In addition to talent, effort, and luck, there is also a teacher’s quote that helped awaken and change the life of homeless billionaire John Paul DeJoria.
“If you want something, fight for it,” says Chris Gadner in the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness.”
If you’ve ever seen the 2006 film “The Pursuit of Happyness” with a touching story about two homeless wandering father and son trying to find a bright future, the life of John Paul DeJoria perhaps similar, or even more tragic. He was once homeless, had to go door-to-door to sell goods to help his family and live a life at the bottom of society.
Today, DeJoria owns a fortune of $3.1 billion, excluding the sale of Patron wine in 2018. He also owns the world-famous Paul Michell brand of hair care with an average sales of more than 1 billion. USD/year.
A useless boy’s dream
Source: The Enterprise World
Born in 1944 in Los Angeles, John Paul Jones DeJoria is the second son in an immigrated family, having an Italian father and Greek mother.
DeJoria’s parents got divorce when he was 2, leaving him to be homeless very early. As soon as he was 9, DeJoria had to sell Christmas cards and newspapers with his siblings to help support his family.
Having to struggle to make ends meet from an early age and even living in a juvenile detention center, DeJoria joined a street gang like many poor teenagers at that time. Being in a background with full of poor people and immigrants, DeJoria did not realize the humiliation of living at the bottom of society.
However, once being scolded by a math teacher at an educational center, who told him that he would never succeed at anything in life, DeJoria changed his way of life to prove himself not useless.
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Graduating from high school in 1962, a rarity seen among the poor young people at the juvenile center at that time , DeJoria was determined to accomplish something. Lacking money to attend college, DeJoria joined the US Navy and served for 2 years.
When he left the army, DeJoria was still empty-handed, but with enthusiasm, he did many jobs to earn a living, instead of rejoining a gang or following a criminal path, which was truly a light for a poor teenager, living in the chaotic environment of America in the 1960s with gangs, smuggled alcohol, corruption…
During this time, he married his first wife and rented a small apartment, but in 1966, his wife took the rent and the car and left him with their 2-year-old child. Just two days later, DeJoria and his child were evicted from their home for failing to pay their rent.
DeJoria has worked at gas stations, car repairs, janitors, selling copiers, insurance or even going door-to-door to sell books. With no money, DeJoria and his son had to sleep in a car and basically, this marked the second time this billionaire was rendered ‘homeless’.
This is the most difficult time for DeJoria as his father and son have to live through the day at the bus station, inn or wherever possible. The young DeJoria, who longed to prove that he is not a useless person, was facing the biggest challenge of his life when he had to raise his children empty-handed, with his wife betrayed.
“I sleep in my car and shower at the pool at Griffith Park. I often go to the Freeway Café in Los Angeles because with only $0.99 you can buy an egg, a piece of bread, a sausage and a glass of water. Between 4:30 and 5:30 pm I often go to El Torido because for only $0.99 you can order a chicken wing and a drink,” said Mr. DeJoria on how the homeless life taught him to live frugally.
Despite those difficulties, the DeJoria father and son still did not give up and fate smiled at them through shampoo bottles.
Starting from the shampoo bottle
After striving with enough professions, DeJoria began to find his opportunity with the selling shampoos. He worked as a salesman for Redken Laboratories in 1971 and with his talent in sales, he was gradually promoted to manager. DeJoria and his child now have enough money to rent without having to live in poverty, but his career has not really shined.
After a year and a half, DeJoria was fired due to disagreements over Redken’s business strategy. He continued to work in the sales of hair care products and shampoos with some success, but the legend of DeJoria only really began when he and his friend Paul Mitchell founded John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980 with an initial loan of only $700 .
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Initially, both raised $500,000, but that investor gave up at the last minute because the inflation at that time was more than 12% while the interest rate was 17%.
The original idea of the couple was to develop a line of shampoos and conditioners that save more styling time for hair stylists. Business didn’t go well at first, and DeJoria’s company nearly had to file for bankruptcy at least 50 times in its first year. In the third year, the company brought in $1 million in revenue and in the 5th year, it was $10 million.
In 2015, John Paul Mitchell Systems had $1 billion in sales.
This isn’t DeJoria’s only success, though, as soon after his shampoo company made huge profits, he began spending money on other startups, from alcohol and solar power to gas and movies…
Prominent among them is the investment in Patron Spirits, a wine business with Martin Crowley. This was the time when the Tequila market began to favor high-end products and Patron has hit the hearts of customers by leading the way in luxury wines.
In 2017, Patron had $1.6 billion in revenue. However, DeJoria decided to sell its 70% stake in the company to Bacardi for $5.1 billion in Cash. After deducting debts and expenses, experts predict DeJoria earned about $4 billion through the transaction.
Source: Baba Investing
DeJoria’s success and experiences are admired by business and investors alike. In 2013, he was invited as a guest on ABC’s Shark Tank, then became the main investor on behalf of billionaire Robert Herjavec. With a net worth of $3.1 billion, excluding the Patron deal, DeJoria was the show’s third-richest Shark that season, behind Mark Cuban ($3.3 billion) and Richard Branson ($5.1 billion).
Don’t stop until you succeed
“If you expect a free lunch, you can’t go far and everything will be very boring. Go out and do something. Be yourself,” billionaire DeJoria warned young people.
With the floating life of a homeless person and having to knock door-to-door to sell goods, DeJoria understands very well how to push yourself to rise, overcome challenges to succeed. The time he spent selling books from house to house or struggling with his children made him practice his thick face and iron will.
Source: The Times
“You have to be enthusiastic when standing in front of the 51st door even though the previous 50 doors don’t greet you. To do that you have to be prepared for rejections, slaps in the face. When prepared, you will never fall,” DeJoria revealed.
This billionaire also said not to look at the past or failures too much. The world is always changing so always look to the future, never wait for anyone; instead, go out and do something.
Even when he is rich, DeJoria actively contributes to society. Although Patron is a high-class winery, he still hires local workers in Mexico, helps build houses, sends children to school, and perfects the environmental protection system around the factory. For him, success is not what you achieve; rather than that, it depends on whether you have done the best at what you do. Success without sharing isn’t different from failure.
“It’s going to be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end,” DeJoria declared in his 2017 documentary “Good Fortune”.
6 valuable lessons DeJoria draws out
After all the ups and downs of life, John Paul DeJoria learned 6 successful lessons:
– First, get used to rejection. This billionaire once said: “You have to be prepared for a lot of rejections”.
– Second, don’t let the past hold you back. “When you’re down, most people think about the past and what got you there. This won’t lead you to success, but think about the next step you should take. Don’t stay too long in the past – move on,” DeJoria said.
– Third, there will never be a “right time”.
– Fourth, make your Products and Services the best they can be.
– Fifth, doing well will benefit you and your business.
– Sixth, hard work always pays off. DeJoria has a message for all generations of young people: “You can get through tough times as long as you’re willing to work and put in the effort, not waiting around for help. America still exists, but for it to always do, you have to go out and take action.”
H/T: NBC News