Daymond John became a household name as an investor on Shark Tank. Already a multimillionaire when he joined the ABC reality show, John built his FUBU empire from the ground up. While the fashion mogul didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, he described how he focused on a strong work ethic to become a success.
Daymond John worked instead of going to college
John described his upbringing in New York, where he was taught at a young age to earn his own way. He began taking on odd jobs, like shoveling snow or selling pencils, at the young age of 6, and became an apprentice electrician at just 10 years old.
“I grew up in a lower middle class area of New York City, Hollis Queens,” John told CNN Money. “My parents always instilled in me the fact that I had to work hard for everything that I wanted out of life. And then they got divorced. My father left when I was around 10 years old and I haven’t spoken or seen him again since then, making me the man of the house and making my mother a single mother.”
Unable to afford college tuition, the Shark Tank star focused on working as a path to achieve his career goals.
“I was a hard working young man who was working at Red Lobster as a waiter,” John explained. “I didn’t have enough money to go to college, so I had to get a job as a waiter.”
‘Shark Tank’ star says ‘hunger’ is essential to success
While John doesn’t discourage a college education, he realizes that not everyone is able to pay the high price tag of higher learning. The Shark Tank investor sees tenacity as more vital to success than a college degree, and gives some tips on how to self-educate if you can’t afford tuition.
“Hunger is the key,” John tells CNBC Make It. “I don’t believe [college is] necessary for success…. If you don’t have the resources go to college, well then you better be on the Internet. You better be at that library. You better be wherever you can acquire the knowledge.”
For those that have the financial means to attend college, the FUBU founder is all for it.
“Should you go to college? Absolutely if you can,” John remarked. “Is it necessary? No.”
Daymond John pointed out benefits of college
Though John doesn’t see an academic history as a guarantee for reaching your goals, he did note some doors a college education can open.
“Most of my employees have come from college, because as an intern, you can come into my company and get credit [for] college,” John said. “Those people then out-work the people that are already working there, and I hired most of the interns. You wouldn’t have that opportunity if you didn’t go to college.”
The Shark Tank panelist stresses the importance of connecting with experts in your field of choice as well as peers on the same career path.
“The number one reason why people are successful is access to mentors,” John said. If you’re in school, “those [mentors] are professors, those are other students in college around you.”