After being born in England and raised in Saudi Arabia, Zuby set off on a journey. Focusing on manifesting his potential into reality through self-discipline, Zuby became an Oxford graduate, rapper, author, podcaster as well as a motivator along the way.
His creative outputs, along with his advice and the occasional controversial view has assembled an international audience around him. Posting primarily through his Twitter account, Zuby has gained widespread attention on the platform. The most notable example of this came in February 2019, when Zuby announced that he had broken the British Women's deadlift record by identifying as female, doing so in order to highlight the complications involved with transgender people involved in sports at a competitive level.
As you can imagine, Zuby's straight-to-the-point approach to controversial topics has seen him mobbed online, almost exclusively from the left. This seemingly peaked only a matter of weeks ago when Twitter banned him from the platform, shortly before reversing their decision. However, from receiving an invite to visit the Pentagon and The White House to going live with Joe Rogan and the BBC, Zuby has undeniably connected with more people than he has turned away.
We got a chance to speak to Zuby, this is what he had to say...
How would you describe your role to someone who doesn’t know Zuby?
I'm an independent rapper, podcaster, author, public speaker and coach. I would say my primary goal in life is to make a positive impact on millions of people through my words and actions. I try to be an inspirational and motivational force for both my immediate audience and those outside of that as well.
What is your primary message?
It's about maximising one's own potential; physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, relationally and financially.
I have always been obsessed with the idea of potential and I've always been striving for self-improvement in everything I do. I want other people to realise that they have a lot of potential and that they are not tapping into it fully yet.
It’s all about encouraging people to tap into that potential and to take personal responsibility along the way, not to make excuses or point out externally but to turn their focus inwards and become the best version of themselves that they can be.
What age did you become obsessed with the idea of potential?
I think I'm just wired like that, I've always been highly motivated, conscientious and hard-working. My parents have stories of me being 3 or 4 years-old and exemplifying those traits already.
In terms of physically putting work in, I used to be overweight as a child, but when I started going to the gym and working out, at around 15 years of age, I saw the physical and mental changes in my body and mind. This made me want to encourage other people to do the same.
Furthermore, there are so many forces of negativity out there coming at us every day through different channels that I want to be some form of counterbalance to that. Someone needs to interject some more positive energy and not in a cheesy or fake way. I want to keep it very real and focus on authenticity, positivity, self-improvement and self-reliance.
What’s your advice, specifically regarding health and lifestyle, for the young people reading this?
In terms of health and lifestyle, and I think this sounds rather obvious but it's important, the first step is to recognise that you only have one body and it needs to last you through your entire life. You don’t get to swap it out and if you really mess up you die! So, it's your most valuable possession, for that reason, take care of yourself through nutrition and exercise. When you’re young your body can bounce back as it's resilient to some degree. However, what you do wrong eventually catches up with you.
We have a lot of doctors in my family and we are always hearing stories about people in their 20s having a liver of a 60-year old due to drinking or taking drugs.
Which do you think you focus on more, your creative output or rational output?
I think they play off each other, it's a real balance.
I've always been very creative. As a child I wanted to become a professional cartoonist, and that was before I got into music, so I've always had that creative side to me. Although, I was also good at maths and science too, so I have always been engaging that side of my brain as well.
As a creative and an entrepreneur, it's never really been one or the other for me. I think I can just use different sides of my brain and let them work together in tandem. It's rare to have both and fortunately, thank God, I do.
It’s crazy that people undervalue their body, spending their money on things that attach to, or wrap around, the body but not the body itself. People only pay attention when something goes wrong, then they think “maybe I should have exercised.”
I would really encourage people to become cognizant in developing good habits. If you get into good habits in your 20s then not only will they be easier to stick to, but they will pay off hugely later on in your life.
As a follow-up, what's your advice to young people who are looking to maximize their career satisfaction and progress?
I think the first thing to say is: it's ok to not know what you want to do. I actually think, in certain ways, it's a bad system to have people make these big decisions at such early ages. There are so many pressures for young people to “do that” or “go there” but we are living in a very different time now. The job market, economy, technology and the avenues that can be explored are completely different now in comparison to previous generations.
So don't stress, it's normal not to know what to do right now. With that said, take some time to really map out your own priorities and analyse your own personality, strengths and weaknesses. If you are able to find something that overlaps all of your different interests, strengths and what there is a market for then you'll be far happier in the long run than the vast majority of people.
Some people get into their 40s, 50s or 60s and look up and realise they are going in a direction that they don’t want to be going in. Some people are motivated by freedom, money, relationships, having more time with their family, etc... It's a balance and it’s different for everybody, it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing.
In the meantime, don't make any catastrophic errors, don't do anything that will negatively and permanently impact the rest of their life, like having a child with someone you hate, getting into credit card debt, getting a criminal record, etc...
When people get cancelled it often has the opposite effect, increasing the person’s fan base and profits, how do you fight the temptation of becoming a full-time provocateur?
It all depends on authenticity and intention. I’m big on authenticity and I found that the more authentic I am the more successful I become. That really started out through my music. It felt like it was hard to be open and vulnerable and 100% honest in certain areas, for example, I've never pretended to be a drug dealer or gang banger. I've kept it honest with my thoughts and beliefs so I don't care about what people think, or don't think, about me.
No matter how much good you’re doing in the world, some people will still find a way to dislike you, so you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. For this reason, you might as well be honest to yourself and everybody else.
If someone is acting purely with the intent of being a provocateur and gaining attention then that’s different. There are ideas and beliefs that I know will get a certain reaction or response but those are always rooted in reality and are what I truly believe.
As for why people have such strong reactions, I think a sense of humour is missing in today's society. Maybe it’s because we're living in such a peaceful age that minor things are always being blown out of proportion and turned into a catastrophe.
As someone who has received invites from the Pentagon but been temporarily banned from Twitter, what changes would you make to the platform to make it more centrist?
Fire all the moderators and hire new ones! I would change the policies, especially the one that defines hateful conduct considering I apparently broke that by saying “Ok Dude”, which is the most ridiculous thing. If anyone thinks that's hate speech they need to get their head checked!
I would update the policies and reinstate a lot of the people that have been banned. I don't think a lifetime ban should be a thing on Twitter, it seems crazy that you can say something in 2014 and because of that you can never use the platform again.
I would probably put it a lot more in line with the US’ First Amendment. It would be very much based on those rules with some slight changes just to make sure the platform doesn’t become a dumpster fire. I think as long as it’s objective and not open to ideological bias then it should be fine.
Proudest moment of your career so far?
Well, the whole of the last year really! Being able to appear on The Joe Rogan Experience, The Ben Shapiro Show and The Rubin Report was incredible, that’s not mentioning the opportunities to go to the Pentagon, The White House, Sky News and the BBC.
Furthermore, just seeing how my message has impacted people in the UK, the US and elsewhere has been amazing, especially considering I have also been seeing my audience get way, way bigger. Making a difference is something that I've always been striving for, so I'm glad that the message and the way I’m putting it out is resonating with people.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
I see myself having an audience in the multi-millions, doing events and speaking gigs all over the world. I see myself having at least two or three books out by then, maybe even 3 or 4, financially very well off, as well as being an even bigger force for rational thought, self-discipline and motivation.
To be honest, I'm already doing the things that I want to be doing in 3-years-time, I just want it to grow and scale to an even wider audience.
What are your plans for 2020?
I have a couple of events within the UK and the US as well as plans to put together a social media course on how people can grow and monetize audiences online. I will be continuing to sell my book, 'Strong Advice', before developing it into a more substantial version that will be going through a traditional publisher.
Having said that, I'm not going to try and predict too much because I learnt from last year that you can never predict what's going to happen.