Episode 32: Step Up: How a once homeless man created multibillion dollar business empire


Welcome to another episode of the Winners Ways podcast. I am your host, Bola Alabi. This is episode 32 of the Winners Ways podcast, and today’s show is about motivation, and I am reviewing the story of John Paul Dejoria

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The goal of today’s show is to share life lessons from John Paul’s story, with the hope of motivating you the listener that no matter who you are, no matter where you are, you can achieve success if you are willing to learn, and ultimately if you believe you can. I like the way Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t. You are right. Many people have self-limiting beliefs. They’ve imposed a limitation on what they can achieve. From time to time, I do ask people if they think they can achieve millionaire status. I’m often perplexed when I get a negative response from some of these people. These are dedicated, hardworking people, but who have conditioned their mind that they can’t get ahead. Anyway, I hope the story of John Paul will be an inspiration for you out there to tell you that you do not have to remain in that unpleasant situation. Your story does not have to end in shame. You can rise up. You can achieve more. You can become more, if you can believe it in your mind, and if you work hard for it. From my intro, there are 5 quick life lessons that I want to talk about from the story of John Paul, how he went from being homeless to phenomenal success.

  1. Acquire Knowledge: There is a common saying that knowledge is power. I totally agree with this. Beyond acquiring knowledge, beyond having the right information, beyond knowing the right people, I will further say, that the application of the knowledge that you acquired, acting upon the information that you know, tapping into your connection will actually help to open the right doors on your journey in life. John Paul worked in multiple positions before he started his own business. During his work days, he acquired knowledge in sales, marketing, and manufacturing, which proves vital when he started his own business. Many people fail to learn while working for others, they are mostly concern and focused on the salaries that they make, neglecting to learn about the business. Don’t let that be you. What is your current position? Maybe you are a server in a restaurant, this does not mean that you will continue to be a server for the rest of your life. You should take your time to learn about the restaurant business – customer acquisition & management, marketing, cooking, staff management, and so on. Who knows. Someday, just like John Paul, you may be in a position to start your own business.
  1. Be prepared for rejection: When starting out in business, you need to set and manage proper expectations. I know everyone wants to succeed in business, but the truth is that businesses involve lots of uncertainties. It will take making mistakes and learn from those mistakes to build a scalable and successful business. Don’t be discouraged when things are not going the way you expected immediately. According to John, “For the first two years, it was hand to mouth. After two years, Paul and I had made close to $1 million gross and had enough to give ourselves each a $2,000 dividend. We had no loans. Everything was in inventory. It wasn’t nationwide yet, but we were in several salons. It got rolling and rolling until it got into the hundreds of millions.


  1. Be Enthusiastic and Passionate about your business: This is very crucial. Many people go into a business that they are not passionate about, and the effect of this is that, when things don’t exactly go their way, it becomes easy for them to just give up and look for the next shiny business. If you want to build a sustainable company, you’ve got to be enthusiastic and passionate about it. This will ensure that you get up every morning, and you look forward to going to work because you enjoy doing the work. According to John, “The key is to be excited and passionate about what you are starting, and the quality with which you produce something. It’s amazing what a human is capable of doing if they really like something.
  2. Make the highest-quality products. There is absolutely no reason to go into business if you are not going to commit to delivering top-notch products or excellent customer service. The business is bound to fail, if you roll out sub-standard products or if you provide mediocre services. According to John, “A lot of people make things to sell. But when the product is old, the consumer tosses it out and buys something else. If you make things with the highest quality, you’ll be in the reorder business, which keeps the sales growing.” And that is why John Paul Mitchell keeps growing, they make high-quality hair care products.
  3. Trust your team and partner with your customer: You need a strong and committed team to build a stable business. You should learn how and when to delegate. You should help coach and instill confidence in your team. You should help them to understand the mission and vision of the organization. And you should be able to know how to motivate them to achieve the organizational objectives. John said, “I could go insane if I obsessed over every little detail of all of my companies. My management philosophy is to pay attention to the vital few and ignore the trivial many. For instance, with Paul Mitchell, I want to know how the schools are doing, how the manufacturing is going, how sales are doing, what new products we’re launching, what our main advertising campaign is, and if my people are happy. The other little details are just trivia. Management philosophy: “Pay attention to the vital few and ignore the trivial many.”


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