This past June, I got to hear the one and only Daymond John speak at a small private event. You may know Daymond as a successful entrepreneur who has appeared on the hit ABC show Shark Tank. Best known as the founder of the clothing brand, FUBU, he is also the author of The Power of Broke — an insightful look into his life and what he did to find success.
Daymond brought a lot of that insight into the room. While he had a lot of great things to say, there were four business strategies that really struck a chord with me — strategies any business can learn from to improve.
1. INVEST IN PEOPLE
This is the most important thing for a business to realize, as Daymond put it. He talked about how he (and the Sharks) invests in people, not companies. Think about it: companies come and go. In fact, most companies will go. On the other hand, people learn from their experiences (good and bad), and they grow. Putting your people first is what gives companies staying power. Your team matters and your clients matter, and you should make every effort to ensure they know that.
2. DON’T BE REACTIVE — BE RESPONSIVE
A lot of businesses are reactionary. This was a lesson Daymond learned working with prolific rapper and music producer LL Cool J in the late 1980s. When you react to something, you’re already behind the times. Part of LL Cool J’s success in the rap world was being responsive. He didn’t just jump on trends, he helped create them. He recognized the rap world was constantly changing in terms of sound, lyrics and style (including his fashion).
Daymond was able to market his FUBU clothing because he was doing things other clothing makers weren’t. He was taking risks, working exceptionally hard (another one of Daymond’s points was “always be hustling”) and was willing to respond to changes in the marketplace.
3. BE TRUE TO YOUR WORD
When Daymond first got the call from Mark Burnett to join Shark Tank, Daymond knew he had to turn down the show. Signing onto Shark Tank meant he couldn’t appear on any other shows, and he was already working with the Kardashians — a family who, at the time, wasn’t quite the household brand name they are today.
Daymond told Burnett he was going to stick with the Kardashians because he had given them their word (and likely signed a few contracts with them). He wanted to help the Kardashians get their brands moving. He saw their potential. The family got word that Daymond had turned down the Shark Tank deal and said, “No, don’t let us get in your way!”
Daymond also recognized that the Kardashians are savvy businesspeople. As he put it, “They know their analytics.” And that’s true! That’s why they found success on TV and in stores around the world where their many products are sold. But he wasn’t about the leave them high and dry for his own gain. Eventually, they found a solution, and he joined Shark Tank, but he wasn’t going to compromise his integrity. And that’s something none of us should compromise on.
4. REMEMBER, YOU ARE THE BRAND
The biggest brands are distilled down to three, four, five words. People know these words by heart, including Nike (Just Do It) and Apple (Think Different). You should have your own 2-5 words. “If you can’t describe yourself in 2-5 words and you walk into a room, you leave it up to us to interpret.”
Another thing to remember is that people associate your social media with your brand — whether you’re a business intentionally posting content related to your brand, or you’re an individual posting about your last vacation. What you share on social media is shared through a lens — your lens. Pictures, posts, you name it — it’s all a part of your brand.
That said, posting something negative will hurt that brand. It’s always important to be mindful of what you post and encourage your team to do the same. Having rules and policies regarding what can and cannot be shared on social media will go a long way in preventing a catastrophe.
These four points only skim the surface of what Daymond talked about, but these are crucial things we all can learn from. It was great to hear him speak and to hear his story, and I send my thanks to him for all of his wonderful insights!