The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage – Daymond John

Here’s my favorite success story from the book:

How can empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success become your greatest competitive advantage? According to Daymond John, founder, president, and CEO of FUBU, an investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank, and motivational speaker, it’s all about harnessing the “power of broke”, or as billionaire Mark Cuban calls it, sweat equity. Harnessing the power of broke is when you’re backed up against the wall and forced to innovate your way to success rather than relying on a financial crutch to get you to where you want. Not to say that Daymond is opposed to having capital to start your business venture, but rather, that having money can at times cause an over reliance on it and thus causing one to just blow it away. He’s a firm believer in the power of broke as he started FUBU with essentially zero capital. In addition to his personal story, he also includes anecdotes of several individuals who also have used the power of broke to create a successful business.

I personally enjoyed this book a lot and in fact I am putting it on my recommended books to read. It’s filled with great success stories on numerous individuals who have used the power of broke to start a successful business. When you read up on these success stories, it makes you really think about how you really don’t need much initial capital to create something successful; the people who started their business all started with nothing. Another part that I enjoyed are the “power facts” that are randomly placed throughout the book where he shares tidbits of facts on people who’ve started with nothing. If you’re looking for a book on business, business lessons, start-ups, or motivation, then this book is just for you. Another book that I would recommend if you’re interested in learning about start-ups with little capital is The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau which is also a great read.


My rating:
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Check out the book here:
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK


Here are some of the points to the book:

1. The power of broke is a mindset that everyone can adopt.THE POWER OF BROKE is a mind-set. It exists in all of us, whether we have money, opportunities, or advantages. Trouble is, most people don’t recognize this power for what it is. They leave it alone, or maybe they don’t even know it’s there. Instead, they buy into the line from people in suits, fancy offices, or business schools who tell us that there’s a certain way to start businesses—we need money to jump-start while. Why? Because, take it from me, the power of broke is all about substance over flash. It’s about creativity over certainty. It’s about taking a shot over playing it safe. And here’s another thing: The money runs out after a while. Those deep pockets you may or may not have, they’ll never be deep enough to buy all the passion, ingenuity, and determination it takes to have success over the long haul. Even if you’ve got money behind you, there’s no guarantee that it will see you through. It’s the money in front of you that counts, after all. It’s the money you need, not the money you have, that makes all the difference. And this book is all about that difference, and how to put it to work for you.


2. Stay hungry to succeed.So here’s the big idea at the heart of this book: When you start from a place of nothing much at all, when you’re hungry and laser-focused on succeeding at whatever it is you’re out to do, when you’re flat-out determined to get where you’re going no matter what …well, then you’ve got a running start. You’re moving in the right direction, for the right reasons. On the flip side of that, when you start with all kinds of resources, when funding isn’t an issue, when failure isn’t about to break you…well, then you’re standing still. Absolutely, there’s tremendous power in being broke. The more you need to succeed, the more likely it is that you will succeed. The more you’ve invested —and here I’m talking about emotional and personal investment, not a financial investment—the more you’ll get back in return. And so I’ll say it again: there’s great power in having to scrape and scramble. The people I’ve met in business, the ones who’ve had their first breaks handed to them, they’re missing a kind of fire inside, a hunger, a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. I’m generalizing, I know, and there are exceptions everywhere you look, but for the most part it takes this certain fire, this certain hunger, to build any kind of real and lasting success. At least, that’s how it was with me—and chances are, if you’ve grabbed this book, that’s how it is with you too.


3. You will never create anything new, just a new form of a concept.HOMEWORK, DO YOURS. In almost every business, analytics are key. Know your field, know your competitors, know your stuff. After all, if you don’t know your stuff, how can you hope to know what’s possible? How can you prepare yourself for what’s coming? Think of it this way: out in the ocean, a shark doesn’t attack unless it knows its prey; here on land, a ‘shark’ needs the same mix of insight, instincts, and information to keep out in front. And a shark needs to know that there’s nothing new under the sun. Face up to this fact, people. I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but let me give it to you straight: You will never create anything new. Twitter is just an updated version of a note tied to a pigeon’s leg. Facebook is nothing more than an endless chain letter, or another way to look at it, scribbles on the bathroom wall. Instagram is the scrapbook you used to keep and share with your friends. All there is, all there will ever be is a new form of delivery, a new way to market, and a new way to figure it out. On Shark Tank we see it all the time. Someone comes on the show and says, ‘I have the newest thing.’ No you don’t. What you have is maybe a new way or a new approach. So part of doing your homework means appreciating the history of your idea, your market, and your competition. ‘A fool can learn from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.’ That’s a line I picked up from Mr. Magic, an old-school radio deejay from New York. The thought behind it reinforces this concept that there are no new ideas—only new ways to execute those ideas.


4. Always think BIG. My mother’s thing was to think big. Always. No matter what. We lived small, but there was no cap on our dreaming, no ceiling on what was possible, so I made it my business to stay out of real trouble and push myself to achieve. Think big —that was like her mantra. She even kept a supersized can opener on the wall of our kitchen, like the kind you used to find in home decorator stores back then. It was up there for inspiration, because in my mother’s book it wasn’t enough to hustle, to make a couple extra bucks. You had to hustle, but then you had to do a little something more besides. I had no choice but to be smart about it, to be creative, to think from a place of desperation. And let me tell you, when you’re always reaching for that little something more besides, the commitment to finding it, the dead-solid-certain belief that it’s there for the taking…it comes to define you. It becomes an important part of your personality. When you come at the world from that place of desperation (or aspiration), it’s like you’re wired in a whole different way. And it was that sense of desperation that would become my fuel—that feeling that I had no option but to succeed, no place to go but up, up, up… that’s what powered my first successes.


5. Ignore the haters and naysayers. If you believe what you’re doing and it’s working, keep pushing forward. “KEEP SWIMMING. This one’s probably best summed up by one of Acacia’s favorite sayings: “Try, fail, try again, fail better.” She’s figuring it out as she goes along, and there’s a lot to admire in that—a lot to learn from too. And here I’m not just thinking of all those haters who hid behind their laptops and smart phones and trash-talked this kid when she was just starting out. Remember, Acacia didn’t let those negative comments keep her from the conversation. No, the most impressive thing about Acacia’s growing online presence is the way she’s kept at it—day in, day out. To succeed in the social media space, you can never stop feeding the beast—you must be ever- Better believe it, she is. As much as anyone else you’ll meet in these pages, Acacia wasn’t afraid to embrace failure. That’s key. Failure is part of the process. It’s an opportunity to start over again more wisely, to paraphrase a line from Benjamin Franklin: Trial, error, test….Become a crash dummy for yourself and you’ll understand what will work. So what will you do today and expect to learn from—even if you fail at it?


6. Start now but adjust as you go along as you’re not going to have everything down from the beginning.For the purposes of this conversation, about coming at the world from a place of disadvantage, about being hungry, this persistent authenticity is the main takeaway of Rob’s life and career—the way he’s truly owned his brand. In the beginning , with no money in his pockets and no thought to why this was even an issue, it was all he could afford. ‘A lot of young people, they don’t get that,’ he observes. ‘They think it takes some kind of publicity machine, some kind of expertise to build a brand. But your brand is you, plain and simple. It’s what you stand for, how you carry yourself, and it doesn’t cost a thing. Not a penny. You just need to identify it and start living it and put it out there. You’ve got YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, all these different platforms, and they’re all free. The opportunity is there for the taking, so it’s never too early to start building the ideology of what your brand is and start living it.’ The secondary takeaway is to be bold enough to make up a plan as you go along. ‘I’m a bit of a gunslinger when it comes to my business deals,’ he admits. ‘I don’t think I even met a banker until two or three years ago, so I didn’t take a traditional approach. I didn’t always think things through. I do now, but when I was starting out, I went by my gut. I learned by watching other people, people I admire. My thing has always been to leverage whatever I can, to barter my way to a deal, just like I smooth-talked my way into that first contest when I was a kid.


7. Be nice to everyone as you never know what doors will open because of it.It turned out Tim’s research took him to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where he learned he could find a group of bloggers all in one place. It turned out, too, that the first job he’d had out of college was selling mass data storage systems, so he knew the landscape a little bit, knew the language. He realized that if he wanted to connect with bloggers, maybe find a way to get them excited about his work-life concept, the easiest way to do that would be to reach out to them in person—to as many of them as possible, all at once. He figured any successful blogger was already getting a ton of email, so there was no way his message would stand out in a crowded in-box. And he could just forget about contacting them by phone, so he had to find a way to put himself in the same room with them and make his pitch face-to-face, one-by-one. The Consumer Electronics Show…that was his answer. Once in Vegas, Tim did some more investigating, more networking, and was able to talk himself into a convention lounge called the Bloghaus, where there was free booze and free was handing out wristbands to the bloggers who had been invited to the event. Without an invite, Tim could only hope to snake past this checkpoint—or he could turn on the charm and see where that got him. ‘That’s always been a key for me,’ he says. ‘Being nice. If you’re nice to people, if you go out of your way to be helpful, then good things tend to happen.’ So Tim kind of lurked around the check-in table, and whenever he saw that the woman was free, he would tell her a bit of his story, tell her this was his first time at the convention, tell her he didn’t really know anybody, didn’t really know how things worked. He would have offered to buy the woman a drink, but the drinks were free, so instead he offered to make a drink run for everyone at the table. He did this a couple times, and in between bartending trips he sat and listened, soaked up what he could, offered to help where he could—just generally tried to be nice and make himself useful. One of Tim’s goals for the day was to meet an influential blogger named Robert Scoble. He was like ‘the guy’ at this CES conference, as far as Tim was concerned. And Tim wasn’t the only one who wanted to get to him—there was a scrum of people trying to get Scoble’s attention. This presented a problem, because Tim didn’t want to be just a face in the crowd if he got a chance to talk to Scoble. He didn’t want to have to scream or wave or tug on his shirt to get him to talk to him—that’s no way to start a meaningful conversation—but every time Tim saw a potential opening another scrum of people would materialize at this guy’s feet, like he was a rock star. At some point, Tim mentioned his frustration to his new friends at the check-in table—specifically, to the woman who seemed to be in charge. Her name was Maryam, and she just happened to be married to Robert Scoble. She said, ‘No problem, I’ll introduce you.’ ‘That’s how being nice can pay off,’ he explains. Of course, he had no way of knowing, going in, that Maryam was married to Scoble, but because he moved about that convention lounge like he wanted to earn his keep, because he made no bones about being a little out of his element, because he wasn’t shy about asking for help and guidance, because he’d gone out of his way to be helpful and to make sure he didn’t come across as a pain-in-the-ass, this one piece of good karma came his way. His positive energy brought back a positive result. 


By Ryan Timothy Lee


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