Billionaire John Paul DeJoria shares the life-changing advice he got in his 20s

John paul dejoria young and; Michael Buckner/GettyJohn Paul DeJoria, as a young man and today.

Along the way to becoming the billionaire cofounder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón tequila, John Paul DeJoria spent time in a street gang as a boy, lived out of his car twice, lost his job multiple times, worked as a janitor, and faced the prospect of losing everything on a business that seemed destined to fail.

DeJoria tells Business Insider that he credits much of his resilience to following the advice he received in his early 20s as a Collier’s Encyclopedia salesman.

During training, DeJoria remembers that a supervisor told the other salesmen and him: “When the going’s tough, the tough get going. You must knock on door number 25, or 50, or 100 as enthusiastically as you did the first door that was closed in your face.”

DeJoria says that the average salesman quit three days after training. As he told Entrepreneur, the price of a set of encyclopedias was $US369 and was paid in 10 monthly installments. Adjusting for inflation, that means each salesman had to convince someone to drop today’s equivalent of about $US2,700 on a massive set of books.

Rather than quitting after day three, DeJoria stuck it out for three and a half years and became Collier’s top salesman in 1966. He made “pretty good money,” he says, but more important was what the experience taught him.

He says that he still tells businesspeople, young and old alike, that they must prepare themselves for plenty of rejection. If you see rejection as a step toward a goal rather than its end, “it’s not going to hit you as hard.”

Those who become incredibly influential never lose the enthusiasm they had when they first started, DeJoria says. “It will get you eventually to a successful area.”

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