Daymond John — A Shark at the Forum at SEU
“The biggest investment is the investment you make in people.” — Daymond John
Of the many exciting, well-known speakers who presented at the 2018 Forum at SEU, Daymond John may be one of the most recognizable. Known as “the people’s shark” on the television series Shark Tank, John has demonstrated what true entrepreneurial spirit, drive and resourcefulness can do.
John shared with Forum attendees his humble beginnings and the lessons he learned along the way. He also discussed how we can all harness our “inner sharks” to achieve our own professional or personal goals.
As a child, John saw the hard work put in by his mother, who worked multiple jobs to support her family. “The heroes we had when I was a kid weren’t always very visible,” John explained. “They were the hard workers behind the scenes.” John’s mother always taught him that responsibility is something to be taken, not given, and that doing so is the only way to prove what you’re capable of doing.
For example, when he was first starting the FUBU brand, John didn’t let his lack of capital discourage him. He took on the responsibility of figuring out how to grow the brand. He created a small number of FUBU shirts and brought them around to up-and-coming rappers, who wore them in music videos, and therefore introduced the brand in an innovative (and eventually profitable) way.
5 Shark Points
In true shark fashion, John spent his time with Forum attendees providing actionable, purposeful advice gleaned from his own experiences and those of the businesses in which he has invested.
Shark Point #1 – Set a goal (S)
“Yes, this is basic. But it’s critical,” John explained. “You become what you think about most of the time.” Taking inventory of yourself — your assets, liabilities, strengths and weaknesses — will help you figure out how to achieve your goal, and then begin your planning.
Shark Point #2 – Homework: Do your homework (H)
While what you’re doing or creating may not necessarily new, the delivery of it could be. “You can’t hit a target that you can’t see,” John explained. “You have to know who your potential competitors are, and specifically how what you’re doing is new or different.”
Shark Point #3 – Amor (A)
While you can love what you’re doing, it can be easy to end up disconnected from your original purpose without even realizing it. John recommends “checking your inventory” regularly — meaning, making sure that there is a relevant connection between your actions and your original purpose.
Shark Point #4 – Remember, you are the brand (R)
John explained that both business and life are comprised of a series of pitches. Being able to show your value can open doors that you weren’t expecting. When FUBU was first beginning, John asked rapper LL Cool J to share a photo of himself wearing FUBU clothing. Because John was able to articulate his goals, LL Cool J remembered how the people of his community lifted him up when he was first starting his own career. He was glad to return the favor by doing the same for someone else.
Shark Point #5 — Keep swimming (K)
John cautions that one of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is not taking good care of themselves. Entrepreneur or not, he encourages everyone to regularly take care of their health, mental well-being and work/life balance. And, when you feel like the current is holding you back, that’s when you “swim” the hardest and finish strong.
Diving into the future
John’s presentation focused on people and the impact we can have on each other and for each other. “As we all know, success does not equal money,” John said. “Success is protecting those who can’t protect themselves, making a difference and using your talents and gifts to serve others.”
Stay tuned for announcements of our exciting lineup of speakers at the 2019 Forum at SEU.