Here are a few gems and lessons Rubin and Lil Baby dropped during their discussion that went on for over an hour at Boardroom x Visa Talks.
Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin will tell you he doesn’t know much about music; Lil Baby will say the same about the sports business. But one thing these men have in common is their work ethics, which just so happen to have led each to dominate their respective industries.
We already gave you a peek into the inaugural Boardroom x Visa Talks event, from the invite-only guest list to the venue layout. To go deeper, we pulled four key takeaways from Rubin and Lil Baby’s conversation, which Boardroom co-CEO Rich Kleiman moderated. Their conversation went well over an hour, and while we can’t share it all and we want to leave some moments as those “you just had to be there” ones, these are the key themes that the group continuously honed in on during their talk.
Relationships power the evolution of the intersection of sports and entertainment.
Rubin and Lil Baby had a fun back-and-forth with Kleiman about whether music influences sports or if it is the other way around. From this tidbit of the conversation, it’s clear we can all agree that music and sports impact one another, even if they do take turns being the primary influence. Rubin and Lil Baby’s relationship is a testament to that because they vibe off of each other, which has created an equal partnership between them.
Rubin said the Fanatics business touches everybody and that culture drives a lot of industries. The process that led him to acquire Lids and Mitchell & Ness, Rubin said, started with conversations and advice from music leaders such as Meek Mill and Jay-Z, who also participated in some of the deals alongside him and Lil Baby.
This wouldn’t have been possible without building those foundational relationships ahead of going into business with one another.
“If I have one purpose, it might actually be bringing people together; it’s probably one of my best skill sets,” Rubin said. “When you get people from all different backgrounds together, you can all learn so much from each other.”
Never compromise your character while evolving. Maintain your authenticity.
Authenticity is a word Lil Baby mentioned often, especially when explaining how he evolved into the rapper he is today. He said it’s a “cakewalk” standing up against people who judge him in the music industry because the people and situations he’s dealt with in his past are way worse.
Lil Baby also touched on how authenticity is what he harnesses the most when reaching his fans, whether that be through his music or marketing a product.
“The stuff I used to have to deal with versus what comes with being a celebrity or being successful … I’d take that any day. I strive on that,” Lil Baby said.
Feeding off the conversation, Rubin talked about how he has no fear of failing, so he doesn’t work from a space of trying to prove people wrong. He said he likes taking his Ls because it helps him learn and pushes him to put his best foot forward.
Now, don’t get it twisted: Rubin stays motivated by the business competition out there for Fanatics, a business he wants to become the most beloved brand to know by sports fans.
“To be happy in life, you gotta love what you do from a professional perspective. I’ve always loved what I do,” Rubin said. “Getting to do what I love is all I really care about.”
Learn from everyone around you every day.
Lil Baby and Rubin said they didn’t know anything about each other before meeting a few years ago in the Bahamas. The pair quickly bonded over gambling, but that’s not the only thing they build their relationship on.
“For me, the great thing that I saw in Baby right away was his work ethic, and his drive was that of the same way I’ve always built my career,” Rubin said. “Just like I felt like I could outwork [or] out hustle anybody, he was that way in everything he did from the first second.”
On the first night they met, Rubin said Lil Baby talked to him a lot about wanting to figure out how to do things in his community – most importantly, helping reform the criminal justice system. At the time, Rubin was doing philanthropic work with REFORM Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to reforming probation, parole, and sentencing infrastructures. Rubin and Lil Baby’s introduction couldn’t have come at a better time, and after this first discussion, the two continued working together on multiple ventures.
Per CNBC, Rubin teamed up with Lil Baby and Meek Mill in late 2021 to give 25 kids ages 6 to 18 who have been negatively impacted by probation and parole violations an NBA experience for Christmas. The kids got to play in a scrimmage ahead of a Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat matchup, where they got to watch from a suite and courtside seats. REFORM Alliance organized the initiative.
When Kleiman asked Lil Baby about name-dropping Rubin in his song “Do We Have A Problem?” where he said he gets his advice, the renowned rapper said he was talking about life and business advice.
“I believe life advice and business advice is almost like the same thing,” Lil Baby said. “The way you live life, more than likely, is how you handle business.”
Rubin drove the point home and talked about how he learns from everyone around him every day, regardless of the industry they work in. He said one of his best assets is being a sponge and soaking up everything he learns from the people around him.
Good things will come when you do the right thing.
Rubin said he’s invested in Lil Baby’s future, and not just because they are friends. The Fanatics CEO said when he first met the rapper, a lot of their conversations were about cars and chains, but now they talk about investments and growing their businesses both together and individually.
“It’s so rewarding to me to see someone so talented figure out how they can do more,” Rubin said. “I love to see the people that are close to me doing great. He’s an amazing artist…[but] he’s [also] a hardworking make-the-world-a-better-place person.”
Lil Baby said his drive has never been to be good at just one thing but instead to put his all into everything he does and be the best at it. He’s passionate about giving back to his community, one of many reasons why he and Rubin linked up so quickly on the charity event detailed above. Beyond that, Rubin’s passion for reforming the criminal justice system sparked from his experience working to get Meek Mill out of prison after his arrest in late 2017.
“The whole system is fundamentally broken. Think about that lesson I got having grown up one way, saying I believe 99% of the people who go to prison, it’s appropriate, then five years later, I’m like, there could not be a more broken system, it could not be more flawed, it could not be more unfair. And it took watching a different culture,” Rubin said about what he learned during Meek Mill’s arrest.
Rubin and Lil Baby will continue to work together and build on their friendship, one that’s anchored in business and philanthropic work. In the meantime, Boardroom and Visa will continue to foster important conversations like this in the near future.
Moderated by Rich Kleiman, Boardroom and Visa hosted a conversation with Lil Baby and Michael Rubin on the intersection of sports, music, and business….
The serial entrepreneur and minority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers joins Rich Kleiman on “Out of Office.” He discusses his hustle, getting into the business of professional sports, and more. Click here to listen to…