Tom Bilyeu: Hey, everybody.
Welcome to another episode of Impact Theory.
You are here, my friends, because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless,
but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with
Our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that
will help you actually execute on your dreams.
Today's guest is the quintessential rags-to-riches story.
He was born to immigrant parents, grew up hard on the streets of East L.A., and drifted
in and out of biker gangs, but ultimately took himself from homeless to self-made multibillionaire.
His life literally sounds like it's been ripped from the pages of a Hollywood screenplay.
His father left when he was just two years old.
He had to sell newspapers and Christmas cards at the age of nine to help support his family.
At one point, he and his young son were forced to live out of a car.
He ended up having to sell encyclopedias door-to-door to make ends meet, and even that success proved
fleeting, leaving him homeless again at age 36.
As with any great Hollywood tale, things were darkest just before the dawn, and he ended
up turning a fortuitous encounter with a hair stylist named Paul into an idea for a company,
and despite the backers pulling out at the 11th hour, the pair went on to launch and
grow through sheer force of will what is now the global powerhouse, Paul Mitchell, a company
that made him a household name and fantastically wealthy in the process.
That was just the beginning.
Less than 10 years later, he cofounded an even more successful company called Patron
Tequila, placing him in the very rare pantheon of entrepreneurs who have had multiple home
What makes his success so beautiful is that he's done it the right way.
Putting his employees first, John Paul Mitchell Systems has had turnover of less than 70 people
in 35 years.
He has baked philanthropy into the core culture of all of his companies.
Please help me in welcoming the recipient of the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished
Americans, the philanthropist and founder of the Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation,
John Paul DeJoria.
John Paul D.: Thank you so much.
Tom, that’s a great introduction.
Thank you very much.
America still works.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s a perfect place to start.
Reading your story, it really feels like the American dream that I grew up with as a kid,
that I'm not sure people think of as the same American dream.
If you had to define the American dream, what would you say it is?
John Paul D.: That when you think that there's all the opportunity you want and you don’t
know any better, you go after it.
In my generation, it was a pleasure to work, whether it was at the Variety Boys Club at
seven years old making flower pots, going out and selling them, or Christmas cards at
nine or going on the streets at 11 years old delivering morning newspapers.
For us it was fun to work.
Now what did we do with the money?
We gave it to my mom so we'd have a better way of life where you’ve gotten to high
My brother and I saved a little bit of it for our car, which happened to be a junker,
but we rebuilt at an auto shop, but because for us, it was a pleasure to work.
Just because, wow, we got a job.
It was so cool.
It was a little different in those days than today.
We also knew that if we produced something, we produced it.
If we want to go somewhere, you got to do it.
If there's problems along the way ... I love to say this, especially to entrepreneurs,
one of the great secrets in life to becoming successful, whether it's in a business, whether
it's working with someone or for someone or in your personal life ... I learned this selling
encyclopedias door-to-door in my early 20s ... is be prepared in life for a lot of rejection,
because if you're prepared for a lot of rejection and it comes, you don’t get turned off,
you don’t get disappointed like, "Well, I'm not going to do this anymore.
No one thinks it's a good idea."
It's like I say selling encyclopedias, knock on a hundred doors, they slam them in your
face, you must be just as enthusiastic on door number 101 as door number one.
That’s one of the real secrets.
Growing up as kids in downtown L.A., we all knew that.
We didn’t have a lot.
There's a lot of things that are going to turn you down.
At seven, trying to sell a flower pot on the street, most people said, "No."
"But it's only 50 cents."
"No, no, no."
Soon, a waitress in a little restaurant said, "Only 50 cents.
That’s really great."
She bought it from us, and we went and built another one.
You don’t give up.
Tom Bilyeu: That really is one of the secrets of the universe, in my opinion, that ability
to stay as enthusiastic on door 101 as you were on door one when you’ve had it slammed
in your face over and over and over.
Is that something you can teach?
In fact, have you imparted that onto your kids?
Is that something that they’ve adopted, and if so, how did you pull that off?
John Paul D.: Definitely.
It's just like your viewers of your fabulous show here.
They just certainly say that.
Now if they write that on a piece of paper, "Be prepared for a lot of rejection," whether
it's in their personal life that someone says, "You're too old, you're too fat, you're too
You're not going to get anything other than, yes, you’ve got holes in your nose, you
got things coming out your ears."
Whatever is other than, "Yes, this is wonderful," realize that it's going to happen in life.
As soon as people know that, when something goes wrong, they look at a piece of paper,
"Oh, yeah, that reminds me."
The other quote that I give people a lot, especially entrepreneurs, is any business
you're in, whether it's a service or whether it's a product, or anybody you work with that
has a product or a service, always make sure that your product or your service is of the
highest quality you could ever make it, because you do not want to be, you do not want to
be in the selling business.
You want to be in the reorder business.
Granted, you’ve got to tell somebody what your idea is and how it's going to cure, something
they may need, but the quality has to be so good that after that, they want to reorder
it, or if it's a one-time item, tell friends about it.
If people think in whatever they're doing in life, be in the reorder business, whether
it's with a personal relationship, whatever you see right now, you're to see again and
again and again it's going to have ... There'll be ups and downs.
"Here's my product.
It's so darn good, you're going to use it."
We started Paul Mitchell.
We had no money, but we knew our product was so darn good that if we got it in the hands
of enough people, they're going to be reordering it because it was that quality.
Service is the same way.
Tom Bilyeu: I love that stance.
You can see that across all of your companies, that you're really going for the best of the
best, to make the experience better.
Getting to understand your technique in selling is easy once you get to Paul Mitchell, and
I do want you to walk us through that in a second, but how did you get through tactically
to a sale in the encyclopedia world?
People don’t want to hear from you.
How do you overcome that?
John Paul D.: What a question to ask me.
The average encyclopedia salesman lasted three days.
I was at it for three and a half years.
The way it worked in those days, it was commission-only.
The way it worked is you went for an interview.
They told you all you could possibly make off commission-only, and we were in training
for three days.
It was a presentation that was scripted.
We'd have to memorize the whole thing.
When you go out in the field, you remember parts of it.
You knock on doors, you're not quite sure of yourself.
A lot of doors are closed in your face, but what happens, after a while you start getting
used to it and you see what you can say or do that'll make it better.
When you go back the next day with your other salespeople, what did you see, what did you
do, what did I say?
Let's say I knock on a hundred doors to get into one, give 10 presentations to sell one
Then, when you get better and better at it through your experiences and losses along
the way, it sharpens you up, where all of a sudden I got to a point where if I gave
three presentations, I have no less than one order commission-only.
I believed that I could do that.
I believed that Collier's was the best set of books because a high school student could
It wasn’t like a college manual you had to read.
I was doing something good for somebody.
You have to believe that what you're doing is good, it's going to benefit somebody, and
you learn as you go.
Okay, do I look someone in the eye?
See, a lot of people don’t know these things.
Look someone in the eye.
All too often, people say, "It's hard to look someone in the eye, because you feel uncomfortable."
Of course you do.
They're not on the same wavelength you're on or the same frequency.
What do you do?
How do you overcome that?
You learn these things along the way.
You look them right between the eyes or at their eyebrow.
Looks like you're looking them in the eye.
I've been working on a book for a couple of years with some of these tips.
It's not ready yet.
Maybe next year it'll be ready.
Tom Bilyeu: Oh, man.
John Paul D.: There's all these things, and, of course, smile.
Smile is the most wonderful thing God gave us.
You don’t smile when you first talk to somebody.
You smile before you knock on their door.
If your day sucks, you fake it, "Hi, how you doing?"
Because when you smile, everything changes.
Things will change.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s interesting.
I've heard you talk about that before, how even on a phone call, if you smile on the
If somebody's having a bad day, you were like, oh ... If you walk into an elevator and people
are totally turned in on their own world, that just a smile can literally change their
I think that’s really, really a powerful reminder.
How much do you think that doing the door-to-door sales sharpened you, trained you to be successful
John Paul D.: Tremendously.
If they still sold encyclopedias door-to-door, all my children would be inclined and made
to do that for at least three months.
What an experience.
You're on your own.
You make no money unless you do something, and they're not even expecting you.
You go there door-to-door and try and get in and try and tell, "Some of these books
are going to be good for you.
Here's how you use them."
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, I really hope that people listening heard that, that if that was a thing,
you would still make your kids do it because it's such a profound proving ground.
It's a way to sharpen your skills.
It's a chance to handle rejection.
I did door-to-door sales for a while.
I was not the man you were, I assure you.
I did it probably for about three or four months.
It is the loneliest, it is so awkward.
They don’t want you there, and you have to literally, each and every time talk yourself
up, get in that space where you can come- John Paul D.: Every one.
Tom Bilyeu: ... put the smile on.
The people that are able to do that and develop the internal gain in order to get to that
point, I think is just super critical.
John Paul D.: Sure.
Tom Bilyeu: A lot of people want the easy answer, not realizing that going through the
hard thing is the thing that’s ultimately going to toughen you up.
You're struggling, hard times befall you, you’ve got to go do something.
How do you know what to do?
John Paul D.: Sometimes you don’t.
Sometimes you don’t know what the hell to do.
You're just out there doing it, and you just kind of learn from your own experience or
go with whatever your heart tells you to do.
If something goes wrong, you ask somebody, "God, here's what I said.
Was that right?"
You just kind of improve yourself.
Many times if you're there, you don’t have an answer, go with your heart.
Give an answer.
Just say, "I really don’t know, but I'm going to find out and I'm going to get back
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, I love that attitude.
Were you actively saying in your head as you approached, going up to knock on these doors,
that each one of these is an opportunity to learn something?
John Paul D.: Mine kind of was ... This is in the beginning, okay, was, "Successful people
do the things unsuccessful people don't want to do.
I'm going to knock on their door."
Ta, ta, ta, ta.
Tom Bilyeu: You just literally repeat that?
John Paul D.: Oh, yeah.
That’s where I learned that one phrase.
It's a great phrase, my gosh.
Then if you're going out there for three or four hours, and then you still haven't gotten
in the door, given a presentation, the second phrase ... God knows where it came from, it
just came to me ... was, "When the going's tough, the tough get going."
One more door, one more smile.
It was tough.
It was, I think, a week before I even sold my first set of books, but I just kept going.
Tom Bilyeu: I love that there's no secret formula to your success, that it's really
been these basic building blocks, convincing yourself to do it.
In fact, walk people through how do you go from ... You show up one day and your wife
is walking out the door, and she hands you the keys and basically she leaves.
You're in your darkest hour.
You’ve explained pretty well how you don’t get stuck at level one.
John Paul D.: Right.
That was level minus one or two, okay, at that time.
I'd been the master of ceremonies for the Sports, Vacation, and Recreational Vehicle
Show that weekend.
I had something new to do the following week.
Whatever little money we had in the bank, she took.
That check coming from them wasn’t coming in for one week, and needless to say, she
didn’t pay the rent.
I didn’t know it.
Didn’t pay the electric bill.
Within three days, we were out of there.
I was kind of down.
I think at that time, coming from an environment where you run across a lot of things that
are very disappointing, I just looked at, "Okay, I have no money.
I have a kid."
Got ahold of an old car that was loaned to me.
We got a house now.
We could put some of our stuff, our blankets are going there.
I close the door and they're right ... We'll store the rest at my mom's house.
I was too proud to tell my mother, "Mom, I'm down and out.
I got a kid.
Mom, can I have my room back?"
My son next to me.
I was stupid.
This happened twice in my life.
I was ashamed to even tell her.
I knew that there were Coke bottles everywhere in those days or soda pop bottles.
Two cents for a little one, five cents for a big one.
I went around collecting them, which helped with ecology, cashed them in.
In those days, every grocery store, every liquor store had to give you the money.
Tom Bilyeu: How did you keep going, though?
How did you not, "Okay, I'm out of survival mode now, so now I'm there."
Most people stay there forever.
How did you get to the next level and the next and the next?
John Paul D.: For me, it was I knew I had to work, plus I had this little kid.
I would drop him off at two and a half years old to a little nursery school.
At that time, the one I went to was free.
The city actually had one.
I'd go out and have to have a job.
Me and the other guys we were around didn’t have jobs.
I knew I needed a job to take care of myself, my son, and be able to one day have enough
money to get an apartment and move on.
I knew I [crosstalk 00:13:53].
Tom Bilyeu: Did you plan things like that out?
Did you say, okay, list item number one, apartment or job or ... How did you put the plan together?
John Paul D.: Number one was just survival period and not having to tell my mom what
I'm going through.
Again, it was pride, stupid pride.
Then after that, it was one thing led to the other.
I had one thing, the survival part was taken care of.
Then it was, "Okay, what do I want to be doing and how do I do that?"
The first thing is you got to have an income.
You got to have a job.
Then you started getting it together and things fell in place.
Now along the way, there were jobs I had where I was fired at those jobs for the dumbest
reasons in the world, but each one I was fired from taught me something.
There were three companies in the beauty industry I worked with.
I was the vice president of two of them, and the national manager of one of them.
Each one of my divisions did very well while I was there.
In one case, I was the trainer for the whole company, and they grew 50%, millions of dollars
while I was there.
Shortly after I started with 700 bucks John Paul Mitchell Systems, two years later, something
flashed in my mind, "Wow, there is something called fate.
There is something called your destiny.
If you don’t do it, be open, it could do it for you."
Had I not worked for all three companies, it would have been impossible to start John
Paul Mitchell Systems with $700.00, any amount of money.
Each company, I reflected, taught me different things.
One about the beauty industry and distribution, the other one about making products or bringing
top artists in, the other one about how to make these bottles, these products, where
to get it.
All three were stepping stones for me, and I never knew it.
Goes back, Tom, to what we were talking about, rejection, be prepared for a lot of rejection.
If every time something goes bad where you're rejected or turned down for something, if
one could remember that, be prepared for it.
This was a surprise.
It was a surprise to me.
I didn’t expect it, but when it happened, it was, well, it's meant to be to do something
I was just meant to do something else.
Look at the backer.
Our backer pulled out.
I needed half a million dollars- Tom Bilyeu: For Paul Mitchell?
John Paul D.: ... to start John Paul Mitchell Systems.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, yeah, this story's incredible.
John Paul D.: I had to have half a million dollars.
I knew that.
Our backer pulled out the last minute.
Never got a dime.
I stopped doing everything I was doing.
Tom Bilyeu: How last minute are we talking here?
John Paul D.: Like that day.
We just had to pay for the artwork, $1000.00.
Then we had the silk screener set up, the bottle company set up, the filler set up.
It was all set up with 30-day credit, because they knew me in the industry, I did well.
It was going to go good.
Now what was the blessing on that one?
We struggled, but we believed what we had was the best.
The blessing was we each had 30%, the investments, if you have 40%, we end up with owning the
Tom Bilyeu: Have you ever talked to the investor that pulled out?
John Paul D.: Nope.
Tom Bilyeu: He's got to be kicking himself.
What an incredible opportunity.
That’s like a master's class in business right there.
John Paul D.: Necessity, it was the necessity.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, but so many people shut down with necessity.
Look, it's not a surprise that with that attitude that you’ve gone on to have the kind of
success you do.
The thing that I try to really get the next generation of entrepreneurs to understand
is there's just tactical business principles that you have to understand.
Some of it's pure psychology, and some of it is just knowing that there's always another
solution really if people break down the things that you do.
Ending with the final thing that I think you have a real gift for, which is the things
that you're telling yourself to stay motivated, to keep pushing forward, to understand that
when you're at that dark moment that there is a path out of this and that you have to
look for that and keep pushing and smile.
All these really basic things that you’ve stacked on top of them.
How, then, do we go from that to the Paul Mitchell that we know today?
John Paul D.: Obviously, it was hand-to-mouth for the first two years, but we knew we had
the best there was.
We just kept on working it and working with it, telling hairdressers, "We'll be the first
one to never cut you out."
Most people have gone in the beauty industry and said, "Hey, we're only going to be in
A lot of companies, all of a sudden they're in department stores or in drugstores and
We kept on telling people, "If you ever ..." we still do today " ... see Paul Mitchell in
any drugstore or supermarket, it's either counterfeit or from the black market.
We don’t put it there.
We only put it in salons."
The demand for Paul Mitchell exceeds where you could get it.
It's only in salons, and maybe only in 10% of all salons.
People want the best there is and people could actually pay full retail in the salon for
Paul Mitchell, put it on their drugstore shelf, up it $2.00, and they sell every bottle they
have because people don’t know what it cost.
They just know it's really, really good stuff.
We kind of kept with what we had and always made sure any new product we came out with
was the best it could possibly be.
What's interesting about the beauty industry and quality, my first three products are still
some of the best sellers.
We've had them now for almost 37 years.
It's that quality.
Make sure your service or your product is the very best it is.
Plus, we gave back along the way.
We gave back along the way.
We were the first never to test on animals and say, "You can't."
We were ridiculed.
Our competitors put us down because they were doing it; 10, 15 years later they had somebody
else do it so they could say, "We weren't doing it."
We helped change things and we were very proud that we did that.
We kept our values and kept it only in the business and realized there's no free lunch.
We kept on working.
Tom Bilyeu: You seem to have a really strong internal set of values.
When did that begin to take shape in terms of policies that you could implement in the
Was it right away?
Did that take time?
John Paul D.: When I worked for other companies, some of them, not to mention any names, were
They would treat people the old way, "I'm the boss.
Here's what you're going to do because I'm the boss."
There were times, for example, when maybe you had a dollar for lunch.
You can't get a lot for a dollar.
I just knew that that’s how I was, and if I had a company that I had control of, by
gosh, everyone's going to be treated the way I wanted to be treated.
The minute we could afford it, everyone had free lunch.
Whether you had money or not, you have free lunch.
We pay for it for you.
Carpool, we'll pay for that.
We started doing things for people that I wish happened to me.
Maybe that’s part of fate.
Maybe because a lot of things along the way weren't so good, that as things started getting
good, it was so easy for me to share with our people, so easy to do that.
People sometimes don’t save money.
As soon as we possibly could afford it, we started profit-sharing where at the end of
every year, we'll take that profit-sharing and put it in a retirement fund for you.
If you're here so many years, it goes with you no matter where you go.
That’s your money.
Tom Bilyeu: It's really incredible.
How much do you think that that sort of golden rule approach has fed into your ridiculously
low turnover rate, which is literally almost unprecedented?
John Paul D.: I try and treat people exactly the way they'd want to be treated, exactly
the way I would have wanted to be treated.
I'm happy with my people.
I realize my people are the company.
If my people go, my God, the company goes.
People are your company, and they take care of the customer.
The customer is always right no matter what, so what do we do so the customer is happier?
If somebody's unhappy, we try and discover why, and because you treat people this way
... We love them.
You walk in our company, it's love.
If you go to the front desk here in Century City, this girl just has the biggest blessing,
"Hi, welcome to John Paul Mitchell Systems."
She loves what she does.
Our big problem is we don’t have turnover.
We have so many people who want to work for us, and the thing is you got to wait for somebody
Tom Bilyeu: Good thing to have.
John Paul D.: Now as we grow, we'll add one or two on, obviously, at a time.
Tom Bilyeu: Sure.
John Paul D.: We're pretty big now because we're in 96 countries.
Patron's the same way.
We're in about 130 countries in the world, and even when I went to visit our people in
Mexico at our facility where we make Patron, it's made with love.
We have about 16, 1800 people down there, and I asked several of them, "Does it upset
you about what's going on in the United States where they may close more of the border?
Do you guys want to go to America?"
Everyone I asked said, "Are you kidding?
We get free lunch here.
We work at night, we get free dinner here.
You're so nice to us.
You pay us good money.
No, we're fine here.
We don’t want to go."
It's how you take care of people anywhere in the world.
You don’t boss them around.
You include them in what you're doing.
Tom Bilyeu: How do you systematize that?
Because I get it if you're there every day.
Everybody I've ever heard talk about you, and some of them are people that I know, everyone
says you just exude ... What you put on for the camera is you.
That’s really how you are.
There's a warmth to it, there's a sense of love and appreciation.
How do you systematize that?
How do you make sure that it pervades your company when you're not there?
John Paul D.: We let all the companies know what we do and why we do it.
We have a culture.
I'll give you an example.
We have, oh, God, almost 120 Paul Mitchell Schools throughout the United States, cosmetology
Every one of them has to be involved in our culture.
We do learn to be a great hairdresser, a stylist, great colorist, but you have to be part of
They raise money.
Every school we have has to raise money every year.
Part of that money goes to the local community, part to the nation, and part to the world.
They learn in school while it's good to give and help others out.
They also learn what our principles are.
Now we started at John Paul Mitchell Systems a very unique position.
The lady that’s running it, her name is Mara Gourdine.
She is our ambassador of corporate culture.
What she does is goes around to our whole company, makes sure everybody is reminded
of our culture, what we do.
All new people must go through indoctrination on what our culture is all about.
Then recently ... because we do so much stuff that people don’t know about ... we started
a magazine over the Internet that goes to our whole universe and their universes that
shows what we do as a company to share and change the entire world.
Everyone connected with us is part of that, whether it's buying a new Coast Guard Cutter
for the Sea Shepherd to protect whales in the open seas, whether it's taking care of
7000 orphans in Africa whose parents have died of AIDS, whether it's redoing Appalachia,
whether its here in Los Angeles, Chrysalis, getting homeless back to work.
They're all part of it, all the things we're doing in this country, so they all feel like
they're part of it.
When you're part of something really big and people take care of you and love you and you
know something went wrong, you can immediately get ahold of the founder, cofounder of the
company, me, and talk to me directly.
I live mainly in Austin, Texas, but if I'm traveling the world, which I do a lot, get
ahold of my executive assistant and say, "We want to talk to JP privately."
Whether it's Paul Mitchell, John Paul Pet, ROK, Patron, all companies do exactly the
We try to take care of people.
If someone screws up, we remind them, "Hey, how would you like that if that was you?
You wouldn’t like that."
Something I want to share with your guests also, if I may.
Tom Bilyeu: [inaudible 00:24:49].
John Paul D.: If any time someone screws up, don’t ever, ever reprimand them in public.
Always reprimand them behind closed doors, one-on-one so nobody hears.
If they hear it, they're going to be covert hostile to you.
They’ll stab you in the back every chance.
It's the opposite for praise.
If someone does something good, praise them loudly and in front of as many people as you
can, even if it's one person.
It makes them feel good and they were acknowledged in front of others.
Little things like this helps keep that culture going.
Tom Bilyeu: Oh, I think those little things are super crucial.
The obvious question is to say, okay, how do we look for the right person to hire into
I'm going to ask the flip.
How can a potential employee evaluate a company?
What should they look for in a company?
How should they be in an interview to get the job?
John Paul D.: In life, we don’t always know what we want to do.
I didn’t always know.
But in life, we find out quickly what we don’t want to do.
Tom Bilyeu: Very fair.
John Paul D.: When you look for a company, try and look at what it is you want to do.
You don’t have to be boss.
What is it that you enjoy being around?
What makes you get up and say, "I can't wait to go to the office"?
We have people at Paul Mitchell working at seven, eight o'clock at night.
They don’t have to.
One day I walked in, there was 10 of them, "What are you doing here?"
"We want to finish our project."
"You don’t have to."
We all went out to dinner.
It was like, God ... Because they love what they're doing.
One is find out what you want to do, and then try and find whatever you can about the company.
Now if you go online, there's going to be nothing but nice stuff or in the newspapers,
but if you get a chance to talk to them.
When you go down to be interviewed, just ask them, "If you wouldn't mind ... " Talk to
a couple of the people.
The receptionist is a great person.
When you walk in, "How's it going?
How do you like working here?
Is it a happy place or just very business-like?"
No one's going to reprimand you for that.
Be sure when you go on your interview ... A lot of people aren't confident enough to do
It's a small thing.
Look the person in the eye or look them between the eyes, on their eyebrows if you can't look
them in the eye, okay?
The more uptight you are, the more you try and be exactly perfect, the more you're going
to turn somebody off.
You see that all day long.
Just go in and be yourself.
If you're hired for being yourself, you're going to like it.
If you're hired for being somebody else that walks in to interview, you're not going to
They're not hiring you.
If it flows, they ask you questions, you have the right answers, it's the right thing for
you, you're set.
If it doesn’t work while you're being interviewed, for you or the other person, it's not the
right thing for you.
Maybe there's something else waiting for you.
Your destiny could be elsewhere.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, very true.
When did you first start thinking about philanthropy, because in the beginning I'm sure it's just
trying to get the business off the ground?
But it really does seem foundational to your companies.
When did that really solidify into a "These are the causes that we care about.
This is what we're going to give them."
John Paul D.: Another beautiful question.
It started when I had nothing.
At six years old, my mother would take my brother and I to downtown L.A., department
stores, Christmas, little trains going around, puppets.
We thought we were the coolest kids to see that.
I was six years old at the time.
My mom gave my brother and I a dime, and it's just something you never forget.
She says, "Boys, I want you each to have this dime.
Walk over and put it in the red bucket of that man ringing the bell," and we did.
We said, "Mom, why did we give that guy a dime?"
Now I'm older than you are.
In those days a dime would buy two big Coca Colas or three candy bars.
Tom Bilyeu: Wow.
John Paul D.: That’s a while ago.
She said, "Boys, it's because that’s a group called The Salvation Army, and they help people
that have no home and no food," she says, "and we want to do something."
She says, "In life, there'll always be someone that has less than you.
Don’t forget it, boys.
This year, we can only afford a dime," because we didn’t have much.
"We could afford it one night, but we did something, and if we couldn’t afford this
dime, I'd be volunteering, ringing the bell with him.
Always do something in life if you can, either with your time or money to help somebody else
I never forgot that.
It just came as part of the culture.
It started with my mom.
Tom Bilyeu: What are some of the most emotionally impactful moments for you as a part of your
John Paul D.: I think going to Africa the first time and meeting some of the 7000 children
ages one day to 12 years old, all parents have died of AIDS, so the kids that are thrown
All the kids are brought to these various orphanages where we feed them, we protect
them, we educate them.
One of the most touching moments on that was while I was there, we had a photo shoot.
We brought the orphans in.
It was a photo shoot we did, a campaign one year.
We had all these African children on our hands.
One little boy, we'll guess his age to be a year and a half, two years old, was the
only one not smiling.
The story behind him was that he was pulled out of a trash can the day before.
Tom Bilyeu: Whoa.
John Paul D.: Dropped off as they were leaving.
They said, "Well, no," and they brought him with them there, and the boy was just bewildered,
trash can, he was skinny as can be.
The other kids were eating little candy bars that were given to them and drinking soda
Before we left the photo shoot, he picked up a soda pop and drank it, and we were just
hugging him and the kid smiled.
It was like tears come out of the eyes.
If I can share this also with your people.
Tom Bilyeu: Yes.
John Paul D.: It's a very nice lesson to learn about giving, is in life, whenever you can
do something for somebody else and ask nothing in return, not even a thank you, nothing,
just do it because it has to be done, you'll get the greatest high you'll ever have in
your life, greatest high.
There's no drug, no nothing, that'll surpass that, and I know what high is all about.
I'm a child of the '60s.
Anyways, but it's the greatest high in the world, the greatest high in the world.
Nothing that'll surpass that.
Tom Bilyeu: Tell me a little bit more about Grow Appalachia.
Your system there is pretty interesting.
It's sort of the, "Don’t give a man a fish.
Teach him to fish."
John Paul D.: Oh, yeah.
Starting in about 2010, when people were hungry, on food stamps, I found out through one of
my staff members there was about 150,000 families on food stamps.
I said, "Let me try and take on half of them if I could, at least."
I paired up with Berea College to give me assistance.
I paid for it all.
The deal was to go into the country where these people are, try and get with churches,
community centers, and I would pay for the irrigation, the seeds, everything.
Berea would help me with some volunteers, and I paid a couple of people full-time to
work for us.
We would teach people how to grow their own vegetables.
First year was this, grow your own vegetables, so feed you and your family, and here's how
you can things in jars for the winter so you have food all year long.
Oh, that was pretty good.
Phase two would be this.
Phase two is now you know how to do it, you grow more.
What do you do with the excess you have?
Either find people around you that need some or help them grow stuff because you don't
know how to now, but start selling it in local grocery stores, or farmers markets has organically
Now, you have an income.
Pretty soon, going into the third year, we had chickens going in there.
Here's a dozen chickens.
Now, you have eggs.
Then we had a couple of them get into bees.
Now, you have honey.
All of a sudden, they were totally self-sufficient and many of them out there now with little
businesses because of it.
I believe today, we're about 35,000 that we feed off their own garden.
Tom Bilyeu: Whoa.
John Paul D.: Don’t expect the government to make the changes, the major ones.
If they help out, God bless them.
We want them to help out.
The people have to do it.
It's we the people of the United States of America.
You want to change?
How do you do it?
Where do you volunteer to do it?
How do you volunteer to do it?
You want a change?
What group's doing it?
I'm going to be part of them.
I'm going to be part of we the people that change it, not wait for everybody to give
something to me because it's the thing to do.
I'm going to make things change.
Today, more people are involved in changing the world for the better, for the people on
the planet, than ever, ever before.
In June, a movie's going to come out called Good Fortune.
I worked on it with Josh Tickell, won many awards, and it's all about how to go from
nothing to something but change the world while you're doing it.
It's called Good Fortune.
I'm going on TV.
I'm on TV all the time.
Your major stations occasionally have me come on and say, "JP, you represent the 1% of all
What do you think of this?
You're the 1% and the 99%, they think you should pay more taxes.
What do you think?"
I look them right in the eye, and I say, "Can we talk truthfully here?"
"Of course, JP.
That’s why you're on."
"I am the 99%.
I am the 1%.
It's we the people.
Isn't it the American dream to have a chance to do so good you can buy nice things for
you and your family?
If along the way you give back, isn't that wonderful?
It's we the people.
By the way, did you know," at that time, "there's about 150 of us, and we're all billionaires?
Most of us came from nothing.
Made it the American way, but do you know that we're all billionaires?
We've all pledged 50% of our wealth while we're alive or after we die to change the
planet for the people on the planet for the better."
Why don’t people [inaudible 00:33:44] ever talk about it?
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett.
I can go on and on.
These people give so much back already and so much dedicated after they die to change
the planet, so 1% versus 99%?
How about we embrace one another, because that so-called 1% is doing so much, and in
many cases, more than our government is doing to help the rest out.
Tom Bilyeu: If you had an ultra successful friend come to you and say, "Okay, look, it's
time now that I really do something meaningful with my money," what would you encourage them
John Paul D.: First of all, what either upsets you most about the planet, whether it's your
country, your city, or the world, what upsets you most when you hear something?
What do you see wrong that you would love to change even in a small way if you could?
Or do you see something big?
What touches your heart?
Not what looks good, "If I do this, I'll look like a hero."
What touches your heart?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, I love that.
Do you think that there are entrepreneurial principles that need to be applied to some
of the more cause-oriented things?
I think when people think about an entrepreneur, they usually think purely about profit, so
when it gets into NGOs and non-profits, it's like, "Well, does it really make sense?"
To me, it's like what we really need to make change is the money, no question, but it's
also people that know how to think like what you're doing with Grow Appalachia, where it's
turning it into something that becomes self-sustaining.
John Paul D.: It's totally self ... Exactly, and the way they do that is take someone like
yourself, anyone out there, is there a charity you really like?
There's a strong possibility it may not be managed the way you would manage a for-profit
Tom Bilyeu: Sure.
John Paul D.: What do you do?
You go in there and help them.
Here's how you merchandise, because your product is your charity.
That’s your product, your cause.
How do I get this disseminated to more people?
How do I do that?
How do I do it within the budget we have?
How do I expand within the budget we have?
If we need more money, how do I creatively help raise more money so that it comes to
a good cause at the other end?
All too often, business people get involved and don’t think about, "Well, let me help
the organization do better."
That’s a good way they can help out.
Tom Bilyeu: A super random question for you.
What are three things that you taught your kids that you think have helped them be successful?
John Paul D.: One is be prepared for a lot of rejection.
The other is whatever service or business you're involved in, the thing you do, make
sure it's the highest quality there is, and always remember, kids, and they do, success
unshared is failure.
Tom Bilyeu: Mm, I love that quote.
John Paul D.: We don’t spoil our kids.
When my kids grew up ... Even my last one who is now 19 and a half years old, when he
was 12 and we were doing good in business, his allowance every week was $12.00.
When he was 13, it was $13.00, but between 13 and 14, he had a sit-down with dad.
He says, "Dad, you were born a long time ago."
He says, "You give me $13.00.
Dad, I go to the movie theater one time.
That and a Coca Cola or any soda pop, not from local, anything, the money's gone.
I have no more money left, Dad."
He says, "It costs more."
I said, "Son, you know, you're right, you are," so I upped it to $20.00.
None of my kids ... Thank God, my kids aren't spoiled.
They know the value of a dollar.
Tom Bilyeu: Did you make them have a job?
Was there anything- John Paul D.: His job was full-time student,
and if they could study, great.
If they couldn’t during that, I would take them to work with me or something like that.
Some of my kids just did something on their own.
Then once, of course, they're able to actually have a regular job, they started looking for
jobs on their own.
One son, my oldest, is starting his own little business with no money, trying to get an artist
to go to a salon and train them, and he would get the little money in between.
It's amazing what they do.
Michaeline, my 32-year-old, brilliant, and she's vice chairman of John Paul Mitchell
That’s another thing, too.
If you have any kids, good example, this one.
I said, "Mikey, go start as a receptionist."
She says, "No.
I'm going to go to work in the warehouse.
I'm going to have every job in the company."
Tom Bilyeu: Spectacular.
John Paul D.: Really.
She stayed there till she learned it and went through all of it.
You better believe our people love her.
Tom Bilyeu: Oh, sure.
John Paul D.: Said, "My gosh, she knows us."
Then several years ago, she became our director of future development.
Tom Bilyeu: Mm.
John Paul D.: What she did so well, everyone loved her.
My own president said, "You should promote her to vice chairman."
That’s what she is.
Tom Bilyeu: It's really, really interesting, because I'm imagining them all following your
the four Ps and them making sure they have the best product.
Yeah, it's the four Ps- John Paul D.: It's the four Ps, you got it,
profit, people, be positive, and help the planet.
Tom Bilyeu: I love the be positive.
How did that make the list?
Of all the things in the world that you could say are like the secrets, that being positive
is one of the main things that people need to do.
How did you happen on that?
John Paul D.: In life, whether it's personal or people around me, when you see people that
are positive, they're looking at something good and something bad that took place.
They move along in life faster.
They're better, and people want to be around these people.
Too often, people gossip.
The one gossip person wants to be around the other person that gossips, but they don’t
realize when you gossip, you're saying something you heard about somebody else.
You're telling everybody.
What if part of it was wrong?
You're going to go out and tell every person you told this, "Ope, I'm sorry.
It was wrong."
Tell everybody you told, it's not going t happen.
It's things you learn about.
Don’t gossip, don’t belittle people if you don’t have to.
God, please don’t.
Try and look at the positive angle, what good could come out of something, and that positiveness
is going to make you live longer, happier, and wake up in the morning happy, not, "Oh,
my God, I got to go to work.
I can't wait till I get home.
I want to retire," because people who are not positive are not happy.
What happens when they retire?
They hate their job, they retire, three or four years later they're dead because they
had nothing to do.
That positive attitude, be around positive people, encourage positiveness.
If you find yourself walking around just complaining all the time, around people that complain
a lot, man, move or just try and do something different.
Change your life being positive and a positive attitude.
Find something positive and something bad makes you look for solutions.
When I was down and out, "Okay, hmm.
Oh, pop bottles.
Let's get the pop bottles, cash them in."
Tom Bilyeu: I love that, because until you said that, I knew that people listening were
thinking, "Well, it's easy for you to be positive.
You're a billionaire," but the fact that you were positive even when you had to be looking
for the bottles- John Paul D.: Oh.
Tom Bilyeu: ... to recycle, to make those- John Paul D.: Sure.
Tom Bilyeu: ... 99-cent meals.
All right, I have a question.
In today's environment, where the business landscape is so crowded and it seems like
all the good ideas have already been taken, how can you go in and create space and build
a company in today's environment?
John Paul D.: The best way to explain it is by actually doing something.
Let's take a huge business throughout the world, one of the biggest, telecommunications.
You have giant phone companies, you have servers on your cellular phone.
It's almost like a lifestyle now, right?
How does someone get in that industry and all of a sudden, you got all the giants you're
going up against that have multi millions and billions of dollars.
How do you do it?
You look at what the industry is lacking and pull the industry into it.
Give you an example.
It's one of my latest companies, ROK, R-O-K Mobile, ROK Mobile.
Believe it or not, we found the openings, and I'll tell you how we did it.
For $49.00 a month on your cell phone, any cell phone, any smart phone, we found a way
to give people all their telephone calls to United States and Mexico, 500 international
minutes free, their texting, their data, all their music, over 20 million songs, $100,000.00
worth of accidental life insurance, Telemedicine seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
A doctor is on the other end of the phone with you, talking to you to see what's going
Your carrier, who works best for you here?
Now how did we pull this off- Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, exactly.
John Paul D.: ... with these giants?
We did a little research.
We know people want their lifestyle, if possible, to be on that cell phone, if possible, but
a lot of people can't afford a cell phone or they pay so much money.
Average person that I talked to pays 100, 200, sometimes 300 bucks a month.
Go international, it goes crazy on you.
We did this.
We went to, for example, the music companies, the big music companies.
You have Warner Brothers, you have Universal, you have Sony.
Said, "Guys, we'd like to be another avenue for you and your artist, one you don’t have
"Ah, sounds pretty good."
"We give you a piece of it all."
Went to 500 other labels, got them to come on board.
Went to the big carrier and said, "Look, we know that you have something called the churn,"
a new word I learned, "where every year, 20, 25% of your business you lose to another carrier
who has a better deal.
Here's what we have."
At that time, we had just the music.
We had the texting, the data, and that.
They said, "Yeah, we could probably get some people back with that."
Then we were able to go to insurance companies and say, "We're predicting we're going to
have all these millions, and, by the way, we took out a patent.
We have the patent on an app that would have, whether it's medical insurance, any kind of
insurance, on there.
Little by little, they all got involved.
All of a sudden, now we're in telecommunications in a very, very big way.
The better part of it is this.
How do I go back to my startup to help those people out, Variety Boys and Girls Club in
East L.A., where I would pay 25 cents for wood and sell it for 50 cents as a big wooden
We thought, "Let's help them out.
Let's help the inner city in New York.
Let's help Harlem.
Let's help people out."
What we're doing right now is, with our profit, is we're saying, "Kids, we want to help you
have a good allowance, so if you'd like to, you have the service for yourself or your
family or anybody you know.
We're going to give you $5.00 every single month for a year.
That’s your allowance.
If 10 people have it, that’s $50.00 a month.
If 100 people have it, and people can cancel whenever they want, but they're still on there,
that’s $500.00 a month for one year.
It's how to have something so low everybody wants it and needs it.
It changes the landscape.
For us, it probably won't make money, but it shares it along the way, when you share.
Success unshared is failure.
That’s how ROK is just exploding right now, just taking off, all underground word of mouth.
I'll give you another one real quick.
We found out that 3.7 billion people have the cold sore virus.
Two out of every three people have it.
Somebody came to me once a few years ago, said, "JP, we've been working with Native
Americans universities on a gel that comes out of plants.
It's plant-based gel.
Someone has a cold sore, you put it on and in most cases they feel the tingle, the cold
sore doesn’t come out.
If it comes out, you put it on every hour, and almost everyone we gave it to, it's gone
in less than two days."
I said, "Really?"
We started giving it to people.
All of a sudden, people are saying, "Oh, my God, this gets rid of that cold sore, and
it's invisible in less than two days."
I spent millions of dollars doing the double blind studies and everything else.
Tom Bilyeu: Wow.
John Paul D.: Now, for less than 30 bucks, someone could buy a tube of Aubio.
A-U-B-I-O is what it's called.
A-U for gold, B-I-O for nature.
They go online and buy it.
They go to Target.
They could go to Rite Aid.
They could go to all these- Tom Bilyeu: These are already in distribution?
John Paul D.: Yeah, it's already in distribution.
Tom Bilyeu: Wow.
John Paul D.: No advertising.
He just, whoosh, got it out there, because the people used it and said, "Wow, this is
This stuff is unbelievable."
[Inaudible 00:45:18] the large chains that have it, but for sure, Rite Aid has it, Target,
and CVS has it also.
We could go in that industry and say, "We have something, we have something different.
It's realistically priced.
We're not ripping everybody off."
As people think about it, look at even these big businesses.
What niche would you like to see happen?
Cell phones, God, we'd love to see it less expensive, no limitations, all these other
Look for that niche.
What does it need?
How can you put it together and help the environment along the way if you could do it?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, looking for ways to disrupt people and really fundamentally take a different
Yeah, take an old industry, look at it, what's something that we can bring from today that
maybe companies of old aren't thinking about?
Sometimes it's even just new technology to modernize the systems, to make it simpler.
John Paul D.: Oh, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: All right.
I have one final question for you, but first, where can these guys find you online?
John Paul D.: I don’t have a website.
I don’t even do Internet.
The best way to find me is go to John Paul Mitchell Systems, that’s one way, and there's
our philanthropy part.
The other is go to patronspirits.com, see what we're doing there.
Or you can go straight to my foundation.
It's called JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Family Foundation.
Tom Bilyeu: I love that.
John Paul D.: You can see some things we do, some of the things we're involved with.
Tom Bilyeu: Very cool.
John Paul D.: I think if you just go online, type my name, and all kinds of stuff comes
Tom Bilyeu: All kinds of stuff comes up.
John Paul D.: Amazing what people say, but most of it's good, so that’s cool.
Tom Bilyeu: I'll bet.
John Paul D.: You get a chance when it comes out, go see Good Fortune.
I did it to try and spread the word of overcoming obstacles and how you can do it.
Tom Bilyeu: No question.
I'll check that out in a heartbeat.
I read a synopsis of it.
It sounds amazing, and it's your life story, so I cannot wait.
All right, my final question.
What is the impact that you want to have on the world?
John Paul D.: While he was here on this planet in his human form, he did something to make
the planet better off because he was here.
He paid really good rent and was happy because of it.
Tom Bilyeu: I love that.
John Paul, thank you so much- John Paul D.: Always a pleasure, Tom.
Tom Bilyeu: ... for coming on with us today.
I can't thank you enough.
Guys, this is somebody, like he said, all you need to do is drop his name into Google,
and I promise you an avalanche of amazing things are going to befall you.
The amount of philanthropy that he's doing is incredible, and when you look at his for-profit
companies and see that they have as a part of their very DNA a philanthropic spirit,
It is not surprising to me, even though mathematically I can't make it make sense.
It isn't surprising to me that he's had such small turnover.
When you put people first, when you actually care, not pretend to care, but you actually
care about them and you care about what happens to them and you're the kind of person that
is able to see the positive, even in your darkest moments, even in your darkest moments
you are looking for the path through, you're looking for the next level up.
When you get there, you're looking for the level above that and never from a predatory
Here's something that I didn’t understand 10 years ago, so let me tell you.
When he says that they made a promise to the beauty industry that they would always sell
to the salons, he left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.
Every day that he refuses to do that, he's literally leaving money on the table, but
he's doing it because he knows that if he migrates away from those people who are working
in the salons and moves it out to broader and broader distribution that it will hurt
the people that helped him build it.
Why does he do it?
To be honorable.
It isn't a smart business move.
He's literally doing it to be honorable.
I respect that more than you know.
Guys, this is somebody that you're going to want to research and see the way that he thinks
about the world and the way that he thinks about business, because to me, it is the future.
The generations coming up are going to make the demand that every company is like this,
and you're going to need to be this way whether you want to be or not.
He's been doing it since the '80s.
It is astonishing.
He is leading the way for an entire generation.
Follow that lead.
All right, guys, this is a weekly show.
If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe, and until next time, my friends, be legendary.
John Paul D.: Peace and love, everybody.
Tom Bilyeu: Everybody, thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact Theory.
If this content is adding value to your life, our one ask is that you go to iTunes and Stitcher
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Thank you, guys, so much for being a part of this community, and until next time, be
legendary, my friends.