Issue #92 - Digital Cover

Published on October 27th, 2015 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Mathew Knowles talks the DNA of Achievers

Mr. Mathew Knowles, the name has become synonymous with achievement and success on a surreal level. Besides guiding the globally revered Destiny’s Child to the head of the table as regards music standing, he’s also been responsible for giving Beyoncé the tools she’s employed as her career has gone to soaring heights.  Knowles has a new written work out, called The DNA of Achievers: 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals and while it does touch on the entertainment industry, he’s clear during our interview, these are benchmarks that encompass business overall.

“DNA of Achievers: 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals, is supported by interviews and commentary by the likes of Tommy Mattola, former President of Sony Music Worldwide, who wrote the Foreward, and President of The Recording Academy (Grammy’s), Neil Portnow, to give you the very short list.

Our interview took on the life of a conversation and that made it even more special because, he became Mathew and I became Jerry and I was allowed to get past the fluff, to what he is really trying to achieve…what legacy he wants to leave for young people and what inspires HIM to do what he does.

Mathew Knowles

Talk to me about the DNA of Achievers, your new work and what you’re getting into and where you’re leading us.

Well Jerry, how I came up with the idea of writing this book the DNA of Achievers, I traveled extensively for about 15 years. Managing various artists, superstar artist, and when you’re traveling that much and you’re on a plane and you’re sitting next to your neighbor and occasionally you start up a conversation.

I had the opportunity to sit next to some folks who were extremely successful. One day, it dawned on me that most of the people I talk to that were extremely successful, it always started out when I asked, “What do you do,” to be about how passionate they were about what they did. It would always start there. Then we’d talk and start saying Gosh, this was amazing that these folks have a couple of traits. Then I start thinking about friends and folks that I know that are highly successful. Sure enough I felt they had these same traits.

When I looked at my life and I looked back at my life and said, “You know its time to share the story of the DNA of Achievers and the 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals,” because there’s a parallel that runs and there’s a thread that runs that’s common between all of them.

Right. And you’ve laid it out quite nicely and everybody wants to know the formula. I’ve had an opportunity to cruise the book a bit and one of the … I’m really proud, I’m really happy and excited to read the forum by Tommy Mottola talking about how he met you, where you came from and I was also excited to hear about you learning to navigate among the executive level and around the corner thinkers. Starting as an executive at xerox etc etc etc. One of the key points though that I pulled out was the chapter on the talk-to-do ratios which was, you coined that term in 1998 I believe?

Yeah, when I was just getting in to the music industry and coming from corporate America, it just seemed to be a very low percentage of folks in the music industry. But its an industry where people are like, “Yeah Jerry, I’ll get back with you, yeah Jerry we can do that.” And then you never hear from these people.

It’s just one day, I just thought man talk-to-do, what people say, and the percentage of them, what they end up doing is so low and ineffective. It’s a lot of folks that we know Jerry, that have a low talk-to-do ratio and a few that have extremely … It goes back to the folks that have that very high talk-to-do ratio that area highly professional. That’s why I coined that phrase and now folks laugh because they say, “You know, I know some people that that applies to.”

Okay. Well Matthew, talk to me about what it is that you’re sharing with the students. I mean you’re Berkeley college of music and several other high end. Are you teaching the music business? Are we going to see this as a text book in your curriculum?

Well what I do now Jerry, I taught for ten years and most folks don’t know this. I taught as a college professor for ten years. 2 years at [inaudible 00:04:24] University and 8 at where I’m currently a visiting professor at Texas Southern University, restored that college here in Houston, Texas.

I teach 3 courses a semester Jerry. I teach School of Business, Entrepreneurship, I teach School of Communications, Artist Management as well as Introduction to the Recording Industry. Every year, I just feel it’s a privilege. I’m giving this privilege to give back to these students. And more importantly what I try to really, really teach and get across is critical thinking, how to be a critical thinker.

I really am so passionate because … No, my passion is motivation and educating. If you say what is this book about, it’s about motivating and educating on how to take a a dream, how to take your passion and execute it. It’s all about executing it.

I have in every chapter, I have 30 friends of mine who at one time I said, “Hey, would you be in my book?” Not one person said no to me. So I have some amazing people in this book that are highly successful. Like Peter Castroil was a former deputy management editor for People. Or John Kellogg who is the Assistant Chair at Berkeley College of Music or Roy Willis who was the first African American graduate at the College of Arts and Science at the University of Virginia, and also got an MBA at Harvard.

So I have an array of highly successful people, not just music. This book is not just music. For a matter of fact, most of it is not about music. I don’t want folks to get confused that this is a book for music. Very, very fortunate I just launched this book for pre-sale, strategy we had just two weeks ago. Phillip went number one best seller Jerry, number one best seller at Amazon in two categories. Self help category and music business category. And so I’m very proud to have a book that even before the launch date, it’s already a number one best seller.

Congratulations on that. We don’t hear about that very often. So definitely is a new … People are trying to pick your brain every day, all day. Know what I mean? So if you even hint that you put out a manuscript, certainly the hawks will be there to get it. Congrats on all your success over all as a business person who has a business mind that people look to. As you enter the entertaining industry or business, major business, what were the biggest shocks for you about how things actually work?

That’s a really good question. What’s the biggest shock and a shock to me and how business works. I think we have to understand that a certain level of business, it works one way and the higher you get up at an organization, it’s absolutely where the opinions are made. It could, in some cases, operate differently.

Now the best organizations, even at the top level it operates the same. But there are many that the bottom level management and organization is lost somewhere in that huge number of people selling the message. So you have to look at that. I’ve been fortunate that I just on my training and corporate America, that I try to operate at the highest level of the organization that I can. And I see the decisions are made quickly that organization has a clear defining messaging and a … Clearly define what their ethos is, a mission statement. That’s where I find that getting to the highest level of an organization works most of the time more effectively that working at the bottom and moving yourself up.

Wow. That’s reverse of what we naturally think isn’t it?

Well for me one of the chapters is thinking outside of the box. Well Jerry, most people are box in thinking. It’s a term I use, boxed in thinking. When I do my seminars, and I do seminars all over the country, I have one on the 24th here in Houston. All about entertainment industry, how do I get in. Boxed in thinkers and imagine people in a big box. I ask them to move around in this box and they realize that number of people trying to move around in a box is constantly running into each other and running into walls. That’s what a boxed in thinker and then I asked the first person, “Why did you pick John to get in this box with you?” Or, “Why did you pick Susie to get in this box with you?” You find when you’re a boxed in thinker you want people just like you in that box with you. So if you’re positive, then you want positive people in that box. If you’re negative, then you’ll want negative people in that box with you.

Then the other part of boxed in thinking is, we have Jerry, things that happen to us in our childhood that is still unresolved and we hear those messages that we heard. You’ll never be able to do this. You won’t be able to do this because you’re poor. You won’t be able to do this because you’re black. You won’t be able to do this because you’re female or because you’re gay. We still hear those messages and leave it unresolved but I challenge people in that box to move around. They trying to move, they can’t move. They’re hitting wall after wall. They’re doing it because people say just do it that way. Jerry, just do it. And you ask why do we do it? We just do it that way.

We accept that with no imagination, but once you step out that box, and I tell people to move around and they’re like, Oh wow.” I say, “What are you experiencing?” No boundaries, no walls. That’s what thinking outside of the box is and I get excited just by talking about so many people. So many people are stuck in this box that are boxed in thinkers that just do it because that’s the way you do it. At least have an idea at least. Come to me with I have an idea. It might not be right and might can it but I love people who have ideas.

Very powerful. As an aware person, were you motivated perhaps out of some frustration watching those just sitting on their thumbs to put this piece out? Was it something that you saw, something stagnant that you’re like, “Yo, stop giving up, everybody’s quitting, this is how you can make it, no excuses.”

Well it’s not about me Jerry. In the last 23, 24 years, I’ve been in the music industry and in the last 10 years that I’ve been in education and I see students that graduate and they are not prepared. They waited way too late to understand internship and the importance of internship. They don’t quite understand how competitive it is in the market place right now.

That motivates me to want to encourage and see more successful for my young people. The thing in music industry that motivates me to see … The number or failures that we have in the music industry, less that 1 percent make a profit. And 99 percent failure, how can I or what can I do to inspire or motivate more successes. I could go around industry to industry where it could be done differently, it could be done more actively, it could be done with a team approach with planning with lead by a visionary and lead over all passionately, everybody buying in to that passion.

That’s what this book is all about. At the end of each chapter, I challenge people with questions, real serious questions that I want them to work through, that they can really get involved, write, answer, kind of comprehend what they just read, how that effects and works with them personally. This is that book that I wanted to motivate, educate and I talk about all aspects again, that passion thing, it starts there. I’m sure that the Wright brothers came with this airplane and they were the very first … Can you imagine, can you just imagine them talking about, “We’re gonna build this thing that can fly but it’s never happened-”

Steve Jobs saying, “We are going to build this computer and it’s going to do this,” and people saying, “Are you nuts?” It’s having this passion and then it’s a vision. It’s an idea that you must paint in life. Vision really boils down to just being yourself and that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to trust yourself.

How do you know if you have a great idea? Most people are going to say, “No, it ain’t going to work.” But you might have a great idea but the key is you have to come up with all the strategy to execute this idea. Not having a idea without execution is just a poor idea. Good ideas, people come up with the strategy to execute it and they don’t go out into the world too soon with it. Most people have these great ideas and they be like, “What do you think about it Jerry?” See, I don’t do that Jerry. When I come to you, I’m going to say, “Jerry, this is my great idea. This is how were going to get there. Do you know what I need from you Jerry? I need you to write this first article.” That’s a visionary.

I’m just jazzed right now because really’ I feel like I just got a private seminar. Thank you so much. For all the info.

Yeah, I get so excited man, time just goes away from me. It’s amazing Jerry. Everyday comes and goes so quickly and I … How do you know if a person is a entrepreneur Jerry? If they tell you they work 5 days a week, you know they are not an entrepreneur. They tell you they work 7 days a week, you know they’re an entrepreneur.

What is the most fun with being Matthew Knowles right now?

The best fun about being Matthew Knowles is I can say, “I don’t want to do that.” That’s the most fun. I can say to anybody, “I don’t want to do that.”

You get to be like, “I ain’t got to, no thank you.” Wow. So DNA of Achievers, 10 traits of Highly Successful Professionals by Mr. Matthew Knowles.

The official launch was October the 15th via or You can also get the hardback and I will autograph the hard back and you must go to On, you can get the hardback book and I’ll personally autograph it for less than $10 dollars. The book is actually at no cost, that’s just for shipping charge so you can either get the e-book or the [inaudible 00:18:34] or you can get the hard book and I’ll autograph it at

It should be a school book. And I love the fact that you included evaluation opportunities at the end of each chapter. You’re giving it away, you’re paying shipping only and you’re getting a million dollar education on business. You can’t beat that. That’s like having an MBA from Harvard, it’s so good. I know that you address crowds all the country. If you have one minute to address a captive audience of 3 million people, what would be that one minute message?

I would share to them a story of me walking down an escalator in Las Angeles, California and a nun is right there from Mexico and she’s looking for donations. Sorry, it just is and not being judgmental. I gave, and everybody’s giving is different and she gave me a business card Jerry. I didn’t read that card because I had  a habit of putting them in my jeans and kick them out and put it in my next pair of jeans. I finally read that card. That card on the back of it said “Pray not for life, pray for trouble, pray for triumph over trouble for what you and I call adversity, God calls opportunity.” The spirit of the message is, we often pray for no bad stuff to happen. Bad stuff will happen in our life. Its about being prepared. It’s about being spiritual. It’s about giving and learning, and that would be my message because inside adversity is opportunity.

Let me ask you this other question and I have only one more.

Oh that got you didn’t it, that got you didn’t it?

Oh man. Yeah, I’m having a … I’m really going from an interview to a conversation and I really appreciate you giving that. That was just, yeah you got me. You got me. I am hooked on the mind of Matthew Knowles and his business, and I’m jacked up. Actually, I’m going to respect your time and just ask you our signature question. Last but not least, The Hype Magazine wants to know what’s your craziest, where they do that moment. Like something that made you go what the heck.

Sometimes there’s a moment. Sometimes what I feel when I have my bluejeans, t-shirt and sneakers on, that I’ll get into an airplane and I’ll put my bag up in first class and the flight attendant will come to me and say’ “I’m sorry sir, this is only reserved for first class passengers. You have to put your bag over by your seat.” In other words, they assume that because I’m dressed in blue jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers that I don’t, I shouldn’t be in first class. I still look at that as what the heck, really?

Yeah, that’s some Where they do that at stuff for real!

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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