Sean 'Diddy' Combs credits his success to a business lesson he learned at age 12

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Sean Combs, commonly known as Puff Daddy or Diddy, is an artist and entrepreneur whose business acumen has garnered him a net worth of $820 million, according to Forbes.

In an interview as part of Forbes' list of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds, Combs cites a customer service lesson he learned as a child as the reason for his success today.

"I started my business career at age 12, delivering newspapers," he told Forbes. "I had a lot of elderly customers, so I would always put the newspaper in between the screen door and the door — that caring made me different, made me better than the last paperboy."

Combs said he learned that "if I give the customers my best and service them differently, whether music, clothing or vodka, I'll get a return on my hard work."

That hard work has certainly paid off. Combs is today's wealthiest hip-hop artist. He owns a stake in the TV network Revolt and is the founder of clothing line Sean John. He also has a lucrative deal with Diageo's Ciroc and a partnership with DeLeon tequila, and co-owns water brand AQUAhydrate with Mark Wahlberg.

Last November, Combs took home an estimated $70 million when Global Brand Groups purchased a stake in his clothing company Sean John, Forbes reports. He still owns a reported 20 percent of the company.

He says he grew the clothing brand by focusing on the type of connection he wanted to have with his customers.

"When we started Sean John, it was my dream to build it into an aspirational brand for the young consumer," he said.

Last year, Combs opened the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, where he and his staff plan to provide young people with early lessons on leadership and success.

Now on track to potentially become hip-hop's first billionaire, Combs is promoting his AQUAhydrate brand with Wahlberg and tells CNBC's Squawk Box that the motivation for success is showing young people that they can also achieve business success.

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