What I Learned from My Private Sit-Down with Daymond John

Last month I was lucky enough, along with just 10 other people, to get a private hour with Daymond John from NBC’s Shark Tank.  If time is money, then this was an extremely valuable hour, and I intended to make the most of it.  Some people in the small room asked questions about Shark Tank, some made small talk.  My goal for the session – which I planned out ahead of time – was to figure out how Sharks like Daymond continue to expand their business portfolios while only having the same 24 hours in a day that the rest of us do.  Marc Cuban says the best thing about his private jet is how much time it saves him.  Because the rest of us don’t have that option, I really wanted to know how sharks can keep investing in more businesses and find the time to prudently manage their ventures.

When I first asked Daymond about leveraging his time, he said you have to learn to say “no” or you can drown in opportunity, and he gave some good examples.  But when I pressed further for how he manages to find the time for when he does want to say yes and invest, his answer was extremely enlightening, and the group of us agreed that learning his process was the best part of the entire hour.

First, using an analogy of buying clothes (what else would you expect from the founder of FUBU), Daymond explained that if he’s shopping and he sees an expensive clothing item he really likes, he doesn’t buy it right away.  He goes home and sleeps on it.  If he wakes up and has forgotten about the item, he obviously didn’t love it.  But if he can’t get it off of his mind, just can’t stop thinking about it, then he knows it’s something he has to have.  Despite the live taping, pitching and negotiating of Shark Tank, Daymond approaches other business opportunities the same way.

Like the rest of us, Daymond learned the hard way.  By and large, when he has made a bad investment, it followed the following pattern:

  • He wasn’t that excited about it (in other words, should have slept on it and realized he didn’t love the opportunity)
  • Because he wasn’t excited about it, he didn’t do his homework on it
  • Because he didn’t do his homework on it, he didn’t check in with the person he put in charge, and just let them run with the project.

Now, Daymond uses the following formula:

  • If an idea or opportunity is keeping him up at night, he knows he’s excited enough about it to do it the right way
  • Because he’s so excited about it, he does his homework and learns everything he can.  This is how he becomes an informed investor.
  • He then puts someone in place of the project with a plan, that he checks up on, and makes sure business is being handled the right way.

That’s it, that’s the secret.  Sounds simple, but until you think it through and write the formula down, it’s no use.

Here are a few other tidbits I learned about Daymond or from Daymond during our session together:

  1. Daymond John is funny, both scripted and live​.
  2. Daymond John extols the use of business attorneys early on in the business process(yes, this is extremely self-serving of me to include this, but it’s true, he said it). ​
  3. Just because you have capital doesn’t mean you jump into something.
  4. ​Daymond is not a one-hit wonder.  FUBU fell out of popularity, like most brands, but Daymond had already begun to diversify, and that’s why he’s remained a huge success. ​
  5. Write down specific goals and read them before bed and in the morning
  6. We compare our blueprint
  7. Most people who work for him started out as unpaid interns
  8. Toughest people to find receptionist and bookkeeper
  9. Can’t stop good people – Make them a partner or they will be a competitor
  10. Too many people major in minor

​I hope you enjoyed reading this post almost as much as I enjoyed my time with Daymond.