• Daymond John founded FUBU in 1992 to sell lifestyle clothing to the hip-hop community.
  • His brand went from a $40 budget at the start to more than $6 billion in global sales today.

So What?

John is a dedicated entrepreneur who wants to help others build their dream businesses, both as a global keynote speaker and as a judge/potential investor on Shark Tank.

Daymond John is CEO and founder of lifestyle brand FUBU (For Us By Us) as well as a judge on the popular Shark Tank TV show. This veteran entrepreneur has won dozens of awards and is also a globally top-ranked keynote speaker and bestselling author. LinkedIn ranked John number two in influential voices in a recent campaign. And John runs a successful consulting company for entrepreneurs that want to take their business to the next level.

Here are some lessons about leadership and communication brands can learn from John, who started out broke and has amassed a net worth of over $250 million.

Look Everywhere for Opportunities

In the middle of the pandemic, John told Inc. editor Scott Omelianuk that he was working just as hard as ever on his business ventures and that even a pandemic could be a place to find opportunities. “You’ve got to look at your advantages right now,” John said. “You know where all of your potential customers and collaborators are.”

Most store retail brands like John’s FUBU suffered disruptions during COVID lockdowns, and even television shows like Shark Tank took some time to figure out how to resume operations amid pandemic protocols. But John looked at things in a different way: “You can find all of your investors on Zoom and knock out nine meetings a day! The glass is always over-full. It’s just beautiful. You’ve gotta start collaborating.”

Harness the Power of Collaboration

Like most leaders, John knows that picking great people is a huge part of any successful enterprise. When he was asked by Forbes how he went from “broke” to success, he said, “I assembled a core team of like-minded folks who encouraged me to not give up when things got tough — and I did the same for them.”

John described his leadership style as “more about encouraging people than influencing them. I encourage my team to seek and discover new opportunities and then provide them the resources they might need to maximize them.”

Calling collaboration a “key” strategy, he emphasized to Forbes that “people are more important than numbers,” saying that entrepreneurs should “invest in people” and avoid an echo chamber where collaboration just turns into people telling you what you want to hear.

Understand the Importance of Listening

In fact, John places a lot of emphasis on listening to others – his team, his customers, and the general public. During the protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody, John held an open forum with his entire staff to talk about experiences with racism, injustice, and the police and ask questions of others.

“For a lot of people, this is heavy on their hearts,” John said. “It opened up a dialogue.” He also said listening was an essential step to healing, besides being a good leadership strategy.

It has become important for John to listen to his employees and build understanding with them by finding out what’s going on in their lives. “Once somebody knows that you care about them, they will do everything to protect you and make sure that you’re okay,” he said.

“Listening is on both sides, he continued. “We have more in common than we do apart.”

Admit When You’re Wrong

When he was trying to get his FUBU brand off the ground, he asked his friend, rapper LL Cool J, to wear his clothes in an ad, but the rapper was put off by the purple logo. After hearing more similar feedback about the purple, John relented and made an all-black version of the clothing so the ad could move forward.

Before the opportunity to do “Shark Tank” came up, John had been working in product placement with the Kardashians. He has famously said in interviews that he thought the show would be a failure because the judges were “spending their own money.”

He recalls, though, how he found himself with 10 luxury brand clothing companies in the middle of a recession and knew he needed different kinds of companies to pitch to him so he could diversify his investments. John’s time on Shark Tank has been enormously successful and has given him many different opportunities to invest in all kinds of companies.

Keep Learning

One of John’s newer ventures is with STEM company iD Tech to teach an online course aimed at helping pre-teen and teen entrepreneurs how to take an idea to launch. The 5-day course costs $599, but John is sponsoring 100 underrepresented students from New York City, his hometown, to take it as well.

The kids are John’s favorite students, he said, because they “ask tough questions” and don’t know enough to be “intimidated by what they don’t know. They don’t have a filter.”

“It’s always a symbiotic relationship,” he said of the students. “At the end of the day, I learn just as much as everybody else.”

John hopes the students are inspired to keep learning and striving to become successful with their product ideas by his example. “Hopefully, kids see me and say, ‘I can become a Shark. Daymond didn’t have anything special about him. He just kept educating himself,'” he said.

Media Shower is a firm believer in continued learning for marketers, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Download our Content Marketing Return on Investment Calculator to see how your business can make more money with our content platform.