“One Of My Favorite Stories Is About A Fisherman From Kenya” An Inspiring Conversation with Shark Tank’s Daymond John

I had the pleasure to interview Daymond John. Daymon is the Founder and CEO of FUBU and co-star of ABC’s Emmy Award winning Shark Tank. After being invited to a hearing mission by Starkey Hearing Foundation a few years ago, Daymond John realized that he himself had hearing loss. Daymond has since been an avid supporter of Starkey Hearing Foundation as well as a passionate spokesperson advocating for those with hearing loss.

What is your backstory?

I am the CEO and founder of FUBU, a global lifestyle brand. I am now in my ninth season on the three-time Emmy award-winning series Shark Tank.

In 2015, I was named a presidential ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship and was part of an exclusive group who joined President Obama at the Global Entrepreneur Summit in Kenya, and traveled with the president on his historic trip to Cuba in March 2016.

In 2017 I launched the creative executive co-working space, blueprint+co. Its mission is to educate and empower by building a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that can benefit from his resources and track record of success.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I was encouraged by a friend to get an executive physical in 2016, something I had never done before. Test results from that physical showed a mass on my thyroid. I had surgery in early 2017 and test results confirmed Stage 2 cancer. Because I got this physical and detected this mass on my thyroid early on, I am lucky enough to say that I am cancer free today.

Look, I’m an entrepreneur and always had the same mentality that so many others have. I put the business first, and myself and my health last. But, as someone who speaks to and consults executives and entrepreneurs on a daily basis, I felt compelled to share my story. I have made it my mission to educate people not only on early detection and awareness, but on prioritizing their health and wellbeing.

I just want to share my story to empower people to take control of their health. This is something we all have to be diligent about.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Please tell us about your work with Starkey Hearing Foundation.

As someone in the public eye, I am lucky enough to have public platforms at my disposal, such as TV and social media. I feel that comes with a level of responsibility. Countless entrepreneurs look to me for resources on how to start and grow a business. I feel it is my responsibility to share more than that, though, and point to the amazing resources out there that help us improve every aspect of our lives. I like to remind people that I go through many of the same struggles as they do. I’m human!

I suffer from hearing loss myself, which is where my connection with Starkey Hearing Foundation began. They don’t just stop at selling their products, though. They are changing people’s lives by utilizing their resources to give the gift of hearing around the world. To date they have helped over a million people.

Spreading their message and driving awareness is easy for me because it is something I am passionate about and I hope that others realize we all have some of these problems.

Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

One of my favorite stories is about a fisherman from Kenya. It’s one of my favorites because it shows the economic impact of how better hearing and the Starkey Hearing Foundation help those around the world.

Before Starkey Hearing Foundation arrived in Lamu, Kenya, local fisherman Said Mahsen faced an unimaginable decision: sell his fishing boat for $1,500 to pay for a pair of hearing aids, or continue to struggle with debilitating hearing loss. Fishing is Said’s livelihood, which supports his wife and three young children. His three older children dissuaded their father from selling the boat. But Said felt desperately disconnected from his family and the world around him. In a twist of fate, Said heard an announcement about Starkey Hearing Foundation’s program providing free hearing aids from a man walking a donkey through the streets of Lamu. “My children asked me how we would live if I sold my fishing boat,” Said said. “This is the only source of income that we depend on to buy food and live. I didn’t sell the boat. I waited until [Starkey Hearing Foundation] came through with treatment. [They] saved us. [They] have helped a lot of people who are so poor they can’t afford food day-to-day.” Today, Said is doing well with his hearing aids and continues to fish on his boat.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

  1. Financial intelligence is key.
  2. Money is not the key to success. It is about how you utilize the resources at your disposal.
  3. You have nothing if you don’t have your health.
  4. Never stop learning.
  5. There will always be obstacles to overcome, no matter what level of success you reach. It’s all about how you react in the face of those obstacles.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why?

I’d have to say my family. Since my recent cancer scare, I have focused now more than ever on spending time with the people who mean the most to me. That is my family.

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