There was a shark circling at Heidelberg on Wednesday, and his tank was Seiberling Gymnasium.
Daymond John, FUBU founder and an investor on the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” was the keynote speaker for the fourth HYPE Career Ready Day.
From humble beginnings in Queens, N.Y., to one of the most highly sought-after branding and marketing experts in the country, John shared his story that is the essence of the American Dream. At a young age with little financial backing, he created FUBU, one of the most iconic urban fashion brands in the world.
For his HYPE presentation, he shared what he’s learned from his personal successes as well as failures on his way to becoming a mega-successful entrepreneur. John said his life “turned from black and white to technicolor” when FUBU took off.
He’s big into setting and working through goals, and that was the first message he left with Heidelberg students, using SHARK as an acronym.
“Set a goal,” John said. “If you don’t, you allow other people to set goals for you.”
No. 2 is Homework, as in do it. John admitted that early on, he lacked financial intelligence. At a fashion show in Las Vegas in 1992, he left with $300,000 in orders for his FUBU merchandise and no idea how he was going to fill the orders. After being turned down for financing by 27 banks, his mother took a second mortgage on their home, which became FUBU’s factory. With their last dollars, his mother took out an ad in the New York Times. The ad resulted in a deal with Samsung Textiles and launched FUBU toward multi-million-dollar profits in just three months.
By now, John is wondering, “How did I get to this point in my life?” The answer was simple: Amor – message No. 3.
“I love what I’m doing. I’m obsessed with it. I hope that’s how you’ll be with your career,” he said.
Next, he told students to Remember that “You are your own brand.”
“Can you put yourself today into 2-5 words? If you can’t, when you walk into a room, you leave it to the interpretation of others.” After that, the most important challenge is to master the art of pitching – like those he’s listened to as one of the sharks on “Shark Tank” the past nine years, John said.
Finally, weaving into his talk a personal story about surgery to treat thyroid cancer last spring, John told the students to Keep Swimming. “You start to realize the value of success, how you want to be remembered,” he said.
For those who heard his talk, John will be remembered at Heidelberg for his motivation, inspiration and great strategies for career and life success.
Learn more about the HYPE Career Ready program.