You may feel you’ve had a brief masterclass in both business and philanthropy after spending time with John Paul DeJoria.
You recognize him from his brands that are as unique as his persona. But do you know what makes the billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist really tick from all he has accomplished?
Here, our Lance Avery Morgan shares a close-up and personal look at the mogul’s approach to his wildly successful life… and the recent documentary film about him, Good Fortune.
When you meet good people, it’s truly good fortune. I’ve enjoyed knowing John Paul DeJoria, his wife Eloise and their family for two decades. He’s been both a friend and mentor and only one of several Horatio Alger Award recipients I have known in my career. That award represents the eponymous author’s approach to living a life of good work while honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity. Not only is DeJoria a recipient of the esteemed award, but also he is right out of Central Casting for what it represents.
His signature ponytail, sleek all-black attire and cool essence doesn’t typify the average billionaire. Which is exactly how John Paul DeJoria, who is not your average billionaire, likes it. Even though he’s ranked as #104 in the Forbes 400 billionaire list, and his net worth estimated hovers at $4 billion, he’s publicly stated that he will give away half his fortune in his lifetime in The Giving Pledge along with Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and other pals. “If you have a lot and you take care of your family and a few generations to follow, and there is plenty left, why not take care of others on the way and make the world a better place because you were here?” says John Paul DeJoria about philanthropy, which is very important to him.
He’s given back his entire life and in 2010 created the Peace Love & Happiness Foundation that invests in charities that support sustainability, social responsibility, and animal-friendliness. It’s an annual motorcycle ride to raise money for a local children’s shelter and families of police officers and firefighters killed on duty. Then there are his initiatives with traveling with Nelson Mandela to sub-Saharan Africa to help feed over 17,000 orphaned children, and the Paul Mitchell organization helped provided over 400,000 life-saving meals for those children. DeJoria has also supported Grow Appalachia, a movement that helps restore the relationship between people and the land with non-profit gardens out of Kentucky.
His laundry list of professional and humanitarian efforts in mind, it’s still easy to remember that he’s a normal guy from very humble circumstances… who just happens to be a very high performer. His well-reported achievement theory that he shares is simple: success unshared is failure, which is rooted in his upbringing, which was perfect material for a film.
Great Good Fortune
The recent documentary film release available on iTunes and Amazon (disc), Good Fortune (http://www.goodfortunemovie.com) illustrates his inspiring life story and shows how he uses business to make the world a better place. It’s the rags to riches tale of conscious capitalism. As DeJoria shares, “Conscious capitalism is also known as ‘the triple bottom line’ of people, planet and profit.” The project not only reveals the success secret of one of America’s most celebrated entrepreneurs, but also illustrates how DeJoria spends his life creating back-to-work programs for the homeless, fighting whale poachers in the Arctic and working on over a hundred other philanthropic ventures. According to Josh Tickell, who produced the film with his wife Rebecca, “We live in a cynical time, but cynicism is like a bad virus when it comes to having a great life and having a great business. It’s OK to be skeptical, but if your world view is basically negative, the way the world will show up for you will be negative. JP has the opposite approach to life. He is positive, no matter what. He doesn’t let circumstances dictate his state of mind. Quite the opposite in fact is true. He is constantly generating positivity and the world around him aligns with that.”
Through a series of flashback footage and interviews with friends, fellow entrepreneurs, and business partners, including Arianna Huffington, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, and Michelle Phillips, Good Fortune inspires with its wit, humor and substance. Dan Akroyd, DeJoria’s pal and business partner who also narrates the film states, “The film’s subject is an extraordinary individual who started life with no material possessions and built a self-made fortune which has enabled him to act as one of the world’s most contributive and effective leaders in philanthropy.” DeJoria’s wife, Eloise, agrees by saying, “Every time I watch the film, I learn something I didn’t know about John Paul.”
A hard knock life is what John Paul DeJoria was born into, yet he turned it around to represent the hard knocking that he would do on doors that began his successful path to riches and fame that, along the way, is making the planet a better place through his efforts. Born on the mean streets of a pan-ethnic east side Los Angeles neighborhood months before D-Day 1944, he and his brother were raised by their single mother when his parents divorced at the age of two (he refers to his mother as his mentor with how she operated her life). “We didn’t know we didn’t have anything, and we had nothing, yet we were happy because we didn’t know any better,” he recalls. He soon learned to make things happen for himself and he and his brother began selling Christmas cards at nine, which progressed to the selling of newspapers. You can tell much about a person when you learn what their first job was and DeJoria’s youthful salesmanship set the tone for his life.
Look for Part II on Monday, 11/13