Entrepreneurial expert Daymond John offers tips for success during talk at Penn State

Entrepreneur Daymond John started his first business when he was just 6 years old. After scraping the ink off of pencils, he would repaint the pencils with the names of girls in his class and sell it to them for a small profit.

“I was making a profit, and then got to talk to all the girls,” John said. “That is a true entrepreneur.”

In a high-energy, dynamic presentation Tuesday night in Schwab Auditorium, John addressed a packed crowd of Penn State students and community members about his rags-to-riches journey to become an entrepreneurial expert.

His visit to Penn State was a part of the Student Programming Association’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

John is perhaps best known for his regular appearances as an investor on the ABC reality series “Shark Tank,” as well as the founder and CEO of popular clothing line FUBU (For Us By Us).

John took the audience on an hourlong walkthrough of his life, while introducing his five “shark points” for success along the way. The upbeat presentation was enhanced by photographs and videos projected onto the onstage screen and music scored to fit the tone of the topics.

John’s shark points included advice for future entrepreneurs to set goals, do homework, love what you do, create a brand for yourself and to “just keep swimming.”

“I was born and raised thinking like a shark,” said John. “It’s a mindset.”

Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., John spoke about childhood obstacles that fueled his ambition. Left to be the man of the house at a young age, John learned to provide for his struggling family.

Inspired by Russell Simmons and the hip-hop movement, John learned that it was possible to make a living doing something he loved. It was then that John introduced his five “shark points” for success.

“The bottom line of success is that you have to set a goal,” said John. “You cannot hit a target that you cannot see.”

John explained that it was the goals that he set that helped him to succeed in raising enough money to begin FUBU.

He also emphasized the importance of determination and going after something that you love.

“I can’t tell you that monetary success is going to be there, but fulfillment will,” he said.

Another memorable aspect of his presentation included John poking fun at the other “Shark Tank” sharks Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner and Kevin O’Leary.

“We do not invest in companies,” he said of the popular TV show. “We invest in people.”