By Linda Mondragon
Yoga is so soothing, the practice of moving with a smile. You can accomplish a lot more with grace and peace than with frustration and anxiety.
A man rightfully credited with shaping hip-hop’s culture thanks in part to the founding of Def Jam Recordings, Russell Simmons is one of the most respected moguls in the rap game. With the recent publication of his book Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, he has once again taken the spotlight. Haute Living had the pleasure to speak with the prolific businessman about his tastes in real estate, love for yoga, and aspirations in life.
HL You were a mentor to Brett Ratner. How does it feel to see him achieve his dreams, and turn into such a huge success?
RS I was his mentor and now he is my mentor. He is an inspiration.
HL Where do you see Brett in 10-15 years?
RS I see him grossing more than Spielberg.
HL You said Donald Trump was your mentor. What have you learned from him over the years?
RS He’s focused in real estate and he understands his business very well.
HL You said in 2004 that you wanted to be the first hip billionaire. How close are you to that goal?
RS To be honest, I am not worried about that anymore… I don’t want to hold on to too much.
HL You have some of the most beautiful homes in the world. Describe your tastes in real estate.
RS I look for subtle details that inspire me. For me, real estate is all about comfort and good taste. I like something that is simple, luxurious, and has the best technology. I want to press a button and make things happen, but with personality. Personality is difficult to convey in architecture. I like old architecture that emphasizes details. In that realm, Richard Meier is the man. I like subtle, very high end, with a lot of personality. I walk into Richard Meier’s building and it makes me feel good. As far as the interior, I like dark wood, a more classic, simple design. But, at the same time, I like something different.
HL You also have some homes on the market. Where are you living now?
RS I am in the city in New York next to the Richard Meier building. I plan to move into a huge apartment, as I already had something next to the World Trade Center that was on MTV Cribs.
HL You are such an intense business mogul. How can you sit and relax with yoga?
RS Yoga is so soothing, the practice of moving with a smile. You can accomplish a lot more with grace and peace than with frustration and anxiety. That is the practice, that’s why we are here: to be a good servant and not worry about what you will get back. This makes me a huge fan of yoga. Being a good giver will make you a great getter.
HL You have achieved virtually everything in life. What’s next?
RS Global Drive. More Def Comedy, more Def Jam. We are currently venturing out in movies, so business is great. Charity is also huge for me. We are doing a huge event at my home, the Art of Life, with over 1200 people.
HL What is most important to you in your life today?
RS My kids are important. Beyond that, The Rush Foundation, the Hip Hop Summit Network, Happy Heart Foundation, and the Diamond Empowerment Fund. The Diamond Empowerment fund is great; we want to raise $35 million. We have 3,300 yogi students in Africa who are studying in 4-year colleges for free. Part of the money goes back to Africa. I’m the chairman of all these foundations and the causes are important to me.