to know. Is he a piece of shit somewhere? I want to know how his life turned out so I can look at him and be like, hey. Remember me?
Thomas: This is the thing. It was funny because my mom texted me last night and she was like, “I see a lot of your personality in this.” I was like, “Yes.” Then, I asked her more what she meant. She was like, “You never forget about the people that doubted you.” I used to tell my mom all the time. I try not to hold grudges, but the personal grudge. If you, you’re like whatever. Cool. The moment, what happened, I will never forget that. There’s a thing that at least in my mind the way that I try to craft my motivation and stuff is like everything that’s ever caused me pain, I take the pain, and I put it in the tank. Every time I feel pain, whether it’s pain from a workout I’m doing or pain from entrepreneurship and things not going right, whatever, I’m able to recognize that pain as a fuel mechanism instead of something that’s going to shut me down. It’s real mental shift because to your point, I had a basketball coach in undergrad. He brought me into his office and I gave everything I had to …
Thomas: I had a terrible injury, I rehabbed. I was first one in the gym, last one out. I gave everything I had to what I was doing. Exhausted myself. He brought me into his office because I thought what we was going to say leading into the season was like I’m proud of what you’re doing, you’re moving up on the chart, whatever. I will never forget this. It was snowy out, I had on some Team Jordans, I had on a navy blue Adidas sweatsuit, I walked into his office, and I talked to him. He put his glasses on, he crossed his leg, he wouldn’t even look me in the eyes. He was like, “Yes, Thomas. I think you’re a smart kid, I think you’re a good ambassador for university or whatever,” he said, “or whatever,” then he was like, “I just think you should probably look into other schools and looking to transfer because as far as our team, I just don’t think there’s really any room for you. I’ve already recruited over you. There’s a small forward or whatever coming to your position.” He was like, “I think you can go somewhere else, but you’re a good kid, man. Don’t forget that.”
Thomas: I got up and at that moment, you know how it is when you give your whole fiber of being to something which is what you’ve done your whole career. It’s who you are, it’s why you are where you are. When you give your whole fiber and being to something and you get that feeling of someone that doesn’t see either the gift that you feel you have in yourself or the hard work and dedication that you’ve been giving, it’s the most demoralizing thing for a second. I’ll never forget. I walked back to my dorm, I was crying like a little bitch. Head down. I sat in my dorm and I told myself from that day forward, I was like, “I’m going to make him regret that.” To this day, I’ve always told myself not where I want to be yet, but when I get to a certain place of what I feel comfortable enough doing that, I’m going to write him a letter, I’m going to send it to him, and I’m going to thank him for fueling me to get me to where I ended up being.
Thomas: It’s not going to be a I hope you rot in hell, blah blah blah. I’m just going to send him a thank you note. It’s literally going to be a thank you note. It’s different stories of that, the way that I think about it is in Super Mario when you get the things that give you rainbow power and you get all these stars. Every time I feel, hear, or get doubt, I just add a star to my thing. One day, all the people that added stars to my thing going to see this big ass rainbow in the sky. It’s going to be me.
Kenny Hamilton: That’s real.
Thomas: It’s one of those things because those people see it and when they see it, they’ll be like, damn. Kenny? Damn. For me, that’s it. I feel like it’s the same for Mike, I feel like it was the same for Kobe, I feel like it’s the same for Tiger, I feel like it’s the same for Tom Brady. Even a cat like Steve Jobs. Think about Steve Jobs, him getting fired from Apple and then coming back to Apple, then introducing color computers, then whoop. He probably was like …
Kenny Hamilton: Yes, and that’s the whole thing too when people say about visionaries. You have to already see yourself where you want to be. Every day, I wake up. I have vision boards just on my wall right now that I just put up. I didn’t even get into doing vision boards or understand the meaning behind them until probably three, four years ago when something else had just happened. It was just crazy that it got that way. When you visualize and really see yourself at that place, you’ll take yourself and you’ll will yourself to that next level. It’s going to get there for sure.
Thomas: Yes. That’s another thing I learned. You choose what you want to have exist in your mind and in your subconscious mind. It’s just like what you said. It’s pretty simple when you think about it. Whatever it is that you want, whatever goal it is you want to achieve, whatever it is, it’s always easier to get to that when you picture that and you see yourself there. It’s a decision. It doesn’t matter how hard things get, it doesn’t matter how rough the road is, you have to keep the vision because the subconscious mind is a powerful thing. I feel like that’s what the law of attraction is based around, it’s pretty simple. You have two decisions, you can either think about what you haven’t gotten or what has gone bad for you, or you can put yourself in a place where you continuously think about where you want to go and what you want. The only thing separating you from those two things is time and perseverance.
Kenny Hamilton: That’s for sure, man.
Thomas: Do you know what I mean? All these things, man, it is amazing hearing them come from you. It solidifies the fact that a lot of patterns with people that are at the top of their field are synonymous. I think that’s a really cool point. Thank you for your time, man.
Kenny Hamilton: I appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me.
Thomas: I do not take for granted the fact that you were able to take over 30 minutes out of your day to be on this Zoom call with me.
Kenny Hamilton: I have six calls I got to call back real quick.
Thomas: Yes. Thank you, man. I really appreciate you taking the time to join Off the Cuff, sharing your knowledge, wisdom, how you think about wellness, music, and things of that nature. I’m pretty sure your My Player will win a couple more championships.
Kenny Hamilton: Yes, man. I’m about to get into it though.
Thomas: All right, man. Appreciate you again.
Kenny Hamilton: All right.