Homeless At 16 To A Millionaire At 18: Lessons From Jordan Kensington
Jordan Kensington has undoubtably had a monumental impact on the British Urban scene. Pioneering the Urban Music Awards (UMA’s) in 2003 when no major UK award shows acknowledged the talent within British urban music (See this BBC Doc For More Info). The UMA’s notably gave artists like Dizzie Rascal their first awards. Fast forward to 2020, Jordan’s company Invincible Media, now has offices in 6 countries, has successfully founded 12 magazines and currently produces some of the most notable award shows, including British Music Week and The National Reality Television Awards.
We had the honour of interviewing Jordan on our Instagram live platform, Boss Series. On Boss Series, we interview incredible individuals with inspiring stories to encourage our followers and provide them with first hand advice. Below are some lessons we learnt from Jordan.
Find Your Higher Purpose
Jordan attributes his success to God. During the interview, he shared his story of becoming homeless at 16 after the unexpected death of his father, and a series of unfortunate events. He prayed to God to turn around his life with the promise that if He did, he would always attribute all glory to God, never to his own works. With this promise, Jordan lives a life in complete devotion to God; loving others selflessly and severing diligently. As a result, he has reaped the result of his devotion to God, as seen through his evident success. Countless times, people have started their entrepreneurial journey with insincere motives and on occasion, when some have attributed great success, they have lost control; quickly forgetting their purpose and roots.
Proof of Concept - Build
Ahead of his time, while at university, Jordan innovated his own social media platform while it was still a relatively new concept in the late 90’s. On the platform, university students across the UK could log in and connect with other students. At the pinnacle of the success of his media platform, Jordan pitched an idea of a magazine to Ministry of Sound, a pillar in the London Clubbing scene. This magazine would be dedicated to UK urban music and culture. With an innate business mind, Jordan used the opportunity to offer them a trial instead of asking them to pay for advertising as a first step to advertising himself and getting clients. His trial was accepted and in 1999, Invincible Magazine was born. After the first issue of the magazine, Ministry of Sound immediately realised the value and great potential of the magazine, shortly after, Jordan closed a three year deal with them; all at the age of 18 years old. Other organisations that believed in Jordan’s vision included London Fire Brigade, Warner Music, Mecca USA and Princes Trust.
Too many entrepreneurs try to close a sale too quickly without building a quality concept, sincere and healthy/mutually beneficial relationships and producing content of quality value. In this example, we see how Jordan was able to present an idea which he executed excellently, prove himself trustworthy and close a three year deal instead of merely making a contact and failing to follow through.
Look for people who think like an entrepreneur. You can identify these people by the way they approach you; have they done their research? Do they have a strategy on how they can add value to your business? If so, they may be the entrepreneurial-minded team member you are looking for.
Employing someone is expensive. Not only do you have to pay a salary but there are other costs involved. Costs can include, their training, extra equipment, National Insurance contributions and more. There is the risk that your employee may steal an idea, take a client or leave after their training. Nonetheless, if you remember your higher purpose and serve that employee well, regardless of their motives, when they do move to new pastures, they are unlikely to forget you and will be willing to support you in other ways in the future. Healthy and mutual beneficial relationships can serve us well in the long run.
For example, Jordan gave Ainsley Duncombe an opportunity to work at Invincible because he showed entrepreneurial traits. Ainsley worked up the ranks and become the Head of Marketing at Invincible. After moving on from Invincible, Ainsley became the CEO of Groupon in the Middle East and now owns a resort in Kenya. Jordan has many stories of individuals that he’s employed that have gone on to do great things. Jordan now has support network of powerful people that he has served during their time at Invincible.
Another tip for recruitment is to pray before hiring someone. Jordan mentioned that at interviews you only see someone for face value. To see if their soul matches your organisation you need wisdom that can only come through prayer.
Fight Fire with Love
In 2008 there was an incident at the Urban Music Awards: someone was assaulted and injured. Jordan started to receive a backlash of bad press due to the incident. The onslaught from the press came as a surprise to Jordan. After almost ten years of being an entrepreneur and becoming a millionaire at 18, this was the most media attention he had ever received. He recognised the trend stigmatised with black people; they were regularly portrayed negatively in the news.
Refusing to be passive, Jordan responded by sourcing 20 million in funding and established The London Weekly, a newspaper that provided a balanced perspective on what the big news outlets were reporting, and to counter some of the negative press.
After the release of London Weekly, shockingly, Jordan received even worse press. From rival journalists raiding his offices to wire taps. Journalists who were friends with Jordan informed him that these were targeted attacks because news publications felt threatened by his new publication. He expressed that this was the lowest point in his life, even worse than being homeless, and it severely impacted his mental health.
Jordan sought guidance in the comfort of his mother, who wisely advised that he should fight fire with love. Jordan gave an example, of seeing a crazy person arguing on the street with a sane person, a normal bystander would not be able to tell whether or not both parties were sane or not. Fighting only drags you down and keeps you from remembering your higher purpose, which for Jordan was to show love selflessly and serve others diligently.
After listening to his mother’s advice and focusing on helping others, rather than trying to fight news publications, Jordan’s mental health improved. A year later one of the news publications, News of the World, was closed due to the phone tapping scandal.