“I am a conscious idealist that works for change starting from myself."
Hip hop mogul and businessman Russell Simmons joined journalist Maria Shriver for her Architects of Change series at UCLA Anderson.
Simmons’ best-selling book, The Happy Vegan, is widely-acclaimed as an accessible and inspiring guide for readers looking to move towards a plant-based diet and a happy, purposeful life. Simmons rose to fame by co-founding Def Jam Recordings, quickly propelling him to the top of the hip hop industry. Yet the man who sat down for an intimate chat with Anderson students in Korn Hall spoke of a simple life.
“Happiness comes from inside,” Simmons said. “Operating from a place of needing nothing— that’s happiness. No matter how rich you are, you can only sit your a-- in one seat at a time. The goal of life? To be comfortable in that one seat. Only when you are awakened with clarity can you be present and focus on the job. We are ever evolving to be more present, and more awake.”
Simmons describes his thought leadership through his influence on his fans. “As a [celebrity], you can say sh-- and it travels. You can affect change in many ways, and your efforts in every area become more fine tuned as you become awakened,” he said.
“You’re a different type of leader when you envision a different type of success. It’s empowering to take on philanthropic endeavors.” Simmons is an outspoken voice promoting a plant-based lifestyle. “The abuse of animals is destroying our planet at a rate we don’t know how fast— and we’re on a trajectory we don’t know how to stop. The water used to produce one hamburger is the equivalent of 70 showers. By changing your diet, you are not only helping yourself, but helping the planet. You’re in LA, and eating vegan has never been easier!”
On living a conscious life, Simmons encouraged the audience to meditate and make conscious choices for a mindful lifestyle. "I work just as hard, but I will take my time to meditate. Just put your head down and start to practice. That becomes your Dharma. You should enjoy the work you do, and though you can attract the meaningless toys [by being good at the work you do], you will not become attached to it [the materialistic things]. The less you need, the happier you are.”
To close his discussion with Shriver, Simmons led the room in a mindful meditation session. A quiet hum filled the room, as the audience absorbed and contemplated the ideas Simmons introduced in the session.
Impact at Anderson is dedicated to applying business expertise to achieving social impact. Through igniting meaningful conversations, Anderson collaborates to create a better tomorrow. Visit our Impact@Anderson website for more. View photos from the event here.