Business and Life Lessons from Prolific Mogul Tyler Perry

Written by
Written by

Deolu Akinyemi

Tyler Perry has risen from hardship and homelessness to become the most successful African American filmmaker in history, with over $1 billion earned from his catalogue of films, TV/streaming content, and theater productions. His impact and influence within the entertainment industry and upon Black culture more broadly is monumental.

I met my wife watching “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Baby,” a documentary film motivated by real life events that inspire me deeply. The lessons are precious. I was personally inspired and I think you would be too. There was so many parts that got me, but let me see if I can get you a few solid lessons to make your day, week or month better.

1. Forgive. Realize that pain begets pain, and find a way not to continue the cycle. Those who are traumatizing you are responding to the trauma they have received. If you want the next generation to bear different fruit, learn to forgive and forget. Tyler forgave his father for how badly he was treated growing up, later discovered his father’s story of abuse too, and to make matters more interesting, discovered he wasn’t really his dad.

2. Find your soil. Every talent has its ideal location. Until you move to where your talent is valued and you will be seen and flourish, you may simply be burning energy or developing capacity.

3. You are called, know to what! Many times many of us directly interpret our calling to be the pulpit. God is still calling people to take responsibility at the pulpit, but for most of us, the call is to the marketplace. The marketplace needs its teachers, pastors, evangelists, prophets and apostles. Tyler first thought it was to the pulpit, but quickly realized it was to film and theater.

4. Don’t Quit! The fact that what you are doing isn’t working doesn’t mean that it won’t work. You may have to try the same thing many times before it succeeds. Don’t quit, your break may just be in trying one more time. Many instances the screenplays that Tyler had invested a lot of his energy into didn’t get produced. He decided to quit, but God’s voice never left him, urging him on to go ahead and try one more time.

5. Go all in! Many times in the life of your business, you may need to invest all you have and risk losing it all. Let faith drive you not fear, be bold enough to make those decisions that can make or break you. I recall when Perry had to use all his resources to fund the first 10 episodes of a play series as proof of concept – the result was a hit show and a flood of investors bidding to back the remaining 90 episodes. He literally embodied the 10/90 rule by proving his concept.

6. Lift others up. The reason why we grow capacity larger than we need is because there are others for us to lift. Don’t wait until you are a big deal to lift others – start elevating others from the beginning of your rise to success. Tyler began packing theaters for his productions then opened up the platform to others needing exposure for their gifts, understanding the power of an expanded network.

7. Build a community. Deliberately cultivate a community. Start small, but gather a grassroots army of people who know you, like you and trust in your vision over time – and ensure you do the same for them. A community will lift you up when the time comes. Tyler built community brick by brick among his core fans. That base then propelled his mainstream explosion – the loyal following he had amassed fueled widespread adoption almost overnight because his community went to bat for him by showing up en masse. He embodied the ethos of being a candle that loses nothing by lighting other candles.

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