Before becoming a household name associated with the hit show, Daymond created the fashion empire FUBU (For Us By Us) from his humble beginnings in Queens in New York, turning an initial investment of just $40 with some neighborhood buddies into a $6 billion fashion empire.
How he did this is “The Daymond Recipe” for turning barriers into opportunities as laid out in his brand new New York Times best-selling book (achieved within 2 weeks of publication!), The Power of Broke.
A Daymond is Forever
Daymond and I first connected up as a result of a Fast Company article I’d written about which Daymond tweeted “Best article ever written about Shark Tank…”
Since then we’ve spoken, compared notes, helped each other, as well as collaborating on some additional articles. Daymond recently presented me with a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship medallion which simply shows, Daymond is not one who merely talks about what he preaches, he is a man of action.
So, I recently got with Daymond to get some insights into his new book with this exclusive interview.
For those unfamiliar with your title concept, what does the title essentially mean?
DJ: “The title, The Power of Broke, essentially refers to that internal reserve we each tap into when we don’t have anything else or any other resources to tap into but are yet unwavering in our determination to make something happen.
“As a side note, this is not something we exclusively tap into only when we lack resources. For instance, most of the wealthiest people in the world tap into the power of broke after they have the resources because they’re smart enough to know that money is not going to necessarily buy them everything they need in regards to success. For instance, money won’t necessarily ensure you’ll have:
- good people around you who are trustworthy,
- the stamina to avail yourself of valuable knowledge you need to progress (independent of the tuition, you still have to show up every day, even if it’s a high-end education)
“Either way, it doesn’t matter what you purchased if you fail to do your part to maximize whatever resources you have in front of you.”
“So, the Power of Broke is a mentality. We’ve seen over the last few years how different people in the world with different ideas overthrow governments or certain ideologies with Twitter campaigns and revolutions realizing they didn’t have or need any ammunition when they had the most powerful weapon of all: the minds and passions of people, using something as simple and available as social media.
“It’s the fact that I had to go to LL Cool J and stalk him and if I would have had $200, 300, or $400,000, I would have paid LL to wear my stuff and he would have worn it in one ad and that would have been it, but instead, my determination to get him to wear the product overcame everything.
“David, I’m sure that if you think about any of the times that you really enjoyed success in your life, it was a time you tapped into a resource zigging when everybody else was zagging because you wanted (and needed) to stand outside the crowd.”
Being from Brooklyn and Queens like you, we both know, you either get smart and resourceful or left behind and ignored or forgotten about. This is your third book. How is this one different from the previous two?
DJ: “The first one was really called ‘Display of Power’ because I was trying to give everybody my thesis on how I came up, as a child, and then in the industry.
“I wanted to make clear the fact that there will always be two individuals in the same role with the same car but one will just be going at a casual leisurely pace while the other will be tapping into the power of the engine—we all have the same exact power underneath our hood and it’s just whether or not we decide to tap into it.
“The second book was ‘The Brand Within’ and that is about telling people that I don’t care how much money you have or what type of company you have, or name on the corner of your card. The message was: we all buy into people. Even on Shark Tank, we buy into people, we do not buy into companies.
“It’s possible you may never create anything new in the world, you may only create a new form of delivery…. So if I go out there to look at a company, whether it’s a company of clothing or anything else, I’m buying into the person.
“You know the saying: you’re betting on the jockey, not on the horse and that was ‘The Brand Within.’
“The Power of Broke is all about showing you that you don’t need money, and that actually, money can cripple you. Over 60% of the top richest people in the world, whether it’s Forbes or INC, came from nothing which means they were all broke.
“What that ultimately told me, these were people like me who had to tap into something not immediately apparent. So I looked to see what that was, and how it compared with my experience. And that is what The Power of Broke is all about.”
Who is this book designed to benefit the most?
DJ: “I believe that the people that ‘already have’ will benefit in some sense but I believe it’s really going to be beneficial to the people who ‘don’t have’ anything and who have everyone telling them, ‘you need more money, you need a name, you need to know people.’
“For all those people, I wanted to reinforce this, not only with my own personal stories, but with interviews I conducted with 20 world-recognized entrepreneurs including:
- Steve Aoki (Aoki is an American electro house musician, record producer, and music executive),
- Rob Dyrdeck (an American professional skateboarder, actor, entrepreneur, producer, and reality TV star),
- Mark Burnett (named No. 1 on the Reality TV Power List: 30 Most Powerful Sellers of 2015 in The Hollywood Reporter) and
- Kevin Plank (American businessman, CEO and founder of Under Armour)—and we all tapped into what was the time that we used the Power of Broke.
“I don’t want people out there who are surrounded by the naysayers telling them all the things they need in life to get somewhere…
“…I don’t want them to be blinded and thrown off course for their dream and passion: I want them to get this information firsthand, not only from myself but from several others. This is who this is designed for.
“But on the other hand, this is also designed for people that work for corporations and people that work with corporations who think they can’t get anywhere, they can’t launch anything unless they have $5 million, $10 million, $15 million and these people are people who want to get somewhere but yet find themselves in the crazy world of working for other people.
“But if they just tap into their inner resources, understanding how they can get there, they will.
“I got that basically from one of the top people at General Mills, telling me a story: he gives the Brand Manager $20 million and they don’t know what to do because they don’t have $100 million like their other counterparts that have brands. But I think the people who have the most to benefit from this are the have-nots.”
What specific skills has Shark Tank played in helping you refine your observational and intellectual skills regarding doing business and making business deals?
DJ: “Shark Tank has shown me and reinforced everything I’m writing about in this book, that when I invest in people I want somebody who has failed many times, because now they know where success is. They also have grit and determination and can hustle, just like we all know from Think and Grow Rich—they have desire.
“Shark Tank has also showed me that I do not need to acquire and invest in people who think they need to take the money and hire a bunch of other individuals.
“If they’re not ready to learn the business themselves, then they don’t get to use me to fund their tuition because I’m going to fail too, because I can’t know everything—I have to roll up my sleeves and learn.
“Shark Tank has also taught me that business is not just straight one way: it is ups and downs for years and again, you’ve gotta bet on the jockey.
“It’s also taught me that in this new age of social media and technology people are starting to make $1 million, $2 million, $3 million out of their home because they have the know-how to convert and monetize using social media, now more than ever before, to sell to somebody. The only problem is everybody in the world has access to a computer and a cell phone so we now have a bunch of people selling—so as easy as it is to convert these technologies into dollars, we have a crowded field, so we have to stand up, be different, be smarter, be more inventive than ever before.”
What’s the biggest business lesson (or most common mistake) you learned since the time you wrote your previous two books?
DJ: “I would have to say it’s – and David, this was the urge and reason to write this newest book – no matter what, I made my biggest mistakes when I had more resources and more money. For one business, I spent and lost $6 million figuring I could just ignore the business and just hire a bunch of people with great names and shiny resumes to do what was needed.
“So I’ve learned every season from Shark Tank. I’ve learned to trickle the money into the entrepreneur and sometimes cut bait because halfway in, we learn these are not good operators. Other times, it’s a matter of adding more fuel to the fire and giving them more money because these people done amazing things with the little bit of money they had.
“So I learned it is really about how you apply the money you have. It’s almost like hiring a construction worker to come over your house: you can just pay the whole house at one time one, figuring they’re going to decorate every single room perfectly—or you can have them do a room at a time, observing their skill and ability to really solve problems, overcome obstacles and address unexpected curve balls. Only then do you see for yourself: how do we work together? Do we have the same taste? Do we see the world in the same way? Do we anticipate future changes that would impact today’s decisions? If that goes well, let’s work on the guest room, then on the dining room, and then we finally get to the bedroom and the kitchen or the living room where we are the most because we have a level of trust. Even with the inconvenience of going step-by-step, it can help avert a complex disaster.”
If someone were to play you in a movie, which actor would play a young Daymond John? And which actor would play the more mature, seasoned Daymond John?
DJ: “Of course I‘m going to have all the actors who look just like me as the more seasoned Daymond: Henry Cavill (the new Superman), Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington and Will Smith (laughs)… yes, they all look like me… but honestly, Ice Cube would be the most likely candidate— we have the same thought process and agenda, and I really respect where he came from.
“The younger me, I don’t know. Maybe Michael Jordan from the movie Creed – he is someone I know and respect – and Terence J from the TV channel BET.
“As always David, thanks for the interview.”
Thank you Daymond.