Daymond John spoke to MU students, inspiring “future sharks” in Jesse Auditorium

John used humor and his “SHARK points” to inspire the audience.
American businessman, investor, television personality, author and motivational speaker Daymond John presents his life story while relating it the progression of hip-hop music on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, at Delta Gamma’s Lectureship event in Jesse Hall. John’s latest New York Times bestselling book “The Power of Broke” discusses why starting a business on a limited budget can be an entrepreneur's greatest competitive advantage.

Daymond John, CEO of FUBU and television personality from the reality series “Shark Tank,” gave a speech to a nearly-full Jesse Auditorium Nov. 1 as part of Delta Gamma Sorority’s Lectureship series.

Daymond John was the latest speaker in the Delta Gamma Foundation’s Lectures in Values and Ethics. Previous speakers include anthropologist Jane Goodall and CNN’s Lisa Ling.

The aim of DG’s lectureship series is to uphold MU’s values with every speaker, and John tailored his speech appropriately, citing respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence in his road to success.

MU students heard John’s success story, retrofitted with his five brand-conscious “shark points” and amplified by a soundtrack that began with old school hip-hop and ended with “For The Love of Money.”

Hip-hop fit prominently into John’s personal narrative. Though he couldn’t sing, dance, or produce, John swore to himself that no matter what he would “live, die and prosper in the world of hip-hop.”

John attributes every outcome of his life to his dedication to his “SHARK points,” or the acronym that John describes as his keys to success.

The points –— Set goals, Homework, Amor, Remember you are the brand and Keep on Swimming — are simple to remember but complicated in their application, John said. John credits amor, or “love,” with reorienting him when he started spending too much time partying and not enough with his family.

“Number one, I’m here to brag about my story and history,” John said.

John’s story began in Queens, New York. The son of a single mother who worked three jobs, John credits his early financial struggle and perseverance with inspiring his entrepreneurial spirit that ultimately led to his success, which he called “the power of broke.”

The bootstrapper rhetoric was well received by college students and fans. MU student Merna Jajou is a pre-med student, but felt that non-business majors could benefit from hearing John’s story as well.

“He worked his way up; it wasn’t just given to him,” Jajou said. “Listening to someone that started from nothing and made something of himself is still really important.”

John spoke quickly and smoothly, sometimes incorporating humor to shock and entertain the audience. At one point he implied his co-host, Kevin O’Leary, would “do drive-bys on orphanages.” After praising the amount of time teachers spend with students, he remarked: “I don’t know how you do it. I spend two days with them and I want to slit my wrists and jump out the window.”

John talked about the challenges he faced growing up in a tough neighborhood. A lack of role models made life in Queens difficult for kids like him. “We saw pimps and drug dealers,” John said. “We didn’t see heroes.”

Race figured into John’s early struggles. He credits Joseph “Run” Simmons, from Run DMC, as his first role model. When John saw Simmons take the stage at a 1986 concert in Philadelphia, his life changed.

“I never saw anyone that looked like me, dressed like me, take the stage like that,” John said.

Kayla Johnson recalled seeing something similar in John when she was growing up.

“It was cool to have a black voice on television,” she said.

Johnson was inspired by John’s message that anyone could achieve success through hard work and adherence to morals.

“There’s no magic that contributed to his success, it was just hard work,” Johnson said. “He’s just like you and me. If I put in the same amount of hard work, I can be successful too.”

John credits neighborhood celebrity Russell Simmons, entrepreneur, producer and Queens native, for showing him he could be successful doing what he loved.

“He wasn’t a pimp or a drug dealer,” John said. John saw Simmons in magazines traveling the world by selling hip-hop.

The inspiration to do what you love was passed on to MU student Cramon Mays. Mays was pleased with the entire lecture, and in particular with the encouragement he received to keep pursuing his dreams.

“I keep telling myself that if I keep doing what I love, life will figure itself out,” Mays said. “It was comforting to hear that from somebody who has actually done it.”

Edited by Sarah Hallam |

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