Shark Tank entrepreneur Daymond John keynoted the 2014 International LCT Show on Sunday, Feb. 16 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Photo by LCT
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Daymond John, renowned rags-to-riches entrepreneur shared his life story — injected with inspiration, motivation, tips, advice, stories, music and humor — to a packed MGM Hotel Grand Ballroom audience at the opening keynote address kicking off the Feb. 16-18, 2014 International LCT Show.
John, a judge on the hit TV show, “Shark Tank,” founder of the Hip-Hop fashion icon FUBU, noted marketer and motivational speaker, shared his inspirational life story that focused on passion, perseverance and hard work. Of course, a little luck, too, that turned a one-time gypsy van driver in Queens, N.Y., to a fashion icon and marketing dynamo who has flourished for more than 20 years.
Sparked with pulsating music and a photo collage backing up his life-story timeline, John’s message of what it takes to be an entrepreneur (“Set Your Sights High”) resonated with operators who gathered in Las Vegas from all over the world for the annual industry international event.
From his early childhood days when he handed out mall fliers on the streets, worked at Red Lobster, drove a van, and hustled his way to his first fashion order of his start-up brand FUBU (“For Us By Us”), John propelled a message of believing in yourself, seizing opportunities, and doing whatever it takes to drive your business. His presentation hit home with operators, who applauded and laughed throughout it.
Admitting he had no talent (“I couldn’t’ sing, dance, or produce”) did not deter John from finding a place in the early Hip-Hop music scene in New York. But what John possessed was a keen eye for the big picture. He noticed early on that Hip Hop was becoming more than just a new music phenomenon. It was morphing into a cultural lifestyle for musicians and fans that was developing a fashion identity.
The luck part of John’s story was that he lived in Hollis, Queens, which became known as the birthplace of the emerging Hip-Hop sound, with acts such as RUN DMC and Salt-N-Peppa that took off nationwide. John told the story of his first attempt to enter the apparel market: It came when he wanted a tie-top hat he had seen in a popular music video but couldn’t find one at an affordable price. Because his mother taught him how to sew, John started making hats and hawked them on the streets — and made $800 in just a few hours. That day sparked what would later become the most recognizable brand in Hip Hop and turn John into a fashion icon.
After a stellar fashion career, John widened his national exposure in 2009 when he joined the cast of the ABC entrepreneurial business show, “Shark Tank.” The show furthered John’s name and reputation. He became well-known to Americans as part of the team that listened to pitches from new entrepreneurs, and then invested their money in the more promising ventures.
As an expert brand marketer, John shared his five key steps to success, called the “Five Shark Points”:
S: Set goals. You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
H: Do your homework. The only thing that costs more than an education is ignorance.
A: Amor, for love. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
R: You are the brand. Sum up your brand’s pitch in two to five words.
K: You must keep swimming.