18 May I.AM.WILL
A Few Things We’ve Learned From
Observing Will.i.am’s Approach To Life
We know Will.i.am from the band which also contained Fergie, the Black Eyed Peas, and that in itself is pretty bombass. In fact, whenever he comes to mind, tracks such as ‘Where Is The Love’ and ‘I Gotta Feeling’ spin through our mind and unconsciously get our heads bopping to imaginary beats that we danced our socks off to in pubs, clubs and bars in our teenage years.
But to describe him as one quarter of a well known band or as a coach on The Voice is to do a disservice to a man who is so much more and who, with a little observation, can teach us a surprising amount about what it means to evolve and live consciously.
For example, did you know that with his guidance, the band considered themselves to be socially conscious and used their musical influence to create messages of hope and peace? Or that Will is not only a performer, but is also a producer, coach, designer, tech enthusiast, entrepreneur and philanthropist who encourages his fans to reject conformity, question the status quo and embody values that will contribute to the greater good of the world?
Neither did we. But recently, we started paying more attention. And we discovered, among other things, that Will.i.am is truly progressive. Here’s the top things we’ve learned from observing his approach to living your best life.
1. You Can Claim Your Own Identity To Make It Your Superpower & Your Biggest Inspiration
// Will.i.am. I.am.Will. Am.i.Will?//
The concept of your identity is a tricky thing made up of your characteristics, experiences and being, all wrapped up into one entity… and yet many of us still struggle to define who we are and to use to use that knowledge to our advantage.
For Will, it was his simplest descriptor, his name, that became the anchor that he built his identity around. He broke it up, played with it, allowed it to inspire his branding and his music and he still thanks his mother for ‘planting a creative seed’ that transformed something average into something unique.
That’s not to say that an identity isn’t fluid, however. And especially not for Will. In fact, the learning how to remain true to yourself yet still be adaptable is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. Will likens the experience to being fluid like water – it can be “liquid, solid or gas, always changing always the same.” In that way, you can be simultaneously be yourself and be whoever you want to be at any given time, allowing you to design your own future without limitation.
2. Being Mainstream Is A Gift That Allows You To Spread Your Message Further & Faster
// "There Are 7.6bn People In The World… Trying To Reach As Many People As Possible To Spread Joy & Love Should Be Every Creative Persons Mission." //
When the Black Eyed Peas became successful, they were surprised when some of the people who had known them since the beginning accused them of selling out to become ‘pop’.
It was weird because the thing was, they had always wanted to be mainstream, because they had always wanted to make music that contained important messages that would be listened to all around the world by absolutely everyone, from maids to managers to millionnaires.
For Will and the BEP, mass appeal pop music was the embodiment of successfully reaching that goal, which isn’t the same as creating the same sound as other artists in the category. And he is still massively proud of that success, as he should be, because it meant that he got to reach many more people with his music to get them thinking and dancing, than he ever could have if the band had remained niche.
3. Your Career Can Be A Multidimensional Evolution
You might think that a man who has sold 31 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide with the BEP and who has written or produced for artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, John Legend, Usher, and both Justin’s (Bieber & Timberlake), might be content with legendary levels of success within the music industry. But for Will, a self confessed creative and dreamer, there were always a variety of fields he wanted to apply himself to, and conquering the music industry was just the start.
After being part of the very first iPod and iTunes commercial, WIll caught a glimpse of the world of technology and it changed his life forever. Since then, he has created his own tech company, iam+, which employs over 300 people and which has built an artificial intelligence voice operation system.
And let’s not forget that Will has also acted in Wolverine, is a silent founder of Beats by Dre headphones, designed a glasses range for Specsavers, and started Ekocycle, a brand whose products are made entirely from recycled materials, in conjunction with Coca-cola.
Not bad right?! He’s living proof that we can choose to do more than one thing, based on our own interests and callings, at any time during the course of our lives. The only difference between Wills dreams and anyone elses is that he has managed to turn them into reality.
// "A Lot Of Times When You Switch Lanes, Everyone In The Other Lane You Were In Thinks You’re Crazy... I'm Not Crazy… I'd Be Crazy & Kicking Myself Later On In Life If I Didn't Answer This Calling…" //
4. Being Vegan & Living Consciously Can Be A Cerebral, Vigilante Choice
There’s a lot of talk these days about the benefits of adopting a vegan diet, the main of those being health, environmental and ethical. But there’s a new club of vegan supporters who are adopting the plant based lifestyle as a means to channel and communicate a higher level of consciousness and an opportunity to push back against a pill-popping culture and a dirty food industry.
After a recent health scare, Will.i.am was advised by his doctor to start taking pills in order to reverse his high cholesterol levels. Will was shocked. Why was his medical advisor so quick to prescribe a pill rather than offer advice about the lifestyle changes that could be made?
Will promptly looked into the matter and found a wellness retreat that helped him drop his cholesterol, his blood pressure, his weight by 8 lbs and go vegan… all in the space of 10 days. It was a total revelation. Since then, he’s been advocating the lifestyle, challenging pharmaceutical industries and encouraging his followers to ‘posse up’ in a hardcore, vigilante approach to self-help, wellness and conscious living, a group he calls the V-Gang.
// "V-Gang: Noun - Is Me Fighting Back With My Mind, My Selection & My Dollar... What I Buy & Buy Into Affects Not Only Me, But The Environment & All Living Things…" //
5. We Should All Be Actively Working To Change The Issues We See In The World… & Social Media Is Not Enough
// "If People Aren't Out Being Active In Society & Protesting & Creating A Movement Then A Post Is Just A Poster To Movie Never Made…" //
Who remembers the song ‘Yes We Can’, the melody infused by famous faces that helped get Barack Obama elected as president? At this point, it’s probably unsurprising for you to learn that the song was entirely Will.i.am’s brain child. Yet it’s still worth mentioning because the difference it made to voter turnout was a pivotal moment in America’s history. ‘Yes We Can’ encouraged an entire nation to get up and take action for the changes they wanted to see in the world.
Will’s creation of, and message within, the song is also reflective of his belief that we all need to be wary of social media activism and use it only as a tool to get word out – not as a replacement to actually going out into the world and demanding the attention of those in power. And let’s face it, there are still so many things that are worth being passionate about changing that they should be driving us out into the streets in droves.
Will may openly discussing issues such as race, equality, objectification, prison corruption and education throughout his social media channels, but it’s his creative response to solving these issues that are worth the most… and we should all be trying to emulate.
6. With Freedom Of Thought & Freedom Of Speech Comes A Responsibility To Educate Yourself
// "There’s A Difference Between Analytical Opinion & Emotional Opinion…"//
For most of us living in the Western world, we have a set of human rights that many people on the planet do not have the fortune of sharing. These rights include things such as freedom of thought and freedom of speech, which are both incredible things. Just think for a moment – there are still places in the world where you can be shot for the things you say, or thrown in jail for sharing a personal opinion with someone you thought was a friend. So, safe to say, we can definitely consider ourselves lucky that we live in a place where we are free to express ourselves.
But with the power to say whatever we want, about anything we want and sometimes, about whomever we want, our opinions can be powerful tools. In the best case scenarios, we actively educate ourselves in order to create the most informed opinions we can. In the worst case scenarios, we hear of something from our bubbles, misunderstand and start arguments based on tidbits of information that weren’t even facts to begin with. It’s something we’re all at risk of doing, especially in the current climate.
So, it was interesting to watch Will.i.am’s response to Kanye West’s comment that 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice” unfold earlier this month. Will.i.am’s reasoned, intelligent response to interviewer probes regarding how he felt about Kanye’s opinion shone a spotlight onto the difference that being informed and considerate can really make in the world.
7. Contribute To The Causes That Have Touched You Personally & Are Close To Your Heart
// "I Do It Because I Want To Do It… I Do It Because That’s How I Was Raised" //
How do you choose the ways in which you wish to give back to the world when there are so many worthy causes to choose from? If you’re anything like us, you probably wish that you have enough time and resources to contribute towards everything, from social welfare to environmental protection to health research and everything in between.
Of course though, it’s pretty much impossible to make a difference if you spread yourself too thinly. In fact, one of the best things you can do is to take the time to choose a cause that has somehow touched your life personally, or at least keeps you up at night with it’s injustice. The more you understand and can relate to the issue, the more you will fight for it, and you’ll have the added incentive of understanding the outcome that will occur if you manage to bring about change.
For will.i.am, philanthropy is one of his top priorities in life and he has chosen to focus on empowering the youth community of the neighbourhood where he grew up himself. His i.am.angel foundation selects recipients for the i.am scholarship, a program which gives financial aid to support disadvantaged college students who may not have otherwise have had an opportunity to attend college at all. It’s easy to understand why this is such an important cause to him, since his own life could have been very different had it not been for the opportunities that presented themselves to him along the way. Now, he tries to give other kids those same opportunities and gets to watch them flourish when they succeed.
8. The Future Will Belong To Those Who Build It
// "We Need A New Approach To Educate, To Prepare People For The World That’s Coming…"//
There are an awful lot of people in the world right now who are frightened about the uncertainty that the future holds. But where some people sense impending disaster, especially with regard to artificial intelligence, Will.i.am sees innovative opportunity.
It’s true that technology can seem scary for those who don’t have a natural affinity for it. But the reality is that technology will continue to adapt and evolve, whether we’re on board with it or not, frankly. Which ultimately leaves us just two choices – we either watch the future move forwards without us, OR, we can be part of the conversation and part of the solution. After all, they do say: “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.
It’s the education piece of the puzzle that’s missing for most people. After all, how we trust something that we don’t understand? How can we prepare best if we don’t know what we’re preparing for? In this way, it’s imperative that we all engage with what the future could look like, and to make sure we each have a stake in how it will unfold.