The curious case of Kylie on the Forbes cover page

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Source: Forbes (my edit though)

2020 Edit: Forbes has cleared this issue with a rather strong message

Such things don’t even find their way into my world. But then, there I was yesterday just minding my own business and one of those on my contact uploaded it on her status. And there I saw it; Kylie on Forbes. What was written about her? $900M net worth. Self-made. That unsettled me for a while. After some time, I got in the mood and gathered momentum to write something about this. Read what you see, not what you think or assume you saw.

This article is not meant to be against anyone. I don’t hate or dislike Kylie. I don’t even (really) know who she is. If we meet in the future, I’m sure we will get along fine. But what has to be said needs to be said. I have not seen anybody pick my angle, so I am giving it a shot.

In my early days in school, I used to love Forbes. I followed the list of billionaires a lot. I could quote the regular first ten people and tell you a lot about them and their business. I kind of wanted to be on the list too. This is because I think (or thought) there’s no better way to inspire the next generation than to be known for excellence at your place of responsibility. For some, they chose the responsibility. For others, the responsibility chose them. But most manage their positions well and their wealth shows it. I had that kind of a connection with Forbes.

When I checked Twitter concerning the Kylie on Forbes cover thing, I discovered majority of people were angry because of the word ‘self-made’. Even the Twitter account of had to react. Of course, we know that that word ‘self-made’ was not appropriately used, but that is not even the problem to me. My issue is, why is Forbes lauding this?

I already had an argument with a dear friend of mine about it. She doesn’t lose arguments, so we had to settle for a truce. Honestly, I don’t fancy make-up and the very idea of it but I respect people who built businesses around it. For example, Mary Kay Ash. That was a businesswoman. Kylie is not a businesswoman. Kylie sells her image, fame and style. She markets by herself through her media following (mostly social media). My friend says her stuff is quality but I asked her how many people will buy it if it’s not Kylie that’s doing it. That’s how you know a real business.

Kylie doesn’t have a business, she has a hustle

And there is nothing wrong with having a hustle. But when you are on the cover page of a magazine (that lauds successful business people) for your hustle, something is wrong.

When I heard she’s worth $900M, I had to crunch the numbers. Not because I wanted to discredit her but because I really wanted to find out. I heard her cosmetics business is worth $800M according to Forbes. Guess what? She has made sales of $630M since its existence (in 2016). $330M alone in 2017. That is revenue. How is the worth then $800M? Are they valuing her public image? Just some perspective, everything else aside from the cosmetics business is valued at about $100M. Really? I’m curious as to what the actual assets of the business is. Like I said, I am not trying to dissent, I am only trying to make sense of what Forbes claims.

We all know what Kylie really does. Her fame is what is responsible for the “success”. And we know how she got that fame. The thing is this; do we want to encourage the younger generation to walk in the same footsteps? Think about it, her prowess on camera can be nice to you, but if you have a dear friend you grew up together turn out to be that way or a variant of it, would it still be nice to you? She doesn’t have to go further than what she has to get the level of fame she got. Think about those who see the affirmation today by Forbes, what they would do to get the attention of the world. Then after getting the attention, try to spin it off into some sort of business.

I don’t blame Kylie. She has a nice hustle and she is making some serious cash off it. I fault Forbes. Since when has Forbes began to laud hustles over real businesses. If Kylie wants to prove that she is a real business person, she should head into another industry where her image and fame will not directly sway sales in her favor. Let her go into real estate (or manufacturing etc.) and prove herself as a business magnate. Forbes should be lauding business people not people hustling their way into wealth through sleek means. I understand Forbes celebrates inventors, innovators, etc. I understand when I see Beyonce on Forbes, the lady is a genius when she holds the mic (or even without it). I understand when I see creators who have made their way in life by making a name. But here is someone who already has a name with fame and now spinning it into money. Is it worth celebrating on the level of a cover page? If she had been featured in a section inside the magazine, there wouldn’t be this outrage.

I’m sure there are dozens of women in the USA who really deserve to be on that cover page who have not been there so far

If you still don’t get the point, let me make it sharper. If Kylie writes a book about business, would you read it? Yeah, I know you would buy it if you are a fan or really do like her. But as a serious business person, would you read it and make notes from it? Anybody can icing any information to look like bliss. But when you cut the cake and look beyond the icing, you see what you are really eating. Kudos to Kylie for spinning her fame and name into cool money, but that’s not what business people do and that’s not why we celebrate people in business.

Here is another point. Aside from selling cosmetics (which she sells with her name and fame), what does the girl do? What can the girl do? She doesn’t sing, doesn’t educate, doesn’t act, doesn’t model (professionally). She just appeared for a long while on TV because a camera follows her about. And looks cute (after a few surgeries) and does cute on social media. Is that what we want to show the next generation as “how to succeed”? She’s not even 22 and she has a baby (with no visible commitment from the other party). Not judging, but image matters. I know some young people who are seriously taking after her footsteps. And you know what? It’s horrifying to watch. I can still bear Kylie being Kylie, but when a small girl somewhere faraway wants a life like Kylie and doesn’t have what Kylie has, what does she result to? Crazy attention-seeking moves. The things people do today to get attention, with the thinking that they can use that attention and spin it into a sort of success. It is what the world has come to. And worst of all, Forbes is giving an affirmation for such a life.

If Kylie was featured in the magazine, there wouldn’t be this outrage. But cover page signifies something phenomenal. Even if she had $12B via her hustle, she shouldn’t be on Forbes cover page, not until she steps out of that hustle into some real business challenge and makes something from nothing (like real business people do). Or unless this is a statement by Forbes that standards have changed. I have already lost respect for Forbes. Incidentally, a friend was sharing certain things about Forbes he heard (that might be true). If this hasn’t happened, I may have doubted, but with this I have reasons not to doubt.

I wanted to be on Forbes cover before. But now (and with the way things seems to be going), I think I’ll pass. What difference does it make if those who applaud you also applaud people who negate the point you are trying to prove. I’ll just focus on being wealthy to make a difference in the world around me. Someone mentioned to me that at this rate, we will have strippers on the cover of Forbes soon. The point is not that stripping is immoral, the point is that it is a hustle, not a business. Same thing those dealing drugs. It’s a hustle, not a business. People are already addicted to what they sell. They don’t create value, they make money off the weakness of people.

Like I have emphasized, this is nothing personal against Kylie. It is concerning what the standard is in the society of today. If Kylie (the way she is today) is the role model of the younger generation, I thank God I’m not a part of that generation (in mentality) and I don’t have a kid who is a part of it.

This move by Forbes has changed my perspective about some things. I plan to be influential but I also have a standard for life. If you don’t care about yourself, care about those who are watching you. I’m not saying don’t hustle, I’m saying don’t toot your horn like you changed the world. Also, don’t let others do it until you actually do something praiseworthy.

Anybody can make money, it’s how you make it that really matters

I rest my case

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