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Embracing a large crowd with words of empowerment and encouragement, Sean “Diddy” Combs prepared the attendees of the REVOLT Summit in Atlanta for an inside look at the journey with one of the industry’s top executives, Dia Simms.
“This is an actual dream coming to reality. I’m proud to say this is the third day, our last day of the REVOLT Summit. I want to thank all of you guys for coming out and investing in yourselves. Sitting there listening, asking questions, networking, taking control of your futures and helping us to make history,” admitted Diddy.
After settling the crowd, the mogul graciously introduced Simms by highlighting that “the foundation of the culture are the women, the foundation of existence is the woman.” Simms began her career working with Diddy in 2005 as his executive assistant — further serving in many roles from marketing, business development — and eventually pushed her way up the corporate ladder by becoming the president of Combs Enterprises. Diddy opened the conversation by praising her and stating that she is “one queen that had a huge responsibility for my success.”
As Simms opened up about her humble beginnings growing up in Queens, New York; she could not help but mention that in that moment of being interviewed by Diddy, “It’s just a big f*cking deal.” Simms discussed that her early inspiration for wanting to work in the industry came from being engulfed in the rich culture of hip hop as a child. Her memories reflected a time when she lived near hip hop producer Hurby Luvbug Azor. Simms continued to reminisce about that time, revealing she’d sometimes see Salt-N-Pepa rehearsing from her backyard. However as Simms matured, she began to see the growth in hip hop and “how it became full-blown commerce.”
“When I think about those early days, about somebody like a Hurby Luvbug, who was a precursor to Puff Daddy to be like, you know what? We are valuable, we are good for business. That foundation for me, I don’t think is any coincidence that I started working for Puff in 2005,” the exec expressed.
Moving the conversation along, Diddy expressed to the audience that Simms played a major role in rebranding the REVOLT Summit from the REVOLT Music Conference. The two agreed that they wanted to approach the global side of hip hop culture. “The reason why we did that is because we have to catch up to how big, and how global, and how vast, and diverse hip hop has become. Our whole theme is the power of hip hop and this is a summit about the power of hip hop because the power of hip hop doesn’t only affect music anymore. It affects tech, it affects fashion, it affects media, it affects movies, films, wellness, spirits products, you can go on,” stated Diddy.
The theme that resonated with the room was to dream big as Simms and Diddy shared countless memories of their work, development, and collaboration. “I think I came in dreaming big,” admitted Simms.
She further went on to discuss the importance of dreaming big collectively by noting that there is a false narrative that the American dream is achieved alone. “As a culture, we need to have more audacity and aim higher. What are we starting today for our great-grandchildren?” the president asked.
Diddy continued the gem-dropping discussion asking Simms to explain why she derives her mentality from “can’t stop, won’t stop,” pointing out that she embodies “no excuses.” She shared a story of one of her early assignments from Diddy, where she had to scout a Brazilian model in less than 24 hours. She expressed that her tenacity and “by any means necessary” attitude was inspired by her mom, who through her MS diagnosis, has continued to persevere despite the pain or hardship of the disease.
Simms would further express her relationship with gratitude and the importance of honoring it. “When I wake up, I take a second to think how grateful I am to be alive. That’s it. There’s no way I can spend these 24 hours, ‘I hope I got today,’ being angry and ungrateful. If I’m not happy with what I’m doing or if I’m not happy with the relationship I’m in... then, I’m in the wrong place. I can switch. It’s such a big world, the world is abundant, “ stated Simms.
Enamored by Simms’ spirit of gratitude and motivation, Diddy also revealed that it was a conversation with her a few years back that helped get him out of being in an unmotivated mood.
Giving themselves the moniker of MJ and Scottie Pippen, the pair would continue the fireside chat reminiscing of the success of brands Sean John, Ciroc, Deleon Tequila, REVOLT, and three schools under Capital Prep. “What’s important in every relationship, professional and personal, is how are you complimentary? Puff is world-class, probably in history, in terms of dreaming big,” expressed Simms.
While she doesn’t feel she’s achieved and realized her dreams yet, her and Diddy have mentioned some promising new cannabis industry projects that they’re going to work on. “I think it’s another opportunity that reminds me of the spirits [industry]. Where you look around and people are making hundreds of millions of dollars to an industry that’s projected to be over 30 billion dollars in the next few years. Yet again, I do not see diverse people, women in those meetings. Right now, less than 5% of African-Americans are benefitting from it and in fact, many people are sitting in jail today for carrying small portions and other people are making millions off the same thing,” the president continued. Her vision is to normalize this industry for all races and genders.
Wrapping up from an amazing fireside chat, Simms and Diddy received a few questions from the audience, which led to these powerful statements:
“You can never miss an opportunity to rep your brand.” Diddy
“If you stay ready, you never have to get ready.” - Dia Simms
On the next steps for Diddy:
“Educating about financial literacy, and being a foundation for black entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color [who] will be able to come and get capital resources because we are the magic baby. We’re the ones that built the pyramids, we’re the ones that’s set time, we’re the first surgeons. Our history was erased, but we ain’t gon stop.” - Diddy
On switching career paths:
“The easiest way to switch from industry to industry is to be noticed for the success and dedication you bring at the job you’re currently in” - Dia Simms