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50 Cent versus Kanye: Should Fiddy have used the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system?

In interviews leading up to the September 11, 2007 release date of his album entitled Curtis, 50 Cent said publicly that he would retire from the music business if Kanye’s album Graduation sold more copies during the first week. The question this 25iq blog post will attempt to answer is: Could Fiddy have obtained a better result if he had adopted the “Objectives and Key Results” (OKR) system at the time this statement was made?



The first step in this process is to identify what the mission is for the organization or individual. My analysis assumes Fiddy has the same mission statement as Disney:

“To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.” 


From that mission Objectives can be created.  My thesis is that one of Fiddy’s two primary objectives is well described in an article by Business Insider:

“When 50 Cent came back from the boot-camp prison as a teenager, he got a job bagging drugs for a dealer. … “’After that, he swore to himself he’d never work for another person ever again. He’d rather die.’”

One of Fiddy’s objectives is clearly independence.  Many other people share this same goal. For example, Beyoncé Knowles described one of her objectives in this way: “I felt like it was time to set up my future, so I set a goal. My goal was independence.” Charlie Munger described his goal in this way: “Like Warren, I had a considerable passion to get rich, not because I wanted Ferraris – I wanted the independence.” “By the age of 42, Ben Franklin had as much money as he needed. I did not intend to get rich. I wanted to get independent. I just overshot.”

I believe a second Objective for Fiddy can be identified by looking at the title of his first album: “Get Rich or Die Trying.”  It is interesting to note that Fiddy said he would rather die than not achieve each of these two objectives.



“Key results are aggressive, but always measurable, time-bound, and limited in number. …They’re aggressive but realistic, but most of all, they’re measurable and verifiable.” John Doerr

What was Fiddy’s Key Result for his album Curtis? It famously was to sell more albums than Kanye during the first week. This Key Result was aggressive given the success of Kanye’s first album, measurable, time bound and verifiable. Publicizing the Key Result and turning it into a beef was a way to increase publicity Fiddy uses often, which he has proven can result in greater album sales. What was the outcome:

In US, Curtis sold 691,000 copies first week and Graduation sold 957,000 copies first week. Curtis did sell more than Graduation worldwide. In the U.S. in 2007 Curtis sold 1,225,000 total copies while Graduation sold 2,116,000 total that year.

Was the numerical goal for first week album sales a well-crafted Key Result? Should a Key Result that focused more on the value and the benefits delivered to his customers have been added? The goal of a great Key result should be a better outcome for customers and increasing sales is just one measure of that. What about an additional or even a replacement Key Result like: Increase average plays on songs on the album from A to B?

In creating Key Results people too often mistake the completion of a task with an outcome that benefits customers. Fiddy’s Key Result in this case was based on a period of just one week, which is arguably too short term to be a good Key Result. Fiddy would have been better off making the Key Result metric “the first 90 days.”

Fiddy’s OKR implementation (and yours) can be summarized in a simple spreadsheet as noted below. Each objective will require its own spreadsheet.



An essential element of the OKR system is regular check ins and an analysis of actual outcomes against Key Result metrics. I suspect that Fiddy did not do this as often as was optimal (weekly check ins is recommended as is re-working them every quarter). Were Fiddy’s actions consistent with OKR best practices?

Fiddy did say many of the right things. For example, this statement by Fiddy sounds like a great way to achieve independence:

“Concentrate on your money. Try to hold your paper. It takes money to make money, so save your money, opportunities come.”

It is well documented that Fiddy entered into a profitable business relationship by sponsoring Glaceau (a water business) products. The end result for Fiddy was Coca-Cola purchasing Glaceau in May 2007 for $4.1 billion. The Washington Post wrote about the financial outcome:

“50 Cent was thought to have walked away with a figure somewhere between $60 million and $100 million, putting his net worth at nearly a half billion dollars. On his next album, 50 Cent could barely contain his own incredulity at the power of the dollar. “I took quarter-water, sold it in bottles for two bucks,” he rapped. “Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions. What the [expletive]?”

Fiddy explains his investment thesis here:

“My manager, when I told him I wanted to sell water … was like, ‘Water? Where?'” “If I’d have said I want to sell vodka, he would have got it, but I wanted water. [Water] is the top-selling beverage, and it’s consumed where music is played.”

Fiddy spent and invested in other ventures and generated a lot of income from his music, as Fiddy’s own song lyrics reveal:

“When I made fifty mill, Em got paid

When I made sixty mil, Dre got paid

When I made eighty mill, Jimmy got paid

I ain’t even gotta rap now, life is made.”

But there was also a lot of spending going on too in Fiddy’s life:

“I come up out the jeweler, the calling me Rocky

It’s the ice on my neck, man, the wrist and my left hand

Ling like Bloaw, you like my style

Ha ha –  I’m heading to the bank right now.”

Eventually spending on luxury products (“first it was the Benzo, now I’m in the Enzo”) and other reversals forced Fiddy to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition:

“In 2015, citing debts of $36m and assets of less than $20m. Judge Ann Nevins approved a plan calling for 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson III, to pay back about $23m. Jackson’s lawyers said Thursday that he paid off the five-year plan early with $8.7m of his own money and $13.65m he received in a recent settlement of a legal malpractice lawsuit against other attorneys.”’

Fiddy is not the only business or individual to go through a Chapter 11. “Mark Markus [a bankruptcy lawyer] explained to Mashable about Fiddy’s Chapter 11 filing: “insolvent, which means unable to pay all one’s debts as they become due.’” Having no cash does not not mean having no assets. Everyone makes mistakes and Fiddy emerged from this Chapter 11 process with a new start, hopefully more the wiser.  I believe he would benefit from a better implementation of the OKR system going forward.  This might make a great theme for a new album.

Fiddy on other topics:

Freemium: “The only business model I had was from selling drugs, so that’s how I marketed my product. I knew the only way to get into any market is to give out free samples. I had to build up a clientele before I could see a profit. I had to invest in my brand.”

Math Literacy: “Nothing I was being told in school made sense to my reality. I could break down a kilogram of cocaine into ounces, grams or any combination of the two. That’s how I learned my fractions and metric conversion, through real-life applications.”

His Rap Name: “The real 50 Cent was a stickup kid from Brooklyn who used to rob rappers.  Other rappers were running around, calling themselves Al Capone and John Gotti and Pablo Escobar. If I was going to take a gangster’s name, then I wanted it at least to be that of someone who would say, ‘What’s up?’ to me on the street if we ever crossed paths.”

*50 Cent suggests that if you use the term “$100 bill,” call him “Fifty.” If you use “Benjamin,” then you should call him “Fiddy.”

OKR Remix (featuring John  Doerr, DJ Tren) 

OKRs provide a framework for scalable execution without micromanaging. John Doerr says: “When properly designed and deployed, they’re a vaccine against fuzzy thinking—and fuzzy execution.” OKRs require rigor and discipline about saying, these are the most important things that are going on in my organization. OKRs are about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about making choices about the focus of execution. OKRs don’t govern your day-to-day behavior and are more likely to be a weekly check-in.”


Objectives define “the what.” Objectives establish a goal to be achieved during a pre-specified period of time (usually a quarter).  Objectives are bold significant, concrete and action oriented. An Objective establishes a goal to be achieved during a pre-specified period of time (usually a quarter). An Objective should be hard but not impossible to achieve and can be aspirational or committed.  A business will have “two or three, or maybe four or five, objectives.”

Key Results:

Key Results define “the how.” The Key Results will determine whether the Objective has been met. Key Results are aggressive, but always measurable, time-bound, and limited in number. They’re aggressive but realistic, but most of all, they’re measurable and verifiable. They should not be tasks but rather indicators of success. Key Results are about metrics. 3-5 per objective. Key Results will let a person know if their key result has been achieved. The Key Results should be achievable by the individual or team with as few dependencies on outsiders as possible. It’s not a Key Result unless it has a number. Metrics that can be part of a Key Result might include revenue or cash flow growth, greater customer engagement or higher customer retention.

End Notes:

This 25IQ post and the remix especially is a supplement to my most recent post on Objectives and Key Results.

Business Insider on Fiddy’s objective: https://www.businessinsider.com/principles-of-50-cent-business-philosophy

NY Post on Fiddy’s life:  https://nypost.com/2005/08/04/50-cent-years-dealing-crack-on-street-taught-him-how-to-make-it-in-rap/

Washington Post on Glaceaur: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/17/AR2010121705271_3.html?noredirect=on

The Guardian on Fiddy’s Chapter 11:  https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/feb/03/50-cent-discharged-bankruptcy

Mashable on Chapter 11: https://mashable.com/2015/07/14/50-cent-chapter-11-bankruptcy/#X_2yuDK.pPqh

Munger on independence: https://25iq.com/2016/03/19/a-dozen-things-ive-learned-from-benjamin-franklin-about-money-and-investing/

Genius on Curtis Lyrics: https://genius.com/albums/50-cent/Curtis


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