I recently had an opportunity to sit down and discuss business and entrepreneurship with a gentleman, whose career I’ve been following since 1992. In several circles he is known as the consummate entrepreneur, in others the most pursued branding expert in the United States who’s life story is the quintessential American Dream (rags to riches). His creative vision helped revolutionize the sportswear industry in the 1990’s and today has landed him a prime position in a sea of Sharks. This phenomenal person of character and merit is no other than Daymond John who is known as founder, president and chief executive officer of FUBU (For Us, By Us) yet will be remembered for his blunt honesty as one of the stars of the new Mark Burnett produced series, ABC’s “Shark Tank”.
To capture the true zeal behind Daymond John I had to start where his journey began, which was with the FUBU brainchild. FUBU came about from the minds of four young men, who believed their inner city market had been neglected, so they decided to embrace their market which happened to encompass several different races and cultures but all happen to revolve around music. The quartet came up with the moniker “For Us, By Us” and a revolution was born. They simply began by spreading the word, but didn’t realize at the time that their plight extended outside of their own community, outside of New York and even the country for that matter. It was global. Kids from all over the world were relating. Those four gentlemen would come to understand that hip hop is not something you do, but rather something you live. It’s a life that not only needs a soundtrack, but sportswear that fits the culture as well as the lifestyle.
Daymond admits they had a small vision and small plan, but more important, they had a relentless drive, love and desire, to continue no matter if money was being made or not.
That relentless drive is still engrained within Daymond as he lives by the motto, “You must continue to reinvent yourself and continue doing it for the love”.
Reinvention displayed itself as Daymond published his first book “Display of Power” a little over 3 years ago, which takes a deeper look into Daymond’s life and how FUBU was the cornerstone of it all. He began going on the talk show and speaking circuit, not for the publicity, but rather to have an opportunity to connect. Daymond was proud to provide an alternative perspective of what success could be outside of being a drug dealer, athlete or rapper. That platform would allow Daymond to share information with those who were truly hungry for it and wanted to create trails of opportunities for themselves and others.
Daymond’s journey of success led him right to the dark waters of the deep where he dwells with the other Sharks, who have an opportunity each and every week to fund the dreams of the would be unsuspecting entrepreneurs who often get eaten alive if they are ill prepared for the once in a lifetime chance to pitch to a room of millionaires and billionaires.
“The show has become very popular in places such as Japan, London and Canada, so it’s a well known show”, Daymond explained. “You must do your homework. If you’re not prepared… that’s really something your slippin’ on. All you had to do was google.” As we laughed and joked about being unprepared, the subject matter was very serious.
Daymond shared that the first thing all entrepreneurs should do is invest time and sweat equity into educating themselves. You must know everything possible about your business in order to be successful and persuade others to believe in it.
On the Shark Tank, Daymond and the other sharks encounter entrepreneurs who have been laboring on their ideas for years or even decades, have invested large amounts of money, and are being pressured to throw in the towel by friends and family. Others have simply never had access to the means to live out their dreams, until now. Like so many entrepreneurs, Daymond watched his vision manifest by way of the school of hard knocks, yet his passion to succeed outweighed the odds and the obstacles that he faced ultimately affording him an unmeasurable satisfaction outside of the millions he has accumulated.
Daymond John has learned a lot from the sharks and has an immense amount of respect for them all as he has learned a wealth of information, tools and tactics from the negotiations that take place weekly on the show. Daymond lives by the motto that “the day you stop learning is the day you die”. But at the end of the day, Daymond John is enjoying life, having a good time and still learning.