A portrait of business executive Daymond John, co-host of TV's 'Shark Tank.'

Daymond John wears many hats—business executive, investor, bestselling author, and co-star of ABC’s hit TV show “Shark Tank,” to name a few. As the opening keynote speaker at NSBA’s 2022 Annual Conference in San Diego, John shared lessons he’s learned for success in business and in life: set goals, do your homework to succeed, love what you do, remember that you are your brand, don’t let others define you, and never give up.

In an interview with ASBJ’s Kathleen Vail in San Diego, John, CEO and co-founder of the billion-dollar fashion brand FUBU, discussed his public school experience in New York City; the experience gained from a cooperative education program, and the respect he has for the educators who worked along with his mother to make school work for him.

“You really see people who are investing in communities. That’s had a huge impact on me in regards to who I am today,” John said.

(This interview was edited for length and clarity.)

How was your high school ‘co-op’ program beneficial?

Going to Bayside High in New York City and having a co-op program [cooperative education program], knowing that I can go to school every other week and go to work every other week, was great. Not only because I wanted to make money, but I got to work at a venture firm called First Boston. Funny enough, I’m now an angel investor there. As a student, I worked in the mailroom but also got to see and talk to adults who worked throughout the firm. It was an opportunity to see people who look like me who I didn’t normally see in my neighborhood. I got a real-life experience that emphasized what I knew about responsibility, about having a job. I’d go back to school and discuss it all with my teacher. That real-life experience and the education viewpoint from somebody who could articulate it for me were important to my development.

Are there topics that you were not taught that you think should be offered to today’s students?

Certainly, finance needs to be taught, and business in general. How does interest work in our favor? How does compounding interest work? How do stocks work? People should understand these types of topics because no matter where we go in our life, finance is always going to be with us. Credit, taxes, credit scores, and all of those things.

How did educators and education impact your life?

I can’t talk enough about how much education was important in my life. I shared on stage that our teachers are amazing mentors. It was a teacher, along with my mother, who emphasized that I apply myself. I may not be as good as I would like to be in reading, but I was really good, and still am, in math. And she would build on that. I’m dyslexic but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 27, so some aspects of school were really challenging for me. She would slowly give me other projects to work on, and small books, which helped me with my reading. It was always that person who was very patient with me, and I’ve had several teachers like that.

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