Billionaire John Paul DeJoria explains why he asks for his family’s input on big business decisions

John paul dejoria
John Paul DeJoria. Kevin Winter/Getty

If there’s one thing John Paul DeJoria has learned from more than three decades of entrepreneurial experience, it’s that big business decisions should never be made by one person alone.

DeJoria is the 72-year-old billionaire cofounder of Patron tequila and John Paul Mitchell Systems hair products. He was recently featured on the premiere episode of “Follow the Leader,” a CNBC show in which business journalist Farnoosh Torabi goes behind the scenes with successful people to figure out what makes them tick.

Torabi quickly learned that getting input from trusted advisers, like family members, is a key part of DeJoria’s leadership strategy.

During the episode, Torabi sat in on a meeting between DeJoria and representatives from Aubio, a company that DeJoria has invested in and that produces a cold sore balm. Aubio asked DeJoria if they could use his name and face to promote the product.

DeJoria wasn’t sure. He knew he wouldn’t be able to make a choice without consulting his daughter, Alexis DeJoria.

“She has no problem speaking up whatsoever,” he told Torabi as they drove to Alexis’s home. “When I make a major business decision and I want input, I rely on the people closest to me — especially family.”

Alexis, a professional race car driver, told DeJoria that she didn’t think becoming the face of Aubio was such a great idea: “I don’t want you to be the poster child for cold sores.”

DeJoria quickly realised he didn’t want that either. “It didn’t even cross my mind,” he told Alexis. “But you know something? You’re right.”

He called up the Aubio representatives he’d met with to let them know about his decision.

John paul and alexis dejoria
Alexis tells John Paul why she doesn’t think he should be the face of Aubio’s cold sore balm. CNBC

“I include people all the time in my decision-making,” DeJoria told Torabi. “I respect people and their opinions, whether I agree with them or not, and evaluate it. And sometimes they’re right and I was wrong.”

In this case, DeJoria explained, letting Aubio use his name and face on a cold sore product might have hurt his career because he’s in the professional beauty business.

As psychologist Travis Bradberry writes on LinkedIn, it’s important for decision-makers to seek opinions and advice from people with diverse perspectives. It’s a way to beat confirmation bias, the tendency to pick a side and then look for information to support that side.

Ultimately, DeJoria recognised that he narrowly averted a potential business problem, thanks largely to his daughter.

“I’m so glad that I asked Alexis about her opinion,” he said, “because it was very valid.”

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