Gene Simmons: Hard Work, Many Pursuits Are the Kiss of Success

Gene Simmons has rock star written all over him, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing. As a bassist, singer and founding member of the iconic '70s hard-rock band Kiss, Simmons (pictured) is frequently associated with the wild lifestyle of many famous musicians, including drug and alcohol abuse.

"But I've never been high or drunk in my life," says Simmons, adding that he's been with his romantic partner, Shannon Tweed, for 28 years and has two children with her. "But I've never been married."

Simmons, in an interview with AOL Jobs, offered those insights as evidence of a life lived without adhering to someone else's rules, a trait that job seekers, entrepreneurs and others should heed if they, too, wish to achieve personal and career success.

At 61, the Israeli-born Simmons says that education is an important first step in striving for success.

Language and people skills also are important, he says, "because when you sit in front of someone [while] looking for a job, they're judging you as much as your resume: Who you are; how you act; what you look like; and so on and so forth."

Reputation, which in the world of show business translates into "fame," is also key. Just as in show business, fame also drives the business world, Simmons says.

"In other words, you want your name, your reputation and so on to precede you.... therefore, all businesses intrinsically, and all human beings intrinsically, are in the fame game," he says, adding that it's a disadvantage to appear anonymous.

"You want ... who you are, how you are, how you conduct yourself to precede you," Simmons says. "People should know about you."

Though celebrities and job seekers alike try to differentiate themselves by creating a unique image, it's also important not to focus your energies too narrowly. Simmons has had to re-brand himself to keep his image fresh and viable.

Among his many ventures are Gene Simmons Rich & Famous Expos, which is a motivational and informational lecture tour, and the TV show "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," which he says is the longest running celebrity reality show.
Meanwhile, Simmons and his Kiss bandmates are gearing up for a 20-show tour in advance of a new studio album due out in 2012.

Simmons also recently signed on as a spokesman for Ortsbo, an instant-message language translation "app" for mobile electronic devices. The technology allows users to chat with anyone, anywhere and anytime in their native language for free. The tool can aid in job hunting, Simmons says, allowing applicants to chat with potential employers, colleagues and others who can provide job leads via smart phones or similar technology.

AOL Jobs Asks
Gene Simmons
5 Quick Questions

1. What was your first job? Rubbing the fat off a butcher's wood chop. We used to chop chickens' heads off.

2. What inspires you? My mother. If my mother can make it, anybody can. She's a survivor of the Nazi-German concentration camps of World War II. She went to work every day, [was] not highly educated, and she survived and lived well.

3. What is the most important trait needed to succeed? Belief in self on a delusional level. You really have to think you're better than you actually are. It'll make you do stupid things. It'll make you reach higher.

4. What is your biggest challenge? To take the public through a learning curve and make them realize what's good, what's bad.

5. What is the best career advice you ever received? To never put all your eggs in one basket has always been a good idea and a mantra of mine. Spread the risk. Have one job and do one thing and be able to do two or three other things in case one thing doesn't work out. Just don't be a master in one and a knucklehead in all others.

"[Don't] do one thing," he says. "Never be the same rat that goes through the same maze to get the same cheese."

And always strive to challenge yourself, Simmons says. He points to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who came to the United States to pursue a career as a bodybuilder, and went on to become a film star and politician.

Schwarzenegger's unwieldy name and thick Austrian accent didn't stop him from achieving big things, says Simmons, adding that he's a huge fan of "The Terminator" star. "And he of me."

Of Donald Trump, on whose "Celebrity Apprentice" program he appeared and was fired from, Simmons says the real estate magnate is "far more qualified" to be president than "almost anybody on Capitol Hill." Trump earlier this year said that he is considering challenging Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

(Lawmakers in Washington mean well, Trump says, but they've never run a company. "They don't understand that the [United States] is actually a business. We have imports [and] we have exports, and unless you keep the right balance, you get deficits," he says, noting that the U.S. owes other nations about $14 trillion.)

Another insight that Simmons garnered from his appearance on "Celebrity Apprentice" was that the other contestants understood how to be a celebrity, but knew very little about business.

"Just because you're famous doesn't mean you know how things work."


Next: Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance


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