Editor’s note: Daymond John, the FUBU clothing founder, Shark Tank reality TV judge and a self-made multimillionaire, will deliver the closing keynote address at ISACA’s North America CACS 2017 conference, which will take place 1-3 May in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. John visited with ISACA Now about what innovation means to him, his approach to taking business risks and the Shark Tank experience. The following is an edited transcript:
ISACA Now: The word ‘innovative’ is thrown around a lot. What does that mean to you, and in what ways has that kind of mindset allowed you to achieve such a high level of success with FUBU and your other ventures?
Innovation is the process of creating something new, which oftentimes is just a newer version of something that already existed. For example, to me, Twitter was a note on a pigeon's leg hundreds of years ago. It’s just a new form of delivery.
There’s a huge misconception about innovation, which is that it starts with some grand idea. The truth is that it typically begins with people collaborating and working together on ordinary ideas that transform into something innovative.
When I started FUBU, I didn't put three sleeves on my T-shirts. I didn't start trying to be “innovative.” I just did what I could with what I had, and the brand became more than what even I imagined it could be.
ISACA Now: What advice would you give somebody who has a business idea that he or she is excited about but is nervous about taking that entrepreneurial plunge?
Take affordable steps. You don't need to take great leaps of faith. Again, start with whatever you can afford to lose.
The idea is not to get over your fear of taking a plunge – it’s not to take a plunge at all. Baby steps; that way, you don’t hurt yourself too much when you run into problems. That way, you can survive your mistakes and live to take another step.
ISACA Now: What has it been like to be involved with Shark Tank, and what aspects of the show do you think resonate most with viewers?
It has been a great learning experience for me. I learn as much from the entrepreneurs as they learn from me sometimes.
What resonates with people? I think the show illustrates that the American Dream is still achievable. It shows that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they're willing to act on their ideas.