A Surprising Definition of Success

One advantage I enjoy as a successful marketer is I get to meet other extremely successful marketers.

American businessman John Paul DeJoria exemplifies the American dream. He was once homeless, living in his car.

With only $700 he started John Paul Mitchell systems, building it into the largest privately-held salon hair care line ever.

Then he founded premium tequila Patron, followed by ROK Mobile, John Paul Selects, John Paul Pet and Marquis Yachts. He's a long-time activist for sustainable business practices and corporate responsibility. John Paul as he continues to evolve and grow his businesses and inspire others.

He's launched six global enterprises and paid that success forward by living his motto, "Success unshared is failure."

John Paul told me,

"The American dream is not necessarily being a millionaire or a billionaire. It's to have a lot more than I have today and be able to do something on my own and actually get some great rewards for it. If I worked harder and smarter, if I worked seven days a week, if I lived in my car and believed what I did was proper, then I could have a chance to get ahead."

In high school John Paul worked at a dry cleaner's. He put the little sleeve on the hanger for your jacket and brushed the blankets so they looked nice. And he was the janitor, a job he loved. Minimum wage law said the lowest amount he could work for was $1.25 an hour.

One day his boss, Stuart, called him into the office. John Paul thought, "Oh no. What did I do wrong? I don't want to lose this job."

His boss said,

"I went to the mezzanine level last night. I worked late. I have a cot up there. I laid down for a minute. I put my watch on the little table. It fell on the floor. I reached down to get it. Underneath the cot I noticed there was no dust. I moved the cot. There was zero dust. I moved the filing cabinet next to it. There was no dust. You go out of your way to really clean this place."

John Paul said it was because he liked his job.

"You don't have to watch me, Stuart. I'm going to do a darn good job."

Stuart gave him a raise to $1.50 an hour. That probably made John Paul the highest-paid kid in his high school. He didn't ask for that raise. He earned it, because he did as best as he could when nobody else was watching.

As he told me,

"It's not how little that you do; it's how well do you do what you do. If you do what you do to the best of your ability when nobody's watching you, you are a successful person."

In other words,

"Success is how well you do what you do when nobody else is looking."

You can be sweeping floors for five years, doing everything right. No one notices. Yet one day, someone is going to notice. All of a sudden, you'll be going somewhere, because you gave it your best.

There's a frequency on this planet that works that way. If you do something all the time and think in a positive way, whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it's going to achieve.

I didn't say that. Someone else said it 100 years ago, and it's true... provided you keep up the attitude of, "I'm going to keep doing what I do the best I can. I'm not going to slack off. I'm going to be just as enthusiastic with every project, every door I knock on, and in everything I do."

Now a lot of people can't do that. They give up because of rejection. They stop doing the best job they can the minute no one else is watching. And they deny themselves success.

So if you want to be successful, keep asking yourself, "How well am I doing what I do when nobody else is watching me do it?"