The Defiant Ones is a 2017 mini-series by HBO, and it focuses on the past experiences, current lives, and career of two titans of the music industry: Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre. Recently, I watched The Defiant Ones, and I finished it with thoughts that led me to develop this list of lessons I learnt from The Defiant Ones. By merely adopting these five lessons I believe, we can all begin to experience more success.

#1 – Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, understand diversity

At the beginning of The Defiant Ones, both Jimmy and Dre were heavily involved in the music industry. Both saw the benefits and the drawbacks; there were times of great success but also times of great anxiety and stress to match. So, instead of staying as producers, they both diversified into the record label business, Jimmy started up ‘Interscope’ which is one of the biggest labels in the world and Dre started up ‘Aftermath’ some years later.

Both labels experienced great success, but that wasn’t their greatest diversification, ‘Beats by Dre’ gets that title. Headphones and producing music are separate businesses, but both Jimmy and Dre understood that to be successful they couldn’t put all their eggs in one basket.

We can all learn something from ‘The Defiant Ones’ experiences. By, only having one source of income we’re opening ourselves up to volatility and proneness to failure. Therefore, if we want to maximise our level of success and future stability, we need to create multiple sources of income and work that might not necessarily be associated with our source.

#2 – Your background doesn’t equal your level of success

Dre grew up in Compton, LA, an area associated with so much crime it has become infamous for it. And, Jimmy hailed from Brooklyn, New York which isn’t exactly the jewel of the world.

Most people would write them two off as nothing special or just part of the norm but would you today? Dre being called ‘the first billionaire in Hip Hop from the west coast’ and Jimmy co-founding one of the most successful record labels in the world.  

Their achievements show you can’t use your birthplace as a scapegoat for your lack of success. I’m sure neither of them would change their childhoods. In fact, I would go as far as saying Dre’s success can be partly attributed to Compton being his hometown.

#3 – Chase what you love

We all have passions. But, only a portion of us maximises their potential. Consequently, only some of us have reaped the rewards of our efforts.

Jimmy and Dre loved music; it’s all they knew and cared about. From a young age, Dre was exposed to music, he grew up around it. So, naturally, it wasn’t long before he was making his own tapes in his bedroom and selling them as his hustle.

Jimmy worked in studios sweeping floors; before he got sacked. But, he soon found another job in the studio, and it wasn’t long before he was producing music. Soon after, Jimmy was producing music for big artists like Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon.

Both Jimmy’s and Dre’s fates were decided long before they ever achieved what they have. All because they chased their dreams and did whatever was needed to accomplish their goals.

We can all learn from ‘The Defiant Ones’ their attitude, dedication, and work ethic can take you places you never dreamed of. If you commit to working on your passion every day with everything you have, then there is no reason why you won’t experience success in your life doing what you love, just like The Defiant Ones.

#4 – You don’t need to know your end goal, just the next step

Do you think Jimmy or Dre knew they found a billion dollar company in their youth? I doubt they even thought they would make a living out of their passions. But, what they did know is what had to do next to survive. In other words, they didn’t know the end of their journey, but they did know the next step in their journey.

In today’s world, to many people want everything decided for them before they even do an ounce of work towards achieving it. Then we all wonder why we’re stuck doing things we hate, never achieving anything meaningful. We’re all afraid of taking risks because we don’t want to lose the little we have, although we stand to win a lot more.

Take risks and let your dreams become a reality. After all, you don’t need to know the end, just what’s next. Never stop working towards your goal because you can never know the result.

#5 – You’re a racing horse

At the end of The Defiant Ones, Jimmy gave a great an analogy. He compared himself to a racing horse running a race with blinkers. He is the horse, life is the race, and the blinkers stop him focusing on the competition because just like a horse if he takes his eye off the game for even a second, he will stumble and fall. He couldn’t afford to stumble or fall. Similarity, if we want to succeed, we need to focus on our game and only our game.

There is always someone who is better or more successful than you, but if you focus on them, you’ll never improve, and the void between you will continue to grow. Instead, accept you’re not the best YET and then work every single day, giving everything you have while being oblivious to the people around. And, then one day you will be the person people look up to.

However, once you have success, don’t think you can take your eye off the race because as quoted by Eminem in The Defiant Ones, Dre said:

“You’ve gotta work hard to get it, and you’ve gotta work twice as hard to maintain it”.


So there are five of the lessons I learnt from watching The Defiant Ones, and if you haven’t watched it yourself, I highly recommend watching it. Even if you’re not a fan of the Hip Hop or the Rap industry, the amount of respect you gain for Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre is unbelievable.
Afterall, what these two individuals achieved in the music industry is simply amazing, and their journeys are inspiring to anyone, no matter what past they have.
It just goes to show you can learn lessons from anyone or anything in today’s world, so tell me your favourite lesson you have ever learned and where you learnt it on Twitter.

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