John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila (#441)

“Don’t limit yourself in life by your age, or what you think you’re capable of doing. You’re always as old as your mind leads you to believe.” — John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist who has launched multiple global enterprises and is renowned as one of the “100 Greatest Living Business Minds” by Forbes.

John Paul DeJoria’s rags-to-riches biography is incredible and truly exemplifies the American dream. Once homeless, he has struggled against the odds to craft a unique life and many unique businesses.

In 1980, John Paul and hair stylist Paul Mitchell converted a partially borrowed $700 into 

John Paul Mitchell Systems, which is today the largest privately held salon hair care line. In 1989, he co-founded Patrón, the first ultra-premium tequila, and now the world’s number-one ultra-premium tequila, which he sold to Bacardi in 2018. John Paul went on to co-found John Paul Pet, ROKiT, and many other enterprises. 

He has signed The Giving Pledge, along with others like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, as a formal promise to continue giving back, and he has also established JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation as a hub for his charitable investments, which span the core values of his companies: sustainability, social responsibility, and animal-friendliness.

This episode was recorded in March of 2020. Due to technical issues, we moved from Skype to phone partway through the interview.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

#441: John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear an episode featuring mutual friend Robert Rodriguez? Check out this conversation in which we discuss journaling, keeping morale high, embracing the creative process, filmmaker tips, and much more.

John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila (#441)

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SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with John Paul DeJoria:

Twitter

SHOW NOTES

Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added very soon. 

  • In excellent shape at 76, what does fitness look like for John Paul? Does he have a consistent exercise regimen, or does he just pull off Spider-Man moves at parties with Smokey Robinson?
  • What kind of diet does John Paul observe, and what does he consider to be the breakfast of champions?
  • Wine recommendations.
  • On growing up “rich” and happy with only 27 cents to split with his loving mother and brother, and what this taught him about the true meaning of success.
  • John Paul talks about the circumstances that led to him being homeless not once, but twice, and how he managed to break the cycle.
  • After a colorful assortment of odd jobs — from janitor to door-to-door salesman — what led to John Paul’s teaming up with Paul Mitchell to formulate the John Paul Mitchell Systems?
  • Where did John Paul develop his salesmanship superpowers, and what’s the big secret he’s willing to share with us?
  • What did the pitch look like when John Paul and Paul Mitchell had to keep their business idea going even after an initial promised investment of big money fell through and they pooled together a grand total of $700 between them? How did they convince the links in their supply chain and their first distributor that they were worth trusting with favorable terms as an unknown, unproven line?
  • Did John Paul inherit his chutzpah genetically, or was it handed down by a wise elder? How might he pass it along to his own offspring?
  • Aside from sheer persistence in the face of rejection, what insights or techniques does John Paul credit with making him a better salesman than his competition?
  • John Paul shares the origin story of the Patrón tequila brand and how his salesmanship savvy helped jump-start its adoption in the US — even when heavy hitters in the industry kept telling him and his partners that it would never really catch on. (They were wrong, and Bacardi bought the brand in 2018 for just over $5 billion.)
  • How was the work of launching and maintaining Patrón divided among the partners, and what does John Paul consider to be some of the best lessons a Harvard Business School class might learn from decisions that were made?
  • What was John Paul and his partners’ secret to establishing a higher-end, more expensive tequila brand in a market saturated with a much cheaper competition?
  • As recently as 2013, John Paul’s workflow was devoid of computers and email. What exactly did that look like, and does it still hold true today?
  • In the course of a regular day, how does John Paul determine what’s important and deserving of attention versus what can safely be ignored — and how does doing things the old-fashioned way (e.g., talking on the phone) beat new-fangled, email-focused conversations?
  • Why John Paul finds it especially important to recognize first responders — especially during these difficult times.
  • On the importance of taking personal annual (or even more frequent) retreats, and how John Paul puts them to good use on his quest to live to 125.
  • What approach does John Paul take to — as kindly as possible — cut ties with people he no longer wants in his life?
  • During his retreats, has John Paul noticed any patterns that have helped him make better decisions moving forward?
  • How has John Paul gotten better at saying no?
  • Are there any new beliefs or behaviors that have had a positive impact on John Paul’s life?
  • Are there any quotations or maxims by which John Paul lives his life?
  • Books most gifted and recommended.
  • Memorable failures that set John Paul up for later success.
  • How does John Paul choose the for-profit and philanthropic projects to which he dedicates his energy? What does the 80 percent of his time spent on non-business projects look like?
  • What implements from his own toolkit have helped John Paul through times of doubt or difficulty?
  • What John Paul would put on his billboard, and parting thoughts.

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