YAPClassic: How Daymond John is Empowering The Next Generation Through Financial Literacy | #BlackEntrepreneurs

YAPClassic: How Daymond John is Empowering The Next Generation Through Financial Literacy | #BlackEntrepreneurs

YAPClassic: How Daymond John is Empowering The Next Generation Through Financial Literacy | #BlackEntrepreneurs

When Daymond John was 10 years old, his parents got divorced. His father left and Daymond never heard from him again. As a result, Daymond had to find scrappy ways to make money so he and his mom could put food on the table. Over the years, Daymond has found other creative ways to solve problems and generate profit, which is how he built a $6 billion clothing brand. In this episode of YAPClassic, the People’s Shark will unpack how he built FUBU and why he’s focusing on empowering the next generation through financial literacy. This episode is part of a special YAP series honoring Black History Month called #BlackEntrepreneurs.

Daymond John is a New York Times bestselling author and the CEO and founder of FUBU, the $6 billion global lifestyle brand created to represent overlooked communities. He is also a star and original member of ABC’s four-time Emmy Award–winning TV show Shark Tank, where he invests and helps entrepreneurs grow their own businesses.


In this episode, Hala and Daymond will discuss:

– Daymond’s early entrepreneurial itch

– How Daymond’s side hustle became the global brand FUBU

– What Daymond learned from Jay Abraham

– Daymond’s mother’s influence on his life

– Becoming a Shark on the hit show Shark Tank

– Why most of America does not have financial literacy

– How to teach financial intelligence to our kids

– Daymond’s 3-dollar rule

– Why kids need new national role models

– And other topics…


Daymond John was born with a passion for entrepreneurship. Daymond is CEO and founder of FUBU, the $6 billion global lifestyle brand created to represent overlooked communities. He is also a star and original member of ABC’s four-time Emmy Award–winning TV show Shark Tank, helping entrepreneurs and business owners grow their own businesses. He continues to work with a number of philanthropic organizations to educate and empower future generations, including My Brother’s Keeper, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and the NAACP, to name a few. Daymond is a New York Times bestselling author, and Little Daymond Learns to Earn is his first book for children.


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Resources Mentioned:

Daymond’s Website: https://daymondjohn.com/

Daymond’s Book Little Daymond Learns to Earn: https://www.amazon.com/Little-Daymond-Learns-Earn-John/dp/0593567277


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: What is going on, young and profiters. And you know what this concept of young and profiters has been on my mind, because I had a lovely listener reach out to me on LinkedIn and she said, holla, I love listening to your show. I listened to it all the time. And I always laugh a little because when I hear the name young and profiters, I think.

I'm more like middle age and profiting and I told her no way that is not how you should be thinking. When I say young and profitors, I mean young at heart. I mean, you're never too old to learn something new. I mean. That as long as you learn, you stay young. And by the way, we're always gonna be as young as we ever will be today.

We are always young and profiting as long as we're learning. And so whenever I say Young Anders know that I'm speaking to everybody of all ages. Well, anyway, young Anders, today we're rounding out our series Honoring Black History Month called Black Entrepreneurs, where we're replaying some of our favorite episodes with black business owners.

And we're ending this series by replaying one of our biggest interviews ever, Damon John. If you've ever watched Shark Tank, you definitely know who Damon John is. He's a New York Times bestselling author and the CEO and founder of FUBU, a 6 billion global lifestyle brand created to represent overlooked communities.

He's also the star and the original member of ABC's four time Emmy award winning TV show Shark Tank. Where he invests and helps entrepreneurs grow their own businesses. In this episode, Damon's going to talk about his come up story and how he started his first business. And he's also going to tell us about his mission to empower the next generation through financial literacy.

I'm so happy we get to replay this episode to conclude our Black Entrepreneur Series. Damon is such a true inspiration. He's been a hero of mine for many, many years. In fact, back when my dad was still alive, when I was a young baby podcaster, just thinking and dreaming about becoming an entrepreneur, I watched Shark Tank religiously.

And one of the reasons why I felt confident to be an entrepreneur was all the stuff that I learned on Shark Tank. So this episode holds a very, very special place in my heart. Without further ado, enjoy my conversation with the incredible Damon John.


 So, Damon, I'd love to start off with your incredible come up story. You grew up in Hollis, Queens in New York City, and around 10, 12 years old, your parents separated and your mother ended up working multiple jobs to put food on the table.

From my research, I found out that you had an early entrepreneurial itch, even as a kid and teen. You sold everything from pencil to reconditioned cars. So take us back to memory lane. What were you like as a younger kid and what were your first experiences? And entrepreneurship and business. 

[00:03:15] Daymond John: Well, I think you covered it.

You know, as a young kid, I was an only child. Um, my parents, when they were together, I mean, life happened. They got divorced. I would never see my father or hear from him again after 10 years old. They were hardworking individuals. They worked day jobs, uh, and then they come home and they would work on.

Trying to build little things around the house for the house itself to build it. They would, my mother would, you know, flee markets on the weekends and various other things. So, I'm very hardworking people, but as an only child, I wanted to, I wanted to create a community. A community of friends I had no way to play with.

I think that's what entrepreneurs do, right? I always wanted to find ways to solve other people's problems or bring them joy so I could play with them. Because everybody had brothers and sisters, right? So, end of the day, I'd be like, hey, you want to come over to my house to play? No, I'll go with my brother and sister.

So, well, I got tonka drugs. I don't like talking drugs. I make a grilled cheese sandwich. I don't like grilled cheese sandwich. I got a cat. You want to play with my cat? I think that's also what entrepreneurs do. They go, I got a product and I got something that I really love. I thought, I just think that I made just a little bit of tweaks to something that already exists and I want to make it better.

I want to share it with the rest of the world. Do you want to share it with me? And that's what happened. But I also had to be creative about how was I going to, um, help mom, help mom pay the bills because dad wasn't there. And I knew my mother worked really hard and I didn't have anybody else to, uh, I didn't have no other siblings.

And I said, I gotta be the man of the house. So I found ways to make 

[00:04:34] Hala Taha: money. I love that. I definitely want to get into all your different stories about how you used to sell as a child. We can talk about that later when we talk about a little Damon and your new book, but let's talk about FUBU first.

So you have this global lifestyle brand that you created in your younger years. It stands for for us, by us. How did you first get the idea to launch FUBU and what did it represent to you at the time? 

[00:05:00] Daymond John: Well, how the idea to launch it? Basically. Bottom line is, Timbaland had said we don't make or sell our booths to drug dealers, and I was a hard working young man in Red Lobster, and I said, I'm not a drug dealer.

Why would they say that about me? But it wasn't the first time that I heard something like that. I, we had already been, as a community of hip hop, hip hop was very young at the time. Hip hop was brand new. But I loved it. I knew that it was something that was going to, I don't care. I didn't know it was gonna dominate the world like it did today, but it was dominating my world.

And you insulted me. I was going out of our way. My way to buy those type of companies. So I came up with a brand food before it's bias. Who's ever going to love and support and value. Now people think that number one, that this was this visionary idea. No, I was downstairs in my basement with my buddy and drinking some 40 dogs.

I'm like, what are you going to name it, man? We should name it. Boof will buy us for us. All right, um, and then we did name it Boofoo at first, and then we went outside with a couple of Boofoo shirts on, and we found out at that time Boofoo meant something totally different. So, we go back and we change it to Fubu.

Forth Bias. Now, a lot of people would think that we had made this off of Forth Bias. What was Forth Bias? It was black people. And it was only for black people by black people. Well, then I would be guilty of being a bigot, just like Timbaland was in a sentence if I did that. But you know, the story is that, uh, when my father left when I was 10 years old, I was fortunate enough for my mother to find, uh, date another man who I call my stepfather, who happens to be of the Jewish faith.

He always told me, Damon, never become the thing you're fighting against, and you better be pro Black, but never anti anything else. So, it was always about a color, because I was dressing M. C. Search and the B. C. Boys just as fast as I was dressing, um, Hello, Koo J. I run DMC and I was, was it generated off of an African American culture of young men between the ages of around 12 years old to 30 years old who came out of the Bronx, who are talking about the trials and tribulations of the streets?

Yes, but it was a cultural thing to share with everybody. And when I did actually take out my first ad, my mail order ad and rap pages, the first areas that bought the product. Were, um, the kids in Japan who were wearing, not as blackface, they were tanning their skins and wearing New York Yankee hats and Nick jerseys and breakdancing because they were trying to emulate the African Americans on the streets of New York, or it was the skateboarding white kids in Seattle, Washington that were trying to rebel within the system that were wearing Nirvana shirts and various other things that are saying, F you, we are down, who is rebellious, no matter what color you are.

So that's how I came up with FUBU. 

[00:07:32] Hala Taha: I love it. And. Every good business has a mission beyond just what they sell. And it sounds like your company represented much more than just the clothes, it represented an identity, which is really cool. So I learned that you actually did this as a side hustle. You worked full time at Red Lobster for three years while you were building FUBU as a side hustle.

I also grew my company as a side hustle. I grew it to 5 million in our first year. And at first it was just a side hustle and I was working at Disney, so I agree with that type of approach when starting a business and I'd love to understand from you why you decided to start your business as a 

[00:08:09] Daymond John: side hustle.

So I'm fortunate enough to live in Hollis, Queens, I come from Hollis, Queens, and I have no idea what's in the water from Hollis, Queens, but who came out of Hollis, Queens is what, I'm not even going to talk about James Brown and everybody else who lived in Hollis, Queens. Run D. M. C., LL Cool J, some of the Fat Boys, Salt N Pepa, Tribe Called Quest, Onyx, uh, Lost Boys, uh, 50 Cents, Ja Rule, Intro, Aaron Hall from Guy, Young M.

C., you know, a lot of people, right, in this square five miles. I was fortunate enough to see them ride by and stuff like that, and all these beautiful cars and things of that nature. So here's why I created FUBU, because I couldn't rap, sing, or dance, and I needed to get my ass on a video set. And every time me and all the other kids get on the video set, everybody get kicked off of the video set.

And now the lady goes, hold on, I'm addressing the artist. Now I wasn't addressing the artist. They're like, what are you doing? I'm addressing the artist. So I got to stay on the video set. Now I'm on the video set and I get to eat for free because of the craft services. I get to watch Run DMC and LL Cool J.

I remember watching Biggie Smalls, uh, on that video set because I grew up with two other, three other kids. One was called named Irv Gotti. The other is named Hype Williams. And the other kid was a big drug deal that wrote the movie belly about just came home after 30 years, everybody get kicked on the video set, but I didn't cause I got the shirt and now I'm able to eat the craft services.

Try to talk to all the video vixens who really would never talk to me. And then look at all these amazing artists creating these videos. So it wasn't a business. It was my ability, like anybody who is buying something or having something to belong to a community. And it was something that I would have paid to do.

You think that when I was growing up, you know how much I would have paid to be on set to see LL Cool J do Hey Lover with Boyz II Men right there in the middle of the hood. So I was still working at Red Lobster, but then all of a sudden I started to see that there was a way to get paid and more people were resonating with what I was doing.

This new idea of founders need to start this and raise a bunch of capital is a bunch of bullshit. That's not the way you stay in business. Because if I would have just raised capital, first of all, nobody would invest it in me. But if I did, then the kind of money that I would have had to do in the first year to keep people alive, I would have never done it, but I was able to work at red lobster and sacrifice having a life, but I was able to do that for five years.

And red lobster was about 10 percent of my time. I mean, excuse me, food was 10 percent of my time. Then it became and Red Lobster was 90 percent of my time. And then slowly 20, 80, 30, 70. And I was able to close food down three times from 89 to 92. But then I'd be globally recognized doing 350 million. And by 97, because I kept my 

[00:10:53] Hala Taha: day job.

I love that. It's almost like you didn't really have this grand vision for FUBU as a billion dollar company. You just kept putting one foot in front of the other and doing what you felt passionate about and where you wanted to get involved. You just wanted to be involved in the community. For the people 

[00:11:08] Daymond John: to understand right now about FUBU, during the time of FUBU, there was no internet, there was no cell phones, and there was only Kalk and I and CrossColors who had happened prior to us.

If I sell you a shirt on the street, there was no way for me to sell you another one. I would have to find you. There was no way for me to sell you another one. If I took a picture and put out an ad, I would take a picture today. By the time the ad came out, it would be six months from now that somebody would see it.

And then the stores, if I sold it to a store today, I couldn't sell it online. I would be selling something to a store that wouldn't make it to the store. And for one year. It was a very slow period of time in building this communication and things of that nature. It was a very hard time to do it, but I knew that I would wake up before everybody and go to sleep after everybody.

There's four of us on the FUBU hang tag. When I first went to the department stores, they said, we can't have your clothes here or you gotta take the hang tag off. I said, why? He said, There's four African Americans on a hang tag. You look like a gang. We don't want people coming in here and having shootouts and shoplifting.

You have shootouts in your store or because you have a size 32 and I want to buy your, the size 32 and I'm arguing with you. What kind of shit are we talking about? So it wasn't the way it is today. And I couldn't reach the customers directly because there was no internet. So this was a very challenging time comparison today.

And by the way, The hip hop community at that time was a very homophobic community. So, when I was hanging out with the, with the artists a lot of times, uh, and their crews, and, you know, my boys were like, Yeah, I'm gonna go back and sell drugs. I'm like, I don't sell drugs, man. I can't do that. And I'm like, Oh, man, you gotta see this, uh, pattern of strawberries.

Uh, I got a, I got a pattern of a strawberry shirt. I'm gonna go home and make strawberry shirts and strawberry looking hats that's gonna match my sneakers. They were like, Huh? Heh heh heh heh. It wasn't a very welcoming time. There were no, uh, known male designers at the time, really, but, but it was a great time.

It was not easy and thank God it wasn't. 

[00:12:58] Hala Taha: Yeah. And so I know that you had pretty limited resources and you were really scrappy entrepreneur. You described yourself as scrappy and in an interview that I read. So I'd love to understand what are some of the guerrilla marketing things that you did as a scrappy entrepreneur?

[00:13:13] Daymond John: You gotta have common sense, and a lot of people try to overanalyze things, and everybody thinks, well, if analytics, uh, you know, you gotta analyze things, because analytics show everything. If you scrape the right data from analytics, it is. You know, you call up Blackberry or Blockbuster and Kodak, see how that analytics is working for them.

They're no longer around. Now, I was scrappy. So, I had money for 50 shirts at one time to buy and now I have an idea here. I'm going to buy 50 shirts. Now, I want to give them away to a couple of music artists and their friends, but if I give them away to all the cool kids, they're going to wear it at one time and get rid of it because they don't want to be seen twice in it.

But wait a minute, all the guys that wear 4X the big guys in the neighborhood, well, They have limited choices. They can either go to Rochester Big and Tall and get a big old white shirt, big old black shirt. They're gonna lot of money. They get something custom made. I'm going to make those FUBU shirts for them.

And I'm going to name them FUBU. And I'm going to say on the back, official security of FUBU, right? FUBU nation or something like that. I give out these shirts to 50 guys. Well, those 50 guys didn't wear it one time. This is the only stylish shirt they had. They wore it 10 times a month. By the way, you know where these guys were?

They were in front of the red ropes at clubs. They were the bodyguards for those music artists. They were the big, joyful guys in the neighborhood. They were huge billboards. So now all of a sudden, the music artists are saying to them, Hey man, I like that FUBU stuff. Why don't you all, you know, tell that guy to give me some FUBU?

they said? No, man, because you know what you're going to do? He doesn't have a lot of money. You're going to wear it one time, throw it away, and then he ain't going to give me nothing. You better wear it. And you better wear it in the next video. That's guerrilla marketing, right? But you know, but what else did I do?

Well, you know, I saw these security gates, these storm gates that are pulled down right now, um, in front of the stores, right? They graffiti on them. I look at them and I look at the bus stop. I go, wait a minute. How much people pay right there to put that, uh, whatever that poster in the bus stop, that's twice as big.

I go to them. Hey, can I clean up your gates? I'll take that profanity off. Can I put a local company on their name? Uh, us kids and people are going to know that you support a local company. We're going to come support you. I don't care. I spray paint 300 gates from New York to New Jersey. Authorized food dealer.

I didn't care that you were selling Chinese food. You're an authorized food dealer. What else do I do? Well, I finally started making money. When you think that you made money, that all of a sudden there's no problem. Well, all of a sudden, you know what happened? MTV is 30 seconds for 30 seconds. It's like, I don't know.

10, 000 for 30 seconds to run a commercial, but BET is like 500. Why? Well, more people, according to the Nielsen ratings, watching MTV. I'm from the hood. Ain't nobody was paying for that cable in the hood. And by the way, in the projects, it ain't one person in the house, it's 19 in the house. And because there's not a lot of stations out there, Show stuff for African Americans.

They're not watching 15 states, they're watching one. I own the entire damn network for, uh, you know, the same money would've been for mt because I just had common sense. You just have to have common sense sometimes. 

[00:16:03] Hala Taha: Yeah, I love that. That reminds me of a quote that one of your early mentors told you, uh, Jay Abraham, who also came on the show in the past. And he told you everything in the world is a source of something that you can find and make work for you. I love this quote and I'd love to understand how you use that advice in your early career.

[00:16:23] Daymond John: Oh, 100%. I mean, you know, every transaction ever in the world, somebody makes a profit, even when somebody's losing bank, going bankrupt, or when somebody's throwing out garbage. There is always something that there is another person that have a need. And we all know the red paper clip story is just, how do you target it and package it to those that need the need or have the need for it?

I've made it work in multiple type of ways. Obviously FUBU was, uh, you know, paying attention to kids that, that were being neglected. I'll give you an example. The first time I got 50, 000 in orders, well, you know. They didn't want to give me 50, 000. Cause I knew that if I, they gave me a young starving kid on, they gave me 50, 000.

I was going to buy a brand new Hyundai with rims and I was going to keep them clean. I didn't do that. And everything is something. So normally somebody would have went to the banks and whatever and said, got turned down by it. Well, I also didn't have a company where you can invest the money into it because I didn't have a company.

Well, I go to somebody else and I realized what the something was. A man, a guy who was screen printing shirts for me was screen pressure, so let's say 6 and 25 cents. So I'm thinking, what does this guy need? Well, number one, he wants to screen print the shirts, but I don't have the money to give it to him.

But he also wants to extend his business. And if he gave me a shot, it doesn't mean anything. I'm one kid. He doesn't know if we're going to be anybody. Why don't I go and have him sign a contract with me that I will let the store buy directly from him and give him the 50, 000, but here's what I'm going to do instead of him trying to be 625 for the shirt, I'm going to have him charge me seven for the shirt.

So he's going to make more, but now I'm going to connect him with the store and they're going to buy more goods from him in different ways. I was able to do that. He made more on the goods. The store was, was sure that they were going to get the goods. I gave up zero my company and I got a finance. So everything is something in a different way.

You don't take something you have and say, I just don't have nothing. Cause there's somebody who wants to barter and trade for it. Abraham is the master of trading. And that's why a lot of people get very literal in the fact that we need money to make money. But the best way that J Abraham said it is OPM is.

Other people's mind power, manpower, manufacturing, marketing, mentors, and sometimes like Timbaland, other people's mistakes. There's always ways to make profit. You don't have to be so literal that it is a dollar. 

 That is such good advice. I want to talk about your mom and then we're going to move on to financial literacy and talk about Shark Tank.

[00:18:48] Hala Taha: So your mom was a huge help to you, especially when you were first starting out with FUBA. I learned that at one point you had 300, 000 in orders, you needed a bank loan, you were rejected by 27 banks, and then your mom ended up taking a 100, 000 loan out on the house to support you, which you, of course, obviously probably paid her back a million times over for.

Let's talk about your mom. What was her influence on, uh, like you growing up and do you feel like you would have had such a successful business without the support of your mother? 

[00:19:18] Daymond John: I wouldn't have had a successful business without the support of my mother because, first of all, if she wasn't around, I wouldn't be alive.

So, she gave me birth. To talk about the business, no. Because, first of all, way before the business that we will get into, Little Damon, um, learned to earn, my mother gave me the mentality to understand how to hustle and to, She'll always be working, creating ways to think about the value for the customer and always having common sense.

So she was a great, great entrepreneur and is still great entrepreneurial thinking person. And most, you know, when people talk about being an entrepreneur, I always say the number one entrepreneur is every day as a mother, nothing against dads, but when a woman risks her life to bring a life into this world, there's nobody's no book is going to show her step by step on what to do with this life.

She's going to have to figure it out. Pivot, bob, weave. I said that my mother was very creative. And so, yes, she was huge in regards to, um, me and my business. And then getting to the part of funding my business. So, I mean, there's a story of mom, uh, it's got a hundred thousand dollar loan on my house. First of all, she wouldn't have taken it out just to take it out.

This was after six or seven years of her seeing me do food. Why 300, 000 in orders. Then she goes, all right, I see you working on this. You have 300, 000 in orders. I'm going to take this loan out for a hundred, you know, she took out all she could in the house. Now, I have no idea how she got a hundred thousand dollars because the house was worth 75.

Till today, I haven't asked her what she did for the rest of the money, but she got a hundred thousand dollars. She goes, this is all I have. But Damien, you can't go, I don't want you to think that somebody else is going to be able to manufacture this for you. Remember, Alibaba is not out, the internet doesn't exist, I don't know who to check out.

She said, you can't give our money to people that you don't know and just trust them. You're going to have to learn to sew this stuff yourself and create. So I create a factory in the middle of my house. But the real story is at the end of the day that right before I got that deal, I was three months late on the mortgage and uh, I didn't deliver.

I didn't, I only delivered 20 percent of the clothes and I was about to be bankrupt and homeless, lose my mother's house and also lose my business. Because I didn't have any financial intelligence, and it wasn't that I spent money on lavish things. But as any operator would know today, that I was paying for raw goods 90 days ahead of time to get the goods in.

I'm paying for machines, I'm paying for a staff, I'm paying the ship. Again, the internet doesn't exist. I don't know about factoring, and you didn't get. Uh, what do you call it? Uh, um, pre orders. There was none of that crap out there. There was the store would give you the money in 30 days. I was flush out of the cash because I just, it wasn't where we are today.

So as much as, as mom helped me and as great as she is, my lack of financial intelligence, I was about to lose everything that she ever worked for. 

[00:21:57] Hala Taha: But then you ended up becoming an international global brand and doing really well. 

[00:22:01] Daymond John: Only by the way, cause of mom, cause you know what she did? She came home.

She says, you ran out of all the money. I have one last idea. I says, what? She said, I need 2, 000. I go back to Red Lobster and I sling as many biscuits as I can. And after one month I come home and give her 2, 000. I says, what is this bright idea you have mom? She took the money and put it in her pocket book and said, I'm going to take an ad in the newspaper.

So the newspaper, I said, that's got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. And you know what happened? She took an ad in the newspaper. I said, my forbid you to do it. So she definitely did it. And the ads read 1 million in orders, need financing. 33 people call that ad 30 of Malone sharks, but three of three of them were real.

Because if you look on shark tank, what did she basically do? She put out into the world. We have proof of concept, we just need funding, and that's what happened. 

[00:22:52] Hala Taha: I love that. Okay, this is the perfect timing to get into your Shark Tank journey and understand how you ended up getting on Shark Tank because I learned that you actually initially rejected the offer twice.

So tell us that story. How did you end up on 

[00:23:06] Daymond John: Shark Tank? I go back to my desk at the time, and you know how that was back then. Well, I don't know, uh, how many people know, but we, you know, we had hard lines. We still had, we had phones at the time, cell phones at the time, but my normal, you know, recording had 50 people on there.

You know, I checked all the recordings, 48 of them were, I want to borrow this, or I want to sell you some whatever stocks or bonds, or I want to open a new store. But two of them were real, and one was a guy named Mark Burnett's office, Mark Burnett, the famous producer. And he said, Hey, I want to, I want to put you on a show called Shark Tank.

And we was like, all right, great. I love it. You know, he's like, you're going to have to spend your own money. And I was like, Collect these goddamn pimps in Hollywood. I heard that. I heard them. I heard the black people didn't get paid, but that's one thing. But damn, now we have to pay. And then, um, it was 07.

A lot of people weren't buying more clothes and they couldn't pay their rent. And I had 10 clothing brands and eight of them were dead. So I went and diversify my portfolio and get pitched other things like electronics or whatever the case is to take a more real estate in the stores. And so then, um, I said, okay, I'm gonna do the show.

They said, you can't do any of this show, but ours, I said, okay, but I have a, I have three friends that are opening a store in California and I'm going to be on a new cable show, three separate times, three minutes a piece, nine minutes total. Can't do any other show but ours. Well, then I said, well, I have to pass respectfully.

Thank you. I'm a man of my word. I'm not a, I don't know, reality star actor, actress. That's not what I do. And then I get a, I set the past. Thank you. I get a call about, I don't know, a couple of days later from a book agent, not even my agent said, I heard you gave up a show on ABC with Mark Burnett for three girls.

named the Kardashians that, uh, that nobody will ever hear of. And he said, you could be on ABC, you could be the new Black Fonzie. I said, no, uh, can't do it. I get a call from the producer of the Kardashians, I think two days later. And she says, you know, I don't think you really fit the model. Um, we don't want you on the show no more.

You're fired. Goodbye. And then I get a call from Mark Burnett one hour after that. And he goes, So, um, I heard you're available. And that's what Khloe Kardashian found out that I was going to turn down the show because I was representing the girls and she said that the world needs to know who I am and she would never get in my way.

That's why Khloe fired 

[00:25:13] Hala Taha: me. What a good story. I mean, having the Kardashians involved and all that, and it was totally fate. So I'm going to share a little story about how Shark Tank has impacted my life. And then we're going to get into your new children's book. So Damon, my family was one of the first families impacted by COVID in March 2020.

And I remember going to my parents house, my mom, my dad, my uncle, my brother all had COVID. I ended up being quarantined at my parents house for three months. Because I got sick, none of my friends wanted to hang out with me. I was working from home from Disney, and my dad ended up getting so sick, he was in the hospital and basically was dying for three months.

And I remember being so depressed. I was binge watching Shark Tank every single night, sorry, I'm gonna like cry. And you guys got me through it, because that was me and my dad's favorite show. And that's when I decided to take this podcast. And really turn it up a notch, I started my own company called Yap Media, it's a social media agency.

The company blew up, my first client paid us 800 a month, my second client, client was 30, 000 a month, and then I kept getting one huge client after the next. And I have to say that Shark Tank was one of the main reasons why I was inspired to become an entrepreneur. It taught me so much. I literally only watched that show for three or four years and didn't allow myself to watch any other TV.

And you've just been a huge inspiration. So thank you. 

[00:26:37] Daymond John: Wow. I can, I can hear how passionate you are about it. You know, we wanted to show initially thinking it was going to be great opportunities to get great deals. And the show became something bigger and better at Mark Cuban than being the tech guy is when everybody else.

The show is going to be canceled the first three years. It wasn't doing well, like it hasn't done in many markets, but the data showed that it would, it would jump in three, four years because it's very hard to explain that show. Who wins are they in his own discovery channel during shark week? Are they, do they get dumped into some shark, you know, sharks are, uh, when did they get the money?

And Mark Cuban found out that it was one of the top shows, watched kids and parents together and, uh, kids, Bob. Five to 15 and the ones taught in school and all these so called famous, uh, celebrity entrepreneurs at the time that many of them been on our show after that, they wouldn't go on to the show because they didn't know who a Damon or Barbara or Kevin and whatever it was.

Cause they were like, they're not famous. But Mark Cuban said. If this is helping American families on to be together and creating, you know, new sharks, I'm going to go on the show. So Mark goes on the show and now he can walk on to Jimmy Kimmel. He can walk on to the late night show because he's Mark Cuban.

We couldn't walk on there and because of him, season three, the show's out of here. And what it is, it is an institution. It is a, it is one of the only shows on TV that families like a daughter and a father could watch. It's the only show on TV where you can not know what it is to be an entrepreneur, but then, you know, what, watch it for two years straight and walk into the room and know the questions that a millionaire and billionaire are going to ask you, and that's why it's.

It's a huge honor to be on the show and to have that, that experience that you have shared with me. 

[00:28:14] Hala Taha: Yeah, I really thank you for all your work on that show. So let's talk about financial literacy. What did being on Shark Tank teach you about financial literacy in America or the lack of it? It 

[00:28:25] Daymond John: told me that we are not taught financial literacy in America.

It taught me that most of the people that come on this show, well, not most, but a lot in the earlier days, they were only in those situations because they did not have financial literacy or financial intelligence. And there was nothing wrong with them. And nothing wrong with that because we weren't taught it as I go through the data of.

Oh, 65%. A lot of winners and athletes are bankrupt three years after leaving the league or winning the lotto because they weren't taught that it's not that, you know, everybody wants to call that. That's why people call athletes, big, dumb athletes. No, they're not. They are the most prime beings and understanding of running plays and understanding how to be the ultimate person that remember there's only 3000 professional athletes all combined in the United States.

You know how rare that is. it doesn't mean that they understand finance. you know, who does not understand often finance doctors. They don't, they know how to cut you open and save your life. And that's way more important, but we're not taught that. And that's why, that's why we are in the jam.

We're in, we are a country of renters now because the American dream is moving away from us. The American dream of buying a house. At a certain, you know, a certain price and a growing inequity. And then you raising your family and then, uh, the house is worth a lot of money. You take that equity out of it.

Uh, you then go and move to a very small place and reduce your imprint and you live off of that for the rest of your life. That American dream is gone. And it's going away because we don't have financial intelligence, and that's the point, and that's the problem. 

 So, I know, Damon, that you've written multiple best selling books, and you basically have made it your life's work to pass on your hard earned business acumen.

[00:30:09] Hala Taha: How come you're focusing on children now? 

[00:30:11] Daymond John: How come I'm focusing on children now? Why? How? Do you have any children yet? Not yet, no. You have, uh, nieces and nephews? 

[00:30:20] Hala Taha: Yes. How old are they? They are six and eight. 

[00:30:23] Daymond John: Six and eight! Perfect! That's my target market. And the best thing, guess what about those six and eight year olds?

They don't have credit cards. But those six and those eight year olds, oh, by the way, I gotta put this on, sorry, excuse me. 

[00:30:36] Hala Taha: What does that 

[00:30:36] Daymond John: represent? What does this represent? Yes. When I'm talking to a 16 or 18 year old, do you think they give a shit about my 10, 000 Tom Ford suit when I'm sitting on TV? No.

You gotta meet your customer where they're at. And when I put this on, guess what? You're gonna do magic? Oh, I'm gonna do some magic. I'm gonna teach you how to make 1 into 2. I'm gonna teach you how to be a success. I'm gonna teach you how to get out of your mommy and daddy's house whenever you want to.

So. All right. Let's get into the story here. This is a little Dame learns to earn. Let me tell you something. This is the first book in history that I see like it's kind, because we are not taught, uh, financial intelligence in school. And the reason why we're not taught is not because it is a scam. It's not our school system is antiquated.

It is teaching our children right now, how to go to shop. We needed to learn how to go to shop when we were at war and we needed to understand a trade and the skill it teaches us how to be good employees. However, if we are not teaching them at first grade, second grade, how a dollar works, what is compounding interest?

And not in saying what's compounding interest. We don't tell them that they're supposed to be in school. We're not supposed to be talking about how much it was to get to 6 an hour, 8. I don't know. When we start talking about if a train leaves the station at six and arrives at nine, what's it worth?

That's time. And when we break it down in the way of, and if you do this, you either have to leave later so you can have more time to play with your friends or more time to eat candy. Or if you do that, then you start to break down and let them understand how to understand financial intelligence, because here's the problem.

If you don't teach them financial intelligence in any way and how money works, well then at 16 and 17 years old, the credit card companies are lined up and they all have CFOs. The colleges are lined up and they all have CFOs. They're lined up to give them and issue them six to 700, 000 worth of student debt that they will not pay off until they're into their fifties.

Because they don't have financial intelligence. And what are they going to do? They're going to spend that on the education. They're not even sure if they want the stats and the data is 50 percent of the kids that are graduating today will retire with a job title that doesn't exist today. If I told you 20 years ago, you were going to be a AI expert or a podcaster or a pay per click manager, a social media manager, or a drone operator, you would have said, what the hell is that?

I'm going to go and get this 500, 600, 000. education that I don't even know if I need. Yeah. But now don't get me wrong. It is not a scam because by the way, they teach you finance and accounting in college, but you just took the 600, 000 loan and now they're going to teach you finance. Well, you might as well just enroll in the Navy.

I'm going to teach you how to swim after you're out in the ocean in a war with 20 foot swells. You can't do that. Yeah. that's why this is going to be my legacy and my life's work. This is what I am going to the grave for, because here's why. 

This is about teaching our kids financial intelligence. And this is about getting the school system. And other people to say, there's a whole lot of financial intelligence, financial literals, literacy, things out there. And Oh my God, Atlanta, you just put this into the school system and it's starting to work better.

Detroit, why aren't you doing something similar with other products out there? Houston. Why aren't you Arizona? And I want to make it, thing for people to start to say, this is good. I want chase to say, why don't we come up with financial intelligence programs that we gift to schools? And then when I die, I want my little girls to say, my daddy started a movement that everybody got behind.

[00:34:15] Hala Taha: I love that. I hear the passion in your voice on this and it's, it's really, really moving. So do you feel like kids right now don't have the right role models? Do you feel like kids today are actually worse off than they were 10, 20 years ago in terms of 

[00:34:28] Daymond John: this? You know, just so they have the right role models.

I'm not going to be the old Phobie.

It's that wrong role models that are showing them that all of a sudden they are just, you know, it's easy to be rich. Kids have other role models that unfortunately have come from really bad areas and all they're doing is talking about what they know because that's all they have because they have been marginalized and come from a lot of systemic issues.

But kids have other role models who have overthrown governments by not picking up a gun, by picking up something called Twitter. Kids have other role models who are their age who are like, the generation before us have destroyed this planet, I'm going to take all the plastics out of this, out of this ocean.

I looked at a little girl one day and I said, what do you want to be when you grow up? She's about four years old. She said, what do you want? I said, what do you want to do? She said, I want to pick up trash. I said, what? I'm paying 60, 000 for you to pick up trash? This has nothing to do with the great men and the great women in our cities who bust their ass to pick up trash to make sure that we don't have diseases and rats and roaches.

But then I said, why do you want to pick up trash? You know, my little girl said to me with her big, beautiful eyes. What's that? Cause I want to clean up the world, daddy. Now picking up trash to her may be reducing the carbon imprint on this planet. It may be making, taking plastics out of our waterways that then go into our bloodstream.

So there are a lot of role models for kids out there, but the problem is. Today's generation of children, your nieces and nephews, they don't have any national role models. Why? Because after five or six years old, they tap out of Peppa Pig, Daniel Tiger, Thomas the train. When I grew up, I had a national role model.

I had Mr. Rogers, Steve Roth, whatever the case is, even what Mr. Coggy was putting out. Um, I had, uh, the Muppets. We all went around that. Even my older kids had Steve from Blue's Clues, Dory the Explorer. Now, who do the kids have? They pick up an iPad and there's a thousand splintered families showing how to play with toys and they're more excited about unboxing than creating what's in the box.

But guess what? I'm the only, and this is sad, I'm the only African American man on a national television show for 14 years that does not come from music, sports, or politics. And I've been in these kids room for 14 years. I don't have a superpower. You don't need to know, think that I was the only one who could dunk a ball.

I can sing it. My dumb ass can do it. You can do it. 

[00:37:03] Hala Taha: I love that. So let's talk about, uh, what's inside this book, Damon. So I, I believe that you're teaching kids about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and basically in your book, little Damon, he wants to buy a music poster. He doesn't have enough money to buy it.

And then his mom points out that, Hey, you've got talents that you could use to solve problems. And little Damon becomes an entrepreneur. So what are some of the lessons? If my young improfiters go out, buy this book for their young kids, what are some of the lessons that they're gonna learn and their kids are gonna learn?

Well, first of all, I 

[00:37:34] Daymond John: want them to take their parent hat off because as you became a parent and an adult, it was a trap. You had to grow up. So, first of all, I want you to think like a kid. So, first of all, when little Damon, uh, opens up this business, guess what happens at first? He fails! Horribly. I love this teacher that is in my teacher group.

I got advisors, I got teachers. You know what she tells her kids? She says, Monday is this kind of day, Tuesday is this kind of day. You know what Wednesday is? Wednesday is Curveball Wednesday. And then she has Thursday and Friday. Our kids and I were taught Curveball Wednesday, right? We always think things are going to go well.

So Damon's first business fails. He comes back depressed. What do I want to do? What happens? Mom says, you got to find out what are your friend's best skills because you need friends. Let's see. Entrepreneurship is a team sport. You may have, you know, uh, you may be a single owner entrepreneur, but you're working with various other people to get your goods, da da da.

Well, then Damon tries and finds a way to get his friends. You can sing, you can dance, you can draw, da da da. Let's start to sell these things, because I want you to draw it, but I want you to stand outside and sing. Oh, you're going to get people over to our booth? Why would this? Oh, you're really good at math.

And all of them start to profit off of it. And not little Damon starts to win. At the end when they divvy everything up because they got a reorder and whatever the case is, everybody gets to profit. And that is another key because our kids grew up thinking a boss is somebody who tells you to get coffee.

A boss is the first in the office, the last to leave, the one who thanks everybody for their success and blames only one person for their failure. And that's the key. But I don't want to read my to my little girl anymore, princesses and pony books, because how many times am I going to read to my little girl to wait around for some prints?

Because there's going to be some glass slipper that you're going to drop or to pull your hair out of some damn tower because a prince is going to come around. I'm trying to teach my little girl how to. Cell glass slippers. I don't want to teach my little boy. If I had a little boy that the webs are going to come out his wrist or he's going to fly.

No, you know what? If he thinks that the Avengers are great because they all come together, use their superpowers to stop evil. All his little friends have superpowers. Why don't you bring your superpowers together to bring joy to your friends and to create something and create fun things that you love.

And if you fail at making money at it, at least you had fun. You're the super friends. You are the Avengers. That's the critical thinking that kids need to know, and that's what Little Damon Learns to Earn is about. And I want the parents to take their goddamn parent hat off. When I read Catcher in the Rye as a kid, I read it one time and said, what the hell am I doing?

I read it one time. A kid is repetitive. You don't read this book once. You read it once a month. to them because they go out and they go, man, they didn't get the first, second time, but they love the way you told a story that maybe the third month, they go, wow, my friend knows I do this. And you know what?

After they get tired of in a year to you, you know what you do, you give it to another family. 

[00:40:27] Hala Taha: And do you see Little Damon moving on to have some sort of a tea, I could totally see a TV show or something like that.

[00:40:33] Daymond John: Yeah, you know, Little Damon will, will, will move on to having more things in more ways, but we're coming up with a system so the children understand what to do with 3, 300, 3, 000, 3 million. People don't understand America, how it's supposed to work. The first dollar goes to what you have to pay for, the second goes for an investment, and the third goes for what you would like to have but don't have to have.

But what do we do as Americans? Well, we put number three as number one, we'll never get to number two, and number one we'll get to at the end or we get kicked out. So start to learn that. We have systems that we will be bringing out, but what do you want to do with your kids things? Show them the three dollars.

You know what else to do? You know your nieces and nephews? You know what to do with them? Every year, get them, you want to get them a toy, right? Of course. Right. Cause they're kids, right? Well, when you get them something by, uh, your boy, the boy, he likes trucks. Buy them one share and Caterpillar, but. Buy him a little Caterpillar truck.

'cause it's Cher. He sees Caterpillar. He's going, what the hell is that? Buy him a Caterpillar truck and take a picture of you with him in the truck at that time. Right? And that's for Christmas and for a birthday. Well then, I don't know what he likes, but maybe he likes, I don't know, whatever the toy it is.

Buy a share. And Mattel, I know if it's a public company before you know it, uh, you know, and every parent can do this. You know, American girl, I think is all my Mattel or something like that before, you know, it, by the time you're 16 years old, that one share would have changed to this amount. They would have been like, well, if you would put that in the bank, you would have got three, 4%, but you put that there.

It averaged out to probably about 15, 16, 17%. Here's the picture of me with my auntie, but my truck, but this, with that, you got to get them accustomed to these things in the way that they think about it. Remember a kid, they see one quarter and two pennies. They think the two pennies is more than the one quarter.

But if they see one quarter equate to how many damn gummy bears they can buy against two penny. Oh, now they know the difference. Little things we got it. We got to do. 

[00:42:25] Hala Taha: Yeah. I love this Damon. Thank you so much for your time. I want to be respectful of your time. I'm going to end the show with two last questions.

The first one is what is one actionable thing our young and profiteers can do today to become more profitable tomorrow? 

[00:42:39] Daymond John: It all depends. They have to reinvest in whatever they love, right? But financial intelligence is the thing to be more profitable about. And if you want to have more financial intelligence and you are concerned about the way to do it, well, how can I meet you exactly where you are?

Not me, but the same way that you have all those accounts on Instagram, where you know, all the places to go for dinner, all the bags you want to shop for, or all the places that travel put on 30 accounts that have something to do with financial intelligence. But do not buy anything. And I'm telling you now after a year or two years of scrolling through there, you will have a way better understanding.

The same way that you watch shark tank to become who you are. I almost went bankrupt three times, two times when I was poor. And one time when I had 10 million, I did the same thing. And I watched a show called man money by Jim Kramer every single day for two years. And guess what happened after that?

Nobody can mess with me when it came to financial intelligence. 

[00:43:35] Hala Taha: I love that. You always got to level up young improfiters. And Damon, what is your secret to profiting in life? 

[00:43:42] Daymond John: What is my secret to profiting in life? It is three tentpoles to how you profit in life and anybody to be successful. Number one, know your why.

Number two, set goals to accomplish that why. And number three, you've got to keep learning to do your homework. Here's the only problem. Many of us don't want to admit what our why is, and many of our why's are being done for somebody else, what society thinks. So here's the bigger problem. If you are saying you have the wrong why, well then what kind of goals are you going to set?

Because you're setting the wrong goals, and if you have the wrong goals Well, then the education you have to enforce the wrong goals is going to be the wrong stuff. You are the only one to have the blueprint to yourself, but you want to be famous? Well, then set some goals to be famous. I got nothing against that.

You know, one of my favorite rappers, the old dirty bastard, and he set some goals. That he was going to be an old, dirty bastard and did his homework on how to be an old, dirty bastard. God bless his soul, but he was an old, dirty bastard. That's it. I mean, he was the only one who knew what he wanted to do.

The problem is too many people lying to themselves about their why. Don't do it for your mother, your father. Don't do it because you think it looks cool. You're the only one who got to sleep with yourself at night. 

[00:44:57] Hala Taha: I love that. Great advice, Damon. Thank you so much for coming on the show, guys. Little Damon Learns to Earn is on the shelves now.

If you have any kids, make sure you cop that book right away. Damon, it was honestly a dream come true to have you on the show. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. 

[00:45:14] Daymond John: Thank you. I love what you do. I love the fact that we had a little bit of connection and so emotional about what you do because it's clear you're passionate.

And I appreciate you bringing me on the show and giving me this opportunity. Thank you to all the entrepreneurs out there. And, uh, you know, if you think I look stupid in the hat, I want you to know that you're playing yourself because you loved Willy Wonka. You love Clint Eastwood. You love Harry Houdini.

You love Frosty the Snowman. Stop playing yourself. I look really cool on this. I agree. You 

[00:45:39] Hala Taha: look fly 

[00:45:40] Daymond John: Damon. And your kids think I look cool. So I'm going to be attractive to your kids because it's hat and teach them financial intelligence. I look anyway, call me stupid. This is for our kids. I love it.


[00:45:51] Hala Taha: so 

[00:45:51] Daymond John: much, Damon. You got it. Thank you.


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