When I first heard “Ten Crack Commandments,” I couldn't have been older than 12.
To be honest, I really had no clue what those commandments meant. I figured the lyrics were full of “drug things” that I'd only understand once I saw “Scarface” a couple times. I was wrong. Well, kind of.
Sure, I started to understand the glaring drug references after watching Al Pacino become Tony Montana, but I also began to see new business analogies arise after becoming a man, myself.
I wrote an article applying themes from the hustler's mindset to modern business strategy. I realized that if the “Ten Crack Commandments” could act as an anthem for the hustler, it should also be practical in the workplace.
And while Rap Genius does a great job of giving us the street-meaning of his bars, I feel as though there are more meaningful lessons we can take out of his lyrics.
For Biggie, crack meant work.
In fact, that's why you'll hear rappers refer to it as so. Here's why the “Ten Crack Commandments” isn't just for drugs, but for success too.
1. Never let no one know how much dough you hold
Biggie is saying: Don't make yourself a target. While he's actually referring to jealous thugs in the street, and the threat of robbery, this “commandment” is a good life lesson.
Just because you have something, doesn't mean others have to know. People will always perceive the poor man to be hungrier than the fat cat. In many cases, hunger and ambition are synonymous.
2. Never let them know your next move
Here, BIG is alluding to avoiding getting set up in a drug deal, but it honestly applies to deals of any nature. In most “deals,” two or more parties agree on terms for mutual benefit.
In any good deal, you should strive to maximize your own benefits.
Be unpredictable, yet maintain control. By keeping your business partner guessing, you'll ultimately gain leverage.
More importantly, you'll ensure that no one gets too comfortable. That's when you can grab the steering wheel.
3. Never trust nobody
DTA. Don't. Trust. Anyone.
This one doesn't need much explaining. Don't trust anyone in the streets, don't trust anyone in the office, don't trust anyone, anywhere.
After loving someone, the next most powerful emotion you can invest in that person is trust.
Trust is by no means a prerequisite for business, remember that.
4. Never get high on your own supply
Whether in the crack game, or on Wall Street, never lose focus when it comes to your objective. Your resources are there to optimize your business worth, not your personal pleasure.
Getting high is temporary. The worth of your given product's supply will predict your own future net worth.
Make sure you get the most out of it.
5. Never sell no crack where you rest at
Biggie is illustrating the dangers of mixing your business affairs with your personal life.
In the drug world, if customers aren't satisfied, they'll return to where they bought the product… for a resolution. In the crack game, that resolution won't be peaceful.
Protect yourself, so that work problems remain in the workplace.
After you clock out, remove yourself entirely. If you have a family, spend time with those closest to you. If you have a girlfriend, take her out to dinner.
Make sure that these things don't interfere with work and, more importantly, matters of work can't interfere with them.
6. That goddamn credit? Dead it.
Money up front. Always.
In fact, money beforehand is ideal. Never provide someone a service without compensation offered on-sight.
Commandment three tells us not to trust anyone, and this is even more poignant when applied to matters of financial obligation or debt.
In the crack game, a fiend may “pay you back tomorrow.” In the corporate world, a business associate may ask to pay you after a task is completed.
Business operates best when terms are outlined and met beforehand. That way, nothing is left to chance. Whether it be money or quality.
7. Keep your family and business completely separated
Business is cutthroat. Frankly, there are bound to be times throughout your professional career when you'll make choices you're not exactly proud about.
Entrepreneurs survive by creating their own paths and, sometimes, you'll have to cut down others along the way.
It's the nature of the business. You'll operate best when you aren't forced to watch whose feet you're stepping on.
Although helping your best friend find work may seem like the right thing to do… if things were to turn sour, you put your relationship at risk.
8. Never keep no weight on you!
The weight Biggie is alluding to in this line is drug-weight, or crack. Along with that type of weight, comes liability.
In this commandment, BIG is warning you to remove yourself from any positions of liability.
In the workplace, competing firms will constantly be searching for ways to bring you or your company down. Protect your ass.
9. If you ain't getting bagged stay the f*ck from police.
In Biggie's eyes, the police were the enemy. This obviously won't transcend to your office, at least not hopefully. Still, the underlying concept will.
Think about it like this: Don't be seen with the enemy.
For Biggie, being seen talking to the police could foreshadow a “plea bargain.” Maybe for you, talking to a rival company could foreshadow a “new business opportunity.”
Either way, fraternizing with the enemy might make your coworkers question your loyalty. Although you might not have any sneaky intentions, be careful, as it may create the appearance that you do.
10. A strong word called consignment. If you ain't got the clientele say hell no.
Don't find yourself in too deep in relation to some business ventures. Know when to say, “Hell no.”
Consignment means “agreeing to pay a supplier after the goods are sold.”
You may be interested in taking out a huge loan in attempt to get your startup off the ground. Make sure you “test the water,” so to speak, before handling business this way.
If you accept a sum of money or utilities to complete a task, and then flop, you'll find yourself in hot water.
In the crack game, that may cost you your life; in a business sense, you may too find yourself “in a hole” you can't dig yourself out of, financially.
Photo Courtesy: Sam Rodriguez
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