These Are The Real Victims of Prince’s Death


(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Prince’s death last week took the world by surprise. And it was a shame.

We lost a prolific songwriter. A musical icon. A world famous pop star. And, we can all agree, a successful businessman. Over the course of his career he’s sold millions of albums and played to countless fans. He lived in a palatial residence that doubled as a recording studio. He was often seen in his community in an around Minneapolis, renting out movie theatres and paying for parties.

Prince’s death is still under investigation. Many say that he was health conscious, physically active and not a drug-user. But there are rumors that it was substance related and that he stayed awake for days before he died. There are confirmed reports that he was taken in an emergency visit to a hospital on the way back from a performance just a few days before. There are photos of him visiting drug stores and other unconfirmed reports from people who allegedly sold him drugs in the past. Whatever is found by the investigation it’s clear that his death wasn’t natural. Something was going on. And he knew it. Which is what makes his death even more devastating. Not for him…but for his other victims.

And who are his other victims? He employed a handful of people at his recording studio. There were dozens of technicians who supported him on his tours. He had a team of professionals–from public relations advisors to accountants and lawyers–who worked with him. And that’s just his immediate business. Every business affects others outside of its immediate circle and Prince was no different. His music made money for countless people that worked in his industry–the ticket sellers, studio musicians, streaming services, distributors and recording labels. And, as a wealthy businessman, his neighbors and community–the movie theatres that he frequented, the restaurants that he ate in, the landscapers, roofers, electricians, contractors, flower shops and yes even the pharmacies – all benefited from his spending.

Sometimes business owners and leaders don’t realize the extent of their impact on the world. If you run a business you are also affecting people. Your employees rely on you for their livelihood. Your customers rely on your products and services. Your vendors and suppliers rely on you for your trade. Your partners rely on you for the opportunities you provide them. And of course your family relies on you for…you. A business owner, like Prince, affects many people. Not just his fans. But the people he does business with and the people he supports.

And those people are the victims of his death. Which is a shame.

I’m not an expert in substance abuse. And I know that it’s not something that you can just switch off. For many it’s a biological dependency, a psychological necessity. But Prince was a grown man and smart person. If it’s true that he had an addiction problem then he was aware of it. And, unfortunately he didn’t do anything about it. Or at least not enough.

We’re all humans and we all have our faults. Maybe it’s alleged substance abuse like Prince. Or maybe an addiction to gambling. Or a health issue that’s not being ignored and not properly treated. Some people do illegal things in their spare time. Or they cut corners. Or cheat on their taxes. Whatever it is, if it’s going untreated or being hidden then it’s a selfish act. Even Prince’s death was a selfish act. If it could’ve been avoided, it should have been avoided.

As a business owner and a leader, it’s not about you. It’s about all those people who depend on you. Your actions affect others. Your behavior impacts people’s lives. If you are doing something bad, illegal or unhealthy and you’re having a difficult time stopping then here’s some advice: don’t do it for you. Do it for the others who rely on you. Don’t leave them with a mess and don’t take away their livelihoods. Get help and work to fix yourself. For their sake.


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