John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila (#441)

“Don’t limit yourself in life by your age or what you think you’re capable of doing. You’re always as old as your mind leads you to believe.” — John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist who has launched multiple global enterprises and is renowned as one of the “100 Greatest Living Business Minds” by Forbes.

John Paul DeJoria’s rags-to-riches biography is incredible and truly exemplifies the American dream. Once homeless, he has struggled against the odds to craft a unique life and many unique businesses.

In 1980, John Paul and hair stylist Paul Mitchell converted a partially borrowed $700 into John Paul Mitchell Systems, which is today the largest privately held salon hair care line. In 1989, he co-founded Patrón, the first ultra-premium tequila, and now the world’s number-one ultra-premium tequila, which he sold to Bacardi in 2018. John Paul went on to co-found John Paul Pet, ROKiT, and many other enterprises. 

He has signed The Giving Pledge, along with others like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, as a formal promise to continue giving back, and he has also established JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation as a hub for his charitable investments, which span the core values of his companies: sustainability, social responsibility, and animal-friendliness.

This episode was recorded in March of 2020. Due to technical issues, we moved from Skype to phone partway through the interview.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#441: John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode featuring mutual friend Robert Rodriguez? Check out this conversation in which we discuss journaling, keeping morale high, embracing the creative process, filmmaker tips, and much more.

John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila (#441)


  • Connect with John Paul DeJoria:



  • In excellent shape at 76, what does fitness look like for John Paul? Does he have a consistent exercise regimen, or does he just pull off Spider-Man moves at parties with Smokey Robinson? [06:13]
  • What kind of diet does John Paul observe, and what does he consider to be the breakfast of champions? [12:00]
  • Wine recommendations. [14:56]
  • On growing up “rich” and happy with only 27 cents to split with his loving mother and brother, and what this taught him about the true meaning of success. [16:03]
  • John Paul talks about the circumstances that led to him being homeless not once, but twice, and how he managed to break the cycle. [19:53]
  • After a colorful assortment of odd jobs — from janitor to door-to-door salesman — what led to John Paul’s teaming up with Paul Mitchell to formulate the John Paul Mitchell Systems? [25:17]
  • Where did John Paul develop his salesmanship superpowers, and what’s the big secret he’s willing to share with us? [29:19]
  • What did the pitch look like when John Paul and Paul Mitchell had to keep their business idea going even after an initial promised investment of big money fell through and they pooled together a grand total of $700 between them? How did they convince the links in their supply chain and their first distributor that they were worth trusting with favorable terms as an unknown, unproven line? [32:18]
  • Did John Paul inherit his chutzpah genetically, or was it handed down by a wise elder? How might he pass it along to his own offspring? [38:48]
  • Aside from sheer persistence in the face of rejection, what insights or techniques does John Paul credit with making him a better salesman than his competition? [40:57]
  • John Paul shares the origin story of the Patrón tequila brand and how his salesmanship savvy helped jump-start its adoption in the US — even when heavy hitters in the industry kept telling him and his partners that it would never really catch on. (They were wrong, and Bacardi bought the brand in 2018 for just over $5 billion.) [42:40]
  • How was the work of launching and maintaining Patrón divided among the partners, and what does John Paul consider to be some of the best lessons a Harvard Business School class might learn from decisions that were made? [48:47]
  • What was John Paul and his partners’ secret to establishing a higher-end, more expensive tequila brand in a market saturated with a much cheaper competition? [50:59]
  • As recently as 2013, John Paul’s workflow was devoid of computers and email. What exactly did that look like, and does it still hold true today? [53:40]
  • In the course of a regular day, how does John Paul determine what’s important and deserving of attention versus what can safely be ignored — and how does doing things the old-fashioned way (e.g., talking on the phone) beat new-fangled, email-focused conversations? [55:24]
  • Why John Paul finds it especially important to recognize first responders — especially during these difficult times. [58:13]
  • On the importance of taking personal annual (or even more frequent) retreats, and how John Paul puts them to good use on his quest to live to 125. [1:00:44]
  • What approach does John Paul take to — as kindly as possible — cut ties with people he no longer wants in his life? [1:04:13]
  • During his retreats, has John Paul noticed any patterns that have helped him make better decisions moving forward? [1:06:52]
  • How has John Paul gotten better at saying no? [1:07:39]
  • Are there any new beliefs or behaviors that have had a positive impact on John Paul’s life? [1:09:22]
  • Are there any quotations or maxims by which John Paul lives his life? [1:12:46]
  • Books most gifted and recommended. [1:13:24]
  • Memorable failures that set John Paul up for later success. [1:15:32]
  • How does John Paul choose the for-profit and philanthropic projects to which he dedicates his energy? What does the 80 percent of his time spent on non-business projects look like? [1:19:32]
  • What implements from his own toolkit have helped John Paul through times of doubt or difficulty? [1:29:39]
  • What John Paul would put on his billboard, and parting thoughts. [1:33:09]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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14 Replies to “John Paul DeJoria — From Homelessness to Building Paul Mitchell and Patrón Tequila (#441)”

  1. After listening to the episode I really want to watch Good Fortune. Unfortunately it is not available through Amazon, iTunes or other. Any chance you can get John Paul to release it?

      1. Spent a couple hours last night looking for it across the web. No dice. let me know f yinz come across

  2. That was a great episode. His story is interesting and hopeful. I would have liked to know more about his time in the Navy, being a squid myself. I’m going to give that one another listen. Thank you for this one.

  3. I love this one, so inspiring and touching. I want to see the doc and read the book he recommended. Thank you Tim

  4. So many inspiring guests and topics, as always. I’d really hope in this age, with the heightened awareness of racism and murders of Black men and women, that every email you send acknowledges that in some way – through a guest, a book, a podcast. The weekly Friday 5 bullets was sent on Juneteenth without mention of the historic day. Some of your readers are more and less aware of the dynamics going on, and with your influence and platform, you have such an opportunity to add to the tipping point our society and economy deserve. Thanks for your consideration.

  5. I really enjoyed this episode. “In the end everything will be ok, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”

  6. I love this one, so inspiring and touching, In the end everything will be ok, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end was a phrase that inspired me a lot.

    [Moderator: website link removed.]

  7. Thanks Tim Ferris for another amazing podcast. Your podcasts inspire me as I see that I am not alone in the way I think, and the guests you select are aspirational. I have listened to other podcasts now aside from yours and the only other one I connect with is tony robbins as the rest of them don’t question the interviewees in the way you do and I’m always left wanting to know more as opposed to yours where you really go in depth and seem to bring out the heart and key lessons aligned with what I want to find out. Anyway I love your podcast, thanks for doing such an amazing job!!!

  8. I really enjoyed this terrific interview with J.P. DeJoria. So refreshing to hear such a highly successful person talk about focusing on giving and bringing value to people. I can personally attest that this is how he treats people. Nine years ago I was lucky to meet him by chance in a restaurant during a time when I was an agency creative director on a major hair brand. He was entertaining his team on one of their retreats and we were curious about who these people were who were having such a fabulous time – they looked like rock stars. My friend had met John Paul a few years before so when he passed our table she called out to him. He stopped by and was incredibly present and friendly, so happy to say hello. He asked for our contact info and I gave him my card. A week later I received a giant box of his new Paul Mitchell line, very exceptional products with a note from him. I’ve never forgotten that brief meeting, his warmth and humanity. He really walks his talk. Thanks Tim! So much wisdom in this podcast.

  9. Tim, Great interview! Extremely inspirational. Have tried multiple ways to watch the documentary Good Fortune, to no avail. It’s not available on iTunes or Amazon Prime as suggested from website and with the link you provided. Are you able to assist in alerting Mr. DeJoria’s team to make it available.

  10. I absolutely love John Paul. He is just as genuine and wonderful in person. Such an inspiration!!