Daymond John is familiar to many from the popular TV show, “Shark Tank,” in which he and other successful business leaders fund extraordinary ideas from ordinary people. But John is also the founder and CEO of FUBU, a successful clothing line he envisioned as a young man in 1980s Hollis, Queens – one of the epicenters of hip-hop music and culture. And he’s a tireless advocate for entrepreneurship, that special combination of drive, skills and perseverance that can change young people’s lives forever.
On “Shark Tank,” John once noted that “The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.” So when I had the opportunity to talk to this legendary entrepreneur recently, I wanted to learn more about what fueled that entrepreneurial drive in him and what lessons he could impart on today’s budding entrepreneurs.
John started his own business almost by accident. After searching for a hat he’d seen in a music video only to find he couldn’t afford it, he applied the sewing skills his mother had taught him and began selling his hats on the streets. Those first hats became a valuable global brand and made John an entrepreneur for life.
Today, John’s work involves helping both adults and kids to unleash their inner entrepreneurs. In addition to coaching new business owners, John plays an active role in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). NFTE, where I’m proud to serve as a board member, is an organization that provided 50,000 kids with mentors and support to come up with their own creative ideas. This group has inspired countless young people who have gone on to achieve great success, like Johnnie Lovett, who we talked to earlier this year.
Entrepreneurship is a subject we’ve covered frequently here at Daily Edventures, from developers who are inspired to create game-changing education apps (like Mark Zimmerman), to students who start their own businesses even before graduation (like Victoria Parisi). As project-based learning continues to grow in popularity, many educators are finding that creating and running a new business is one of the most powerful projects of all. John was himself inspired by teachers and guidance counselors, and says that educators don’t get enough credit. “I don’t think they understand the influence they have on many kids such as myself,” John told me. “What educators should concentrate on its pulling the best out of each kid.”
Technology, according to John, plays a key role for budding entrepreneurs, but it isn’t the be-all-end-all. ”Technology has advanced us as entrepreneurs and has given us many more opportunities,” he says, [but] it’s like a car. It gets you from one place to another faster, but the fundamentals of business – discipline, research, homework, goals and having like-minded individuals around you are desperately needed.”
To learn those fundamentals, John encourages budding entrepreneurs to stay in school so that they can apply what they’ve learned to any business endeavour they pursue. “If you add the fundamentals of being a tried-and-true entrepreneur with technology, it’s a new day and age,” he says.
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Daymond John.
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