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From Rags-to-Riches: Paul Mitchell Founder Shares His Advice For Surviving Today’s Job Market

Ahead of Friday's February nonfarm payrolls report, John Paul DeJoria, the billionaire who co-founded John Paul Mitchell Systems, has lots of career advice for the millions of Americans out of work.

DeJoria, who has a net worth of nearly $4 billion according to Forbes, experienced his own hardships before his sundry business endeavors, including Patron Spirits and House of Blues, paid off.

He grew up poor in Echo Park, Calif., and started working as young as nine, selling Christmas cards to neighbors. He and renowned hairstylist Paul Mitchell launched John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980 with just $700. In the beginning DeJoria was living out of his car in Los Angeles as he peddled the hair products he and Mitchell created to salon owners. DeJoria says the business climate was more challenging 30 years ago than it is today – inflation was running at 12.5%, interest rates topped 17% and the federal unemployment rate exceeded 10%.

The secret to DeJoria’s success is to remain positive, even if rejection has become too familiar.

“It’s like knocking on doors,” DeJoria says in an interview with The Daily Ticker. “You may have to knock on 100 doors but door No. 101 is it. Don’t give up. The economy is getting better.”

The national unemployment currently stands at 7.9% and has barely budged lower in the last few months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 12.3 million Americans were unemployed in January and the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 4.7 million. The BLS releases its latest snapshot of the labor market this Friday at 8:30am ET.

DeJoria wants Americans to know that getting any kind of job – even if it pays minimum wage – is better than having no job at all.

“Nothing is beneath us,” he says, noting that he was forced to earn money as a janitor at one point in his life. The key to quickly moving up the corporate ladder or procuring a raise depends on exhibiting the right attitude, he argues. Show the employer that you’re willing and ready to help build and grow the business: “Always ask what you can do more [of],” he says.

DeJoria may be shielded from the financial burdens affecting a large percentage of Americans but the entrepreneur and philanthropist emphasizes that he worked hard to achieve success. He couldn’t afford to go to college and was fired from a few jobs before starting his own company. DeJoria insists that perseverance was the reason why his career luck changed.

“Don’t let [rejection] get to you,” he says with his trademark smile. “If you’re prepared for it you’ll stay enthusiastic. The jobs are out there…you can get them.”

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