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'Shark Tank' judge Daymond John: Find a mentor who has had their share of struggle

CEO and founder of apparel brand FUBU Daymond John says he learnt more when he discovered that successful people made financial mistakes too.

September 29, 2021 / 11:32 AM IST
(left to right) Then US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, PAGE Ambassador and Executive Chair of the Board at Kiva Julie Hannah, Founder of Think Food Group Jose Andres, and PAGE Ambassador and Shark Tank judge Daymond John at the GES Women and Youth Day Opening Plenary, in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 24, 2015 (Photo: U.S. Embassy Nairobi via Wikimedia Commons 2.0)

(left to right) Then US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, PAGE Ambassador and Executive Chair of the Board at Kiva Julie Hannah, Founder of Think Food Group Jose Andres, and PAGE Ambassador and Shark Tank judge Daymond John at the GES Women and Youth Day Opening Plenary, in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 24, 2015 (Photo: U.S. Embassy Nairobi via Wikimedia Commons 2.0)


He is a shark who sometimes learnt more from those who bled.

Daymond John, one of the judges on Shark Tank and the founder of clothing brand FUBU, says that for him, a mentor is someone who is not shy to talk about their failures.

“If I would have seen that (at the start of my working life), it would have helped me so much earlier on in my career,” John, who is believed to have a net worth of approximately $350 million, told CNBC Make It.

(23 March 2011 photo via Wikimedia Commons 2.0) (23 March 2011 photo via Wikimedia Commons 2.0)

At first, John thought successful people didn’t want to talk to somebody like him—particularly because few of them looked like him (they were typically white). Since he never got to engage with them, he did not learn about their failures.

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“I thought somebody hit them with a magic wand,” John says.

Once John figured out that even the most successful people made financial mistakes, his career blossomed. “You are dealing with (challenges), and mentors are too. We just need to know how to find them and extract that value,” he said.

John said that some of his best mentors were closer home than he thought. They were not business icons, but people like his mother, stepfather and daughters.

Teachers, city workers, small-business owners or church leaders can all show you what it means to fail and still succeed, he said.

“You may not be able to get a hold of Daymond John or (Shark Tank judge) Barbara Corcoran,” John said. “But mentors are all around in our community. They’re just in disguise.”

John would think there was a “special place” successful people went to for mentorship. Now, he said, he finds them everywhere—a concept he hoped to bring to his October 14 event, Black Entrepreneurs Day, highlighting both people and companies that could help Black entrepreneurs get ahead.“We need to talk more about these resources,” John said. “Because the more people get educated, the more people get empowered.”
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