John Paul DeJoria, From The Streets To Self-Made Billionaire and Philanthropist
John Paul DeJoria’s life story will tell us how it feels to be homeless and left emotionally drained spending nights on the streets, not only with himself, but with his son. In fact, this man became homeless twice and lived on the streets, sleeping uncomfortably in an old borrowed car. Today, John Paul DeJoria is a known self-made billionaire and a philanthropist who is the co-founder of Paul Mitchell and the founder of the tequila maker Patron Spirits Company.
Here is his story…
He was in his early 20s, when his wife left him and their 2 year old son. Surprisingly, she left with an unpaid rent of three months and also, took off with all the money they had. Because John was in between jobs, they got no cash to save them from being evicted. He and his son slept on the streets.
With no money coming in, he went around vacant lots and picked up softdrink bottles. At that time, people get two cents for the little one and five cents for the big ones. What he learned about being broke and being really down to the bottom of the pit of life, is that all you can do is look up. He would say this to his son, “We’re going to get through this together!”
John Paul DeJoria – Though his situation looks difficult, he kept his vision and was very determined to start his own company. He wanted to build his own business so he does not work for someone else anymore. Of course, you do not often see a homeless person living out of his car build billions and dramatically alter fate.
For three years, he sold shampoos and encyclopedias to make ends meet. His life changed when he teamed up with his hairdresser friend who was also struggling at that time, Paul Mitchell, and turned his $700 investment into the now famous John Paul Mitchell Systems with an annual revenue of over $1 billion. They started the business together in 1980 and created products like a single application shampoo and leave-in conditioner.
John and Mitchell started a company that would support hairdressers in giving luxury hair care at an affordable price. They set up a system that provides the products, tools and systems that would help them grow their business. Their company products were the first to take a stand against animal testing.
They struggled for the first two years and finally had a $1 million gross revenue in the third year as their products find its way across thousands of salons.
In 1986, he funded and started the Gustin Energy Cos, which explored gas and oil with ecology in mind.
In 1989, he partnered with Martin Crowley and started the Patron Spirits Co. Since then, he invested with many other ventures.
Lessons he shared are
Always be prepared for rejection, because throughout your career you are going to run across rejection. You will knock on doors and many will close on you.
Make sure your product or service is the best it can be, because you want to be in the reorder business. You must work hard to develop a product and a service that consumers want. Create quality products and price them appropriately.
Do good and help others. Make a difference. When you do this, you are creating future customers. Your company must make a commitment to help others immediately.
He successfully turned his life around into having the freedom to live the American dream and then, giving back through numerous philanthropic efforts.
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John Paul DeJoria Sources
Tom Bilyeu video
Big Think video
TEDx Talks video