The People’s Shark (AKA Daymond John) talks business, LL Cool J, Kardashians on Mackinac

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If you ever had any questions of how your mother might impact your career, you only need to look at the fairy-tale story of Daymond John.

Well, fairy tale might be too strong. It was a series of starts and stops, braggadocio and bravery that got John from his mom’s basement to an international brand known as FUBU and many others. The “Shark Tank” star always had his mom in his corner, and she helped to fund his initial idea of branding clothing around the hip-hop culture. It was a hit, and she was just one of the people in his corner then and now.

LogoJohn, a keynote speaker at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, credited his mentors in hip hop, on “Shark Tank” and among his family for helping create his entrepreneurial spirit. He shared a variety of tips in his wide-ranging talk, which included everything from an impression of LL Cool J to Gap ads to insights on the Kardashian phenomenon.

•    Your customers are part of your company’s ecosystem. You must create trust with the people who buy your products and make them invest in you and your business. Their belief in what you do will result in returns beyond imagination.

•    Don’t rank your success in terms of money. His mother, who divorced and had three jobs to support them, was happy despite the family’s financial challenges. “Money just drives you up to your problems in a limousine,” John said.

Daymond•    Look around you for inspiration. He attended hip-hop concerts and noticed that everyone seemed to have a uniform of sorts on when they attended. But companies, including one famous shoe company, wasn’t interested in this market. FUBU grew about of John’s love of this culture and every culture.

•    Don’t buy from others when you can make it yourself. His mom told him he could spend the same money on a bolt of fabric and make his own products. Eventually, FUBU had to scale up, but John still listened to others and kept his ideas and fabrication true to those early roots.

•    You have to be local. LL Cool J told John that if he was going to wear the FUBU brand, that had to mean something to him because he represented his hometown and the people living there. You need to lift your community up first and then it will lift you up as well.

•    Be relatable. One thing that makes Kris Jenner so bright in terms of how she markets the Kardashian women is that she looks at how each one relates to the female marketplace. Each woman has a way that engages her audience, and that works for their brand.

•    You have to love what you do. “The day you stop loving what you do, stop doing it,” John said. And even if you fail, keep at it. That 1 percent of the time that you success, you’ll likely knock it out of the park.

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