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He’s the creative force behind two recent pop hits, a philanthropist, fashion designer, tech entrepreneur, and more. How Pharrell Williams does it all…

Williams’s lodestar–the secret, he says, behind all of his disparate ventures–is collaboration. Whether it’s partnering with film composer Hans Zimmer to create UJAM or working with the artist Takashi Murakami (their sculpture, The Simple Things, fetched $2 million at the 2009 Art Basel) or running i am OTHER with his staff, “you are only as good as your team,” he says. “When you envisage success, you should see all the people you work with, in addition to yourself. When I look at that picture, I see giant angels who are much smarter than me, who can oversee the things that I don’t know shit about. I used to hire 21-year-old monsters with a twinkle in their eye,” he adds. “I saw potential, but it was what I thought they could do, not what they could actually do. But you know what happens when you surround yourself with people with experience, who’ve seen everything a million times? A lot of them are gonna be older than you. When they vet people, they need to see more than twinkles; they need sparks.”

He aspires to something like Andy Warhol‘s Factory: a hive of creativity that is also profitable, with a heavy dose of altruism. But though he designs clothes and chairs, dabbles in sculpture and architecture, and mentors kids, he will tell you that he is “a musician and not much more than that. Sometimes musicians say things like, ‘I’m so happy they see beyond the music.’ I’ve said it too. But people aren’t seeing beyond the music; they’re seeing something in it. I’m always thinking I’m so eclectic, but the truth is that everything boils down to music for me. That’s the key to my success.”






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