The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage



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The instant New York Times bestseller from Shark Tank star and Fubu Founder Daymond John on why starting a business on a limited budget can be an entrepreneur's greatest competitive advantage.

Daymond John has been practicing the power of broke ever since he started selling his home-sewn t-shirts on the streets of Queens. With a $40 budget, Daymond had to strategize out-of-the-box ways to promote his products. Luckily, desperation breeds innovation, and so he hatched an idea for a creative campaign that eventually launched the FUBU brand into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon.  But it might not have happened if he hadn’t started out broke - with nothing but hope and a ferocious drive to succeed by any means possible.

Here, the FUBU founder and star of ABC’s Shark Tank shows that, far from being a liability, broke can actually be your greatest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur. Why?  Because starting a business from broke forces you to think more creatively.  It forces you to use your resources more efficiently. It forces you to connect with your customers more authentically, and market your ideas more imaginatively. It forces you to be true to yourself, stay laser focused on your goals, and come up with those innovative solutions required to make a meaningful mark. 

Drawing his own experiences as an entrepreneur and branding consultant, peeks behind-the scenes from the set of Shark Tank, and stories of dozens of other entrepreneurs who have hustled their way to wealth, John shows how we can all leverage the power of broke to phenomenal success. You’ll meet:

· Steve Aoki, the electronic dance music (EDM) deejay who managed to parlay a series of $100 gigs into becoming a global superstar who has redefined the music industry
· Gigi Butler, a cleaning lady from Nashville who built cupcake empire on the back of a family  recipe, her maxed out credit cards, and a heaping dose of faith
· 11-year old Shark Tank guest Mo Bridges who stitched together a winning clothing line with just his grandma’s sewing machine, a stash of loose fabric, and his unique sartorial flair

When your back is up against the wall, your bank account is empty, and creativity and passion are the only resources you can afford, success is your only option. Here you’ll learn how to tap into that Power of Broke to scrape, hustle, and dream your way to the top.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101903605
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/19/2016
Sold by: Random House
Format: eBook
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 290,042
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Daymond John is CEO and Founder of FUBU, a much-celebrated global lifestyle brand, with over $6 billion in sales. He is also one of the country's most visible and respected  entrepreneurs as one of the stars of ABC series Shark Tank, and the recipient of over 35 awards including the Brandweek Marketer of the Year and Ernst & Young’s New York Entrepreneur of the Year Award. John stands on that same cutting edge as one of corporate America's leading branding consultants as CEO of the marketing firm Shark Branding. He is also an author of two best-selling books, Display of Power and The Brand Within.

Read an Excerpt


The Power of Broke

The power of broke is a mind-set. It exists in all of us, whether we have money, opportunities, or advantages. Trouble is, most people don’t recognize this power for what it is. They leave it alone, or maybe they don’t even know it’s there. Instead, they buy into the line from people in suits, fancy offices, or business schools who tell us that there’s a certain way to start businesses—we need money to jump-start our business.

But that only works for a few of us—and only for a while. Why? Because, take it from me, the power of broke is all about substance over flash. It’s about creativity over certainty. It’s about taking a shot over playing it safe. And here’s another thing: The money runs out after a while. Those deep pockets you may or may not have, they’ll never be deep enough to buy all the passion, ingenuity, and determination it takes to have success over the long haul. Even if you’ve got money behind you, there’s no guarantee that it will see you through. It’s the money in front of you that counts, after all. It’s the money you need, not the money you have, that makes all the difference. And this book is all about that difference, and how to put it to work for you.

Let’s face it, when you’re up against all odds, when you’ve exhausted every opportunity, when you’re down to your last dime . . . that’s when you’ve got no choice but to succeed. You’re out of options, man. So you double down, dig deep, and switch into that relentless turbo mode we’ve all got kicking around in our machinery. And that’s when the real magic happens. Are we clear on this? The power of broke is the half-court shot you fire up with time running out and the game on the line. It’s the shot your teammates won’t take because the likelihood of that ball kissing the net is pretty damn thin and they don’t want to mess with their stat lines. They’re playing the percentages while you’re playing to win—and this can mean everything. I don’t mean to mix my sports metaphors here, but I’m reminded here of that great Wayne Gretzky line, “We miss one hundred percent of the shots we don’t take.” So, take the shot! Absolutely, take the shot. The power of broke is all about taking that shot. The power of broke is looking up at the sky, wondering what you’ve got to do to catch a break, and saying, “God, why am I doing this?” It’s living with the constant fear that you’ve gone crazy for putting it all on the line—but putting it out there anyway. There might be a million reasons for you to throw up your hands, throw in the towel, throw away your dreams, and put an end to whatever craziness you’re pursuing, but the power of broke is that one reason you keep going. Maybe you’ve been rejected by thirty loan officers, but that green light could be waiting for you on the thirty-first try. Perhaps your product or service has been totally slammed by the first thirty people who try it, but the thirty-first review is a rave. And that comes from the one guy whose opinion really matters.

Whatever it is, keep at it—absolutely, keep at it! Because, hey, you never know. When you’ve got nothing to lose, you’ve got everything to gain. Sometimes it takes having your back against the wall, leveraging your last dollar, and having no place to go but up, up, up if you expect something to happen. Because if you’ve got to succeed to survive, you will. Trust me on this.

Be a True Innovator

Here’s my take: Innovation happens from the bottom up, not the top down.

Break dancing, rap music, slam poetry, iPods, smart watches, electric cars . . . all the most creative, the most successful, the most dynamic innovations pop in an organic way, and then grow. Or not. You put your idea out there, no big thing, and it just kind of happens. Or not. People either respond to it or they don’t, and it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at it, how much you try to dress it up, it is what it is and that’s that.

It has its own beating heart.

You don’t need me to tell you this—just take a look at the world around you. Our favorite movies, the ones that win all the awards, the ones we talk about with our friends, tend to be the indie films that come from a small, sweet voice, a singular vision, and not the slick, big-budget, mainstream movies from the major studios. Yeah, those big blockbusters make the big bucks, and they can be a lot of fun, but they don’t always light our imaginations or stir our souls—at least, not in the same way.

Just look what goes on at Art Basel in Miami Beach, the biggest gathering of international artists on the calendar. Hundreds and hundreds of the best artists in the world come to Florida every December to share their work, strut their stuff, do their thing. It’s an amazing thing to see, what some of these folks are up to, but it’s not just the fine art displayed on the walls by the top galleries that makes all the noise. A lot of folks, they’ll tell you the real excitement of the show, the raw energy, is off to the side. That’s where you’ll find the street artists, the pop-up displays, the next big thing. And that’s where you’ll find the crowds—because, when it comes down to it, people want to experience something pure, something real. They want to be lifted from their everyday experiences, from what’s expected, and set down in the middle of something completely and breathtakingly new.

I come from the world of fashion—that’s where I made my name. But at FUBU we were never about high fashion. Our designs came from the streets, from our own hard-won style, our pride of place. The spirit of our clothes was in our name—For Us By Us—and one of the reasons we captured a good chunk of the market was because we were authentic. We were true to ourselves. Were we completely and breathtakingly new? Not really, but what was exciting about our clothes, what a lot of folks connected to, was that we wore them proudly. They were a reflection of our world.

FUBU isn’t the only successful brand that launched in this way. A lot of the most iconic fashion brands started out in a small, hand-sewn way. Haute couture, at the high end of high fashion, is based on the same principle—high-quality clothing, made by hand, with a personal touch. In French, the word couture simply means “dressmaking,” and when it started out it just referred to plain folks figuring out a way to dress nicely, to turn their rags and loose fabrics into clothing that made them feel a little more like nobles. But today the term has come to symbolize the best of the best. Why? Because it came about in this genuine way.

The same goes for architecture, literature, music, technology, design, fashion . . . every important innovation, every lasting impression, every meaningful trend, and every successful business comes from a singular vision, put out into the world with a small, sweet voice. It starts from the bottom and it grows from there—or not.

Or not . . .

Those two little words, suggesting the possibility that things might not go my way . . . they’re at the heart of everything I do. They’re why I give myself the same marching orders every morning when I get out of bed: rise and grind. Because in those three words I find tremendous power—the power to do anything, to get past anything, to become anything. They remind me that the choice of whether to succeed—or not—is all mine.

POWER FACT: Eight out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18 months. . . . It’s not enough to have a good idea for a start-up or a hot new product; execution is key, and part of that execution comes in finding your “voice” as an entrepreneur. Why do so many new businesses fail? Many times, it’s because they’ve been cashed to death. It’s because businesses built on steroids and on injections of capital are living on borrowed time. When the money runs out, the business runs its course.

This idea that the best concepts and innovations tend to happen organically, authentically, is not limited to art and discovery. It cuts to our personal lives, too. Think about it: Our most lasting relationships are built on the same solid foundation. It’s got to be pure, got to be real . . . or else it just won’t work. If you’re a guy, and you pull up to meet a girl in a hot car, you’ll make a certain kind of first impression, right? The two of you get together, you take her out for an expensive dinner, buy her a nice pair of shoes and maybe some bling, you sip the finest champagne . . . by the end of the night she’s into you. And if you keep it up, at end of the week, she’s totally into you. Doesn’t matter what you look like. Doesn’t matter if you’re a brilliant conversationalist or even if you share the same views. In some cases, you could be fat, bald, stupid . . . whatever. It only matters that you showered her with power, bought her a bunch of gifts and flowers, took her away on romantic weekends, and whatever the case may be. It all adds up. You’ve presented yourself to her in a certain way. And if she responds to that certain way, that’s great, I’m happy for you . . . really. But what happens to that kind of relationship in the long run? What happens when all that money goes away and there’s nothing left but to be yourself? What happens when you buy her a present every time you see her, and then all of a sudden you lose your job? Then what?

Don’t be surprised if you find your relationship was only as strong as the money you put into it. When the jewelry runs out, no more fancy dinners, and the getaway vacations end . . . what’s left? You’ve been riding a superficial high, a false emotion—and it’s bound to catch up to you. It will.

Or maybe you’re a woman looking to snag your dream man. So you slip yourself into a fine, beautiful dress, get yourself done with hair and makeup, work out like crazy so you can’t help but turn all kinds of heads. You finally meet this amazing guy, and you really, really want him to pay attention to you, ask you out a second time, and a third. And he does, and the two of you have a good thing going . . . for a while. Again, I’m happy for you. That’s great. But then you get a little older, you gain a couple of pounds, the dress no longer fits. Or maybe you’re living together, and you’re stuck in bed with the flu, looking all a mess in your footie pajamas. What happens then?

Be Genuine

Now, before you start beating up on me for presenting such superficial examples, let me just say that they’re meant to be superficial examples. I’m trying to make my point in the extreme. No, women aren’t just out for money and fine things—and men aren’t just out for sass and sex appeal. The point is that if it’s not authentic, if there’s no there there, your relationship is not about to work in any kind of long-term way, no matter how you dress it up, or how much money you throw at it. You might hang in for a while and have a nice little run, but it won’t last. It can’t last. It’s the same in business. Let’s say you open a new restaurant. You design a gorgeous new space, in the best part of town. You have no experience in the kitchen, but you have the money to hire a top chef, the best decorators. You have no vision, no specific market you’re trying to serve, no style of cooking that speaks to you, but your research tells you that a certain kind of cuisine is crazy popular right now, the edge of the cutting edge, so that’s what you decide to pursue. Basically, you focus-group the crap out of the place, spend all kinds of money throwing in all the bells and whistles and every conceivable amenity, open your doors, and wait for the tables to fill. But it doesn’t always work out that way, does it?

Why is that, do you think?

Or let’s say you’re in the soda business, and you decide for some reason to shake things up, tweak your formula, try something new. You’ve already got the biggest, most successful brand in the world, and your market projections show steady growth for years and years. But you get it in your head that the soda-drinking public is fickle, ready for a change, so you shave off a chunk of that money and hire a bunch of chemists to engineer a new flavor, a bunch of marketing experts to redesign your logo, a bunch of advertisers to help get the word out. You can afford to bring in the best of the best to work with you on this. Trouble is, you haven’t taken the time to stir up any real interest in the marketplace. You haven’t even identified any interest for what you’re selling. There’s been no demand for a new formula, folks haven’t really tried it or asked for it—and nobody’s even saying they’re tired of the old formula. You’ve gone down this road for no good reason and you end up with New Coke—one of the biggest thuds in the history of product launches.

Remember what happened there?

Well, truth is, nobody outside the Coca-Cola Company really knows what happened back in 1985 when New Coke hit the market, because nobody’s talking. Nobody will cop to it. But I have some ideas. They teach case study classes on this New Coke fiasco at some of our top business schools, and I certainly don’t have that kind of insight or expertise. And obviously I can’t put myself in the boardroom at Coca-Cola when these big-time executives made the series of decisions that set them down this path. But if I had to guess, I’d say that all their money got in the way, confused the issue. Probably, they were just making change for the sake of change—because they could afford to, and not because they needed to. Probably, there was a collective and colossal failure to acknowledge the simple fact that business is like any other innovation, any other relationship.

Table of Contents

1 The Power of Broke 1

2 Rise and Grind 26

Be Resourceful: Steve Aoki-Find Beauty in Chaos 44

Be Yourself: Acacia Brinley-Honor Your Truth 53

Be Relentless. Rob Dyrdek-Let It Rip 63

Be First: Christopher Gray-Look Under Every Rock for Every Last Dime 75

3 Money Changes Everything 85

Be Delicious: Gigi Butler-Faith and Flour 99

Be Agile: Jay Abraham-Turn Your Problems into Solutions 110

Be Committed: Kevin Plank-Protect This House 120

4 What It Is 130

Be Different: Moziah Bridges and Tramica Morris-Mo's Bows: A Passion for Fashion 142

Be Nice: Tim Ferriss-The Power of Humility 156

Be Funny: Josh Peck-"This Is Where I Need to Be" 170

5 Broke Isn't Just Personal 178

Be Small: Linda Johansen-James-Big Things in Little Packages 192

Be Resilient: Ryan Deiss-Getting Back to Zero 199

Be Visionary: Loren Ridinger-Own Your Own Style 209

6 Be the Change 217

Be Adventurous: Mark Burnett-Survive and Thrive 239

A Final Thought: Bringing It All Home 249

Acknowledgments 255

About Daymond John 259

Index 263

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