Gene Simmons imparts tips for success in business, life in new book

SHARE Gene Simmons imparts tips for success in business, life in new book

“If Siri [of iPhone fame] can’t understand what you’re saying, you’re f—-d.”

So proclaims KISS co-founder/entrepreneur/ Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gene Simmons during a recent phone conversation to discuss his new book, “Me, Inc: Build and Army of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win In Life and Business” (Dey Street Books). He’s referring to his belief that people learn to speak English if they want to be successful in business.

Gene Simmons of KISS performs onstage during Fox’s “American Idol” XIII Finale at Nokia Theatre last May in Los Angeles. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Gene Simmons of KISS performs onstage during Fox’s “American Idol” XIII Finale at Nokia Theatre last May in Los Angeles. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“I’m proud of my culture [he was born in Israel], but unless we agree on one common way to communicate, we’re going back to the Tower of Babel and complete chaos,” Simmons says.

Unlike in his best-selling autobiography, “KISS and Make-Up,” this time out, Simmons is all business. “Me, Inc.” is Simmons’ guide to succeeding in business and thus life, by working really, really hard. “Everything in life demands hard work,” he says.

OK, it’s much more than that, but you get the drift.

The book, designed to resemble a bible (the best-selling book of all time), is filled with business tips and life lessons according to the 65-year-old KISS frontman, who, let’s face it, IS successful. Much of what he writes is common sense — something Simmons says we’re sorely lacking these days (“I knew that work was good. Work resulted in money. Work and money resulted in food. Work and money resulted in happiness.”).  Some of it is revelatory (“I made money by buying and selling comic books,” “delivering the Long Island Star Journal,” “as the checkout person at the delicatessen”). Other parts are a motivational speaker’s dream (No one has the right to make you feel less than what you are”).

GENE SIMMONS BOOK SIGNING When: 4 p.m. Oct. 28 Where: Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove Tickets: $35 (includes book and signing); books available on site or at Anderson’s Book Shop


On this fall day, Simmons gets the conversation started by explaining his “aha moment.”

“There’s the epiphany that hit me when I graduated high school,” Simmons says matter-of-factly. “I was just stunned that everything I learned in high school taught me nothing. Prepared me not for how to make a living. … I wanted to write a book for the people. It’s very American. I am one of the Great Unwashed Masses. I came here as a legal immigrant — there is a difference. English was my third language [He speaks Hungarian, Hebrew and German]. The astonishing thing in this era of entitlement and political correctness is that people don’t like it when you tell them the truth. At this point in my life, I’m too rich to care [if they don’t like it]. Tough love is important.”

Simmons quickly ticks off some of his “kick-in-the-nuts life lessons” that are among the secrets to success. These include:

“Don’t hang out with stupid people,” Simmons proclaims loudly. “I hang out with Bill Gates and people who will help me. Hang out with smarter people, richer people. People who know stuff you don’t.”

Get rid of the friends who want you to spend your whole day doing nothing with them. They’re not your friends. They’re your enemies. Your friends should be cheerleaders for your entrepreneurial interests. Your friends should not suck up all of your valuable time. Like vampires, those friends will leave you lifeless.-

“Men, don’t get married in your 20s because you’re still a horny 14-year-old boy. Women don’t fall in love with 20-year-old guys because they have six-pack [abs]. Inside they’re a 14-year-old horny boy.”

I didn’t have a real girlfriend until I was twenty-nine years old, although I had lot of of ‘girl friends.’ I also didn’t have many of the costs that go along with having a girlfriend. No Christmas gifts. No travel expenses. No nothin’.

“The book is written in my voice and provides some very important insight into how people overnight can change their life plan, which is their business plan,” Simmons continues. “The best business advice I ever got came from my mother, who was in a concentration camp under Nazi Germany, who basically said we have come to America, the Promised Land. We have the same opportunities and same choices as anyone who’s been here for centuries.”

There’s no reason for you to take a vacation if you’re a young person. You can define what young means for yourself. Start at eighteen years of age and go until your thirties. I have never taken a vacation. I consider work a privilege, not a birthright or means to an end. You actually don’t have a God-given right to have a job or to work. If you can earn a dollar, then thank America and its people for giving you the opportunity to work for it.

Simmons devotes an entire chapter in his book to women entrepreneurs, which has become THE hot topic on the Internet over the past few days, following an interview Friday (watch the video below) on the Fox News Show, “Trending with Tantaros,” in which he reiterates what he wrote by telling women they must choose between starting a career and having a family. “Stop depending on men,” Simmons says in the Fox interview. “Women should assume men will abandon them and thus devote their early lives to making money to support themselves.  … Imagine there are no men in life. Find out that thing that you’re good for that makes the money and then get married and or have children from a position of strength.”

When it comes to raising children, Simmons is equally all business, too. (And you should be, too, if you want them to succeed in life, according to the book). His daughter, Sophie, recently launched her own fashion line. Simmons’ advice to her?

“I told her to WORK! I did not write any checks. I did not give her any financial assistance. [My kids] have never had allowances. My son just wrote his first screenplay. I didn’t lend him a dime. I don’t want my kids to say ‘thank you.’ Just go do it yourself. You want your children to have a sense of pride. Don’t give people fish; teach them HOW to fish.”

And when it comes to marriage,  Simmons writes the way to wedded bliss (and a whole lot less mess when it all goes south) — approach it like a smart business deal to improve your chances for happily ever after.

“It’s not romantic, it’s sensible!,” Simmons says, of the legal documents “pre-proclaiming” who gets what if the relationship doesn’t work out. Simmons and his wife, Shannon Tweed, signed both a cohabitation agreement (they lived together for 28 years) and then a pre-nup once they decided to tie the knot in 2011. “Statistics tells us you will get divorced. So sit down with counsel and put everything on the table; agree to what you agree to when you’re in love, not when you’re divorcing [and hate each other]. Save yourself that heartache.”

When it came to making music, how did the Simmons school of business principles translate to the success of KISS?

“You learn partnerships, you learn how to get along with people,” Simmons says. “You learn drugs and alcohol don’t mix. Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss], who were drug addicts, are by today’s standards poor. … I’ve never been high or drunk in my life, and Paul [Stanley], I don’t think, has either. [We] are winners. You cannot run a race when you’re high. You won’t win.”

Simmons’ successful business ventures also include his ownership of the Los Angeles Kiss arena football team, Simmons Records, the Cool Springs financial services firm, and the Rock & Brews restaurant chain.

“Yes, celebrity and fame does open doors,” Simmons says. “[But] Restaurants, football teams have nothing to do with playing guitars. Invent yourself. You are the brand. Your reputation precedes you. Your work is gonna be an indication of who and what you are [capable of accomplishing]…  There is no substitute for hard work. And you will fail. I failed. Bill Gates failed. Every time you fail, you learn something. … Get the f— up. While you’re alive it’s incumbent upon you to go do something. How sad it would be for you to die and not reach your potential. Get out and do great things. Everybody can do great things. Achieve all you can achieve.”

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