As a result, Khaled has become not only a successful artist and celebrity, but a case study in brand-building, and for his followers, self-actualization. Or, as Huffington said at one point on Thursday night: “For me, you’re not a music producer. You’re a modern-day philosopher.”
Khaled’s celebrity was on full display at Columbia University. The students cheered as Khaled’s fiancee Nicole Tuck walked into the classroom, pushing a baby stroller with their son Asad, recognizing her from his snaps. And they roared even louder when Huffington and Khaled walked in, as Khaled held his cell phone camera toward the crowd to record them on a Snapchat clip.
Huffington listed different “keys” from Khaled’s book, and the producer/exec had an explanation for each. He sheepishly smiled during bits of the interview, as if he was still surprised and grateful for the moment. “I feel like I’m in a movie right now,” he said near the beginning of the event. But for the most part, he displayed the bravado and charm that has drawn in so many followers.
“Stay away from ‘they’” is Khaled’s encouragement to avoid negative people.
“I’ve actually had people come to me and say, ‘Khaled, you’re going to be nothing.’ ‘You’re going to just be a local DJ.’ ‘You’re not going to be able to put albums out.’ These are real stories. Everything I’ve accomplished, I was told I wouldn’t,” Khaled said. “...’They’ are people who are just very negative. These people will pull you down to the point where you’re ruining your own life.”
“Sometimes, they don’t even want you to have Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal,” Huffington added, referencing Khaled’s cereal of choice as shown on his Snapchat. The media mogul consistently kept up with Khaled’s lingo.
She then listed “secure the bag,” Khaled’s mantra that translates to making the right decisions to ensure one’s success and well-being. As an example, he painted a hypothetical situation where Huffington drinks and drives the night before she’s scheduled to sign a $100 million deal.
“That’s not securing the bag at all,” he said. “I’m just telling a story; she would never do that. But I’m just trying to give you examples. Sometimes, it’ll be the little thing that’ll mess up the biggest thing.”
“I’m a father now. My son is my biggest blessing ever in my life. I’ve been searching for happiness and joy my whole life, and I am happy and joyful for life, but this is something I can’t explain, I can’t put in no words,” Khaled continued. “I’m going to make sure I secure the bag on another level, to make sure he’s good. Be humble, be confident, take care of your family, do the right thing.”
Other keys included “respect the code,” “glorify your success,” “don't deny the heat” and “win win win, no matter what.” Aside from expanding on the book’s bullet points, Khaled played up his signature catchphrases, spoke about the importance of caring for one’s personal health, and signed copies of The Keys after the event. He also revealed that he knows the title for his next album, but that he wasn’t announcing it quite yet.
“My new album that I’m working on right now, I’m not going to tell you the title, but you’re going to love it,” he said, after breaking down how the titles to his other albums applied to his life at the time. “You’re going to love it because I mean it.”