Daymond John - Display of Power

Knowledge is power.

Leverage is power.

Insight is power.

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In the end, it all comes down to power, only here I’m not just talking about the power to buy and sell, or to hire and fire, or to beat on someone who does you dirt. After all, one some level, you start to think power is a kind of given. We expect it. We search for it in ourselves, and brace for it from our colleagues and competitors.

But if power itself is a given, where do we find our edge? These days, my take is that it’s the display of power, above all. The appearance of power – and knowing what to do with it. It took that first trip to Vegas for this notion to register. Specifically, it took pulling up at a stop light in a cab driven by a guy who knew a thing or two about power. Those Vegas cabbies, man…they’ve seen everything. I was heading over to the convention centre from my hotel. We pulled up alongside two antique Chevy sports coupes. Different colors, but the same model. One of the cars was being driven by a little old lady, just as polite as could be. The light turned green and you could see her ease gently back on the gas, but she was blocking traffic. And this other car was being driven by this young guy, looked to be about the same age as me, mid-twenties, and he was just cutting it up. Fishing-tailing, burning out, basically drag racing to each stoplight.

We caught up to the same two cars at the next light, and my philosophical cabbie turned back and said, “Look at that. Same two cars, but this one here, he’s gonna get a display of power ticket?” He pointed to the car being driven by the young guy.

I said, “What?”

And the cabbie explained that this little old lady didn’t have the slightest idea of the power she was sitting on, but this young kid was all full of adrenalin and ready to go. Same car, same engine, and this one’s just a beast.

I’d never heard the phrase before – display of power – and that’s when it hit me: two different people, all outward appearances they might look the same, but inside they just have no idea what they’re capable of. Inside, they’ve got the same ability to turn it on and fire it up, but it’s how we turn it on and fire it up that makes all the difference.

I’ve thought back to this exchange about a million times since that first Vegas trip, for the way it crystallizes the ways we set ourselves apart. We’ve all got the same package, more or less. We’re all operating with the same machinery under the hood, the same engines. But it’s what we do with those engines that determine whether we succeed or fail. It’s how we strut that gives us our edge.

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Reprinted with permission from "Display of Power: How FUBU changed a world of fashion, branding and lifestyle". Published by NAKED INK. Copyright 2007, Daymond John.