The first business Daymond John started was in grade school where he collected abandoned pencils, shaved the yellow paint off , painted his own designs, and sold them for a quarter each to the same kids who had thrown them away. His eye for opportunities only grew sharper, because a few years down the line he picked up on the latest fashion trend of wool hats, sewed his own, and sold them for half the price. This opened the doors to what would become a popular clothing label, FUBU.
Daymond John has since then done everything in his capacity to bring his brand under the spotlight. He not only convinced the American rapper LL Cool J to sport the FUBU label in his music videos, but earned his loyalty as the rapper included ‘For Us, By Us’ in the impromptu lyrics for a commercial for Gap without their knowledge.
John has come a long way from sewing hats in his mother’s basement for he has now authored three books – The Brand Within, The Power of Broke, and Display of Power – and is one of the most experienced investors on the American reality show, Shark Tank.
Here are 30 quotes that reflect the wisdom he has picked up along his entrepreneurial journey – wisdom that not only motivates but also keeps one grounded.
“It was incredibly tough, but the passion for the project pushed me through. If your project doesn’t do that for you, well, maybe you need to sit down and revaluate.”
“Everyone has an idea, but it’s taking those first steps toward turning that idea into a reality that are always the toughest.”
“The more forward-thinking you are and the better plan of attack you have to grow the company, the easier these questions [obstacles] will be to answer.”
“It’s the basic lesson of starting a company: If you don’t know how to do something, find someone who does.”
“Education and knowledge is key. And I always say, the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.”
“Make it. Master it. Matter.”
“Align yourself with the right people, forge the right relationships and you’ll set yourself up for the long run.”
“Every problem can be solved as long as they use common sense and apply the right research and techniques.”
“I’ve learned, like with anything else, business is only as good as your connections and your resources.”
“If you don’t educate yourself, you’ll never get out of the starting block because you’ll spend all your money making foolish decisions.”
“Mentors, by far, are the most important aspects of businesses.”
“If you go out there and start making noise and making sales – people will find you. Sales cure all. You can talk about how great your business plan is and how well you are going to do. You can make up your own opinions, but you cannot make up your own facts. Sales cure all.”
“I always tried to align myself with strategic partners, friends, and information to help me with the things that I did not know, and ultimately, I made it.”
“Most brands started from a strong base and kept a strong belief.”
“No matter what business you’re in, business is business, and financing and money are critical. I would have made a lot fewer mistakes if I had more schooling in that area.”
“The easiest thing to sell is truth.”
“There really is no shortcut just because you have a name, or you have some kind of access or some way you can solve all the problems. And I think one of the things I learned with FUBU, you have to understand that there's really only two ways of operating a business: more sales, or lower overhead.”
“Don't focus on you, focus on what you can give others.”
“I’d keep hearing this line, in the back of my head: if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.”
“It takes the same energy to think small as it does to think big. So dream big and think bigger.”
“When you sell a product or service, you're making a promise to your audience. If you don't understand your audience, you'll never be able to keep that promise and you'll ultimately let them down.”
“Life is a cruel teacher. She loves to give you the test first and the lesson later.”
“Life is like business, 20% of what happens to you is 80% of how you react.”
“You become what you think about the most.”
“Don’t wait for the ‘perfect time’, you will wait forever. Always take advantage of the time that you’re given.”
“Five days a week, I read my goals before I go to sleep and when I wake up. There are 10 goals around health, family and business with expiration dates, and I update them every six months.”
“Told myself it didn’t matter if my ride didn’t turn heads—it only mattered that it turned things around for me.”
“If you want to do something well, you’ve got to be committed to it. You’ve got to do it fully.”
“Success is waking up every day and doing what you want to do.”