Daymond John’s Creative Hustle- When Forty Bucks Makes You A Millionaire

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Yesterday I had a great time meeting up with my man Daymond John from Shark Tank for a new series I am doing at Forbes with Cheryl Snapp Connor, Mary Michelle Scott, and David Williams.

I want to share a quick story about one of the things I admire most about Daymond. It is what I call extreme creative hustle. Truth is, Daymond has always had extreme hustle. If you don’t want to take my word for it read his book which tells his story.

I am currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David & Goliath, which talks about how many people turn their advantages into weakness, while others turn disadvantages into strengths. Daymond used his biggest disadvantage in the very beginning of FUBU (lack of money) and very creatively and strategically moved it into great strength… with the help of his washing machine (will explain in a moment).

Daymond’s Creative Hustle

He started the business in his garage in Queens. He had nothing but a few random pieces in his line. A friend of his (LL Cool J) had achieved mega-stardom as a rap artist, and Daymond used his powers of persuasion to convince him to wear the product.

Daymond knew he could not stop with LL Cool J alone and needed to wardrobe more recording artists and celebrities in order to establish further credibility in the market. The challenge was that there were tons of artists, but Daymond only had a few samples. Implementing his creative hustle, he devised a strategy. He would take the few samples he had, have the celebrities wear them at their events, videos and concerts, then he would take them back, wash them (or dry clean them) and re-circulate them to other entertainers. I remember when I met him back in 1996, he walked into the conference room where I was and he gave me a VHS tape (yes VHS) to play. I put it on and saw every entertainer in our market wearing FUBU. I couldn’t believe my eyes! How in the world could he have done that???

As his product became visible in the media, he closed a deal with one of the largest corporations in the world who became his strategic partner (who happened to be my partner as well). The rest is history.

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When It’s NOT About Money

Did Daymond go after the money at first? Absolutely not. What he did do was create something that nobody else had and no investor in his or her right mind could ignore. He created the sizzle. So much sizzle, anyone in their right minds should have invested… but all he needed was one company… and he got it.

Why do I know all of this? Because the company that signed the deal with his company simultaneously dropped their deal with me when the demand for FUBU put them in the position where they couldn’t afford to give us both the necessary attention… so I know the situation rather intimately. They actually gave Gary and I the opportunity to jump on board but we stubbornly refused, as we let our emotions and our egos cloud our judgment. If you want to learn about that story, read how my ego destroyed my business. 

So Why Forty Bucks?

If someone were to advertise their brand in a magazine during that time, it may cost thirty thousand dollars. If they wanted to run a thirty-second ad on television, it may cost them several hundred thousand dollars for one single exposure. So, what would it cost to run a ten-minute commercial on prime time television once a month for, say a year? If your math is at all good, it may cost well let’s see…. Ten minutes into thirty seconds is twenty, multiplied times twelve times for the year, multiplied times a few hundred thousand…. Almost fifty million bucks… give or take a few million.

Well, Daymond got the that ten-minute commercial and infinitely more, as his product appeared quite a bit more than twelve times a year…actually, a lot more. FUBU was worn on prime-time television shows, music videos, cable stations, you name it. Hundreds of hours of footage.

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So what do you think it cost him? Fifty million? Perhaps forty million since they gave him a volume discount? Try about forty bucks. I say forty bucks as that was about the cost he paid to make a sweatshirt for a celebrity to wear on a show or a video. Most of the times it was a t-shirt or a hat so it cost even less. Remember, he was washing (or dry cleaning) the few samples he had and re-circulating them, as he didn’t have the money at first to make tons of samples.

Not a bad price for exposing your product to hundreds of millions of people… and that, in my opinion, was the Tipping Point for him (thanks again Mr. Gladwell).

Flip Your Disadvantages Into Strengths

Think about your disadvantages and think about how you can turn those disdvantages into strengths. If you look hard enough, you will find the answer.

Many people think the advantage is the money. This example should show how that is most often not the case. From my experience, the biggest advantage is hustle, and if ever there was a person with hustle, it would be Daymond.

Have a great day!

MJ

NOTE: 

David Williams owns a super company called Fishbowl Inventory, has a weekly column on Forbes, and wrote an incredible book which you can read about here.

Mary Michelle Scott is President of Fishbowl Inventory and collaborates with David each week in Forbes. You can find out more about Mary and Fishbowl, here .

Cheryl Snapp Connor is Chairman of Snapp Connor PR. You can find out more about her here .

6 Powerful Lessons I learned From Failure and 18 Quotes To Support Them

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I have grown to love failure, although I’ll be the first to admit it kicked my a*s for many years. I remember the helpless and empty feeling of losing my first business and having to put both the business and myself through bankruptcy. It was absolutely horrible.

I remember losing the house, the office, the warehouse, the car, & putting the furniture on the front lawn for people to take it as I didn’t even have the money to put it in storage Continue reading “6 Powerful Lessons I learned From Failure and 18 Quotes To Support Them”

10 Reasons You Should Never Put An Expiration Date On Your Dreams

23. 10-Reasons-You-Should-Never-Put-An-Expiration-Date-On-Your-Dreams

When we think of dreams, it often times seems like some far away reality that we’re in constant pursuit of. We tend to visualize our dreams as fairy-tales that are void of challenges and failures. Reality just gets in the way of a perfect picture of successful bliss.

Do we ever visualize heart-ache or setbacks? No, not really! … But I guess that would be more like a nightmare! Continue reading “10 Reasons You Should Never Put An Expiration Date On Your Dreams”

7 Reasons Why I Will NOT Invest In You

27. 7-Reasons-Why-I-Will-NOT-Invest-In-You

Investing in a start-up to me is one of the trickiest things to do as I have been on the losing (and winning) ends of both sides of the table on several occasions.

To me, there is no real difference between the investment of money and investment of time, except for the fact that the latter is normally more painful as time we can never get back. Continue reading “7 Reasons Why I Will NOT Invest In You”

5 Reasons Why I Would Rather Work 80 Hours A Week For Me Than 40 Hours A Week For You

30. 5 Reasons Why I Would Rather Work 80 Hours A Week For Me Than 40 Hours A Week For You

Though the title may seem weird, or maybe even ridiculous, entrepreneurs are truly a breed unto themselves. Most people start out early in life with a very robotic answer as it relates to our professional future – Do well in school, get a good job and retire at sixty-five (or now supposedly sixty-eight). Statements like this have driven me crazy since the age of twenty, coincidentally the year I started my first business senior year in college. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why I Would Rather Work 80 Hours A Week For Me Than 40 Hours A Week For You”

18 Reasons Why Your Rejection Is My Favorite Aphrodisiac

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I have grown to love rejection. I used to absolutely hate it. I used to fear it, loathe it, and avoid it at any cost. If there was any chance you would say no I would run for the hills… and never come back unless I had a guaranteed yes in advance.

Now, after twenty plus years of business and forty plus years on Earth, rejection has become my favorite aphrodisiac. Let me explain why… Continue reading “18 Reasons Why Your Rejection Is My Favorite Aphrodisiac”

5 Things Every Entrepreneur Can Do When They Can’t Do Anything

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What can you do when you can’t seem to do anything? This has happened to me many times on both a business and personal level and it can be quite frustrating.

Maybe you are waiting for a call or for someone to get back into town. Perhaps it is a product you are waiting to arrive in your warehouse or a service that has not been performed yet that is tying your hands behind your back. There are a million and one reasons why we get what I call, stuck on stupid. Continue reading “5 Things Every Entrepreneur Can Do When They Can’t Do Anything”

Gordon Gekko Was Wrong

43. Gordon Gekko Was Wrong

“The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”  Certainly a very powerful quote from the great film, Wall Street.

The only thing is, I think Gekko was dead wrong. Dead wrong about a lot of things he said, but let’s focus on this one. The thing I actually do give him (or his character) credit for is the three words, “I know of” After all, Gordon Gekko was certainly entitled to his opinion. Everyone is. To me, however, the most valuable commodity we have that “I know of” is TIME. Let’s take a look at why. Continue reading “Gordon Gekko Was Wrong”