Entrepreneurial leadership: Turning hair care & tequila into gold

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

The most important thing about John Paul DeJoria is his resemblance to the hero in a Grimm fairy tale: “The Boy Who Knew No Fear.”

With a net worth today estimated at $2.5 billion, the founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and Patrón ultra-premium tequila started out selling encyclopedias door-to-door.

“Tough job,” he says. “You’re just cold-calling. Doors slam literally in your face—maybe 30, 40 doors before the first customer will actually talk to you.”

Nothing seems to faze him. Ever.

Asked what he was thinking when the lone Paul Mitchell investor fell through and he wound up scraping together $700, he says: “I was thinking I had everything lined up.”

Asked about his biggest hurdle in business, he says it was rejection: “Be ready for it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don’t want to do.”

Asked about Patrón’s insane pace of growth, he says the key is quality: “Make it so good, people will want to buy it again.”

Asked how he would advise somebody who wants to start a business now, he counsels going full speed ahead: “We started Paul Mitchell with very little. Inflation in 1980, when we started the company, was 12½%. Interest rates were 20%. You can do it, no matter what you have.”

Retirement? He says he’ll never quit: “I like what I’m doing.”

Asked if there’s anything he’d like to add, he says: “Can I get you a shot of tequila before you leave?”

— Adapted from “Homelessness, hair care and 12,000 bottles of tequila: How John Paul DeJoria became a billionaire,” Dennis Romero, Entrepreneur.

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