Gone Yesterday, Hair Today
Robb Report, December 2000

"Whatever you do, do something....
It's not because other people will think you're great. It's because you will."

John Paul DeJoria John Paul DeJoria has done quite a makeover on himself. Before becoming the chairman and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair products, DeJoria pumped gasoline and repaired bicycles. He worked as a janitor and sold encyclopedias. He was fired from his jobs almost as often as he was hired. He rode with the Hell's Angels and has been homeless on two occasions, living out of the back of his mother-in-law's car and cashing in soda bottles and cans to support himself and his son.

But all that was a long time ago. Today, the 56-year-old DeJoria is a noted environmentalist, a much-sought-after management and motivational consultant, and a leading philanthropist.

Millions recognize DeJoria's face -- as well as his beard and ponytail -- which feature prominently in Paul Mitchell commercials and magazine advertisements. He is one of the wealthiest men in the United States and, though he holds only a high school diploma, is courted by the United Nations and U.S. government agencies as an expert in organiza-tion, management, and motivation.

At its inception, John Paul Mitchell Systems, which DeJoria started with the late hairstylist Paul Mitchell, had such limited resources that its now famous black-and-white product packaging was actually the result of not being able to afford colored ink. To sell their products, DeJoria and Mitchell would visit beauty salons throughout the country and conduct demonstrations.

"Successful people do all the things that unsuccessful people don't want to do" says DeJoria. "I had the door slammed in my face so many times, yet I kept selling my products. If you get turned down 10 times in a row, you have to go on to the next door until you find one that's open."

Today, the company generates more than $600 million in sales annually. All of its products are environment-friendly and don't involve any testing on animals. "The company should have gone bankrupt 50 times during the first year," says DeJoria. "At one point, the company consisted of a post Office box and an answering machine."

That office is now a good place to work. DeJoria provides free lunch each day for his 98 employees -- each of whom he knows by name -- and reimburses carpoolers. Pay at the company is well above industry standards.

DeJoria's most ringing endorsement just might be the fact that, during the past 20 years, only 15 employees have left the company.

Beyond his doorstep, DeJoria's most noted philanthropic undertaking is the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals, which provides monthly cash grants to AIDS sufferers in the beauty industry for rent, food, and medicine. To date, the grants total more than $600,000.

During the 1999 holiday season DeJoria sponsored a 60-second public service announcement called "Feeling Good about Yourself," which was shown on Ameri-can, Delta, and United flights. It ended with the words, "Whatever you do, do something .... It's not because other people will think you're great. It's because you will."

DeJoria has good reason to feel great about himself.


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