6 Habits of a Billionaire

Billionaire John Paul Dejoria believes it is his duty to give back – big time. As a member of The Giving Pledge, a charitable campaign led by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, he plans to offer more than half of his wealth to philanthropy during his lifetime or later. “The more I make, the more I get to give back,” he tells me in his corner office in Los Angeles. “Success unshared is failure.”

I recently had the unique opportunity to spend several days with the co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems and Patron Tequila to understand the secrets to his success and how he’s managed to build not one, but two billion-dollar businesses. Dejoria allowed me to shadow him, as the first of many entrepreneurs in my new CNBC show, Follow the Leader.

I learned that sharing his success – or wealth – is just one top habit this 71-year-old billionaire practices.

Here are five more I found to be quite intriguing.

Use Technology Sparingly
While the world impatiently awaits Apple’s next iPhone announcement, Dejoria’s more than happy with his basic flip phone (the kind you had in 2001). That’s right. His phone doesn’t even categorize as “smart.” But he doesn’t care. Dejoria lives a very tech-minimal lifestyle. (Just see his home office.) While he drives a Tesla, you won’t ever find a computer, laptop or tablet in his possession. And it’s all for a valid reason: “I’d be inundated if I did email,” he says. “I do phone calls, a little bit of texting. I like the personal touch.”  (Ahh, to be rich and powerful.)

Waste No Time on Wardrobe
Dejoria has a very consistent wardrobe and can often be found wearing an all-black outfit: black pants, black shirt, black blazer. He rarely delineates. In the beginning of his career wearing black offered a financial benefit. Stains hid well, minimizing his dry cleaning bill. The habit stuck and today, he tells me, wearing repeat outfits means he can spend less time and thought worrying about what to wear. Instead he can apply those resources to more important things like family and business. Having a uniform of sorts is a habit that’s not uncommon amongst the uber successful. Steve Jobs would often be found wearing his classic black turtleneck and jeans. And do you think Mark Zuckerberg spends much time in the morning wondering which hoodie he’s going to wear? He has better things to do.

Lean on Your Kids for Advice
During our time together Dejoria needed to make a very important business decision that had huge implications for his personal brand and image. He consulted with just one other person before making up his mind – his daughter Alexis. In a world where he’s surrounded by many “yes people” he values the opinions of close family. “[Alexis] has no problem speaking up, whatsoever,” he told me in the car on the way to her house in Austin, Texas. “When I make a major business decision and I want input rely on the people closest to me.”

Splurge for Convenience
John Paul owns not one, but three private jets. For him, time is a precious commodity and he’ll do what he must to preserve it, even if it means spending millions of dollars on his own airplanes. His jets allow him to conduct meetings on the go and around the country without wasting hours at the airport. He also has a personal chef, which helps Dejoria to not only eat healthy; it allows him the opportunity to invite key people over for dinner at the drop of a hat and conduct business meetings in the privacy and convenience of his home. No need to find a special restaurant that can accommodate. He’s got his own at home.

Stay Positive
Maybe it’s because I live in New York and it’s been a bitter winter, but I just didn’t believe Dejoria’s constant positive take on life. He doesn’t really get upset, even when he has a legitimate reason (and believe me, there were times I thought he would want to flip out.) I was convinced his smiles were for the cameras. But by the end, I started to realize that his optimism and happiness is one of his superpowers. (And no, it’s not because he’s rich.)

Think about it: many of us – rich, poor, middle class – we go through life searching to find this thing called “happiness.” There is an entire industry built upon helping people achieve it. Dejoria, as he explained, has been a glass-half-full kind of person ever since he was kid, despite growing up poor and despite being homeless at one point in life. It is who he is and it’s helped him to overcome rejection, failure and poverty.

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