Hus­tle. Grind. Suc­ceed.

The Day­mond John Way

Inc. (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Emily Canal Pho­to­graphs by Shayan As­ghar­nia

Who In­spire Him

Day­mond John “I didn’t know any­body, didn’t have a fa­mous last name, didn’t have any ac­cess to cap­i­tal, and didn’t go to col­lege. None of those held me back.”

After all, the fa­ther of three is run­ning three busi­nesses he’s launched—the ur­ban cloth­ing brand Fubu, where he’s been CEO since 1992, brand man­age­ment agency the Shark Group, and the newly opened co-work­ing space Blue­print + co. And as one of Shark Tank’s orig­i­nal judges, he’s near­ing his 10th an­niver­sary on ABC’s smash show. He has plenty of bite left, too—just ask the co-stars he heck­les to dis­tract them from ne­go­ti­at­ing deals.

The en­tre­pre­neur and in­vestor prefers to mea­sure his days by what he doesn’t do, thus en­sur­ing there is “time enough” for what he aims to ac­com­plish. Set­ting goals and achiev­ing them in a timely fashion is a prom­i­nent theme in Rise and Grind: Out­per­form, Out­work, and Outhus­tle Your Way to a More Suc­cess­ful and Re­ward­ing Life. John’s fourth book, Rise and Grind ex­plores the daily rou­tines of suc­cess­ful self-starters—in­clud­ing Shark Tank con­tes­tant Kristina Guerrero, founder of Tur­boPup, tele­vi­sion mogul Nely Galán, Al and Brit­tani Baker, co-in­ven­tors of Bubba’s- Q Bone­less Ribs, and en­tre­pre­neur and ex­treme ath­lete Kyle May­nard, who was born with in­com­plete limbs, yet still climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro.

John ex­plores how they all reached the top of their fields. (Hint: These are not lin­ear paths.) He also out­lines his own prac­tices for pro­duc­tiv­ity and ex­plains how he used the ob­sta­cles in his life to fuel his suc­cess.

In an exclusive interview with Inc., John speaks of his daily rit­u­als, the healthy level of para­noia ev­ery en­tre­pre­neur should have, and why his Mo­nop­oly game is es­pe­cially vi­cious.

How did you start your morn­ing?

I tried to bang out about 100 pushups in sets of 20 and 25. I packed my clothes for to­mor­row’s [ photo] shoot. My daugh­ter came in around 9, and I played with her for a lit­tle while. I did my goals—I read my list of goals ev­ery morn­ing. I med­i­tated while do­ing my goals at the same time. Then I prob­a­bly ate some­thing like gra­nola, a smoothie, and a green drink. Sent out as many emails as I could be­fore I even looked at the in­com­ing ones. Two or three calls, and then headed to the of­fice.

So what’s on your list of goals right now?

My goals are al­ways the same. So it’s 10 goals I read ev­ery morn­ing and ev­ery night. Seven of them ex­pire in six months and the others ex­pire in five years, 10 years, and 20 years. They are [based on] faith, fam­ily, busi­ness, health, and ca­reer.

How do you go about achiev­ing those goals?

By read­ing them. Goal set­ting is a very spe­cific thing. It’s not “I want to lose weight.” It’s “I will drink 10 glasses of wa­ter per day. I will not eat fried foods or red meat. I will walk over 10,000 steps per day, do car­dio in the morn­ing, and weightlift at night.” In re­turn for that, I will lose two pounds per week to get down to my goal weight of 170. And this will al­low me to be health­ier and to re­main in my daugh­ters’ lives for a longer pe­riod of time. Then you have to vi­su­al­ize your­self walk­ing your daugh­ter down the aisle or be­ing a grand­fa­ther. So ev­ery one of the goals has the ac­tion on what I am go­ing to take to do it, has the time pe­riod that I’m go­ing to take to ac­com­plish

Don’t tell Day­mond John there isn’t enough time in the day to get ev­ery­thing done. He might just tell you off.

it, and then has the ben­e­fit— how will I ben­e­fit or how will other peo­ple ben­e­fit off of it.

Is it go­ing well?

I fall off of do­ing it and I for­get. And I have this anx­i­ety, be­cause if I know all the goals re­set on July 15, when July 15 comes around, there’s this ten­sion in my body. You shouldn’t ac­com­plish them if they are large enough. You should just get close to them. It makes you take one bit of an ac­tion in the morn­ing or in the evening to­ward a goal. Will I drink 10 glasses of wa­ter ev­ery day? No. Will I do all those pushups ev­ery day? No, but will it make me get that green drink in the morn­ing in­stead of the cheese­burger? Yes. And each one of those gets you closer.

You like to say that if you can do it, any­body can do it. What does that mean to you?

My up­bring­ing was way better than many others’, if we look at the en­tire world, and just as bad as many others’. But many will say you can’t do things be­cause of the color of your skin or where you grew up. I grew up in a lower-mid­dle­class area of Queens. I got left back in school, and I’m dyslexic. There weren’t too many role models where I grew up. I didn’t know any­body, didn’t have a fa­mous last name, didn’t have any ac­cess to cap­i­tal, and didn’t go to col­lege. Many peo­ple would’ve said one of those things could have held me back, and none of those held me back.

How do you han­dle the tough de­ci­sions you have to make?

I try to think about all as­pects of the de­ci­sion. Num­ber one, why do I have to do it and why am I feel­ing this way about it? Num­ber two, who will it af­fect? Who will it save? Each tough de­ci­sion I make

stands on its own merit. Stick­ing your head in the sand as an en­tre­pre­neur just doesn’t work. You may want to do that in your per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, but in busi­ness you can’t.

When do you push your­self into new ex­pe­ri­ences, new busi­nesses?

It’s al­most like shop­ping. I go to the store and I see some­thing, but I don’t buy it right away. I go home. If I can’t get it off my mind, I go back. It’s the same thing when I am look­ing at ar­eas [where] I want to move in life. I start putting it in my goals. I start tak­ing an ac­tion once a week, once a day.

My first book 11 years ago— be­ing dyslexic and try­ing to put out a book, that was very in­tim­i­dat­ing. That book led me to talk­ing about it on net­work TV, and that led to Shark Tank. So those small lit­tle ac­tions that I took would lead me to dif­fer­ent ar­eas of my life.

There’s a fine bal­ance. That’s what a lot of en­trepreneurs have a chal­lenge with. And it’s, how big of a pivot do you take? Most en­trepreneurs have a healthy para­noia, which they should. Busi­ness goes in cy­cles, up and down.

How do you dis­tin­guish be­tween healthy and un­healthy para­noia?

It’s a very fine line, and I’ve man­aged to ride that fine line very well. Bad times are go­ing to hap­pen. You just have to hold your breath a lit­tle bit.

There was para­noia that Fubu would be dead. Then, when Shark Tank called, I re­al­ized that I only had cloth­ing brands, and I was para­noid that I didn’t have any­thing else to sell. What if all cloth­ing, and ur­ban es­pe­cially, was go­ing to fall by the way­side? So I had to start di­ver­si­fy­ing my port­fo­lio. That was para­noia to move for­ward.

What did you learn from writ­ing Rise and Grind?

I’ve learned from the book like crazy. I learned, and I hope other peo­ple will learn, that you are al­ways go­ing to hear no, and peo­ple are al­ways go­ing to doubt you. Look at Kyle May­nard, who climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro [with­out the aid of pros­thet­ics]. It’s amaz­ing to hear peo­ple say, “He had an un­fair ad­van­tage in wrestling.” The man has no arms or legs. No­body wants the un­fair ad­van­tage that he had, but it shows that no mat­ter where you go in life, no mat­ter what you do, some­body will tell you, “That’s un­fair. You’re lucky.”

Did you want to prove wrong the peo­ple who say things like that?

Not any­more. As a kid I did. Now, I say, “If they knew so much, I wouldn’t be here. They would be here.” They are id­iots. You’ll have some peo­ple go, “Day­mond, you walk on wa­ter,” and some peo­ple say, “You’ll be over with to­mor­row.” But you can’t pay at­ten­tion to them. To the peo­ple who say you can walk on wa­ter, you can say, “Trust me. It’s not like that.” If they are un­der­es­ti­mat­ing you, I just ig­nore them.

How can you work hard all the time with­out burn­ing out?

I put the time in to take the time off. I just came home from 14 days away, and I hit 20 cities. I was re­ally ex­hausted. I went to my home in up­state New York, but then I drove an­other hour and a half to go snow­board­ing by my­self for a day. I turned off the phone; no one could get a hold of me. That felt like a week of va­ca­tion. Last night, I was at an event on the Lower East Side [in New York City], and I walked from there to 65th Street with my head­phones on

lis­ten­ing to Nat “King” Cole. I put that time in, too.

How would you sug­gest other en­trepreneurs make that time? Most feel they don’t have a mo­ment to spare.

They have the mo­ment to spare. Or don’t look at In­sta­gram. Don’t watch ev­ery episode of Game of Thrones in one week­end. I haven’t seen a new show in five or six years. I know how ad­dict­ing they can be.

What else do you do to re­lax?

I play with my daugh­ter. No mat­ter what, I’m go­ing to FaceTime with her ev­ery night or I’m go­ing to play with her. I shoot a re­curve bow; that’s so med­i­ta­tive. I fish. I play pool. We have a vi­cious, vi­cious Mo­nop­oly game.

Who is “we”?

Some team mem­bers here [at Blue­print + co. and the Shark Group]. It gets nasty. The fas­ci­nat­ing thing about Mo­nop­oly is that when you’re ne­go­ti­at­ing and com­pet­ing and you’re play­ing by the rules of the game, peo­ple’s true char­ac­ters come out through­out that four or five hours. But can they make de­ci­sions? Are they will­ing to do ques­tion­able things or deals? Are they al­ways mak­ing ex­cuses why some­body else is win­ning or not win­ning? Or are they po­lite? The real in­di­vid­u­als come out, and it’s fas­ci­nat­ing when you play that with your team.

And your fa­vorite board piece?

The boot, be­cause I like to give peo­ple the boot. When they’re out of the game, I’ll boot them.

Do you like the new guest Sharks this sea­son?

I love them. The rea­son I love the guest Sharks is that you’re sit­ting next to Kevin [O’Leary] for 10 years and when he says, “You’re dead to me” in year one, you go, “Oh, my god. How dare you?” After he says, “You’re dead to me” in the eighth year, you go, “Ugh. Shut up.” It’s like your rude un­cle or your rude cousin at the ta­ble. You know he’s go­ing to pick his nose at Thanks­giv­ing. But a new Shark comes on, and they have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion and you don’t nec­es­sar­ily know where they stand. It cre­ates a de­bate that maybe I can learn from. Maybe they can learn from. So it just adds a great dy­namic. Like bring­ing some­one into a fam­ily din­ner to fight with us.

Do you have a fa­vorite Shark?

Bar­bara [Cor­co­ran] says I have to say it’s her, be­cause she lets me stay at her beach house. That’s my of­fi­cial one. Unof­fi­cially, I don’t. We’re all close.

Is there a kind of founder you want to see more on Shark Tank?

No. The ones who get the deals and go off to be suc­cess­ful, they were go­ing to be suc­cess­ful with us or with­out us. Noth­ing was go­ing to stop them. They’re Amer­ica’s dream. They are usu­ally women. They are usu­ally mothers, which I love be­cause I al­ways say, “A mother is the ul­ti­mate en­tre­pre­neur.” And I love the id­iots who come on, to show Amer­ica that there are some id­iots out there, be­cause you have to learn from those peo­ple, too.

You once said that when you in­vest in peo­ple on

Shark Tank, you’re prob­a­bly learn­ing more from them than they are from you.

I’ve learned the im­por­tance of giv­ing, in re­gards to that be­ing part of your cor­po­rate cul­ture and be­ing very ob­vi­ous and very overt about it. At Fubu, we gave a lot, but we would never ad­ver­tise or mar­ket it, be­cause we didn’t want to make a profit off of the hard­ships of others. We got a huge back­lash after a while. But back then, we’d have to ac­tu­ally take an ad out to do it. It’s not like to­day, when we can say, “Look on our so­cial me­dia page at all the stuff we’ve done.” So tak­ing that ad out would have looked worse. But to­day, most of my suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs, when you buy some­thing, they au­to­mat­i­cally do­nate some­thing. I’ve learned that peo­ple re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it.

You also preach the virtues of fail­ing well, of ex­tract­ing value from mis­takes.

That hap­pens ev­ery day. I had a com­pany that my part­ners and I were fi­nanc­ing, a ladies ap­parel com­pany [Heatherette], and we spent about $6 mil­lion in fund­ing the com­pany. We had to shut it down be­cause we re­al­ized we were go­ing to be out of more and more money. The bad part about it was, we had to fire 15 peo­ple and let down the part­ners we in­vested in, be­cause they thought that we’d be able to take it to an­other level. You have to learn from that.

It taught me that un­less you have part­ners who fully know the area of busi­ness and they’re re­ally good op­er­a­tors, then you can’t buy your way into busi­nesses. You have to roll up your sleeves and work just as hard as if it were you start­ing from the be­gin­ning. Most of the busi­nesses I would launch after that, I would start off at a very small level and fig­ure out all the prob­lems, and it ended up sav­ing me a lot more money in the future.

“Don’t ig­nore all those naysay­ers in your path. Put that neg­a­tiv­ity to work for you. Let it drive you, even if it’s just to prove every­one else wrong.”

SHARKS DO REST John takes leisure se­ri­ously. “I put the time in to take the time off,” he says.

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