Some of the most powerful and successful people in history have become who they are because of the hard things they have gone through in life. John Paul DeJoria is no different. The self-made billionaire entrepreneur is best known as the co-founder of the world-famous hair care company John Paul Mitchell Systems and, later, the Patrón Spirits Company.
Who is John Paul DeJoria?
When DeJoria was only two years old, his parents split up. He was born in 1944. DeJoria started selling Christmas cards and newspapers door-to-door when he was nine years old to help support his family. When his mother’s financial situation got too bad, he and his brother were sent to live with a foster family.
This was his first experience facing problems head-on. This taught him that the only way out is up, which helped him a lot when he started John Paul Mitchell while living in his car and having only $700 to start the business.
DeJoria didn’t let these economic problems stop him. Instead, he saw them as a chance to work hard. When he didn’t have enough money to buy food, he sold Christmas cards. When he didn’t have enough money to go to college, he sold encyclopedias. He said he couldn’t depend on anyone else and that “if you keep waiting for free lunch, you won’t get very far and will be very bored. Do something in the world. Get involved.”
All of these were important lessons he learned even before he and his partner, hairdresser Paul Mitchell, started their business. When DeJoria worked for Redken and Fermodyl Hair Care, he learned about the hair care business. He lost both jobs, which only made him more determined to do well in the future.
Lessons in Success:
Success for John Paul Mitchell Systems came from word-of-mouth selling, which attracted their first distributor’s attention, eventually paying off the company’s debt.
From there, the hair care products were shipped to numerous salons, and it became a million-dollar company after just two years of operation. After the first setback, they didn’t give up, and that helped them turn $700 into a billion-dollar business.
How often do we hear stories of homeless people living out of their cars, changing their circumstances, and ending up as billionaires? But John Paul DeJoria has done just that, and the 76-year-old now has a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes.
Lesson #1: Familiarize Yourself with Rejection: —
In the beginning of his career, DeJoria’s ability to deal with rejection was one of the things that he looked up to the most. He’d later say, “You’ve got to be prepared in life for a lot of rejections,” pointing to his time as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman as a prime example of the many doors that will be closed in your face in life.
As a consequence, he began to expect negative responses, which came to benefit him throughout his career: “You must be just as enthusiastic on door 51 as you were on door 50; even if all 50 of those doors are closed in your face for a lot of rejection, you shouldn’t let it get you down.”
Lesson #2: Don’t Let the Past Hold You Back:
If you let your mistakes, past, and problems slow you down, you will never be able to do as much in the future. As for DeJoria, he prefers to look on the bright side. “When you’re down, most people think about the past and what got them there. That’s not going to get you anywhere. Think about what your next step is. Don’t dwell in the past—go forward,” he said.
Lesson #3: There Will Never Be a “Right Time”
DeJoria started John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980 in one of the worst possible economic environments to start a business. Inflation was at its highest, and motorists were waiting in lines for blocks to get to the gas station before the supply ran out. DeJoria was completely homeless in his car when his first backer pulled out.
However, DeJoria and his business partner decided to press on and started their business with only a borrowed $700 and an answering machine. JPMorgan Chase even settled on its iconic black-and-white logo because it couldn’t afford color printing. This shows that there is never a perfect time to start a business; it’s simply a case of making the best of what you have.
Lesson #4: Make Your Products and Services the Best They Can Be
Always remember, you don’t want to be in the product business. You want to be in the reorder business,” said an adamant DeJoria. He explains that once you’ve worked hard at developing a top-class product or service that people want, you have a far better chance of retaining that customer over the long term by seeing them as a partner to build a relationship with rather than a one-off customer.
Lesson #5: Doing good benefits you and your business.
“If a business wants to stay in business, it cannot just think of today’s bottom line,” says DeJoria. “By helping others, you are creating future customers and inspiring employee loyalty.”
Customers love to be involved with those that donate their time to inspiring others, helping the planet, and making a difference in their community. Any good company must commit to helping others succeed. Since he started his first business in 1980, DeJoria explains that employee turnover has been less than 100, and two were retirements.
Lesson #6: Hard work still pays off, as it always has.
In past interviews, DeJoria has said that the millennial generation is facing a number of problems that are making people of working age more angry. These problems include rising student debt, dwindling economic prospects, and trouble making decisions.
DeJoria has a message for all millennials: “You can get through the hard times as long as you’re willing to work and put forth an effort and not sit back and wait on everyone else.” “America works, but to make it work, you’ve got to go out there and do something.”