Book Review: Do You! By Russell Simmons

I would have actually made this as a video review, but text is much quicker and I’m not looking that cute right now! LOL.

I first heard about Do You! on Oprah’s show (I’m a massive fan!) and thought I must get hold of the book. If I remember correctly, the entire show featured successful celebrities and what they do to keep them in check. This was in the back end of last year. I hunted everywhere for the book, but like music releases (or perhaps worse) it can take forever for imported books to appear on the shelves of UK bookstores.

On my last trip to New York, I was give the book as a birthday present back in February and only started to read it last Monday. But that’s all good – there’s a time and a place for everything.

Even though I remember the rise of Hip Hop as a kid, I was more of a Gospel/RnB girl. I loved some of the beats that included some of the music my parents listened to (I couldn’t tell you the tunes), but I didn’t really delve in until I was way older. Growing up in the 80s & 90s was a pivotal time for black music and it’s people – hip hop was starting to walk until it stood straight and the world heard the loudest voices, which unfortunately didn’t carry the full message.

Okay so now to the book. I love watching Run’s House, which features Reverend Run of Run DMC aka Joey Simmons, younger brother of Russell. It’s a warm, funny and positive reflection of a family who is successful, wealthy, normal and ambitious who happens to be black. In that show, Russell makes a few appearances which I think sometimes makes him come across as arrogant, judgmental but every much the successful business man. Maybe it’s a good brother / bad brother spin on the programme, I don’t know.

However, after reading Russell’s book, I’m just so impressed! WOW! Every chapter resonated with me – big time! The book is about the 12 rules he aims to follow every day and even if he breaks them ‘on a regular’. Now there is nothing new about what he says – it’s just the way he says them. As a hip hop dude who’s into yoga, believe me the twist is very interesting.

Throughout the book Russell makes it really clear what he’s passionate about – I love the fact that through this media, a book, from 4,000 miles away I can get inside the head of an amazing individual. The insight helped me understand the actions of his motives such as producing a positive family-oriented reality show which is currently on MTV but may be been relegated to BET. Why he’s passionate about eliminating the negative words thrown about casually in hip hop such as the N-word and why he’s a vegan. Every rule had a spiritual and physical connection and was all embracing to every reader of all races, classes and status levels. Whilst not all of it will resonate with everyone, you’ll take away one thing – maintaining success without a spiritual connection may be more of a struggle.

Now I want to be absolutely clear here, by spiritual I’m not talking about any religious affiliation nor am I talking about the spirituality that is often related to the likes of clairvoyants and those that speak with loved ones who have passed. I’m talking about spirituality in relation to the quiet voice that helps you out through life, aka your gut instinct, which some say is God him/herself.

The past week was particularly trying for me and I knew that the Universe somehow guided me to pick up the book and led me to each chapter as I needed it. Thanks to the Universe! I’m definitely in a much better frame of mind today. However, here are the most poignant points for me from the book.

  • Visions: gifts from God. Work on it, stick with it and don’t give up. Share it with the world which in turn commits you to your vision.
  • Do You: be true to your self. Don’t sacrifice yourself for short term gains.
  • Beauty of the mind: mind fitness is even more important than physical fitness. Cultivate it through meditation and even yoga. Listen for God’s voice inside of you.
  • The right time is right now: you must start in order to succeed
  • Give nothing less than your best: and it’ll pay off
  • Get lifted: by surrounding yourself with the right people who are smarter than yourself
  • “Failures” are nothing but a setback: only quitters fail.
  • Always plant good seeds; it’s a lifelong commitment to success
  • Live to Give: not just money, but time, compassion, love, energy and knowledge.
  • Embrace diversity: in all aspects of you life. More opportunities become available with even greater rewards.
  • Be heard: be empowered and then empower others. Effect change for the ‘betterment’ of your family and your community.
  • Spitting truth to power: be empowered to take a stand for what you truly believe in. Do not be afraid to challenge those in power.

Many people will recognise some of the laws of the universe interwoven through here.

Some people may think that a balanced review would be to pick holes in the book too. And yes that’s what others would do, but I’m not known for following everyone else’s rules. So I’m going to focus solely on the high points and the effect those have had on me. If you’re looking for downsides, maybe you’ll find them by buying the book or Googling if you look hard enough. You can be the judge.

Like with every rule, you don’t have to follow any as they are there to be broken, however our society directs us to do so. Before reading this book, I followed some of the rules already but perhaps haven’t gone far enough or have been generous enough. I’ll just take one day at a time.

So to Oprah for bringing inspiring reads to your viewers, I thank you. To my Mom and Brother who found the book in a bookstore in New York City, while I was in a meeting across town, I thank you. To the Universe for motioning me towards reading this book at a time when I really needed to hear/read those words and continually blessing me. And to Russell Simmons for sharing his life journey as a business man, a highly respected pioneer of the Hip Hop Nation and as a man, to you I say thank you and continue to be blessed.

Go to Amazon to get Do You! by Russell Simmons

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