10 key takeaways from the book ‘Shark Tank’ investor Daymond John has read 20 times

Daymond John, entrepreneur and Shark on "Shark Tank."
Liza Hughes | CNBC

For a kid who grew up in Hollis, Queens, without enough money to always keep the heat turned on in winter, Daymond John has had a remarkable journey. He launched what would grow to be a $6 billion hip-hop clothing brand FUBU and has become one of the investors on the hit entrepreneurship show, "Shark Tank."

The outer boroughs of New York City in the 1970's were not Silicon Valley. Role models in entrepreneurship were few and far between. But John says he learned about building his dreams from the guide, "Think and Grow Rich," written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill.

"The first book I ever read in my life: 'Think and Grow Rich.' I have read it 20 times since then," says John, speaking at Forefront, the first large-scale live event of the I Will Teach You to Be Rich community in New York City.

Hill was inspired to write the book by a challenge set forth by the business magnate Andrew Carnegie to analyze the paths to fortune by more than 500 wealthy businessmen, including the Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, and to document their paths to success.

Here are 10 key takeaways from the book that the People's Shark swears by.

1. You don’t need a particular degree to succeed

"Education has nothing to do with it," Hill writes. Thomas A. Edison, he notes, had only three months of schooling and went on to become a leading inventor. And Henry Ford never went to high school.

2. “Bulldog determination” will get you everywhere

Edwin C. Barnes decided he wanted to be Edison's business partner, though he didn't know Edison or have the money to pay for a train ticket to go introduce himself. Undeterred, Barnes rode in a freight train to present himself to Edison. The two ended up going into business together.

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"Maybe young Barnes did not know it at the time, but his bulldog determination, his persistence in standing back of a single DESIRE, was destined to mow down all opposition, and bring him the opportunity he was seeking."

3. Opportunity doesn’t look the way you expect

"That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity," writes Hill.

4. Failure often comes from giving up

R. U. Darby went west to dig for gold. He found one vein of gold that proved profitable, but when that vein ran dry, he pulled out the drills, sold all the equipment for a few hundred dollars and quit searching. The "junk men" went back to the dig and found the gold vein again, just three feet from where Darby had stopped, and made millions of dollars.

"When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to QUIT. That is exactly what the majority of men do," writes Hill.

Before we can accumulate riches in great abundance, we must magnetize our minds with intense DESIRE for riches.
Napoleon Hill
author of "Think and Grow Rich"

"More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known, told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach."

5. Learn from your mistakes

Darby came back from his gold expedition to sell insurance. "Remembering that he lost a huge fortune, because he STOPPED three feet from gold, Darby profited by the experience in his chosen work, by the simple method of saying to himself, 'I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say 'no' when I ask them to buy insurance,'" writes Hill.

Darby went on to be one of a few insurance salesman of his generation to sell more than a million dollars in life insurance annually.

6. Your thoughts can work with you or against you

"Our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds, and, by means with which no man is familiar, these 'magnets' attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts," writes Hill.

"Before we can accumulate riches in great abundance, we must magnetize our minds with intense DESIRE for riches."

7. Write down your precise plan

Prepare a statement detailing how much money you want to make, how you plan to make it and when you plan to make it by. Then, "read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. AS YOU READ-SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF THE MONEY," Hill writes.

"If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance."

8. Keep an open mind

"Those who are afraid of new ideas are doomed before they start," writes Hill.

9. Disadvantages can become advantages

"EVERY ADVERSITY BRINGS WITH IT THE SEED OF AN EQUIVALENT ADVANTAGE," writes Hill, whose son Blair was born with no ears. He was remarkably determined, though.

"Truly, my own son has taught me that handicaps can be converted into stepping stones on which one may climb toward some worthy goal, unless they are accepted as obstacles, and used as alibis."

In college, Blair discovered a device that allowed him to hear and the experience profoundly moved him. He went on to work for the manufacturer of that hearing aid.

10. Self-confidence is key

"Your greatest weakness is lack of self-confidence," says Hill. If you don't believe in yourself, you can program your brain with a technique called "autosuggestion," according to Hill. That involves writing down, memorizing, and repeating positive affirmations about yourself until you believe them.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."