How to Raise a CEO: A Recap of Our Session With Daymond John

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How can parents teach their kids to think like a CEO? Daymond John, prolific entrepreneur and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, has a few ideas.

We’re so excited to team up with Daymond John in the new Virtual Tech Camp courses Startup Camp and Entrepreneurship, in which he lends decades of expertise to a new generation of innovators. 

In these courses, kids will explore topics essential to any aspiring businessperson. From writing a business plan and learning the art of negotiation, to key financial literacy skills and marketing strategies, students will explore the in’s and outs of what it takes to launch a brand and think like a CEO. 

We sat down with Daymond via Facebook Live to learn more about his journey as a businessman and discuss how kids can get started as entrepreneurs. Today, Daymond is the CEO of 6-billion-dollar brand and a best-selling author with a vast professional network, but how did he get his start?

As a kid with a dream, the drive to learn about business, and a community that inspired him from an early age; Daymond John’s story, like many CEOs’, began in childhood. 

“I grew up in a lower middle-class area of Queens. My father and my mother were both very hard-working people, and I’ve always been led by example. They always told me my day job would never make me rich; it would be my homework,” he said.  

For Daymond, that homework became fixing up bikes, shoveling snow, selling school supplies, and every other side-hustle he could dream up, with encouragement from his mom. His parents separated when he was 10, and his mom continued to be a source of strength and inspiration for him.

“My mother started working three jobs, put the same amount of food on the table as when she was working one when she was married, and I never wanted to see my mother work that hard, and I was her only child. I decided, I understood responsibility had to be taken, it can’t be given.” 

With her encouragement, he looked around his neighborhood and saw local business owners as leaders he wanted to emulate.

“My mother had to work at a job, and sometimes the jobs were great, sometimes the jobs were horrible, and she was working on their time. But these entrepreneurs were working on their own time, and they didn’t have to watch their back, they were watching everybody else’s back. “

That experience formed the foundation that would launch a lifelong journey of learning for Daymond and a passion for sharing his knowledge with others. 

Daymond John’s Advice for Parents

A question at the forefront of this free class: what advice does Daymond John have for parents looking to encourage their kids to learn about financial literacy, business, and entrepreneurship? 

“First of all, understand that they’re going to fail and help them find the things that they naturally love to do...If they don’t love it, they’re not going to want to put the time in on it,” Daymond advised.

For many kids, channeling a love of technology could be just that spark to get started. "When they're playing these games, they can be creating these games. Anything that anyone in this world consumes, they can sell."

He added that great entrepreneurs get started not just by trying to make money, but by seeking to change the world in a way they’re passionate about. The two most successful Shark Tank businesses ever launched, Bombas socks and the Scrub Daddy sponge, both had simple purposes with goals for making a positive impact on people’s lives. 

His next piece of advice? Parents should encourage kids to value both successes and failures, giving them space to make mistakes, run out of money to fund their venture, and other common obstacles a future business owner should experience and learn from. 

“You’ve got to write down your failures and learn from them collectively. Everybody thinks it’s a failure, but it’s not a failure. A failure is something that you learn from so you can start over again with a different approach.”

In a nutshell, Daymond advises parents to, “Give them the tools, the education and/or the people around them to learn from. It’s a constant thing; you have to learn.”

Daymond John’s Advice for Kids

Naturally, Daymond shared advice for kids as well! As anyone who’s watched Shark Tank knows, numerous “kidpreneurs” have made successful pitches and gone on to achieve amazing results. From Mo’s Bows to Me & the Bees, it can be done, and your child could be the next success story!

So, where to start? 

First things first, he wants kids to know “It has to start somewhere, and then the sky is the limit for every single kid watching me right now.” 

It was wonderful to see so many kids chiming in to ask him questions during the class, and he had some excellent nuggets of wisdom.

For kids just getting started, “Find a circle of people you can lean on and depend on, and you can work with.” Daymond recommended starting off small and making sure to take the time to learn about money. 

“It’s all about understanding the value that you have, understanding how financial intelligence works, and understanding how dollars work.” Financial literacy is an essential piece of business education, one that Daymond pointed out is often absent from traditional school curriculum. It’s essential to build this knowledge alongside developing a brand or entrepreneurial endeavor. 

Then, it’s a matter of staying committed to iterating ideas, and a structured schedule can help achieve that. In many ways, right now is an excellent time to jump in! 

After all, summer is an ideal time for young entrepreneurs to design a schedule around their ideas; here’s a guide to creating summer schedules for kids and teens!

For “Kidtrepreneurs” the Right Time is Now

Daymond reminded us that, “There was no guarantee that I would ever make it. But it was because I had mentors, because I kept educating myself that I would take affordable steps, I’d fail, and then I’d learn from that all over again. And my education doesn’t end,“ he said.

“I’ve learned that education is something that is key, and this is why you and I decided to get together and share that education with our younger minds.” 

That certainly resonates with us! We can’t wait to see what kids create with some pointers from Daymond John at Virtual Tech Camp this summer

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.