Steve Aoki on Keys to Success, Racism, and Future Technology


“I’m on a tight rope, on a windy day, above two buildings. But I’m an experienced tight rope walker.”

Steve Aoki (@SteveAoki) is one of the most globally recognized artists in the world.

He was nominated twice for the Grammy awards, is a savvy music executive of Dim Mak Records, and was listed on Forbes as one of the highest paid DJ’s in the world. But I’ve learned that there’s more to Steve than just music.

In our conversation, Steve opens up on how he creates time to learn, his hiring philosophy, his passion for future technology, and more.


Creating Time to Learn

As the world’s most traveled DJ (2014), time is always in limited quantity.

For Steve, it comes down to scheduling everything into his calendar ahead of time. From deciding what new opportunities to take on, who he spends time with, and carving out time to read, meditate, or learn a new language.

It seems that the busier you get, the better you become at allocating your time for what’s important. As Steve explains in his own words:

“I’m on a tight rope, on a windy day, above two buildings. But I’m an experienced tight rope walker.”

In other words, lack of time isn’t a valid excuse when it comes to learning new skills.


Hiring Philosophy

Dim Mak recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. Steve shares that one of the most important decisions he made in his business is choosing which leader should run the day-to-day at Dim Mak.

The key lesson that he shares is:

1) Patience

2) Incentives

Finding someone that can truly take your business to the next level is going to take time. It’s usually not just about finding someone with the right experience. That’s only the first piece of the puzzle.

For Dim Mak, it was finding the right fit in terms of values. As Steve shares, “someone who’s willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty themselves.”

Once you find that person, it’s about incentivizing them with a piece of the upside (i.e. equity) so they’re in this with you. Through the bad times and the good times.


Future Technology

While the rest of the world knows Steve for his electronic music and signature cake throwing skills, few understand his passion for future technology.

Steve went as far as inviting Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey De Grey to collaborate in his albums.

“I want to be in the forefront of technology. This isn’t science-fiction anymore, it’s happening.”


If you enjoyed this conversation with Steve, you’ll enjoy listening to this interview with another grammy-nominated artist group, Galantis. We talk about the creative process, being original, and the future of music.

Did you watch me challenge Steve to a push-up contest? Click the video below to see who won.




  • Dealing with Asian Discrimination [8 min]
  • How Ethnic Minority Groups Can Progress Forward [16 min]
  • How Steve Went From Punk Rock to Being a DJ [33 min]
  • Building the Pragmatic Brain [35 min]
  • How to Build the Bullshit Detector [36 min]
  • What Steve Delegates and What He Does Himself [38 min]
  • The Aoki Business Model [39 min]
  • How Steve Decides How He Spends His Time: Decision Making [44 min]
  • What Inspires Steve [46 min]
  • How Steve Deals With Loneliness and Heartbreak [48 min]
  • Creating Time to Read, Grow, and Learn: Habits Are Everything [50 min]
  • Why Futurism is Steve’s Passion and The Future of Technology [53 min]


Show Links


Topics Discussed

  • Racism and Asian Discrimination
  • Starting a Record Label
  • Deal Making & Negotiation
  • Building a Pragmatic Brain
  • Future of Music
  • Creativity
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Investing
  • Dealing With Failure
  • Success Principles
  • Books
  • Productivity and Habits
  • Relationships: Business and Personal
  • Overcoming Loneliness
  • Language Learning
  • Future Technology
  • Singularity and Longevity


People Mentioned


Connect with Steve


Have you seen Steve’s Netflix Documentary? Here’s a sneak peek.


 Challenge to You

“Passion is only the first step. Learning to be pragmatic is the other.
You need both to succeed.”


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