Scrappiness and hustle propelled Daymond John from the streets of Queens in New York City to the fashion world and eventually to Hollywood. Only later in his life, however, did John realize that just as important to this journey was his ability to turn any situation into an advantage. From his third book, Powershift (Crown Publishing, March 10), here are three of his tips for building the kind of genuine connections and influence that can shift the power dynamics in your favor.
1. Make people feel seen.
When Fubu started working with Samsung, John quickly learned that singing karaoke with his South Korean partners was the way to show he was open, receptive, and willing to be a good collaborator. "So I learned to sing my little heart out every time our colleagues came in from Seoul--and out of that we were able to communicate with each other as equals."
2. Give--but do it sincerely.
Before John could get celebrities to wear Fubu, he focused on dressing key people in that orbit, producing a run of size-6X shirts to gift to the guys who built the sets and controlled access beyond the velvet ropes. At a time when clothiers were ignoring most African American shoppers, let alone size-6X men, John didn't ask for anything in return. "The reason our little promo outreach was effective was because it was sincere. We were doing them a solid, and when we needed them to do a solid for us, we weren't coming at them cold."
3. Add value before asking for a favor.
To grow relationships from a place of service, John follows a constant rule: Add three times the value you extract before asking for anything in return. This means John will work through dinner three times before asking any of his employees to do it for the first time, or he'll share three of a friend's tweets before he asks him to reciprocate.