FUBU Founder & “Shark Tank” Star Daymond John Lists His Keys to Success (Video)
The entrepreneurial spirit has been present in Hip-Hop culture since its inception, from the creative youth who began to throw block parties to those who made and sold mixtapes to classmates at school. One area of the culture which really fostered entrepreneurship is fashion, and recent films like Fresh Dressed trace the rise of street fashion to haute couture in Hip-Hop, from Harlem’s Dapper Dan to Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club, and everything in between. Daymond John is both a graduate of the entrepreneurial spirit in Hip-Hop and a leader of its school; as the founder and CEO of FUBU, he is one of the most celebrated businessmen in Hip-Hop fashion and his appearances on the ABC reality series Shark Tank has introduced him to a whole new audience. Also a celebrated author, he recently wrote and released The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage, and he visited the Breakfast Club at New York City’s 105.1FM offices to share insight into how his monumental career serves as inspiration for future entrepreneurs.
The interview begins with John’s explanation of what the power of broke means. “If you have money, you go out there and buy everything you can and as soon as the money’s gone, everybody else is gone with it,” he explains (1:20). It is the desire for better and the ambitious mentality one possesses when tired of being broke that becomes a powerful mechanism for success. Such desire is much of what makes contestants on Shark Tank so fun to watch and mentor, John says. The Emmy-winning show features burgeoning entrepreneurs and inventors who are looking for investors into their products, and as John explains, it provides some meaningful opportunities as both a prospective investor and someone who’s still learning, himself. “The hard work that we put in when you see these people become wealthy, you know, who just had a hope and a dream, that’s really enriching for me” (3:45). He also continues to learn lessons in life because of his being dyslexic, and at the 4:43 mark, he describes how the reading disorder has affected his success. “It actually helped me; I’m dyslexic and tried to find my way around ways to not have to go to school, so I started working a lot,” he explains.
Soon thereafter, he drops some serious gems about overcoming adversity, saying that “people always say, you know, you need money to make money or you need to know somebody, and you have to have connections. If you look at me, I’m dyslexic, I got left back, I’m 5’7″, I’m from the hood, I’m African American, I never went to college, I didn’t know how to throw a basketball, sing, rap, or dance. And I’m here.” If anything, being a self-starter was not only a benefit, but it’s actually becoming the norm. “If you really look at the Forbes top one-thousand wealthiest people in the world, over 60% are self-made men and women. That means they were broke. That means they didn’t have a dime.” Also inherently powerful in being broke is a sense of appreciation for all that success can provide, he says. “People who are spoon-fed” have greater degrees of difficulty maintaining a hungry sensibility, and so there’s no shame in not having anything.
Also important? “Wake up before everybody, go to sleep after everybody, surround yourself with like-minded people, do your homework, and understand you’re going to fail a bit. But with these little things called smartphones, you can empower yourself.”