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I Am American Business

John Paul Dejoria

Producer Notes

To think of John Paul DeJoria simply as the "shampoo guy" is to truly underestimate what he has accomplished and what he represents... John Paul Mitchell Systems is only one part - albeit a large part - of a very thoughtful and socially conscious business empire. Hair care, diamonds, pet products and even Patron Tequila are all under his watchful eye - and these companies exist to do much more than to make money. It would be hard to find another company/corporate leader who makes a greater effort to improve the planet and the way of life for so many who need a helping hand. While retirement and a life of luxury could have been his long ago, "JP" uses his considerable skills as an entrepreneur as a means to an end: "We¹re able to change the world and make it a better place to live. And that¹s one of the biggest motivations of being in business today."

Video Interview

The "I Am" Q&A


What car do you drive?
My favorite car is my 1938 Ford Panel Truck custom.

What’s your favorite place to go?
I love traveling throughout the entire world. I don't have a favorite place. We always go to a new place every year and go on a new adventure.

What web site do you like to visit?
I’m not a web man, so I don't visit websites. [LAUGHS]

What was your worst moment in business?
I think my worst moment in business was when we first started John Paul Mitchell Systems and I was ten days late on a bill and I had to tell the person that we still don't have the money, please trust me. I’ll get it to you. I’ll call you every single day. And I felt embarrassed, I felt a little bit ashamed and I thought I was going to go out of business. But as it turned out, it all worked out really, really well.

What’s your favorite drink?
My favorite drink, uh, is pure water.

What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food is every type of food in the world. There’s nothing in particular. I really like them all.

What’s your idea of fun?
My idea of fun is waking up in the morning saying, “Oh my God, I’m alive again. Let’s have another fun day.” I’m a pretty fun person, so what I do is fun for me in my life.

And at work?
It works very well. At work it’s the same thing. If I didn’t have fun and like what I do, I wouldn’t be here. So I choose to have this as a part of my life that is fun.

What personal weaknesses do you forgive in someone?
The ability not to look people in the eye when you talk to them. The ability not to care about other people as much as you can because you just don't know any better.

What about business weaknesses? What business weaknesses do you forgive in someone?
I forgive in people – though it’s difficult – not treating your staff and people that are around you the same way you’d want to be treated.

What movie star do you like?
Oh, boy, do we have friendly movie stars. Well, there’s Clint Eastwood, Pierce Brosnan... I could go on and on for hours. Mel Gibson. These are friends of ours. Cheech Marin. Oh my goodness, just super, duper people. Michael Douglas. Uh, Cher, Roger Daltry. We could go on for hours. [LAUGHS]

Who is a business hero of yours?
Good question. I'd say anyone that made it from nothing.

What personal qualities do you admire in life?
People that are happy, plants that are happy and a planet that all works in harmony.

What personal qualities do you admire in business?
To be able to treat everyone around you and your customers the way you want to be treated.

What was your greatest moment in business?
My greatest... Receiving the Horatio Alger Award in Washington DC in the Supreme Court. It’s the only award given in the Supreme Court of the United States.

And what about your greatest moment in life?
My greatest moment in life I think...I think it’s every morning when I wake up and I’m still alive and I realize that I’m still a successful human being. I can now wake up and do something as a human being. I haven’t left my earthly body yet.

What is your dream?
My dream is something that I live every single day. I am living in a beautiful dream and I don't want to be stopped.

Do you have a motto?
My motto is that success unshared is failure and keep on going. You’ll run across a few naughty people along the way, but sometimes that happens.

What is your present state of mind?
Very, very happy. Very, very pleased and knowing that I’m making some changes. I’m happy because I’m doing it.

Transcript

CNBC
Your life story reads like a blueprint for the American dream. Immigrant parents, self-made, down-and-out, undying entrepreneurial spirit. Would you describe yourself in those terms?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA
I would describe myself as an American that had the opportunity under some very, very adverse conditions to really make a life and make the American dream come true. So I consider myself a very lucky person that happened to be at the right time, the right place and realize that America really, really works. And that’s what I consider myself. One that realizes America works.


CNBC

When you consider that you were voted Least Likely To Succeed back in high school. When you look back on that vote at that time, would you agree with it? And then if so, what was the turning point for you?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

When I look back in my life at high school when, uh, our business told Michelle Gilliam and I that we’d be the least likely to succeed because we’d pass notes all the time back and forth and of course she said that in front of the class, Michelle and I could care less. It kind of went in one ear and out the other. Because Michelle turned out to be Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas and the great actress. And of course I had the opportunity to, to make the American dream come true.


CNBC

You went through some tough times to say the least. And you had some interesting jobs. How have those experiences help shape the person you are today?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I went through quite a few rough times, but I think adversity along the way helps shape somebody the way they are today in so many ways. One, you know what it’s like to have absolutely nothing and be able to still pull yourself together and get out of it. And then once you start getting out of it, you don't forget where you were. Kind of like success unshared is failure where you have the opportunity along the way to say, “I remember those hard times and maybe some others are going through some hard times, too.” And you respect that when you’re speaking with them or when you see what their situation is. Very, very helpful.


CNBC

You do have amazing practical experience. So in the area of conquering personal challenges, when you encounter someone who’s down on their luck and is saying to you, “I can’t do that. It’s impossible.” What’s your response?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Well, when I confront people or groups of people that are homeless or kind of down and out or said, “Oh my God, it’s just not working.” I remind them that the big difference between successful people and unsuccessful people are the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don't want to do. Like knocking on a door ten times and, uh, the door slammed in your face. Knock on ten different doors, they’re slammed in your face. But door number eleven, you’re just as enthusiastic as you are in the very first door that wouldn’t open after ten knocks on that door. In other words, you continue doing things no matter what happens. I think one of the greatest pieces of advice I could give to anybody, especially when you’re having rough times is be prepared in life for rejection. A lot of rejection. And know you can overcome it. It’s just a matter of numbers.


CNBC

And so when you do encounter folks who are meeting you for the first time and don't know your back story but they do know that you’re an incredibly successful businessman and you say to them, “Well, I lived in a car. I needed to refund bottles to make money to make ends meet.” How do they respond to that?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Well, it’s not that often these days that I run across someone who doesn’t know a little bit about my background. But when I do and they say, “You were actually living in your car? You were homeless on two occasions? Even collecting soda pop bottles so you and your two-and-a-half year old son at the time could live?” I said, “Yes, I did.” And it shows you that you could do whatever you have to do in life – don't have to steal from anybody, don't have to knock anybody over the head, you could do whatever you have to in life to make it happen and along the way, if you don't give up, things will get better. And at your very, very bottom, the only place you can go is up anyways.


CNBC

You were honored by the Horatio Alger Association. And Alger’s characters are described as having achieved extreme wealth and the subsequent remediation of their old ghosts. You have any old ghosts that motivate you?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I'd say there’s a matter of not only old ghosts that motivate me, but those old ghosts are really about what life’s all about. In life, you’re dealt a hand. Different types of hands. Sometimes your hand’s a good one, sometimes it’s not a good one. Sometimes you run across a lot of adversity. I don't call those ghosts, I call them things that happen in the past that were kind of unfortunate, but today make me who I am. And do they haunt me? Absolutely not. Do they make me a better person in life? They sure do.


CNBC

One of the interesting career changes that you made was going from Time Magazine – I think in the marketing department - to Redken Laboratories. What’s the connection and why Redken and how did you wind up there?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I worked for Time Inc. when I was twenty-six years old and it was in their circulation manager and it happened in Santa Monica and I ran their division for Lifetime, Fortune and Sports Illustrated magazine. But circulation manager meant that I was in charge of a boil... boiler room. Fifty people on the phone trying to get people to resubscribe to the magazine or get it for the first time so a dollar goes to the Police Children’s Fund. Uh, I couldn’t handle that anymore, so I told my boss, uh, “This is the most exciting thing for me. How do I get promoted?” He said, “Well, you’re just turning twenty-six, you have never been to college. Come back and ask me when you’re thirty-five.” I said, “Oh, I’m out of here. Don't want to do this anymore.” A friend of mine, John Capra, was in the, uh, consulting business. He would consult employees that wanted to find an employer to hire them. In other words, he was a head hunter. And Johnny says, “Why don't you look at the beauty industry, JP? My wife has a beauty shop.


It’s a fun industry. Why don't you take a look at the professional beauty industry? You’ve never been in it, but it’s a big open industry.” So I went to work for a company in the professional beauty industry and really, really liked it. And they were right, it was an open industry. Once I learned the industry, it took me about a year and a half to go from a sales representative to the national manager of the company of two of their divisions, Scientific Schools and Jane Salons. So it was a nice entrance in the professional beauty industry which of course I love very much.


CNBC

Did that lead to meeting Paul Mitchell?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I met my partner Paul Mitchell who was a hair dresser about a year after I entered the professional beauty industry. We were both at a large convention down in Florida and a mutual friends of ours, Eva Prang said, “You’ve got to meet Paul. He’s a hair dresser, a great person. JP, you’re more in sales and marketing, but you guys have the same attitude. You’re going to hit it off really well.” So we met and we did hit off very, very well. And we were just great business partners and about nine years later, we started John Paul Mitchell Systems, uh, with absolutely nothing. But it’s one of the best things that ever happened to us.


CNBC

You started your company with seven, on seven hundred dollars. How did you do that and what did you spend the seven hundred dollars on?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Well, we had a backer for five hundred thousand dollars to start John Paul Mitchell Systems but our backer pulled out in 1980 because our hostages were still in Iran, oil was through the ceiling, unemployment in the United States was over ten percent. Inflation was twelve percent and interest rates were twenty percent. He said, “Nope, can’t go into any new business.” Paul was in Los Angeles at the time. I had everything all set up. I said, “Paul, how much do you have?” He says, “I don't have a lot. I can spare three hundred and fifty dollars.” I got three hundred and fifty dollars. That was seven hundred dollars. The first person we had to do was to go to our, uh, artist who did our art work and say, “Hey, your art work, these three products. Our first three products are a thousand dollars. We only have seven hundred dollars, that’s it. Can we give you three or four hundred [CHUCKLES] and give you the rest later?” He says, “Nope. Your bill’s a thousand dollars, but I’ll take the seven hundred dollars from you right now cause I’ll never see another penny.”


He took the seven hundred dollars, so when I called the bottle man and the silk screener, we had no money. But I did have a thirty day credit line set up. So it took two weeks from the time the bottles left the bottle company to the silk screener to the filling company, and then we had product. I went knocking on doors, beauty salon doors, door to door selling our product and Paul did the same thing off the stage when he did beauty shows. And we kind of worked together as grassroots on – finally when the bill was due – the first bill was due in two weeks. We didn’t have enough to pay the bill, so it was, “The check’s in the mail.” Two days later, we had just enough to pay the bill and we ran behind for two years. We knew we made it at John Paul Mitchell Systems two years after we were in business. And that’s because after two years, we had enough money to pay our bill on time. Not pay it off, but pay all of our bills on time and have an extra couple thousand dollars in the bank. Then we knew we really made it.


CNBC

And your logo is black and white by – somewhat by necessity?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

When we started out, we wanted black and white with a little bit of color. But it cost three times as much to have color silk screening. So instead, it was black and white period. Those were only two cents a pass as opposed to seven cents a pass, and that’s how we started out. But it worked out good because it turned out to be a unisex model. So whether you were a guy or a girl, black and white worked. It was okay.



CNBC

And now your iconic wardrobe is black or black and white. Is, what came first? And have you adapted it into the black as a brand? Or is it just something that you’ve always done?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

[CHUCKLES] People ask a lot, “JP, why do you always dress in black?” Or most of the time dress in black? Well, it turned out in the early days, I had one suit. It was a black suit. We didn’t have any money. So I could travel and take five black t-shirts with me and always be fresh. And of course, hang it up or put it in the shower with the steam at night so my jacket was always good. And it just happened that that’s how I started out so it kind of just followed me along the way. Now of course I have more than one black suit and more than five black t-shirts, but that’s how it started out.


CNBC

You have a greeting ritual for when you come to the office. Is that something that you’ve always done?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Well, when I come to the office, I say hello to everybody, greet everybody, and hopefully the first person I see doesn’t have everything in their hands and I can give them a big hug and wish them a good day. It’s just something that’s fun to do and nice to do.


CNBC

Did you ever imagine that your company would become this big?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

In the early days, what Paul and I wanted was if only we were lucky enough and we could get a company that would do five million a year in business, we could make a couple hundred thousand dollars each, we’d be on top of the world. We’d be the happiest guys in the world. Little did we know that it would go up to fifty, a hundred million, and then of course obviously into the hundreds of millions. Little, little did we know that at the time. But as it happened, we’re able to handle it and still continue to grow. We’re looking at doubling our size within the next five years.


CNBC

And at, at what point did you realize that maybe kind of look at this and go, “This is much more than five hundred million dollar company This is global.”

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Yeah. The year we did three point five million in business, I knew there was no doubt we could easily do ten or fifteen million. As we started approaching that, I knew, “Woah.” You know, we could easily go for the next hundred million. It’s something you kind of realize along the way as you’re growing.


CNBC

What is it that says to you, “we can exponentially grow this business?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

The big shift in mind was that we knew that we could grow our business to let’s say almost three and a half million dollars and it’s still growing. As we grew to five, ten, fifteen, twenty, fifty, hundred, two hundred million along the way there, we realized that we’re in an inertia right now. We could continue to grow. And then one day we realized my gosh, we could easily do a billion dollar business and that’s what we’re going to do. But what really makes it happen is two things. One, I like what I’m doing or I wouldn’t be here. I don't have to be here. I like what I’m doing. I love the professional beauty industry. It’s a great industry. And second of all, we’re able to give the public products we’re proud of that are used by hairdressers and recommended by hairdressers now in eighty countries throughout the world. So that combination makes us proud and at the same time, we’re very happy at what we do.



CNBC

One of your selling points was the guarantee - if you don't sell the product, you will get your money back. How foreign is that for a company to do more than just say, “I have a great product” but to really back it up with words?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

When we first started out John Paul Mitchell Systems, we had no advertising budget, no nothing. So we thought well, the best thing we could do is to tell our customer who was the hairstylist that we are so confident you’re going to love these products that we will sell them to you on a money back guarantee. If you use them, you’re not completely happy we will give you your money back. I think in the thirty years that we’ve been in business, to the best of my knowledge, maybe we gave dol-, money back on two or three bottles. That’s the extent of it. Because it is that good.


CNBC

You’re a big sports fan and youth, beauty and sport play a big part in the selling of your brand. How do you pick events?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

We’re very big into sports marketing because we feel our customer – the hair stylist – and the hair stylist customer, the consumer, likes to be associated with things that are good, good for America, good for the world and good for family values. So we pick out things like volleyball, downhill skiing, extreme skiing, uh, skateboarding. Uh, my God, uh, uh, surfing. A variety of things that we think our children should get into. So – but something we think our kids would get into. It’s a good, clean sport. We support it a hundred percent and a lot of our customers say, “Gosh, I’m glad you’re supporting these things opposed to more violent sports because it sends a good message.” A lot of it is family sports, family values you’re involved in and people getting high off nature and off of sports and not getting high off drugs. So we support that – the natural highs.


CNBC

This is an American business. It’s also a global business represented by an American. It’s an American brand. How does that make you feel in terms of, of you being able to bring that message – the John Paul Mitchell Systems message as an American to the rest of the world?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

We are an American company. However, we are a global company. If you want to talk about globalization, that is us. But we do it in a different way that makes us very proud whether it’s in South Africa where we feed eight thousand orphans of AIDS every single day or it’s in Thailand where we have a home that there’s one thousand girls that we save from prostitution. Or whether with a wildlife foundations throughout the world are supporting the sea shepherd on the open seas to help the needless slaughter of whales which should not be slaughtered because it’s against the law. All of these things make us part of the globe and making it a better place to live. So I feel that as we globalize, we’re a good example for other companies because no matter where we are, we do something to make those countries and that way of living better because we are here.


CNBC

You bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Tell me when and why you did that.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I got a seat on the New York Stock Exchange right around the twentieth anniversary of when I was living in the backseat of my car. That’s when I first started John Paul Mitchell Systems and I didn’t have any money. So it was kind of a cool thing to know that within twenty years, you could go from living in the back seat of your car and then during the day off two dollars and fifty cents a day for breakfast and for dinner, uh, which is very, very difficult to do but you can do it. To all of a sudden being on the New York Stock Exchange, it, it made me feel really, really good that hey, if I can do it, anybody can do it. You just have to overcome a lot of adversity. Stick to it, keep your mind on that goal and try not to get away from it.


CNBC

The name Paul Mitchell was on a label and it’s going to live on as great brands do. And unfortunately, it is living beyond the life of it’s namesake, your partner. What do you think he would say about the way you had transformed the company? What would he say to you?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

When Paul Mitchell and I picked a name for the company, we could have picked Paul Mitchell, we could have picked John Paul. Both were available. The reason we picked Paul Mitchell is because that’s the name that my partner Paul picked to become a hair dresser. He was born Cyril Thomas Mitchell. But when he became a hairdresser, he thought instead of being Cyril, Cyril Thomas that Paul Mitchell’s a better name. So he said, “Well, what the heck?” We’re doing a company that’s only for hairdressers. Let’s pick out a name that’s a hairdressing name. And by gosh, Paul, if that’s the name you picked out as a hairdresser, we’re going to pick out that name. Not just to represent a great hair stylist, which is what Paul was – a super platform artist – but a hairdresser. So the name Paul Mitchell stands for a hairdresser’s name. One that was chosen by a hairdresser to become a hairdresser. And it will last forever and ever and ever. And if Paul were here right now, he’d say, “All right, JP.” Because prior to his death, we were doing about seventy million a year and he said, “Oh, if only one day we could do a hundred million a year it could be great.” Well, we surpassed that long, long, long time ago. So he’d say, “Well done, this is great.” And what we did for hairdressers will live on and on and on.


CNBC

What made you move into the tequila market?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

In 1989, I was with a friend of mine – Martin. And we were sipping the normal tequilas of the day. And we decided there had to be a better tequila because you have to hold your breath with most of them or mix them with something or just do a shot and go [SIGHS]. So on his next buying trip, we were in the architectural business – his next buying trip down to Mexico to buy pavers and furniture to sell the architects, he went down there with my builder Jack who was building a house for me at the time, and came back with these two great bottles of tequila. They were really good. Smoother than anything we tasted. He said, “You know, JP? I could go down there and change this formula to be even smoother. And by the way, look at this great bottle I found down there. And I can make a great label.”


Martin was a fabulous designer so he did it and I said, “Well, let’s go and make an ecological product.” He said, “JP? How about recycled bottles?” So we came up with a product where every single bottle was recycled of Patrone. All the paper and cardboard used was recycled. And what we would do with our product line is present it and introduce it. But it was very expensive to make. We introduced it in 1989 at thirty-seven dollars a bottle. Very expensive. Normal tequila was ten dollars a bottle, five dollars a bottle. And it took a while to take off. And my feeling was this – it was so good that if we didn’t sell one bottle and I bought one thousand cases, twelve thousand bottles. If we didn’t sell one bottle for the next ten years, everybody I knew – Christmas – anything. You had a holiday, you got a bottle of Patrone. Christening for a child, whatever it was, you know, “Happy Birthday, here’s Patrone” because I would be proud of it.


But it took off. It took a while to take off, but it took off and obviously today, it’s much larger than Paul Mitchell.


CNBC

Another business that you are into is the diamond business. And that’s another interesting empowering twist of giving back. Can you tell me a little bit about your thought process around creating that business?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

A good friend of mine a few years ago – Jonathan Kendrick from London – said, “JP, you’re really into conflict free everything. How would you like to be in the business of diamonds if they’re conflict free?” I said, “Well, if they were conflict free...” And when I started making some profits, I could give that back to some of the people that suffered because of the conflicts that went on with diamonds, I would be interested. And that’s how we came up with the diamond company DeJoria Diamonds where people go online, order whatever they wanted, check the price out and then run down to the local diamond store and see if they can buy it cheaper, if not they’ll get it from us. They’re all certified. But that’s how it came about. Where we could make a difference. We could promote conflict free diamonds and then with money gathered through profits, do other things. Now, I haven’t made any profits yet but what I do anyways is I’ve already started a diamond mine in Sierra Leone. We’ve got some real problems with conflict diamonds and we gave part of the diamond mine to the local tribe, doubled everyone’s wages and said if I make any money out of this one, I’m going to take all the money I make and open up a second diamond mine and give it to the local people, and then a third one with the profits and give it to the local people. That was the motivation. To change the world in areas where people are making a lot but not treating the people fairly.


CNBC

How is that going?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

The diamond business is going very well. It’s headquartered out of the United Kingdom. It’s doing very, very well overseas.


CNBC

What other entrepreneurial irons do you have in the fire?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I think one of the more exciting companies that was just started about three years ago was John Paul Pet. Here is a pet product line that was very, very high end – one that the animals, the dogs, the cats picked out the fragrances that we used. One that was made where you can even have these little wipies besides great shampoos and conditioners – whether they’re waterless or with water – also these little towels you could take out and clean the bacteria out of an animal’s ear which creates a lot of problems for them in going to the doctor all the time for infections, veterinarians. Or wipe the tears out of their eyes. Or clean their paws or wipe their teeth. And, uh, their gums. There was products that animals really needed that were very high end products but good for the animal, picked out for the animal that match the animal’s PH. That’s one of the funnest things for me right now because anyone that has used John Paul Pets says, “Oh my God, that’s a great product. Boy did you do good with that one.” So we’re very, very excited about that.


CNBC

You said earlier, “The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful, unsuccessful people is that successful people do all the things that unsuccessful people don't want to do.” And that sounds harsh but you really know what that means. When you say that to a group of people, what kind of a reaction do you get with that?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Whether I’m speaking at universities, for government organizations, for private organizations or institutes and I say “Successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don't want to do.” I always back it up by a few examples. And then of course whether you’re homeless or whether you’re, you know, getting your MBA or whether you’re already successful in business, all of a sudden, it registers when I point out – for example – if you’re a janitor and you move the rug and you clean under it or you move behind things when no one’s walking, you’re the best janitor and you know it. And eventually, someone’s going to find out. If not, you are gracious with yourself knowing you did the best you can. I give examples of being ready for rejection. Knocking on ten doors and when number ten door slams in your face, keep on knocking on doors with the same attitude. By the example being used, it hits home and they realize, “Yeah. Very, very good point.” Because all too often, with rejection, we just give up too quick.


CNBC

And of course, you had mentioned earlier believing in your product. Your guarantee is part of that too. You really have to believe in your product to do that because it is hard. Rejection is common and it’s hard to rebound from that. But if you believe in your product, it’s much easier to bounce back.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

People ask all the time – what are some of the secrets to having a successful product or service? I say it’s really simple. Make the best product you possibly can. If your product is a service, service that person in the way you know best or can possibly serve them the best even if you go overboard. Because people want that end result. You want to be in the reorder business, not the selling business. So your products have to be so good they want to get them over and over and over again. Or your service that good. And that hits home.


CNBC

Success unshared is failure. Tell me the origin of that. Tell me what it means to you.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

When I was a little boy around six years old, we didn’t have any money. It was my mother, my brother and I and we would go to downtown Los Angeles – they had street cars at the time – on a street car. And one time at Christmas, my mom gave us a dime and told my brother to hold half the dime each and walk over to that person with the bucket ringing the bell and put the dime in. So we held it half each, walked over and popped the dime in. And then, uh, we said to mom, “Mom, that’s a lot of money.” And it was in those days. Ten cents.


That could buy, you know, three donuts in those days. It could buy so much stuff. She says, and I said, “Mom, don't we need that money?” She says, “Yes, we do. But that person needs it more than we do because they represent a lot of people that are worse off than we are. And just remember this, boys. That in life, there will always be people that are worse off than you. So no matter what you have, try and share a little bit with people.” Well, that’s always stuck with me. Success unshared is failure. And we can make such great differences by sharing along the way. Today, I must turn ten requests every week cause we’re all very inundated with requests to give helping hands. But we do no less than thirty major deals every single year to make the world a better place to live. Whether it’s taking the homeless and helping them get jobs through organizations that we support or that I speak at or whether it’s saving entire forests from destruction or various animal species from being destroyed, we believe in getting in there and making a difference because we’re here on the planet. So success unshared is failure unless because of your business and yourself you do make your city, your country and the world a better place to live. Because you are here.


CNBC

Clearly this was something that you learned at a very early age.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I had learned at a very, very early age through the experience with my mom that sharing is definitely the way to go in life – that others need it more than you do no matter how bad off you are. A very, very good point that along the way, I just kind of practiced that along the way. Uh, even in my – let’s say, uh, uh, bad ass biker dude days, I’ll carry my twenties. Uh, even during those days, I wanted to give back. We didn’t have a lot of money so what we did was, uh, I would take my little son at two and three years old and we would go to Griffith Park and they’d have feed ins in November around Thanksgiving and around Christmas time in December. And we would get on the line and we would actually help them serve the food. That was our way of giving back.


CNBC

Success unshared is failure. When did you come up with that?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Several years ago, I was sitting down with Dick Guttman, the public relations genius here in, uh, in the United States and we talked about some of the things I did. And as we were talking, Dick said to me, “JP, you just said if you were successful, you know, and you don't help, it’s failure. You just said success unshared is failure.” He says, “Well, why don't you use that more?” It’s a short message and it gets across to people. That’s how it came up.


CNBC

Was ‘giving back’ always a part of the mission statement of your company?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

When we started John Paul Mitchell Systems, we were just barely surviving or trying to survive. It was as we became successful and had a little bit extra that we realized that we could give a little bit more. We always gave of our time along the way but starting to be able to give monetarily, we had to have that extra money.


CNBC

How do you select a cause that you get behind?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Very difficult to find the right causes. The ones we pick, for example, are ones that are close to our heart. Let’s take The Sea Shepherd. That was picked because there was someone going on the open seas – or in the Bay Of Saint Lawrence – stopping whales from being shot at open seas. And they’re just very peaceful, these whales, and they’re shooting them. No one’s protecting whales even when there’s laws in the open seas or going on The Sea Shepherd in the Bay of Saint Lawrence and stopping the baby harp seal from being clubbed to death. It felt like, “Wow, someone’s got to do it. We can make a statement. We’re going to go out there and do it.” Uh, when it came to saving forests, like the Elk River in Southern Oregon, they needed a campaign to stop that being clear cut and it just made sense. Big trees, America needs some old forests. So we jumped on that campaign. At Paul Mitchell, our entire tea tree product line is carbon neutral. We buy tea tree oil, we thought, “Hey, we should at least plant enough trees to offset it all.” And then it got to the point, we do these major seminars in Las Vegas. Why don't we take all the carbon used to do that major seminar and make that carbon neutral also?


Get out there and plant trees in the United States and Canada, other parts of the world, and that’s what we do. It just made sense. When I help homeless organizations like Chrysalis, I not only give them money, but I go down there and talk to the homeless people because they need someone that was homeless at one time to tell them, “Yeah. I went through that and here’s how I did it. Here’s how you can do it.”


CNBC

You talked about the Bay of Saint Lawrence, conflict free diamonds. There’s a lot of potential danger - from people who may not want you to get involved at the level… Is it risky?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

The one time I thought something might be risky is I was with my daughter Alexis who’s a race car driver and she was about eighteen years old and she and I were on the Sea Shepherd in the Bay of Saint Lawrence and those guys that clubbed the baby harp seals to death, I had heard stories from years before. They had beat up Paul Watson who was on the boat with us. So we knew that there was a problem. We knew that we could be in danger but we got on the ice anyways and broadcasted off the ship on a radio station in Canada saying, “We are here and if you come to try and club these baby harp seals to death, we will stand between you and the baby harp seals. So you’ve got to hit us first. You’ve got to go through us to get to the baby harp seal. And, uh, we’re probably going to stand there. So little dangerous, but they never came anywhere near us. So we weren’t in, in, in the line of danger. Uh, there was another time that was a little bit on the dangerous side when I tried to make peace between Shell Oil Company and the Ogani people of Nigeria. They were killing Shell Oil Company people and the United Nations had asked me at the time. Dr. Noel Brown, if I wouldn’t mind on my next trip to Europe trying to get Shell to talk directly with the Oganis because he would only talk to the Nigerian government.


To try and create some peace there so that they wouldn’t be killing the people. Well, they were killing them because they were destroying their land and not caring about it. They wanted to get their attention. The wrong way to do it, but it all turned out okay.


CNBC

How do you funnel your thoughts and your philanthropy through to your employees? How’s that part of the John Paul Mitchell employee experience?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

At John Paul Mitchell Systems, part of our culture is giving back. And all of our people participate. Through sports marketing, they go to various events that raise money and funds. I have staff here that take off and go down to the beaches of Southern California and clean up the beach. They used to get a whole patrol to just clean up the beach because it’s something they want to do. They participate in all kinds of things. In fact, we have over a hundred Paul Mitchell schools now throughout the United States and we’re going to go global with that. Part of the culture of school is you must participate as part of the curriculum in a fundraising event that lasts a couple of months. Well, we take care of things and these kids that go to our schools have helped feed orphans, helped depressed people, help people that lose their memory with Alzheimer’s disease, help a variety of good causes in their own city, their own state, the nation and the world. It’s part of their culture and they love it. And they love learning while they’re in beauty school that giving back is the new black. It’s part of our culture. Let’s have good lives but help the planet out along the way.


CNBC

How involved is your wife Eloise in this? And is that part of what makes your relationship with her special? Is, is she on board with everything you’ve been doing?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

As we travel around the United States and the world, Eloise, John Anthony and the rest of my family and I when they’re traveling with me, we participate in philanthropic endeavors. When we’re in a country or in a state, we’re doing something there to give a helping hand. We not only do business there for Paul Mitchell or Patron or John Paul Pet or Rock, but we also do charitable events while we’re there, even in the natural gas industry we’re in whether it’s various parts of hydrocarbons or solar energy, in what we do, we incorporate the philanthropic things. The whole family does it, not just me. We show up.


CNBC

You have this world renowned hair product line. Do people come to work for you because of your philanthrophy and they view John Paul Mitchell Systems as the means to being philanthropic?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

There are a lot of people that want to go to work for John Paul Mitchell Systems or buy our product and they call us and they tell us, “We want to go to work for you.” Or “Gosh, we’re behind what you do and we’re going to buy your product cause we like the way you’re saving animals. You’re saving the world. We like that very, very much.” And one of the biggest things we have to tell people when we go, when they want to go to work for John Paul Mitchell Systems is “Nobody ever wants to leave. We don't have a lot of jobs.” I, I think our turnover in the first twenty-five, thirty years is around twenty people. That’s it. But we take care of our people, they take care of us. And they like the fact that we give back and that we help take care of a larger mission, larger than just our company.


CNBC

In a challenging economy as we’re in now, we see the impact that it’s had on charitable organizations – Is there a new creative twist that has to happen to be able to get, to motivate people to still give? And, and what might be the most interesting thing you’re seeing out there in terms of trying to generate people’s charitable giving?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

In the last year, we have noticed so many companies and individuals holding back because of what they say are economic times and they are, for many people, on their charitable gifts, their charitable endeavors. Well, in a lot of them, we step up to the plate with the existing charities we’re involved in. We went from four thousand to eight thousand orphans, for example, to feed because nobody else was doing it and people were dropping out. What I tell everybody in our organization is this: We’re not going to stop giving. We’re going to continue to give the same way we give right now regardless of economic times. And then we share with other companies and individuals this philosophy. Look, if it is hard times, the ones you are giving to need it more than you do or more than they have before now. They need it more than ever. My gosh, give them something.


If you believe in it to give to them, try and give something even during harsh economic times because you can really change the world, especially during times like this. And a lot of them do, and a lot of them will because they are.


CNBC

You love your business as well as the endeavor of being entrepreneurial. But you have been able to use that as a method to satisfy within you the philanthropic side. Is there a way for you to sort of encapsulate the idea that you love business but you’ve been fortunate enough where you can...

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Sure. I love taking a business from nothing into something. I love doing it with a group of people that are my friends and partners that grow it together. But I love even more so knowing that because we are here, we’re able to change the world and make it a better place to live. And that’s one of the biggest motivations of being in business today is knowing that in business, you can do that and your staff knows that you can do that. But more important, we are doing it, not just talking about it.


CNBC

And is it particularly amazing to you started at a company that was hair products and you turned it into everything that you’ve been able to do? That what started with a bottle of shampoo is now something that is so much more than that?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

The great thing is to know that I was able to start out with a few bottles of shampoo and because of all the money I made off of that, help change the world and make it a better place to live and make money off of that to start these other businesses. It’s one of the most wonderful feelings you could ever imagine especially when you’re able to give back and know as you succeed, the world succeeds with you.


When I start new businesses, what I have to have in mind is whoever the people I’m involved with must be happy people, must be exciting people, but more important must be people that as we grow our business, they treat everyone involved with them the way that we want to be treated ourselves, that they take care of their staff and then as we progress, they help take care of the entire world. That’s a prerequisite.


CNBC

In tough economic times, people are knocking on doors and being rejected. What would you say to them now about don't give up?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

What I say to people now when they say these are tough economic times. Should I wait a year before I start a business or make a change? I say absolutely not. Inflation now is a little over one percent. When we started John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980 with seven hundred dollars, it was twelve and a half percent. Interest rates, gosh, are five or six percent. Back in those days, they were twenty percent. But unemployment is almost nine and a half percent. It was ten and a half percent in ’80 and ’81 and we still do it. There’s never the best time to do it. If you feel it and you have the energy, just go out there and do it. Because it’s a cinch by the inch and it’s hard by the yard. Go out there and start inching. As the economy turns around which it will, and it is by the way, your business will start growing quicker and faster. You’ll have all the breaks. But you start it during tough times and you know how to do more with less and that’s very important. How to do more with less. And that’s when you learn when times, times are tough.


CNBC

Because business is so cyclical, you have to know that, like anything else, it’s going to come back again at some point. So you’ll be ready.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Yeah. If you know that business is a big cycle – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad – just like the economy. If you do it now when things are tough and you get out there, when things get tough again, you’re going to be able to do it. But also as things get tough and things aren’t so tough now, they’re getting better. Now you’re riding away which makes it so easy. Because you’re doing the things during tough times, so when things get easier, it makes those tough time things work even better. And get you ready for the next cycle in another ten years.


CNBC

Any other secrets you would like to share?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Whether it’s Paul Mitchell, Patrone, John Paul Pet... One of the great secrets of success is the quality of the product. How many hair care products do you know today that the same product in the same condition was there thirty years ago and still sells? Shampoo one, shampoo two, that conditioner, sculpting lotion, freeze and shine are still great sellers for John Paul Mitchell systems thirty years later because their products were that good. So when you have a product that’s really, really good or a service that’s really, really good, it could become timeless with it’s quality.


CNBC

Tell me a little bit about the process, in terms of creating new products and a new product line… how do you come to do that?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Under John Paul Mitchell Systems, we have the most unique way of developing products. We do it with hair stylists. We get our formulators to come up with various formulas that hair stylists tell us that they might need or think they may need in the future or want to change the trend on hair to do that. So we start developing these products. We’ll do it with three or four different research facilities. Once we get the product, we send it out to hair stylists to test in the field, in their salons, on their customers. And we go back and forth and back and forth until we’ve got a real good product. At all times, we have at least fifty products going waiting for the right one to come out. When it’s the right time, the right one, we pull it off. Make sure it’s technology is up to date with the latest, then we’ll introduce it. It’s a long process, but because of hairstylists, we could do it. And the same with Patron. When we started with just tequila and then we went to XO Cafe which was tequila with crushed coffee beans then we went to Pirate Rum which was a high end rum, and then we went ahead and bought last year Ultimat Vodka. Ultimat Vodka was extremely expensive, but the only vodka in the world that was made out of rye, wheat and potatoes. But it tasted so good. So during rough times, people might want to go from a twenty-five dollar vodka down to a ten dollar vodka because they’re very similar in taste. But not with Ultimat because the taste was totally different. Or with Patron. Patron is up during rough times. Well, most alcohols are down in volume, Patron isn’t because you could go down in a product but if you go from Patron tequila to a ten dollar tequila, the taste is so different. Oh my gosh.


You go back up to Patron. But also, people want to treat themselves during tough times. They want to treat themselves personally with the very best in quality, and that’s where the quality comes into it.


CNBC

Were you a big tequila drinker? Is that where your interest initially came from?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

I was never a big tequila drinker, but I liked tequila. And then I, late 1980s, it was, well, couldn’t there be a tequila you could just sip instead of sipping and having to mix it and the sipping was harsh. We wanted one that you could just really sip away. It was really, really good, especially when chilled by itself. And that’s why we went after another tequila, so we developed Patron.


CNBC

Talk about the impact of your early days – homeless, struggling – how you and your family dealt with that.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

Well, starting out, uh, John Paul Mitchell Systems with no money was very, very difficult. Uh, I had a son at the time. I had just divorced my wife, we weren’t getting along. Gave her all the money I had, I had very little in my pocket. So I knew they were taken care of, but for me and my son, it was a little different. I got a friend to watch him while I was living in the car this time cause he had lived in a car with me once when he was two and a half years old and that was, he was a little bit older. And it was very, very difficult, but I made sure he was okay and my mom helped out with that one. She never knew how bad off I was. But I realized that for ninety-nine cents, I'd go to the Freeway Café and get a biker, trucker breakfast which was one egg, hash brown potatoes, one piece of toast and either one piece of bacon or one sausage. The sausage was bigger, so I got the sausage and if you got it at ten o’clock in the morning, that was brunch. And then it was difficult to eat at night. My gosh, to eat.


So I would go to these bars and these restaurant type bars. They had these big chains that had happy hour around four thirty to six o’clock, get people in early. For ninety nine cents, you could get a margarita. Maybe not the best tequila of the day, but you got a margarita. But after chicken... Twenty chicken wings, but after chicken... You would go to a bar, for example, that was a restaurant, a big chain and they would have happy hour, ninety-nine cents. But they would give you free salsa and chips or chicken wings or little goodies. After fifteen or twenty chicken wings, you were full. The salsa was my vegetable and that was dinner at ninety-nine cents. And I had enough left over to give the girl a quarter tip.


After a few days she realized, “This guy is here every day. Is this your dinner?” I said, “Yes, it is. I’m starting a new company, I’m kind of down and out.” She said, “You brought a kid in here with you last time.” I said, “That’s my son.” So they’d sneak us like an enchilada, you know, or some little extra stuff they would give us while we were there which was really, really nice. And I remember those people. In fact, about five years ago, I went back to the El Torito Restaurant in Toluca Lake and there was one of the waiters there that was there twenty-five years before and remembered me and said, “I saw you on TV. I remembered you. You’re the same guy.” So I was able to say hello to him and give him one hell of a big tip. [CHUCKLES]


CNBC

Any other projects?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

We are also very excited about being involved with Water Keepers. I happen to be on their board and with Bobby Kennedy and a few other just great people and we’re all about giving back to the planet it’s water. We patrol the water ways and bust water polluters, take the money to patrol the rivers and the waterways. Not just in the United States, but we have water keeper groups in Canada, South America, Asia, we have them in different parts of the world. It’s all about keeping the water clean. The water goes, everything goes. And we’re very excited about that – Water Keepers.


Another organization that I’m involved with as a patron with Nelson Mandela is called Mine Seeker. In fact, Brad Pitt joined Mine Seeker about four years ago. We’re all about removing land mines throughout the world. While we’re trying to remove these land mines and get the technology working, we are replacing legs through Food for Africa and other people in Mozambique and South Africa that had their legs blown off by land mines. So we think it’s really nice to be able to give people legs and they can walk again instead of crawling around the ground.


We do some major motorcycle rides. Uh, one is called the Love, Peace and Happiness Ride. That’s my ride in Austin and we do that and give all the money to abused and neglected children as well as to the widows and the orphans of fallen law enforcement officers. And we’re excited to do that because a lot of bikers get out there and ride and we lend a helping hand to those that really need it. And we have fun. We have a blast. But my buddies Robbie Knievel, Peter Fonda, oh my God, CB Sullivan, uh, Gary Spellman, Margot Gordoner... That group comes out and rides with us to get press and attention and so does the governor of the great state of Texas, Rick Perry gets on his motorcycle, he rides with us. So it’s good fun and we help out.


I’m also involved in obviously companies related to renewable energy. One of them is VEC, V-E-C. They’re out in Minneapolis. VEC has the most cutting edge technology in the world for wind blades. The big problem with wind blades, especially those hundred and fifty footers is they crack.


With Sun King Solar out of Pacific Palisades, California, they have breaking technology in solar energy. How to get the very best use out of the sun. In fact, two of my residences run totally off the sun. One has thirty-five kilowatts of power. The other one has ten kilowatts of power and they run completely off the sun, even desaltinating water which is kind of unique. In other areas, natural gas, I’m very much into natural gas and even regular hydrocarbons that are taken from the ground but to do it in such a way where you are maintaining the integrity of the land. And that can be done so you don't hurt the land while you do it. And I’m a big promoter of that, I think that’s the way to do it. We’re in a hydrocarbon society and if you work with the big oil companies and hydrocarbons in such a way where it doesn’t destroy the environment, you don't have oil floating on top, you’re not reckless about what you do... You take one extra step not just to handle all the requirements and all the mandates that are necessary but one extra step to do whatever you know technology exists to make sure you’re leaving the world a better place to live even though it costs you more money and it’s not required.


CNBC

It feels like we’re closer than we ever have been before to taking that step away from fossil fuels into something different whether it be solar or natural gas or... Do you, do you feel like that’s something that... Is, is it ten years, twenty years away? Is it five years away?

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA

A lot of people say, “JP, are we closer to taking that step so that renewable energies other than fossil fuels take over?” And my answer is, “We’re already doing it. We’re already into that phase.” More wind energy, more solar energy, more new technology for example is coming out of the University of Texas and other universities on algae. How to get fuel out of algae. And it renews itself. Boy, that’s the way of the future. We’re already into it. When will it take over a hundred percent of what we need? At least twenty years because there’s a lot of reasons why the planet cannot give up hydrocarbons right now. But along the way, there’s better ways to have cleaner fuels, cleaner ways of processing hydrocarbons. Diesel fuel, coal, new technologies on how to make it clean are going to step it along the way until this other renewable form of energy really takes over more than fifty percent of everything we’re doing now. And I think that’ll happen.


Leading the biggest charge right now in wind energy would be VEC, V-E-C. Because that is the technology breakthrough. How do you have a blade that doesn’t crack? So that’s the one that’s doing that. With solar energy, there’s several companies right now working on a new film filled technology where it’s a very thin film that could be bent around a corner and it’s very, very thin and goes up the side of a wall. There is a company, however, that is the cutting edge on exploration for natural gas and oil and that’s CS Solutions. They will not explore for gas and oil unless the company that’s going to take it out, develop it, is going to do it with ecology in mind or they will not do it. And that’s pretty cool.


Taking care of fuel we use today and using it responsibly is very important. I sponsored a movie called Fuel. I was the executive producer where a young man drove across the United States in a trailer and behind it was another little trailer and he would go by all the greasy food places and take all their grease and that was gonna be his fuel. He would make it along the way. Does this work? Can we be responsible? You better believe it. I have a motorcycle that runs off of Patron tequila or biodiesel or ethanol. Any one of the three, it’s tuned to do that. We also have in our arsenal of cars, we have a lot of them, three hybrids that we use all the time. We can all participate and make a change.


My train in downtown Los Angeles, the Patron Express runs off biodiesel. We convert it to biodiesel. So even trains work.


As we do give, we make sure it takes care of the whole world, the people of the world as well as the environment of the world for the existing living things and for future generations.

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