Daymond John felt right at home at the 2016 Market America/SHOP.com World Conference, held at AmericanAirlines Arena last week. In attendance at the annual meeting of the marketing minds were peope just like him: entrepreneurs looking for ways to succeed.
“We’ve got 25,000 people screaming and yelling like they’re at a rock concert,” said the Shark Tank star, who founded urban clothing line FUBU in 1992. “I get pumped because they’re pumped.”
Wearing his motivational speaker hat, John imparted words of wisdom on how to turn consumers into customers and stressed the importance of social media and branding.
“People have assets all around them, they just have to start leveraging what’s around, and using their man power and mind power,” said John, who also signed copies of his new book, The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage (Random, $26). “The concept that you need money to make money is not true.”
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The book includes stories about 15 of his most successful friends, all with rags-to-riches backgrounds: Think DJ Steve Aoki, skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, Under Armour mogul Kevin Plank and local direct-sales queen Loren Ridinger — who, along with her husband, JR Ridinger — heads up Market America.
“These are all amazing, globally recognized individuals who have one thing in common,” said John, 46. “They believed in their dreams, rolled up their sleeves and fought for them.”
Just as John did all those years ago back in Queens, New York, when he started FUBU in his basement with just $40. The brand’s worth is now estimated at $6 billion.
“I share my history with people to help them,” he said. “Look at me: I came from a very poor community, my parents were divorced, I’m dyslexic, was left back and never went to college. But here I am.”
Other stories John shares inevitably have to do with Shark Tank, Mark Barnett’s ABC reality show in which everyday folks present their great ideas to a panel of investors, aka sharks, such as Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban.
John calls the often-drama-filled presentations the “ultimate equalizer.”
“The show doesn’t discriminate about race, color, creed or sex. Going up on the carpet and talking to us means you’re going to hustle and get it done step by step.”
A little behind-the-scenes trivia: Most pitches last about two hours and are edited down to just around eight minutes.
“I always wonder how they cram the whole thing in there,” said John of the editing process. “It’s very accurate, too.”
Of the hundreds of products that have come across the on-set carpet, John admits only a few have blown him away. One, in particular, stands out: Bombas Athletic Socks. The episode aired in 2014.
“Socks are a tough sell and tough to advertise. We have a ton of them yet they’re hidden in shoes and underneath clothes,” explained John. “But these are great because they have a double bottom line: They’re structured well — with no seam in the toe — plus the company donates socks to homeless shelters. It’s a whole new way of doing business, one with a social cause, too.”