Success on your own terms

James-RosseauJames B. Rosseau Sr. EMP 98 is Fortune 100 executive and a hip-hop artist. He is an author and media owner, a team builder and a strategist.

He is a mentor and a teacher.

There are a lot of ways to describe Rosseau, who is president of LegalShield Business Solutions and a co-owner of Christian Media Properties (HolyCulture.net). Perhaps the best way to describe him, though, is a man who has created a meaningful life by following his passion.

His recent book, Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life, is a straightforward guide for readers who want to discover their passions and make it a reality.

Rosseau sat down to discuss his professional experience, his career lessons and his book.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Philadelphia in a hardworking, middle class family. We lived in Germantown, which was a pretty tough part of town. I was blessed, because while many of the kids my age were dreaming about unachievable careers – a basketball player, a hip-hop star – my parents instilled in me a sense of hard work, faith and financial sensibility.

How did your career get started?

I took an unusual path to get to management. Because of family issues, I had to drop out of college, and it wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I finished my bachelor’s degree. The upside of this long education was that I caught the learning bug, and now, I strive for continuous education. I spent several years at JP Morgan Chase, worked my way up, and then moved to Allstate, where I became president of Affinity Solutions.

Why you decide to come to Kellogg?

I wanted to be a great general manager. I looked at other schools, but none offered the same open atmosphere or balanced curriculum. At Kellogg, I noticed that my peers were not only smart, they had an open perspective, free of ego. At the end of the day, if I was spending weekends away from my family, I wanted to like it! I enjoyed it more than I’d like to admit.

How did you grow during your time at Kellogg?

I gained more perspective. I have reached senior roles in several organizations, and much of the learning has been on the job. My methods came from bosses and coworkers.

At Kellogg, I learned frameworks that enable more success. It’s so much more powerful to be with professors who ask why you’re doing it the way you have been, that force you to take a few steps back and look at things in a different way. Being able to look at your decisions from this standpoint gives you a heightened level of confidence.

Why did you write this book? Did you have a specific person or audience in mind when you wrote it?

My book was an opportunity to share a bit of my journey, the challenges and the lessons, hopefully encouraging others to look inwards to achieve their goals. Your gifts and talents aren’t coincidental. You have to understand them before you can use them to their full potential.

My mentoring experience initiated the book. During my time at JPMorgan Chase, I couldn’t help but notice (particularly in Delaware) that there was a lack of African Americans at a senior level. This led to numerous opportunities to mentor others – African Americans and beyond – who sought guidance. I noticed that many of the folks I was mentoring struggled with finding personal success. I saw many common themes, so I began to set up peer mentoring sessions. These were very successful, so I put some of my thoughts together into a help guide, thinking it could be a resource to others with the same obstacles. One thing led to another, and the guide made its way into the hands of a publisher.

Your book focuses on being successful on a personal and professional level; that is, following your passion to achieve success. Why do you think people settle?

A big part of settling comes down to accepting the platinum handcuffs. Once you start to make a good living, you can easily accept your high income and live up to it. That’s your first step onto the treadmill. Making more money always looks like it’s going to get you closer to your goals, even if it’s actually leading you down a path you don’t really want.

Live below your means so that you have financial freedom. When you’re ready to pursue your dreams, you’ll be able to follow your passion.

How do you define success?

I love music and helping people – two things that don’t necessarily make money. But because I’ve kept my sights set on following these passions, I’ve been able to save and plan. Now, I own a music media company and a non-for-profit.

For me, success isn’t getting higher on the corporate ladder. It’s having the freedom to pursue my passions.

How would you describe your book in one sentence?

A real life story and journey toward one’s passion which includes practical steps and real outcomes.

Order Success on Your Own Terms on Amazon.

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