Professional Advice Learned from the Hamilton Soundtrack

originally posted on She in the CLE

Hamilton: An American musical is at Playhouse Square, so I thought I would share with you how the musical, well at least the original cast recording (the soundtrack), has helped me in business. I first heard the Hamilton soundtrack in 2016, which also happened to be the year I began my first business Be Ready, after being out of work for awhile.

The musical Hamilton is the story of Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton and while I am a history buff, I didn’t think of Alexander Hamilton as someone who I wanted to know about. That was until I saw Chris Rock on a morning show saying that he jogged to the soundtrack. He talked about how great the baselines and songs were so I listened to the soundtrack and have been obsessed with it ever since. It probably should be noted that I’m writing this listening to the Hamilton Soundtrack.

So two years and a few more businesses later, I still turn to Hamilton to help me refocus and power up as I travel through my topsy-turvy business journey. Here are the songs and lyrics that help me focus and preserve.

“My Shot”

“I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry”

Well kind of young…

If you know the musical it was the obvious song to begin with. As I began my entrepreneurial journey, I was lucky enough to have a few resources and time on my side. I had another friend who was also out of work and would often say, “if I had all resources that you had I would do…..” She quickly began looking for another job and I decided to not throw away my shot and seize the moment by becoming a full time entrepreneur.

“Aaron Burr, Sir”

“Talk less, Smile More”

This lyric is symbolic of Burr’s character, originally played by Leslie Odom Jr., Burr prefers to wait for his future and legacy while Hamilton, originally played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, prefers to go for it, seize opportunities at a relentless pace and constantly looks to change the game to better his outcome.

When I was initially starting out I was more like Hamilton, but now I find that talking less and smiling more reaps better results. It allows me to listen, observe, and more importantly, think. Then I can decide and plan when and how to seize an opportunity or if I should just “wait for it.”

“The Room Where It Happens”

“No one really knows how the game is play, the art of the trade…they just assume that it happens”

In this song Hamilton and his peer/friend Aaron Burr were chatting and Hamilton had to rush off to dinner. Before he left he told Burr he was going to take his advice and talk less, smile more to get his plan to the Congress floor. When they reconnect, Burr is in disbelief thinking Hamilton sold out but then realized both sides got what they wanted. Burr is astonished and then Hamilton retorts, “If you got skin in the game you stay in the game, but you don’t get a win unless you play in the game…” This was my argument for going all in on entrepreneurship.

So, after deciding how to go for it and start a business, I needed to quickly learn about business. I saw others have meetings and discuss big things, begin to make decisions and money. I was an outsider. I would go to networking events and people weren’t really interested in my business once they found out how young my business was. I wanted so badly to have a seat at the table, but before I could earn my seat I had to at least be in the room where the decisions were made, also known as the room where it happens. I was so focused on that concept I wrote an entire blog about it.

A few other songs worth mentioning are “History Has Its Eyes On You,” which is kind of deep if you think about it. Talk about being a guiding principle for decision-making. Another is “Non-Stop,” pretty self-explanatory if you’ve ever hustled or had to be on your grind to make money. And of course, you need a “Right Hand Man” (or woman) to help you on your journey.

As I continue to grow, I constantly assess my current state based on the concept of am I being a Hamilton or a Burr? Granted as life and the story goes, Burr became more relentless and maybe reckless like Hamilton, while Hamilton became more reserved after experiencing major losses, like Burr. Luckily I don’t have any Mariah Reynolds skeletons or have had to go through any cabinet battles along this journey.

“What Did I Miss?” Is there a song that speaks to you on the Hamilton Soundtrack? Also, if you’re looking for more music or remixes of these songs check out the Hamilton Mixtape.