John Paul Dejoria: The Power of Resilience and Persistence
How do you go from starting a business with $700 to becoming a billionaire?
As improbable as that sounds, John Paul Dejoria did it. The former encyclopedia salesman would go door to door trying to sell books. The world is not the kindest place for salesmen and he took a very large number of rejections every day. Despite the doors slamming in his face, Dejoria would walk right up to the next door with a smile on his face and passion in his eyes and knock hoping to make a sale to someone that really needed an encyclopedia.
Dejoria started working at a very young age. He sold Christmas cards and did newspaper routes with his younger brother in order to help his unemployed single mum. His efforts did not pay off and he was placed in foster care. He began his job as a book salesman when he grew old enough to take care of himself.
This job helped him develop the art of selling. He understood that as a salesman he had just a small window of time to get people to trust him and get their attention to the benefits of what he was selling them. His days selling encyclopedias thought him never to take rejection personally. If someone did not want his product, he would just take it that he had a problem. He would just try a different customer and a different strategy with the same amount of enthusiasm.
Dejoria’s life is a testament to the fact that the road to success is not an easy one to travel one. While a lot of success stories gloss this fact over, his case shows the stark truth. John had to live from his car as he had no money for rent. His wife had left him and his son because of the tough financial situation. The father and son stayed homeless until taken in by a friend, surviving on recycling soda bottles.
With $700, Dejoria started making hair products alongside with his friend, Paul Mitchell. They used the one method that he had known all his life to get the products in hair salons, door to door sales. Drawing from his experience selling encyclopedias he would interest the shop owners in his products and in what they could gain from using it. For two years, he struggled to grow his business. He was able to turn John Paul Mitchells Systems into a successful business because he did not let the no’s stop him,
Dejoria learned the art of selling. He learned that persistence and resilience mattered more than the product.
He also learned to channel his persistence in the right direction. He focused on earning trust over making a sale. These two lessons are key to building a business.
Dejoria always says that what separates successful people from unsuccessful people is that successful people do the work that no one else wants to. Success lies in continuous persistence in the right direction.