On September 7, 1983, then 25-year-old Madonna released “Holiday,” which would become the first of her 38 top 10 songs. Forty years on, she still headlines celebrity news worldwide, embarks on Celebration Tour with 35 of the 78 shows already sold out to date, and remains a force to reckon with in the music industry.
Madonna, 65, has many accolades in music. She sold more than 300 million records and holds “the Guinness World Records as the best-selling female recording artist of all time.” She was dubbed “greatest woman in music,” according to VH1, while MTV and Billboard tagged her as “the greatest music video artist ever.”
She is a songwriter, singer, dancer, drummer, guitarist, actress, director, filmmaker, producer, author, cultural icon and a savvy businesswoman. She launched Maverick Records in the early ’90s, and her other interests include fashion, books, perfumes and fitness centers. Madonna leads her businesses as the face, the brand, the muse and the supreme girl boss.
Not everyone is as multi-talented and versatile as the Queen of Pop. She has no MBA to speak of; she just has the knack for business and the ambition/determination to succeed in whatever she puts her mind into. She is estimated to have a net worth of $570 million to $800 million. So, what can women learn from her?
Three pointers come into mind. First, she stops at nothing to become a “better version of herself” or her company. Says Madonna: “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change.”
Your past or faulty beginning should not have any bearing on what you want to achieve—that I think is a key to success. One cannot succeed if past mistakes bog you down. One must move on, forward and out. “No matter where you come from” is empowering, and it applies to everybody.
Madonna is always changing to achieve this better version of herself. She is the original queen of reinvention—from her looks to her music. Marketers will always preach consistency in branding—that is alien to Madonna. The only thing consistent with how she markets herself is the constant transformation of the Madonna brand with resounding success.
Second, ambition is essential to succeed in business because it gives you a target or goal to achieve. As such, you become focused and singular in your efforts, which drive and strengthen you.
Says Madonna: “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”
Ambition toughens you, and running a business requires making tough decisions. You must be prepared for criticisms, condemnation, loathing which all require toughening up. What makes Madonna click is that she does not care if that makes her a “bitch.” She cares that she gets what she wants with her music and her projects.
Third, always overcome fear of failure. Madonna had plenty of failures before she achieved ultimate success. In the early ’80s, she was dancing and singing with different groups and never stopped at whatever little breaks she could muster.
Running a business has a lot of risks. You put in your hard-earned money into a business venture, and something like Covid-19 happens (as we all experienced) or natural disaster strikes that could ruin even supposedly fail-proof businesses. Our economy thrives because there are people out there who take the risks, who surmount the fear of failure in putting up businesses that employ thousands.
Says Madonna: “We all fall to the floor at some point. It’s how you pick yourself up that’s the real challenge. Isn’t it?”
These three pointers are the most inspiring lessons we can get from Madonna as a businesswoman. Will that make you a bitch? If yes, should you really care?
Image credits: AP