How My Ego Destroyed My Business

In the waning hours (literally hours) of losing my first business, I sat down with the two gentlemen that were financing my business up until that point. They expressed regret that they could not continue our business any longer.

I was literally crushed. For the past six years I had devoted my life to something that was truly disappearing before my eyes. They told me that the circumstances that had led up to that decision were too difficult to continue, however they did not question my talent and know-how at any point along the way. As they said, we had our run, now the fashion industry was looking for a new fresh face. So they wanted my partner Gary and I to end our contract with them and come join them to help launch the new company they were going to financially back. We felt slighted. We were not good enough to run our own company so they wanted us to be a part of something else… no way! We made the decision within a minute. No! No! No! No way in a million years! No! …

Well, as it turns out, less than three years later, that company (FUBU) would be the largest urban contemporary clothing brand in history with revenues in excess of several hundred million dollars a year and has currently shipped over six billion (with a “B”) dollars in revenue to date… and counting. When I think of the conservative estimate that simple one-minute decision like that one has cost Gary and I, often brings me to the edge of my sanity! As I always say, we can’t look back on past mistakes, as we should only do so to learn from them, but talk about a tough pill to swallow!

The Lesson:

Emotions can work for us and they can also work against us (as you see above), but when it comes to business (and life in general), the best rule is some simple advice I received from my father when I was very young. “Count to 10.” He always told me this but of course I never listened. Imagine that! A child not listening to his parents!?


If I only knew then what I know now! But “ifs” are no longer in my vocabulary as they have zero use. Any time I hear myself or someone else saying, “if I only did this” and “if I only did that”, I give the exact response every time… “If only my Aunt had balls she would be my Uncle!” …  But the fact is she isn’t so move on!

Hindsight is 20-20

Know that most people fail the first time. Also know that most people fail the second time. Things don’t always happen exactly the way that you expect them to. In this case, if I had accepted the offer, not only would I have reaped vast amounts of money personally, but I would have also been able to write my own ticket in the industry for the rest of my career as once your name is associated with such a huge success, you will forever be in demand from the rest of the industry. I know hindsight is 20-20, but in retrospect, it certainly would have been better to shut up and listen to the offer and sleep on it. Now I know there are some other things we can do, like use our resources. Talk with friends. Talk with family. Talk with your colleagues… or talk with your business partner!

Just The Facts, Jack!

If I had used some common sense I would have broken down the facts to come to my conclusion.

Fact 1 – When Gary and I received the offer to come join FUBU, we had just gotten back from fashion’s largest tradeshow, Magic International in Las Vegas which was a four day convention. We (Gary and I) had a booth for our company, and FUBU had a booth. The four-day total was as follows-

BNW (our company) 200 K in sales bookings

FUBU – 5 Million in sales bookings

Fact 2- This was our 11th show at Magic and we had a big booth, it was FUBU’s 1st tradeshow and they had a tiny booth but still wrote 25 times the volume. You would think we would have gotten the hint!




Fact 6 – Do I really need to say it?

Again, facts don’t lie. There was a reason why these guys came to us and wanted to focus their efforts on FUBU.

If we had examined these facts rather then act on emotions we would have deducted that what they call the “seven year itch” was over, which basically means that a fashion brand normally has about 7 years of popularity before they lose their luster. Turns out, FUBU had the same 7 year itch. So what did they do? They moved their distribution overseas where it still thrives today as the #1 brand in Asia and one of the top brands throughout France, Italy and many other countries as well. But I shall save the lesson I learned for that one for another post and another day.

So my advice to you from my experience as an expert screw-up is, when faced with a big decision, take a deep breath, count to 10, sleep on it if you can, get advice from others and then and only then, come back and give an educated and well-informed answer.

Have a great day!

MJ Gottlieb

The following is an excerpt from How To Ruin A Business Without Really Trying… To receive complimentary chapters, sign up at the top right of the page to get a download link. For more information about the book, Click Here


“MJ takes a new and exciting approach on how to teach entrepreneurs.”

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Co-host of ABC's, 'Shark Tank'

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