4 Business Lessons I Learned from HBO's The Defiant Ones

Its 12:31am on August 13th and I am currently fighting my sleep to write the next chapter for a book that I’m working on. I just finished watching The Defiant Ones on HBO and it inspired me to get to work despite my exhaustion. Honestly, I watch very little television. I cancelled my cancel over a year and half ago for two reasons. One, Comcast wanted to too many of my coins and two, it was a distraction. I decided to become intentional about the content I consumed and it shifted my productivity positively. Nowadays, television is my treat after a week of hard work. I use Saturday afternoons and Hulu to catch up on the handful of shows I do enjoy. A close friend of mine recently told me about the show, The Defiant Ones, and mentioned I would love it. Tonight, I decided to fire up HBO Go to watch it and that friend was absolutely right.


The Defiant Ones is a documentary style show that depicts the business relationship of music icon Dr. Dre and legendary music producer Jimmy Iovine. It was filmed over a three year period and highlights the trajectory of both men. It also features interviews from celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Diddy, and Gwen Stefani to name a few. Season 1 consists of 4 episodes and concludes with a detailed storytelling of the merger between Apple and Beats. To put it simply, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are marketing geniuses. I was so intrigued to learn more about the business behind the music and the documentary left me inspired to action. I finished writing that chapter I mentioned earlier but I wasn’t ready to retire my pen for the night and decided to author a blog post on my favorite lessons learned from this show.


Lesson 1: Silence is Golden

The show kicked off with a mini PR crisis. Thanks to a Facebook Live video courtesy of Tyrese Gibson, news of the Apple/Beats merger leaked before the deal was done. Jimmy was extremely concerned that the deal wouldn’t go through. Dr. Dre was embarrassed about the ordeal and rightfully so. The takeaway from this? Don’t speak prematurely of your dealings. The public will know in due time. Way too many people feel the need to update the world via social media on every detail of their day to day dealings. Surprises are a good thing. That’s why launch sequences for new products and services work very well for both small and large businesses alike.



Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to take a risk and fight for it

One of my favorite parts of the show was the introduction of Eminem to Aftermath. Dr. Dre fought like crazy to gain a record deal from Eminem. The label was totally against it and felt he was too much of a risk. Dr. Dre was willing to accept the risk and The Slim Shady LP went on to debut as #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and won a Grammy for Best Rap Album. Don’t get me wrong, all risk don’t turn out to be major successes like The Slim Shady LP but no risk equals no reward. If something feels right to you and you’ve vetted that idea enough to have strong conviction, go for it with everything you have.



Lesson 3: Influencer Marketing Can Pay Dividends

When Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine partnered to launch Beats by Dre, they heavily leveraged influencer marketing. They provided Beats headphones to be used in music videos by their artists. They sent Beats to athletes across major leagues and in the Olympics. This led to massive sales and growth for Beats within their first year. Obviously as a small business you may not be able to send your products to every athlete but you can still leverage influencer marketing. Whether its partnering with an up and coming YouTuber or a microblogger, influencer marketing at all levels works. The key is to ensure the influencers you are partnering with has an audience that aligns with your target market.


Lesson 4: Recognize When Its Time to Move On

One trend I noticed throughout the entire show was Dr. Dre’s trajectory of having to leave labels. He started with NWA, moved on to Death Row Records and ultimately started Aftermath. I also noticed that it took him a while to come to terms with the decision before putting it in action. However, with each move he made, it propelled Dr. Dre and advanced his career. The lesson here is that its okay to throw in the towel and move on to something else. Learning when to say no is just as important as knowing when to say yes. In fact, sticking around too long in a situation that isn’t fruitful can in fact stunt your growth and impact your trajectory.



Have you tuned into The Defiant Ones? If so, what was your biggest takeaway from the show?

BusinessKyshira Moffett