John Paul DeJoria – twice homeless, now billionaire philanthropist
If you haven’t seen the movie Good Fortune, it’s a must watch, as it tells the incredible rags-to-riches story of entrepreneur and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria (affectionately known as JP). JP is best recognized for building not one but two exceedingly iconic and mega-successful brands—John Paul Mitchell Systems (professional hair care) and Patrón (top line tequila). But what sets this twice homeless, now billionaire philanthropist apart (a man who struggled against incredible odds to be where he is today), is that he is a “conscious capitalist” – who truly lives his mantra “success unshared is failure.”
Good Fortune is narrated by JP’s friend and business partner (and also proud Canadian) Dan Aykroyd. “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,” says Aykroyd. “Sharing his good fortune and giving back, he continuously encourages others to do the same, and has created a network of positive influencers and initiators all over the planet.”
JP’s is an inspiring journey. I was struck by his razor-sharp tenacity and determination to succeed in business, while always treating others with grace, kindness, and generosity of spirit. These things don’t go together often enough. He seems to race through life (and a plethora of entrepreneurial ventures) at top speed – equal part innovator, equal part salesman, and equal part cheerleader for others around him – endlessly rallying, praising and applauding colleagues, employees, and partners for their participation… no matter how small. At the same time as he pushes through brilliant money-making business ideas in the marketplace, he spearheads giving back initiatives with equal attention: back-to-work programs like Chrysalis for the homeless (a plight close to his once homeless heart), helming and funding Sea Sheppard (an armada of high-seas ships in the Arctic that protect whales from poachers), leading a charity motorcycle ride on his custom chopper (the Hell’s Angels once housed him in their compound when he and his young son had no place left to go or live), creating an entirely solar-powered race car he innovated with his partner Paul Mitchell, and physically getting involved (with his time and not just his money), untiringly, on behalf of over some 150+ philanthropic ventures.
It is clear from this documentary that profit, the planet, and people are intertwined for JP as he creates endless opportunities to share his “good fortune” with others. It’s interesting as the movie asks the question, “Is he for real?” but as you watch JP radiate optimism, goodwill, and empathy, matched with a true sense of purpose and caring, you can’t help but appreciate that he is the real deal. As JP puts it, “It’s not about how much money you have when you die. It’s about what good you do with it now. Success unshared is failure.” A lesson he learned early in life from his mother who would donate to the Salvation Army when they had barely two nickels to rub together for themselves – she would say, “there are always people who have less than us, and it’s our duty to help them out.”
The movie opens with a dramatic clip from JP’s stint as a guest investor/shark on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank (Dragon’s Den South). He listens intently to a humble farmer with an innovative product pitch for a new type of irrigation system. The difference? JP instinctively cuts through the pure greed and money making stance of the other capitalist ‘sharks’ in the room, to the heart of how he can help farmers who are in need by supporting this brave contestant (who is pitching an idea at a fraction of its value because this is fair and in keeping with what farmers, as consumers, can afford). Being desensitized to the show’s somewhat ruthless winner takes all format, you can’t help but sit there in awe. A lesson on the way we should all be in business…
For a feel-good ride, please watch Good Fortune >>> www.goodfortunemovie.com
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications
Welcome to the New Silicon Valley
In June, our Toronto Life sent a questionnaire to dozens of start-up founders and tech company CEOs in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor. We asked them what they love about working in the GTA, what tech buzzwords they hate and what they’d be doing if they couldn’t run their own business, among other burning questions. Find out what they told us, and access all the features part of Toronto Life‘s “The Incredible Rise of Tech” issue.