John Paul DeJoria went from homeless to billionaire by following 3 simple rules (2024)

It's not often that a homeless person living out of his car can dramatically alter his circ*mstances and become a billionaire. But John Paul DeJoria — co-founder of hair-care company John Paul Mitchell Systems and high-end Patrón Spirits — did just that. The 73-year-old now has a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes. His climb out of poverty reads like a tale from a Charles Dickens' novel.

The onetime door-to-door shampoo and encyclopedia salesman partnered with Paul Mitchell in 1980, and the two turned $700 into one of the most profitable hair-care companies in the world. Not too long after their company took off, Mitchell died of cancer and DeJoria took over. Today the company generates $1 billion in annual revenues. His tequila company is also a megahit. Patrón tequila is made in Mexico in a sustainable distilling facility that uses recycled bottles and leftover distilled water to fertilize the land. Now more than 2 million cases are sold each year.

But DeJoria doesn't measure his success in terms of dollars and cents. For the iconic entrepreneur it's not about money and power. As he sums it up: "I have been so down and out in my life. It makes me feel really good to be financially blessed and give back. I get great joy and a great high out of it. It's my way of paying rent on this planet to share with others less fortunate."

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The billionaire remembers giving a dime to the Salvation Army when he was six years old and living in Los Angeles. His mom told him, 'You may be poor, but there are so many people less fortunate than you, and every little bit helps.'

"Those words have always stuck with me," DeJoria recalls.

That philanthropic passion led DeJoria to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's "The Giving Pledge" in 2011 to give half of his earnings to better the world. In addition, he established JP's Peace Love & Happiness Foundation as a hub for his charitable donations to causes that reflect the core values of his companies: saving the environment, helping the poor and protecting animal rights.

If a business wants to stay in business,it cannot just think of today's bottom line.

Paul DeJoria

co-founder of Paul Mitchell and Patron Spirits

Through his foundation, he has raised millions of dollars to support more than 160 charities around the world. They include Grow Appalachia, a program that provides seed and tools to help poor families in six states throughout central Appalachia grow their own food to combat malnutrition; and Sea Shepherd, a marine wildlife conservation society that confronts illegal poaching and destruction of wildlife in the world's oceans.

This Thanksgiving he visited Mobile Loaves & Fishes' Community First Village in Austin, Texas, where they are building an innovative housing model that helps the homeless learn skills, earn income and get affordable housing.

So how did DeJoria maintain motivation and build such an expansive empire? He says there were three rules he followed on his path to success.

Rule No. 1: Always be prepared for rejection.

Throughout your career you are going to run across rejection, DeJoria points out. "You will knock on doors, and many will close on you. There will be people who don't like your product, your company — or you." It's important you realize this from the day you launch your business. "To be successful, you must remain as confident and enthusiastic on door No. 59 as you were on door No. 1." If you realize this is going to happen, the rejection won't hit you so hard. It will help you be resilient, he explains.

Rule No. 2: Make sure your product or service is the best it can be.

DeJoria is adamant: "Always remember you don't want to be in the product business. You want to be in the reorder business." As he explains, Work hard to develop a world-class product consumers want. That kind of thinking gives you a better shot at being a success.

John Paul DeJoria went from homeless to billionaire by following 3 simple rules (1)

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Rule No. 3: Doing good is good for you — and your business.

"If a business wants to stay in business, it cannot just think of today's bottom line," says DeJoria. It must make a company commitment to help others immediately. "By helping others, you are creating future customers and inspiring employee loyalty," he explains. "Customers like to be involved with people and businesses that donate their time to help others, save the planet and make a difference."

Demonstrating that point, DeJoria notes that since he started Paul Mitchell in 1980, His total employee turnover has been less than 100, and two of those workers retired.

John Paul DeJoria went from homeless to billionaire by following 3 simple rules (2024)


How did John Paul DeJoria achieve the American Dream? ›

John Paul DeJoria is one of the great stories of achieving the American Dream. Twenty years after being homeless, he was able to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Along the way he built two iconic companies — John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Spirits.

What are some fun facts about John Paul DeJoria? ›

DeJoria spent two years in the United States Navy, serving on the USS Hornet. After that, he held a series of jobs including janitor, door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, and insurance salesman. DeJoria entered the world of hair care as an entry-level employee of Redken Laboratories.

How did Patrón get started? ›

Patrón tequila was founded by Martin Crowley and John Paul DeJoria in 1989. While Crowly was on a business trip in Mexico, DeJoria asked him to bring back some tequila. Crowly was inspired by a hand-blown bottle that he found in Mexico and pitched the idea of making the world's best tequila to DeJoria.

What is John Paul DeJoria's net worth? ›

Beyond founding John Paul Mitchell Systems, DeJoria co-founded a tequila business called Patrón Spirits International, which he later sold to the rum brand Bacardi. His success has led him to become one of the world's wealthiest individuals, having a net worth of around $3 billion.

How did John Paul DeJoria become successful? ›

Starting out, DeJoria sold encyclopedias, pumped gas, and worked as a janitor. For a while he was homeless. Then, in 1980, he and his friend Paul Mitchell used $700 to launch John Paul Mitchell Systems®, a company for hairdressers, salons, and the beauty industry.

How did John Paul DeJoria make his money? ›

John Paul DeJoria is the founder of tequila maker Patr? n Spirits Co. and cofounder of hair care company John Paul Mitchell Systems. He slept in his car and sold shampoo door-to-door before he teamed up with Paul Mitchell in 1980 and turned $700 into John Paul Mitchell Systems.

What is John Paul DeJoria most famous for? ›

Who Is John Paul DeJoria? Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and residing in Austin, Texas, John DeJoria is best known for co-founding two iconic global multi-billion-dollar-valued brands: Paul Mitchell and Patrón.

What is a fact about John Paul I? ›

John Paul I (born October 17, 1912, Forno di Canale, Italy—died September 28, 1978, Rome) was a pope whose 33-day pontificate in 1978 was the shortest in modern times. He was the first pope to choose a double name and did so in commemoration of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI.

Why was John Paul famous? ›

He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, John Paul II beatified 1,344, and also canonised 483 people, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries.

Who owns 1800 Tequila? ›

1800 Tequila is a Mexican brand of tequila owned by the Beckmann Family, who also own the Jose Cuervo tequila brand. The 100% blue agave tequila is bottled in Jalisco, Mexico. 1800 is named after the year tequila was first aged in oak casks, and is sold throughout the world.

Did Dan Aykroyd invent Patrón? ›

After more back-and-forth and plenty of laughs from everyone, it was eventually concluded that Aykroyd did not invent Patrón. It was, in fact, invented by John Paul DeJoria in 1989.

Is Jose Cuervo real tequila? ›

In order for a spirit to be called tequila, it must come from the blue agave plant, a species found only in Jalisco and four nearby regions in central Mexico. All Jose Cuervo tequila continues to be made in the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco in Mexico.

Who owns Patrón Tequila? ›

In 2000, Ed Brown, co-founder of Patrón and former Seagram executive, took over as CEO. In January 2018, Patrón was sold to Bacardi, one of the world's largest privately held spirits company, for $5.1 billion.

How much did John Paul sell Patron tequila for? ›

Today, Patrón is one of the top-selling tequila brands in the world, selling roughly 3 million cases each year. In 2018, it was acquired by Bacardi Limited for $5.1 billion.

Did John Paul DeJoria go to college? ›

He graduated from high school in 1962 and joined the U.S. Navy. Upon his honorable discharge, DeJoria still did not have enough funds to attend college. A natural-born salesman, he took a job selling encyclopedias door to door. Five years later, he became the circulation manager for Time, Inc.

What did John Paul Jones achieve? ›

He was commissioned a lieutenant on the first American flagship, Alfred. Jones was quickly promoted to captain in 1776, and was given command of the sloop Providence. While on his first cruise aboard Providence, he destroyed British fisheries in Nova Scotia and captured sixteen prize British ships.

How did John Paul Jones military leadership contribute to the Revolutionary War? ›

Jones distinguished himself in action in the Atlantic Ocean during 1776 and 1777 in command of the naval ships the Alfred, the Providence, and the Ranger, taking many British ships as prizes. On September 23, 1779, Jones achieved his most famous victory off the coast of England.

What was the revolutionaries American dream? ›

The tenets of the American Dream originate from the Declaration of Independence, which states that "all men are created equal", and have an inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

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