'Shark Tank' investor Daymond John explains why making his first million was a disappointment

Daymond johnGetty / Adam BettcherGrowing up, Daymond John defined success as a million dollars in the bank.

Before he founded the popular clothing company FUBU and became an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Daymond John believed that being successful meant having a million dollars in the bank.

John recently visited Business Insider to talk about his latest project, Gillette Shave Club, and shared the insight that came with making his first million.

John grew up in Hollis, Queens, and his father was a computer programmer “back when that wasn’t popular, and computers were the size of the room,” he told Business Insider.

But at 10, his parents divorced.

“We went from middle class to poor,” he says. “I became the man of the house and started working at that age.”

Growing up in the same neighbourhood where Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, A Tribe Called Quest, and Run-D.M.C. lived before rising to fame, John had role models who had come from a similar background and became rich and famous. But his definition of success was different.

“I never wanted to be a celebrity,” he says. “I wanted to be someone who was notable, who could go into a room, and the important people would know them, but not everybody would. Because those artists had no privacy in their lives. I figured that success was to have a million dollars in the bank and be that individual.”

Eventually, he became a millionaire thanks to FUBU. He started the company with a $US100,000 investment from his mother, who mortgaged her house to support his new business. Six years later, the company was bringing in $US350 million in revenue.

John quickly realised that his dreams hadn’t been big enough.

“When I made my first million, I realised how poor I really was,” he says. “It takes about a million to get you out of debt.”

The number he’d equated with wealth turned out to be just a stepping stone along the way.

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