At first glance, Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)(NYSE:BRK-B) and rapper Jay-Z are total opposites, but digging beneath the surface reveals the two are more similar than we could ever imagine.
Buffett was born in Omaha, Neb., in 1930 and Jay-Z was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1969. One is now regarded as one of the most successful investors to ever walk the earth, and the other is a rapper turned media icon. One graces the covers of Fortune magazine and CNBC broadcasts; the other is seen on MTV and in Rolling Stone.
Yet apart from their loyal followings, extreme influence in their industries, and almost unparalleled success, the two have a lot more in common.
Both understood who they were and kept things simple
Jay-Z once remarked in an interview with Oprah that his personal creed was to "be true to yourself -- and keep things simple." Bill Gates has remarked that one of the most important things he learned from Buffett was, "how he keeps things simple."
Notice that Jay-Z stays within his own realm of confidence as he has remained almost exclusively in the music entertainment industry. He has only just now ventured into the sports agency side of things, but that too is entertainment at its core. Buffett's investments are largely in the financial and industrial sectors, and he has said that people should "never invest in a business you cannot understand."
Both had parents that directed their paths
From a young age, Buffett's dad let him invest, read, and start his own business, as he bought his first stock when he was 11 years old. While Jay-Z's father left him when he was 11, he has credited his own love of music to his parents' expansive record collection that allowed him to listen to and begin writing his own music during his youth.
Both do what they love
While Buffett is one of the wealthiest men in the world, he has long said that if he was paid in seashells or shark's teeth, he would still be investing. In a conversation with Forbes, Jay-Z similarly said, "I made the decision to focus on music, which was my love."
Buffett added, "Jay said it perfect, he's in there recording for himself, and the money comes afterwards. I get to do what I love, and it doesn't get any luckier than that."
Both were a bit lucky
Speaking of luck, Jay-Z and Buffett have each noted their successes couldn't have happened without a few lucky breaks.
In both humility and honesty, Buffett notes he's had a number of lucky things happen along the way, from simply being born as a male in America, to his rejection from Harvard, which ultimately led him to his mentor, Benjamin Graham.
Jay-Z has said that had music not brought him to London to record, he could have suffered the same fate of a friend who ended up incarcerated for 13 years following a police sting in their neighborhood.
Certainly the two are different in many ways, but their general paths to success are strikingly similar.