Daymond John On His 'Powershift Principle'
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If you’ve ever been dragged into a negotiation with your three-year-old daughter, you probably have some idea of how that opening scene shook out. (Far as I know, there’s no photographic evidence of me wearing that princess tiara, so I’ll just leave it at that.)
This much is clear: Right now, in our family, Minka’s got power. Even at three years old, she’s figured out—mostly through trial and error and some foot stomping—that if she picks a strategy, then follows a certain sequence of steps, she can almost always get her way. It might take a tantrum, followed by a sweet, knowing smile. Or it might call for a perfectly timed hug when I’m least expecting it. Either way, she’ll eventually wear me down.
And she knows it. She knows she can get what she wants from me—and I guess it follows that one of the reasons I’m so quick to cave when she pours it on thick like this is because I know it, too. We’ve fallen into a kind of default pattern where Minka’s strengths as a negotiator bump up against my weaknesses as a big old softie.
Keep in mind, it’s not just me, jumping to Minka’s whims. She’s got a different approach for her mother, for her nanny, for everyone in her little life. She reads the room and changes her game depending on the players, depending on the situation.
Minka’s figured out what works all on her own—because, just saying, there’s no Mommy & Me class on negotiation strategies, no playgroup to help her learn to push her daddy’s buttons. However, there is the benefit of experience, and here my little girl is smart enough to know that if a certain type of behavior gets results on Day One there’s a good chance it’ll work again on Day Next.
There’s only one way I know of to transform this dynamic: through a concept I call powershift.
Let me tell you about the powershift and how I’ve come to embrace the concept behind it.
In my previous books, I’ve written about a couple principles that have powered me in my career. Early on, back when I was starting FUBU out of my mother’s house in
Hollis, Queens, it was all about making things happen without any money. That’s the “power of broke”—a power I tapped at an early age, and I still reach for it today.
Then, once I was coming up in the world of fashion and starting to see some success, I was all about the hustle: working hard, pushing through, and sticking to a game plan. Back then it was: How early do you get at it each day, and how late do you keep at it . . . and, even more important, how do you fill the time in between? That’s the power of “rise and grind,” the take-charge mindset that drives our days.
But one of the things I’m realizing lately is that none of the blessings or successes that have come my way would have happened without the ability to shift power—from other people to myself, from myself to other people, from one area of strength to another whole new area of strength. Those shifts powered the trajectory of my life and career, but I haven’t written about them in my previous books because I didn’t identify them for what they were until recently. But you better believe they’re a big part of how I got where I am today. And now I want to share them with you.
Whenever I sit down to write a new book, I pay attention to what I’m hearing from my readers, who reach out to me on social media or connect with me after one of my speeches or through my online courses. With Rise and Grind, for example, people wanted to know how I structure my days and where I look for motivation, so I spent some time looking at ways truly successful people organize their time and kick their ambition into drive. Here, I kept hearing from people who wanted some guidance on how to build the kind of foundation they need to achieve, sustain, and grow their power base, so I’ve spent some time looking at the ways I’ve managed to do these things in my own life and career. Like I said, some of this stuff came naturally to me, in the beginning, but as I moved on I started looking at ways to replicate that success as I pivoted into other areas, away from FUBU and fashion. This book is the result of all that. It’s my take on what it takes to find the power in the room, in any situation, and to put it to use in a meaningful and lasting way.
So here at the very beginning of our journey in these pages, let me put it to you plain: What is stopping you from achieving the success you desire, the success you believe you deserve? It’s a simple question, really, and you don’t need me to be the one asking it. You should be asking it of yourself. Maybe you already are. Maybe that’s why you’ve picked up this book. Don’t know about you, but I look at all the people I’ve known in my life, all the people I’ve left behind in the ’hood, all the people I’ve met who are still struggling to find a purposeful path, and I can’t understand why they’re still making excuses for being stuck or disappointed or overlooked for this or that opportunity. Obviously, they’re not all making excuses, but trust me, I hear a lot of woe-is-me type stories. And when I do, I can’t help but think, Hey, if my dumb ass can make it, anybody can, so here I want to shine a light on how to find that extra gear and put everything into play in a way that allows readers to tap their powershift potential.
This ability to turn every situation to some kind of advantage is hardwired in all of us. The key is learning how to recognize and tap into that power that you already have within you. This book will deconstruct this process for you and show you exactly how to do it.
Me, I was a little late figuring it all out. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t using that power. I was using it all right, but it was a hit-or-miss type deal. As a kid, I was always able to get what I needed from my teachers, my friends in the neighborhood, and the other kids at school . . . from my bosses, even, once I started punching the clock. (My mother was a whole other story—she never let me get away with anything, was always on my case, but out of all that she taught me how to work all these other relationships to some kind of advantage.) I wasn’t being calculating or manipulative; I was just doing my thing. For whatever reason, I had this knack for making things happen, and it almost always happened for me in a seat-of-the-pants way. It was organic, instinctive: I never went to business school. I never went to college. Even high school was difficult for me. I came from a tough neighborhood. I struggled with dyslexia. And I wanted to learn about things beyond the basic subjects taught in school; things that were happening in the real world, outside the four walls of the classroom. The School of Life was where I learned how to get the edge I’m talking about. For that, I was able to tap something that was already in me, and I’ve come to believe this same something lies in each one of us.
Bottom line: I had power . . . and you have it, too. It’s innate to our species, this ability we all share to put ourselves in a position to succeed—a basic survival instinct that’s built into our personalities. Trouble is, most of us don’t recognize this ability to transform our own outcomes for what it is, or figure out how to use it in ways that move us forward.
Eventually, I figured it out. But then, as I moved on in my career, taking on newer and bigger challenges, I wanted to understand it, perhaps even replicate it. So I looked back at the choices I made, the approaches I took, hoping to maybe learn something from the making-it-up-as-I-go-along ways I’ve gotten to where I am today—not just to help myself with whatever came next, but to help other people as well. So what I hope to do in the pages ahead is break the powershift idea down in such a way that you’ll come away from this book even better positioned to take on your next challenge and make changes in your life, immediately.
OKAY, THEN—SO WHAT IS A POWERSHIFT?
POWERSHIFT /pou(Ə)r • shift/
1. Taking control and creating moments of true change that allow you to live a happier, more fulfilled life
2. Tapping into your ability to build influence, to negotiate for the things you need and want, and to nurture your relationships to take you where you want to go
Excerpt from POWERSHIFT by Daymond John with Daniel Paisner, copyright © 2020 by Daymond John. Used by permission of Currency, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher
POWERSHIFT is out March 10.